What I expected: Comedy that would be completely unfunny with some rare chuckles
What I got: It’s actually getting funnier then I expected.
Joshiraku 1: We’re introduced to the five main characters. Marii, Tetora, Kigurumi, Gankyou and Sadako? Random discussions ensure on dogs and cats
Joshiraku 2: The Girls discuss the lottery followed by visiting Tokyo Tower. Damn, that’s one tall tower.
Joshiraku 3: Marii-a somehow seduces girls. Ki-Rumi teaches us how girls should sit. Afterwards, they ride a train through the city.
Joshiraku 4: Gannie abuses Mariia
Joshiraku 5: Sadako is depressed and the girls try to cheer her up. Mariia throws a fit over crepes.
5 episodes before I write? It’s a luckier number that’s why.
Keeping the premise short, this is about Comedians having a conversation backstage. I’m amazed I persisted with this. For the first two episodes I only understood perhaps 30% of the jokes. If we think of Anime as a business model aimed at Japanese audiences first and sticks a finger to the rest of us who don’t live on a four island archipelago, then this should be the textbook example
It’s been well-explained by Vale how Joshiraku would not be understood by anyone unless you live in Japan. For the first two episodes, I only understood maybe 30% of the jokes and the puns. Thank fuck that I know Chinese and Japanese History otherwise my humour to comprehension bar would be at 10%. This is a show with Japanese puns and references about Japanese history, pop culture, politics, buildings and references to the performing arts.
Out of all the characters, I would like Marii the best but mainly because of the voice acting. Ayane Sakura is a newcomer and she’s doing great as a boyish character. There was one joke spun about how Kigu was just putting up an act of being the archetypical cute idiot. And Sadako brings a nice touch of black comedy with her mild depression. I’d imagine this is how she is how I will be in 10 years’ time so yeah.
But I’m noticing that the show is giving me more chuckles with every episode. Like a nervous amateur doing his first stand up on a Friday Night, the show is getting progressively funnier once it got into a routine. I guess part of the reason could be that there is a lot more mainstream humour. The first episode joked about misplacing a stroke in a character and changing your meaning completely. By the 3rd, we had Tets- Can I call her Tets? Tets is the same nickname for Sydney-based chef Tetsuya and getting rid of the ‘s’ just brings up unwanted images of the Tet Offensive. Getting back on topic, 3rd episode had a comedy routing about Tets’ obscene luck and yuri-spinnable jokes with Mariia and the 5th relied on tried and tested reference-dropping. Maybe the show is being dumbed down a bit? Maybe someone flew a big Clue Missile over to JC Staff? Whatever it is, it’s probably for the better since I wasn’t raised up in Tokyo.
I wondered why I stuck by a show I don’t understand. But I saw potential in this because of that ‘Gibe back joke’. For some people nationalism just ain’t funny. Down at the Beer Hall, ultra-nationalists do hang out there who range from hilariously stupid to the kind you’d like to see piss off for being a dumbass. And for me, land claims are one of those moments where nationalists are hilariously stupid. The hilariously stupid ones, they’re the ones who hurl 5th grade insults at each other on Youtube over historical or imagined torts, pull stunts like swimming for rock awareness, get asspained when a Russian President makes a tweet and niggling, always niggling one another.
But mud-slinging over clay aside, I also stuck by it for the celebrity factor. SZS was the anime that 09ers love and this was his newest work. My second reason which I’ll repeat again is that, I had some knowledge of Japanese history and politics so that helped me. Those rocks? They’re called the Kuriles. The Soviets manage to acquire them from Japan, thanks in small part to the Americans who donated surplus landing ships to the Red Ass Kicker.
And finally I love the anime for that architecture. Staring at neat, slick buildings has been one of my minor interests ever since engineering shows began broadcasting on my TV. Every week, the Girls visit a different part of Tokyo just so Production can practice painting background and reading English tourist maps. It’s lovely just to see huge towers like the Tokyo Tower in Anime or find out about another place I should visit in Tokyo before I die.
So in short, watch Joshiraku but keep wikipedia open.
Other comments: In episode 4, Marii-a makes a huge fuss over all the flavours at the crepe store and criticises the store for taking a mere crepe and doing something whacked out and bizarre. Let’s get this straight. Cooking isn’t about rules. Those recipe books are more of a guideline. It’s not about flavours not working but whether it’s a complement. Just the other day, I made a Milo and grated cheese grilled toast and believe it or not that tasted damn delicious. And hell, if Marii makes such a fuss over just a crepe, I’d love to take someone like her down to Balmain to try out the crazy shit that Zumbo makes like Salted Popcorn Macaron or a 8 Layer Chocolate Cake. Just a cake she would say. And if you ever come down to Sydney, make sure to vis. Zumbo is a sadistic wanker on Master Chef Australia but damn he does deliver his promise of being a Madman Patissiere.