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Manga / Joshiraku

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Joshiraku is a Shōnen manga series written by Koji Kumeta (of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei fame) and illustrated by Yasu (the artist of Toradora!). The manga ran in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine from 2009 to 2013.

Rakugo (落語, literally "fallen words") is a form of traditional Japanese 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, often based on farce. The story always involves the dialogue of two or more characters- differentiated only through pitch, tone and slight movements of the head- and an ample amount of wordplay, puns and tongue-twisters. All of this makes rakugo very difficult to perform correctly, making it a exhibition of verbal dexterity as much as comedy.

The series is about the everyday lives of a group of rakugoka girls as they practice their skills and engage in Seinfeldian Conversation with each other.


You can see how this can be interesting.

An anime adaptation aired during the Summer 2012 Anime season.

See also Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, another, more traditional series centered around the art of Rakugo.

Joshiraku provides examples of:

  • Animation Bump
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: A giant rabbit in the opening credits. It later appears in episode 4 significantly smaller though.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Kigu is the only teenager of the group and is often treated as the youngest and most innocent.
  • Beach Episode: Episode 11 goes abroad! Sort of.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bespectacled Cutie: The appeal of this trope is discussed in episode 4. The girls also tried invoking it, to various degree of success.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: the second episode reveals that Kigurumi isn't as nice or cutesy as she appears to be.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The girls can't even begin to understand how their anime adaptation project got greenlit, especially because there is nothing to animate.
  • Black Comedy: several.
    • Kukuru's faux-pregnancy.
    • Marii's Alien Abduction.
    • Marii's demonic possession.
    • The hunt for excess electricity.
    • When the girls discuss whether they are cat- or dog-people, Gan compares the "sounds" for both. Gan is a shamisen player, which are traditionally made out of either dog-skin or cat-skin (with dogs being used for beginner instruments and cats being used for higher end versions). This is also echoed briefly in the opening theme song, where there is a brief shot of all the girls cuddling dogs... and Gan playing her shamisen while a large dog licks her face.
  • Bland-Name Product: The girls shop online at Mitsurin (Japanese for "Jungle") instead of Amazon.
    • Well, "mitsurin" *is* a slang name for Amazon in Japan. But it fits into general theme of censoring brand names that Joshiraku does.
  • Book Ends: A few.
    • The first and last episodes have nearly identical discussions of the questionable wisdom of taking such a dialogue-heavy manga and turning it into an anime.
    • The opening and final shots of the series are from the girls' rakugo routines (Tetra's and Marii's respectively).
  • Born Lucky: Tetora. In episode three she pulls "Great Fortune" at Sensou Temple (Asakusa Temple)- known for giving catastrophic fortunes - then proceeds to avoids accidents, building collapses, and commuter hell all while completely oblivious to her special place in the universe. Gan hasn't been amused since childhood. Marii may have started a cult.
    • Subverted when the rabbit came.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Oh yes. The anime's opening scene goes all the way to Medium Awareness.
  • Butt-Monkey: If somebody isn't abusing Mari physically, you can bet they're making fun of her (lack of) breasts or sniffing her ass.
    • If not Mari, then it's Kukuru. If not Kukuru, then Gan. If not Gan, then give it a minute and then look again.
  • Call-Back: Kigu's singing in episode 5 is done in a way one would expect a fan of metal music to do. This is because she was listening to death metal in episode 1.
    • Tetora escapes Gan's assault on the other members of the group by having to go to the bathroom at just the right time. It was stated in episode 3 that she manages to avoid all disasters out of sheer chance.
  • Catchphrase: "Don't ask stupid questions!" for Marii.
  • Childhood Friends: Gankyou and Tetora.
  • Compressed Hair
    • Mari can somehow manage to fit her rather long hair, which reaches just past her back, under a hat ... somehow.
    • Kukuru, whose hair is even longer.
