8 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Inushinde /

Joshiraku First Impressions: The Most Japanese Thing Since Japan (Inushinde’s Take)

I don’t think saying this will be contested, so I’ll just go ahead and come out with it: Joshiraku might just be the single most Japanese slice of life show ever made. It’s not just the fact that most of the story takes place in the backstage of a rakugo theater, or the fact that the concluding joke is one of the most brazen verbal assaults on the Asian mainland this side of early 20th Century American fear-mongering. The very essence of the comedy is something so gelatinously thick with Japanese culture, not helped by a distinct nationalistic tinge, that anybody allergic to glorious Nippon would erupt in flames immediately upon contact.

The show touts its dialogue-heavy nature as soon as it begins, and makes that the crux of a hefty chunk of its humor. It’s reminiscent of Home Movies’ free-flowing improvisation, giving off the impression of actual conversation, if people decided to constantly bombard each other with tissue puns and fourth wall breaking tidbits instead of actual human concerns. Being heavy on the pun-based side of the comedy spectrum, quite a lot probably gets lost in translation on its way to the subtitles, which probably accounts for the glacial subbing speed.

A lot’s been said about potential nationalistic elements, particularly because of the concluding joke mentioned in the first paragraph that prods not-so-subtly at past and present conflicts of interest around Japan. But being from the same mind as Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, which took just as many potshots at Japanese society as it did the world at large, I’m inclined to think that it’s more a series of equal opportunity jokes than a thinly-veiled outlet for zealous ultranationalism. Of course others may want to debate this, and I encourage them to.

Writing thoughts for comedy is never easy, mainly because of its incredibly subjective nature. But for what it’s worth, I enjoyed Joshiraku’s style; everything segued neatly into everything else, the dialogue was fluid and as unobtrusive as advertised, and the comedy managed to be sharp without sacrificing subtlety. If the viewer can look past the constant jabs at the slice of life format and the occasional stretch of dull banter, there’s quite a lot to like here for a patient and perceptive soul.

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  1. luffyluffy
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    I’m trying to cut down this summer season so I can watch 70’s mecha shows so NOPE yeah nope

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Probably for the best on the whole.

  2. Posted July 10, 2012 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    This show really surprised me in how funny it was. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but the dialogue really is rather similar to Home Movies… One of the very few TV shows I ever tolerated growing up. There’s just something about people talking about random stuff that can be both incredibly hilarious and very easy to relate to at the same time. All the fourth wall-wrecking was pretty spectacular, too.
    I didn’t get all the jokes though, so I would like to find somewhere online that has relevant notes on the episode. I think it’d be interesting, at least.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      Again, there’s definitely a significant culture gap that keeps those who either don’t keep up to date with Japanese current events or who didn’t grow up in the country from getting a full understanding of it. I’m pretty sure somebody will compile a list of references at some point, so keep an eye out.

    • Nuu
      Posted July 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      I LOVED HOME MOVIES!!!! I didn’t really care for nichijou, though some said it was rewarding if you stuck with it, but if this has a scene where someone powers up, then I’m definitely down :)

  3. overlyanimated
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Hmmm at first I wasn’t going to watch this anime but in the moments this first impressions went up. I couldn’t help my self but look at this anime. Simply put it is very good, the jokes are funny. I will be going around and saying. “Tissue” instead of “issue” to people and have it sound like I was really saying Issue. Also the beginning of the ending animation reminded me of another anime who’s ending was similar to that, I just can’t put my finger on it.

  4. Yalan
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I actually thought that was the best joke in a manga that doesn’t bring too many laughs.

    If you are familiar with the politics and the power difference in the region, it is even more hilarious.

  5. Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty much an animated sitcom with the fact it doesn’t explore far outside of its setting. Just enough difference between the characters, but yeah, this is pretty much five students from Class Ni no He.

    Y’oughta listen to some of the actual rakugo they’ve done. Holy smokes, everything’s a jab at otaku.

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