Cover Image: Akane-banashi, Vol. 1

Akane-banashi, Vol. 1

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Member Reviews

This felt like a classic sports manga but it's about traditional Japanese storytelling. What an interesting art form, what an interesting conflict, and while the "avenge my Father" plot is a little cliche, it makes it fit even more that classic sports template. Really loved what I saw with Vol. 1 and can't wait to read vol. 2.

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I had heard this manga talked about quite a bit and was pretty sure it was very anticipated so obviously that made me want to read it. I didn't really know too much about it going in, just heard good things so I was intrigued. I though the story was about art - like Barakamon or Blue Period, but it is about another form of art all together, storytelling. The way this played out it reminds me a little of Show-ha Shoten - that I think the way the art form is, probably works better in it's native language. Show-ha Shoten isn't as funny as I would think since it's a comedy manga and these stories being told don't hit the same way as they would if they were something familiar that I had grown up with like a fairy tale. Overall I think the story was fine, but I wasn't that interested. The story could get better, but I'm not sure if I'll continue with the series unless I hear something amazing about the next few volumes.

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As sad as I am to admit this, I don't think this story is for me. I enjoyed the unique story of rakugo and learning about it, but I am not sure that I am all that interested in reading more. I really do love the passion that the characters have and how beautifully they are drawn.

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Akane grew up watching her father perform Rakugo, a traditional Japanese art form, but when her father is expelled from his Rakugo studies suddenly, she vows to learn the art and get revenge by getting good. Akane-banashi is such a great start for a manga and gives me mega Hikaru No Go vibes. Looking forward to the next volumes.

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Thanks NetGalley and Viz Media for this arc

2.5/5 stars rounded up

This was definitely informative on the performance art of rakugo, which I'd love to see one day! However the storyline was kind of lackluster for me, and I put this down more times than I usually do. I think I might just not be the target audience, as it's definitely good art and well written, just not for me.

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I am so completely DOWN for this. We have a female protagonist going into a mostly male field of entertainment that is unique to Japan, to bring back her father's honor, as he was disgraced by the Big Bad. There are rivals, but it is respectful and there doesn't seem to be a love interest in sight, which is refreshing. She has goals and isn't going to toss them aside for a pretty face. I LOVE that. She isn't a Mary Sue. She has to WORK for what she wants and she's not afraid to do it.

I was going to say this was four stars, but after realizing how unique this is (at least to me) and how we have a strong female lead with a strong will to achieve her goal that doesn't involve getting a man, I'm bumping it up to five.

This is most definitely one I will be recommending to all of our manga readers at the store, and just recommending in general.

5, this is different in a good way and I want to read more, stars!

My thanks to NetGalley and VIZ Media LLC for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

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I had been hearing about this title for a while before it was licensed in English, with many respected mangaka raving about how much they enjoyed it, so my expectations for this manga were high. I'm very happy to say I adored the first volume from start to finish!

I was already familiar with the art of rakugo - as a (former) actor who specialized in character roles the performance and storytelling really speaks to me - but I think anyone could enjoy this story, as it's presented perfectly to learn the storytelling techniques and culture surrounding the performances. The art is clean and extremely expressive, and there are lots of helpful guides and explanations throughout, both as part of the story itself and asides for the reader. I never felt confused or overwhelmed with information, and it's a credit to the editing team who made a well-made manga even better for their English audience.

Akane is going to be a fun protagonist to follow in her journey, and it's clear she's going to be surrounded by a great cast of wacky characters to help her grow and achieve her dream. I cannot wait to read the next volume!

Highly recommended for all ages and readers to enjoy.

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Reviewed for Booklist. This story is about a traditional Japanese art form and a young girl trying to follow in her father's footsteps. It's endearing and interesting, and it's a smash hit that students are being drawn into. The Anime adaptation is also finding success, so the manga is going to be in demand. The artwork reminds me a lot of the expressiveness of Naoki Urasawa.

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I think teens would love this and it is unique and relatable. It was interesting to learn about rakugo which is something I have never heard of before.

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“Akane-Banashi” explores a unique niche of Japanese culture, but beyond a purposeful desire to stay away from such subjects, readers will find the manga easily accessible and engaging. The tone is wonderfully upbeat, the visuals are expressive, and the writing is informative and entertaining. What more could you want? Again, if you enjoyed “Show-Ha Shoten,” you must grab this release. If not, give this one or both a shot; they are spiritually entwined in a way that will make readers excited about more niche titles to get English releases

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I liked the look into rakugo. I didn't know anything about it and learning about it was cool. I also enjoyed watching Akane learn more about the craft. The premise of her getting involved in rakugo to avenge her father was also fun.