  • Curtains Match the Window: All 5 of them. Whether this applies to Masky is a mystery for obvious reasons.
  • Cute Little Fang: Marii
  • The Cutie: Kigurumi. Or so she seems.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: "Even you can sit like a girl."
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Kukuru is strongly applied to have one. Later on it's revealed her mom abandon her as a child.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening is done by the voice actors.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Gan wears it during a scene in episode 1.
  • Exact Words: Gan "pleasing" her senpai in episode 6.
  • Expressive Hair: Kigu's ahoge moves around in episode 4 because she's excited. It droops in episode 6 because she's scared.
  • The Fake Cutie: Kigu often acts cute and expresses interest in cute things since that's what the other girls expect of her. However, her inner thoughts show that she isn't naturally like this and it's all a front; for example, when she gushes about how cute pandas are, she thinks to herself that she doesn't actually like pandas and finds their eyes creepy.
  • Fiery Redhead: Marii.
  • Functional Addict: It's all but stated Kukuru uses drugs constantly in order to escape from pain, if her "painkillers" are to believe.
  • Funny Background Event: In episode 12, there's some sort of snowy mountaintop battle going on outside the window.
  • G-Rated Drug: Kukuru's "painkillers" in episode 10.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Not gory, but there was...something that horrified most of the girls in episode 10 that was mostly covered up. Kukuru had a twisted smile after seeing what was going on, but the rest of the girls were sick from just seeing what it was.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Gan
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Marii
  • Hurricane of Puns
  • Idiot Hair: Marii and Kigurumi
  • Knocking on Heathens' Door: The Evangelists who shows up out of nowhere, during the episode where the girls suspect each other of secretly being wealthy. Said Evangelists get quite violent.
  • Lampshade Hanging: All over the place...
  • Last Episode, New Character: Uzannu Uzatei (Irritating and Annoying), who lives up to her Punny Name, complete with her parody theme song: Annoying You For Your Attention.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo
  • Living Prop: The Masked Girl, who is sometimes there… just because.
  • Loophole Abuse: When they're "screaming across the sea" at people to give back what they're owed, the girls take aim at Russia, North Korea and China, before shouting, from their theatre in Chiba, across the Bay of Tokyo, at the National Diet, to "give us our money back!"
  • Missing Mom: Kukuru's mom left her when she was a child
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Discussed. Shirakawa in Tokyo is not a river.
  • Motor Mouth: You'd better be ready to press the pause button often if you don't want your brain to overheat.
  • Naked People Are Funny: 10 minutes into the show, the girls put Marii in her "casual outfit" to get more viewers.
    • Marii is stripped repeatedly throughout the series, usually just her legs and butt, exposing her prominent Mongolian spot.
  • No Fourth Wall: The first scene of Episode I, outside of the rakugo intro, has the girls discussing whether it was a good idea to turn their manga into an anime, given that there is little action to animate.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The girls are only known by their Stage Names.
  • Only Sane Girl: Marii usually fills this role. Usually.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Segments showing the girls during their Rakugo acts only show the end of the routine.
  • Playboy Bunny: All five of the girls dress up as one in order to appease a giant rabbit.
  • Power Limiter: Gan's glasses.
  • Punny Name: All five of the girls, at least their Stage Names. And to add to the "old school" feeling, their names are entirely written in phonetic kanji.
    • Buratei Marii ("Bloody Mary") 蕪羅亭 魔梨威.
    • Haroukitei Kigurumi ("Hello Kitty Stuffed Animal") 波浪浮亭 木胡桃.
    • Bouhatei Tetora ("Breakwater Tetrapod") 防波亭 手寅.
    • Kuurubiyuutei Gankyou ("Cool Beauty Glasses") 空琉美遊亭 丸京.
    • Anrakutei Kukuru ("Dark and Gloomy") 暗落亭 苦来.
  • Real-Place Background: The second short of the episodes complete with a little trivia about said spot.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Marii, who is constantly being stripped into various states of undress by the other girls.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: A discussion about rowdy tourists disrupting a fish market involving a hijacked forklift was based off a real incident.
  • Rube Goldberg Machine: The "advance" cavity remover. Although it relies on Tetora's extreme luck to actually complete.
