Note: The “first” episode of this series was apparently adapted from a 2-episode OVA, making this episode around 50 minutes in length.

I hope you like rakugo.

Summary:

A young man (whose name is later revealed to be “Kyoji”) is shown getting out of prison. With no home to go back to, and barely any belongings; Kyoji decides to ask the famous rakugo performer, Yakumo, to be his master. Despite never taking apprentices in the past, Yakumo amazingly agrees, giving Kyoji the name “Yotaro”. Kyoji/Yotaro is thus brought to Yakumo’s household, where a woman named Konatsu also resides. She is revealed to be the daughter of another rakugo performer who had already passed away. Konatsu is currently in Yakumo’s care.

Rude.

Time passes, and Kyoji begins to learn some rakugo routines. As Yakumo still refuses to teach, Konatsu is the one who teaches Kyoji his routines. One day, Kyoji’s old gang boss shows up, demanding that he go back to a life of crime. However, Yakumo manages to reason with the man. After witnessing Kyoji’s first successful performance, Kyoji’s old boss decides to back off and let Kyoji pursue his dream of doing rakugo.

Close-up of Kyoji/Yotaro.
I have no idea who this dude is but he looks cute so I hope he plays more of a role later on.

More time passes. It is now winter, and Kyoji is suddenly invited to be the opener to Yakumo’s act. However, Kyoji accidentally falls asleep during his master’s routine and snores loud enough for the audience to hear, forcing Yakumo to ad-lib. After the theater closes, Yakumo is furious at Kyoji for ruining his act and immediately expels him. However, Konatsu later finds Kyoji outside their residence in the snow. Seeing Kyoji’s resolve, Konatsu forces him to try reasoning with Yakumo one last time. Amazingly, Yakumo finally seems to accept Kyoji as his student, making Kyoji promise to keep rakugo alive.

Damn, Gramps, don’t be so cold.
I probably wouldn’t mind if these two hit it off romantically, but I’d also be super happy if they didn’t. I like their relationship as it currently is.

My Opinion:

Wow. I did not expect to like this series as much as I did. I can already tell that this series is one that not everyone would like, as the pacing can come off as incredibly slow at times. This series doesn’t mess around with what it is presenting, which is “rakugo.” I actually didn’t know what rakugo was before I saw this anime, but it appears to be a one-man theater performance. We are actually treated to TWO whole rakugo acts here, in their full length. One by Kyoji, and one by Yakumo. Kyoji’s act is the longer of the two, and while I didn’t count the minutes, it’s probably around ten minutes long. If the thought of ten minutes of a character acting out a story bores you, then this series is probably not for you.

That said, I personally found the rakugo acts rather intriguing. Although most of the act is just a straight frontal shot of the actor sitting down and telling a story, the anime still managed to have some interesting angles and shots in order to not make things too dull. Also, I can see that an actor’s success in rakugo relies heavily on how well he can perform, because a bad performance ruins any sort of atmosphere or interest the audience has in a story.

Other than the rakugo acts, the series does seem to have a few other plot threads—most notably Konatsu’s role in all of this. Although Konatsu also loves rakugo and wishes to be a performer, it is apparently forbidden for women to perform. However, a bigger source of drama is the circumstances surrounding the death of Konatsu’s father. Konatsu seems to believe that Yakumo killed him, somehow. Whether that is true or not is something we’ll have to keep watching to find out.

I think the thing I love most about this anime so far is that it’s completely free of teen drama and angst. All of the characters are adults, and while there is some drama it’s all treated very realistically. I sound like an old woman saying this, but it’s so refreshing to see an anime that breaks the typical mold—there are no dumb conversations, no unnecessary characters made just to fill an archetype, and no fanservice. Everything is handled so maturely. Also, I am amazed that this is animated by STUDIO DEEN of all companies. Wow. I would have never expected Deen to be able to artfully handle an anime of this depth.

Overall, this was an amazing first episode. Yes, this can be a very slow series at times, but it does manage to suck you in. People are saying that, other than the first episode, the rest of this series will have the typical 24-ish minute episodes. I really hope this is the case, as I really want to blog this series; but the episode time limit will definitely be a deal-breaker for me. My spring semester classes start up soon, and I just don’t have the time to review a 50 minute episode every week.

Out of five this episode:

precure heart2precure heart2precure heart2precure heart2 and 1/2

damn you hot grandpa
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