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I love manga like this! Parts of it reminded of Blue Period -- how it went in depth on technical aspects of Rakugo as Akane was learning them. I knew nothing about this artform before reading, and now I feel I learned enough about it to really appreciate it! I am definitely going to look for some performances on YouTube to get a feel for what it's like irl. The characters were complex (ish) and the set up for the rest of the series was done really well. What I think makes it stand out for the list is that even if a reader only reads this first volume, they still learn the basics of Rakugo and what the training/apprenticeship process looks like. It's a great window into an artform that isn't really looked into too much in America.

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Akane-banashi isn't the first title I've read/watched about Rakugo, but it is the first one that actually depicts rakugo in contemporary Japan. It was heartbreaking to see the students get expelled at the beginning of the story but it sure made for a great origin story for our heroine. I appreciate how no one creeped on or tried to bully our main character based on her gender, but I imagine that's coming down the pipeline. This was wonderfully wholesome, and an excellent palate cleanser after what seemed like a recent trend of ultraviolent/gory Shonen Jump titles. I look forward to reading the next volume to see how the characters grow.

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This was an absolutely fascinating story. While I have read a lot of manga, I had never before heard about Rakugo and this book was an incredible introduction to that bit of Japanese culture. The first half of volume one covers the main character's dad's backstory, and while it holds your attention and you definitely sympathize with him, it doesn't give you the strongest sense of what the series is going to be like as a whole. The premise of the world of Rokugo might be a little too niche for some readers, but it is always delightful to have a teenage girl protagonist who is clearly going to make her way up through the ranks of what appears to be a male dominated profession. This series definitely has potential and is worth keeping an eye on.

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I had high expectations for this due to all the rave I see about it online, and I can say that I definitely agree with the praise. This was such a great volume that gave such a great look into the world of rakugo. So much passion and heart was packed into under 200 pages, and I will definitely be picking up the next volume!

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A Special Thanks Goes to NetGalley and Viz Media for the opportunity to review this title.

I'm trading in my usual Superhero and Action Packed reviews for a special coming-of-age story that has gotten praise for its unique story-telling and for avoiding the traditional shonen protagonist formula.

Akane-banashi is a story written by Yuki Suenaga, and illustrated by Takamasa Moue. It tells the story of a young girl named Akane, who wants to avenge her father who was expelled from the profession six years ago, in her journey she began to take lessons from her former master, Shiguma Arakawa. As she prepares to climb the ranks of a Rakugo performer, from Zenza opening act to shin’uchi headliner, she will need to navigate her way through High School and navigate her relationship with Shiguma’s existing apprentices, all while learning that becoming a stellar rakugoka takes much more than just being good at performing.
What makes this series so special is the fact that the rakugo in the story is supervised by a professional rakugoka named Keiki Hayashiya, and it helps give the story a sense of realism and something that the reader can relate to. In a time where stories focus heavily on either fantasy or science fiction, Akane-banashi is a title that marches to its beat, not relying on a certain gimmick, it focuses on Japanese Culture and Akane’s journey to not only avenge her father and make her family proud, but to become a great Rakugoka.

We have seen several titles that have focused on certain things in Japanese Culture, such as Yuki Suetsugu’s Josei Manga, Chihayafuru, about a girl who is inspired to become the best Hyakunin Isshu Karuta player in the world, and Kawada’s Hinomaru Sumo, it is about a boy who strived to become a Yokozuna, the highest rank of Sumo. While Western Readers aren’t familiar with certain aspects of Japanese Culture, it is great that manga offers readers an opportunity to get a glimpse into another culture. This first volume was the perfect opportunity to introduce rakugo to a whole new audience at a time when technology has taken up a good portion of our lives. For those who aren’t familiar with Rakugo, it is a form of Japanese Verbal Entertainment. It also is a part of yose, a form of spoken theater that has been around since the 18th century.

The artwork is well done and the characters are designed uniquely and well crafted. The expressions may be exaggerated at times, but that’s what makes this book special is how much time and effort the artist and writer have put in to make sure it stays true to the legacy that this form of entertainment has been around since the Edo period (1602-1868). Takamasa Moue always had great strength in the depicture of character reactions and emotions. With Moue’s art style and Suenaga’s storytelling, it makes Akane-banashi a worthwhile read.

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Akane-banashi Volume One focuses on rakugo, which is a type of verbal entertainment in Japan that features one performer on stage taking on the role of all the characters in the story by themselves.