  • Running Gag
    • "This anime is full of ordinary dialogue so the viewers can appreciate how cute these girls are."
    • Marii's Mongolian Spot getting her exposed roughly once an episode with increasing intensity.
    • The girls will make reference to real-life products, corporations, and celebrities, but each time the item/person in question is blurred out and any mention of their name is censored.
    • When the girls have to give a group announcement, with each of them taking turns, Marii is only ever given the last syllable.
    • "Stop asking such dull and boring questions!!"
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: Episode 9. And the butterflies actually appear.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation
  • Serious Business: Some of the things the girls talk about are treated as such.
  • Shōnen
  • Slapstick Knows no Gender: These girls get comically slapped around on a regular basis.
  • Slice of Life
  • Stage Names: The girls are only known by their stage names.
  • Status Quo Is God: Constantly.
    • The first section of episode two ends with Marii seemingly dead, but she's fine in the very next bit.
    • Marii comes back from the moon.
    • Kukuru immediately recovers from insanity.
    • The world comes back after Marii dreams it away at the end of episode nine.
    • Mildly subverted as it takes Gan a full episode to recover from being graduated by the other girls.
  • Take That, Audience!: This exchange will make most of us feel guilty for something.
    Kukuru: Though most of them will be watching it for free. A shopper who doesn't buy anything is just a window shopper.
  • Take That Me: In Episode 4 when discussing how weird it would be for people with glasses outnumbering people without glasses, Kigurumi says how it would be stupid if in a manga all three brothers wore glasses. The example? Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.
    • A newspaper headline in episode 5 mentions Joshiraku being canceled before completing the season. Apparently this is a very real possibility due to some of the jokes going too far.
  • Tank Goodness: During the opening credits.
  • Three Shorts: Each episode typically consists of 2-3 mini-episodes, typically with the first and third focusing on discussions within the theatre's dressing room, while the second follows them on their adventures in and around Tokyo.
  • Toilet Humour: Episode 4 has at least two, of which we can't really give details here without violating TV Tropes' guidelines. Sumo apprenticeship can get really personal. Appears in later episodes as well.
  • Tongue Twister: The ED song sung by Momoiro Clover Z. It spends the first verse reciting the classic Rakugo tongue twister Jugemu Jugemu [...] no Chosuke.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: The girls are seen wearing different clothing each time they go out, usually with wildly-varying hairstyles as well.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight
    • In episode 7, the other four girls are so afflicted with tunnel vision that Kukuru is the only one bothered by a sumo wrestler lying under the floor, the wallpaper covers up bloodstains and Ofuda talismans , the roof is infested with rats, there's a dead man buried in the walls, and that Kigu has been replaced with a robot.
    • The masked figure who never talks until episode 9, that is.
  • Vague Age: All five of the girls look like teenagers, but episode three shows all of them but Kigurumi drinking beer which suggests that they are at least 20 given that minors can't be shown drinking alcohol on Japanese TV.
    • She could have been the designated driver, but Episode 6 tells us that Kigu is too young to smoke. The legal age is 20 for both tobacco and alcohol in Japan.
    • Considering that none of the girls except Kigu allude to going to school even with their daily route as shown with Tetora, and are drinking alcohol at their Christmas Party, it's likely everyone is an adult except for Kigu.
  • Visual Pun: Occasionally seen between the massive Hurricane of Puns.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: When she tries shaving Gan's head, Gan tosses Mari into a wall, and the clippers happen to cut the bottom of her outfit off. And yes, she was Going Commando.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: When Gan gets turned into the Reluctant Fanservice Girl in episode 13, Mari makes sure to revel in someone else suffering it for once.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?
    • The very first dialogue scene.
    • Mentioned again in episode 5.
    • And again in the final episode.
  • Wingding Eyes: Zig-Zagged with Gan.
  • Yandere: Gan slips into this territory in episode 6.