HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "Akane-banashi" - Volume Three

MANGA REVIEW | "Akane-banashi" - Volume Three

MANGA REVIEW | "Akane-banashi" - Volume Three

It’s hard to not look at Akane-banashi and not compare it to Show-Ha Shoten! While they both showcase different styles of comedy, their pacing and narratives shares plenty of common. Even stranger is the fact that both in their third volumes, we have our heroes taking on a life-changing contest that could set their careers on fire. But there is a significant difference: where Show-Ha Shoten!’s third volume is about different manzai comedy styles, Akane-banashi is more about adapting the same Rakugo style to one’s advantage.

The student rakugo competition the Karaku Cup is under way. After the preliminary round, Akane and two others move on to the finals. Judging the contest is the man who expelled Akane’s father: Issho Arakawa. Hence why the master Shiguma gives Akane a daunting task: win the competition with the well-known tale of “Jugemu”. And thus, Akane seeks to find a way to bring new life to the tale of the boy with the ridiculously long name.

Watching Akane, Karashi, and Hikaru showcase their skills at Rakugo brings different ways to tell such classic tales. Karashi goes the route of modernization, using “Tenshiki” to tell a story about scientists and bowel movements. Hikaru uses her voice-acting skills to bring the characters to life, despite them being far older than she actually is. But this is Akane’s story, and as we’ve come to witness, the girl’s got a knack for reading a crowd.

As such, she has the ability to find new ways to tell the tale of “Jugemu”. During the preliminaries, her means of saying the very long name in short breaths is what gained the attention of the crowd. However, in the main event, Akane uses her position as the third and final performer to seek the right way to tell “Jugemu”. It results in a narrative that not only pulls the crowd into the story itself, but also erases Akane’s presence entirely.

A lot of talent is necessary in order to get a crowd completely into a story. It’s why in today’s modern comedy world, the likes of Mike Birbiglia or Randy Feltface can tell a story, and find a way to make it come to life with just their words. Such a knack is required for Rakugo, as the best narrators not only bring the world to the audience, but also its characters and tone. But to tell a tale in such a way that makes the narrator themselves incognito is not only a challenge; it’s also one of the hardest things a stage performer can do!

Considering what’s at stake, Akane knows that this is the only way that she can gain the audience of Issho. Yes, she wants to be a great Rakugo performer, but finding out why Issho expelled her dad is the most important thing to her at this very moment. Greatness awaits Akane in her future, and a win in the Karaku Cup can guide her towards it. And yet, nothing would bring the girl more joy than to look deep in the eyes of Issho and get the answer she’s been wanting to hear for six long years.

Where the third volume of Show-Ha Shoten! is about setting the stage of its heroes, Volume Three of Akane-banashi is about appeasing a long period of pent-up frustration. Staring at Akane is the man who ruined her father’s life, and the only way to get her revenge is to come out victorious. Even with the hard competition from Karashi and Hikaru, our Rakugo hero adapts to her situation to showcase why she is above many of these amateurs. But the question remains: will she win, or will Akane-banashi pull a fast one on us?


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)