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

MANGA REVIEW | "Akane-banashi" - Volume Five

MANGA REVIEW | "Akane-banashi" - Volume Five

A great storyteller can’t be a master right out of the gate. If you wish to become a pro, one must practice and learn from the style of others. Akane-banashi may already have our heroine be good at the art of storytelling, but what happens when her quality of performance doesn’t match her quantity of material? Volume Five dives a little bit into this conundrum, as Akane continues to train at the Arakawa School.

Although she has won the Karaku Cup, that doesn’t mean that all will bow to her skills. In fact, nobody at the moment seems willing to bask in Akane’s greatness. One such nonbeliever is Rien Konjakuan, who constantly berates her backstage handling skills. An opportunity to open for Rien gives Akane the chance to get a little revenge, as she sneaks in something from their run-in into the tale of “Sango-jigo”.

The end result is the audience eating it all up, despite them being there to see Rien perform. Of course, our headliner doesn’t take Akane’s jab lightly, resulting in her almost being blacklisted from future performances. However, she gets the backing of others in the rakugo business, one of whom is Urara Ransaika, whose style is currently untouchable! Yet even with this backing, a slight problem Akane has is something that requires extra help: the amount of stories she knows.

In this section, readers of Akane-banashi will be educated on the types and levels of stories told in Rakugo performances. It would appear that Akane was already knowledgeable in some high-end tales. Turns out that’s not the case, as even “Jugemu” is considered in the lowest tier of storytelling difficulty. Even with a big win like the Karaku Cup under her belt, Akane still has much to learn.

Because of this, the narrative finds itself a little bit stuck. While they showcase some strong performances from Akane, Urara, and Rokuro, there’s not much progress happening for our main lead. A moment that allows Akane to learn a new story does arrive, but not much is done to showcase her training. In actuality, a lot of the time is spent having Akane watch others perform. Yes, it gives our heroine a chance to learn from the pros, but it doesn’t do much to push the story along.

Thankfully, even if the story is a little underwhelming, the way these performances are showcased is quite thrilling. From Urara’s cold eyes to Rokuro’s sudden tonal change, artist Takamasa Moue brings Yuki Suenaga’s story to life with plenty of vibrancy. You can feel the way the audience reacts to these performances, whether they are laughing, in shock, or are made dead silent by a mere stare. As someone who’s experienced rakugo for himself, they do a great job capturing the essence of a live show well.

Although the storyline is a little stuck, the performances keep Akane-banashi alive in its fifth volume. It appears that the narrative will move on shortly, with the knowledge that Akane gets being what she needs to march onwards. With that being said, can she master her own take on a story like “Fetching Tea” in a short amount of time? Considering her master and past, one thinks that a tough goal is just in reach of Akane Osaki.


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)