Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Even More Japanese Cute Stuff - Joshiraku (じょしらく)

Baloo speaking here.  Ex-Army has discovered another very cute Japanese animated cartoon here, and, as I'm a cartoonist, he asked me to do a blog post on it.  Well, dirty old man that he is, he's usually right about this sort of thing.  Undeniably cute, eh?  I think it rises to Hatsune Miku level, don't you?  Anyhow, this is called Joshiraku (じょしらく), and it purports to be about a strange Japanese art form called Rakugo (落語).

To quote from Wikipedia:

Rakugo (落語?, literally "fallen words") is a Japanese verbal entertainment. The lone storyteller (落語家 rakugoka?) sits on the stage, called the Kōza (高座?). Using only a paper fan (扇子, "sensu") and a small cloth (手拭, "tenugui") as props, and without standing up from the seiza sitting position, the rakugo artist depicts a long and complicated comical story. The story always involves the dialogue of two or more characters, the difference between the characters depicted only through change in pitch, tone, and a slight turn of the head.

The idea seems to be that these five girls are practitioners of Rakugo, and each episode begins, if I remember right, with one of the girls concluding a performance, bowing, and leaving the stage. It's oddly reminiscent of the early Seinfeld show, which began with a bit of Jerry's standup routine, related vaguely to the plot of the following episode.

And it's a bit like Seinfeld in other ways.  For one thing, there doesn't seem to be any moral stance to it at all, and is totally devoted to being funny and has no message.  And it also has somewhat the same stream-of-consciousness fabric, one gag leading randomly to another, without any unifying thrust — it this it also reminds me of Zippy the Pinhead .  Moreover, it's highly character-driven, with the slightly neurotic girls (again like Seinfeld characters) clashing their personalities together to attain humor.  It works.  I'm getting a kick out of it, anyway, just like Ex-Army.  Well, you can read a translation of the manga HERE, if you're in a hurry, but I recommend that instead you go watch the first few episodes in order HERE. I should warn you that though it's almost entirely benign, it lurches into shocking vulgarity from time to time.

Here's a clip.  Enjoy:

Joshiraku OVA 1 by dm_5133bf989863e

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