Akane-banashi Volume One
Written by: Yuki Suenaga
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 8, 2023

The first chapter introduces the reader to Shinta, a rakugo performer aiming to achieve the top rank. His young daughter, Akane Osaki, looks up to him and becomes easily angered when people insult her father. Shinta’s test to try to earn the top rank is coming up, and he’s put a lot of pressure on himself to succeed, because he doesn’t want to let Akane down. Also, having the top rank would allow him to bring in more money for his family.

On the day of the test, the chief judge is Issho Arakawa, one of the greatest rakugoka of his generation, and he comes across as a grumpy old curmudgeon. When it’s Shinta’s turn to perform, he’s nervous right at first, but when he hears Akane sneeze, he remembers learning from his wife how Akane watches him and mimics his every move. He uses this as an inspiration for his performance. For the classic story he tackles, he decides to skip a particular scene that focuses on description so he can focus on the characters, which is his strength.

When it’s time to announce the results, Master Issho announces that every person that performed on stage is being expelled from the school. Even though Shinta was not one of Issho’s own pupils, he expels him anyway, even though his teacher, Master Shiguma, protests.

The second chapter opens with a six-year timeskip. Guriko, a student of Master Shiguma, is tailing him after hearing rumors that his master is seeing a young girl. Guriko discovers that Master Shiguma is giving rakugo lessons to a now 17-year-old Akane at a karaoke place. It’s revealed that he’s been giving her lessons over the past six years, and it’s clear that Akane has a talent for rakugo. Akane wants to prove to everyone, but especially to Master Issho, just how great her father’s craft was. We find out that after Shinta was expelled, he got a day job. While the family may have more money, Akane is upset at how easily people tell him that it was good that he quit rakugo.

When the rakugo café calls and says they need someone to fill in a slot later that day due to unforeseen circumstances, Master Shiguma uses this opportunity to have Akane perform in front of an audience so she can get a taste of professional rakugo. If she still wants to be a rakugoka afterward, Master Shiguma will consider taking her on as a student.

After her performance, which goes well, Akane meets Kaisei, the only rakugoka that Master Issho has raised to the second-highest rank in the past six years. After Akane sees how talented he is, she decides that Kaisei is going to be her rival.

Akane officially becomes Master Shiguma’s student, and she meets three more of her senior students. However, only one, Kyoji, becomes important in this volume because he’s the one who volunteers to be one to teach her. The rest of Volume One focuses on Kyoji’s training.

By the time I finished reading the first volume of Akane-banashi, it’s clear that this series is following the conventions of sports manga. The protagonist’s motivation is established in the first chapter, and then we see the protagonist joining whatever sport or activity they’re going to be participating, see them go through a trial to prove their worth, they find a rival, and then begin formal training. Even though this series is following this formula, it works for the story that Suenaga is telling.

For this series, I also have to give props to Suenaga for utilizing the first chapter to explain rakugo and how it works. This helps readers, like me, who have no familiarity with rakugo to understand why the stakes are so high, in addition to establishing Akane’s character.

When it comes to the art, the characters have very unique looks to them. At this point in the series, you aren’t confused by who’s who, since there aren’t any characters that look similar. Takamasa Moue, the artist for Akane-banashi, also has a strength in depicting a wide range of character reactions and emotions. Moue’s art strongly complements Seunaga’s storytelling and it helps to make this manga an engaging read.

If you enjoy sports manga, or if you enjoy stories where the protagonist is trying to achieve a personal goal, you’ll probably have an appreciation Akane-banashi Volume One.

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A really great first chapter! I'm not a big manga reader, but I was hooked by this one and am looking forward to volume 2. The characters and conflict were well developed, and I felt like I learned a lot about rakugo.

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I can see why this title is kind of a big deal in Japan. This manga is dynamic in a way that reminds me a lot of titles like Chihaiyafuru. The passion for the craft oozes from the pages. I know some about rakugo, but this title stands out in how the stories are preformed. This is done through art style changes and exaggerated expressions, upping the reader's engagement with the story being told. It was also nice to see that while Akane is clearly passionate and talented in her own right, she still has growing to do. Keep an eye on this one.

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Akane-banashi Volume 1 is about Akane who seeks to become a master Rakugoka after her father was suddenly and ceremoniously expelled from his Rakugo school while attempting the test to become a master. Akane has the talent and the drive to bring honor to her father, she just needs a master to take her under his wing.

This was an interesting title to have translated into English. I do not believe Rakugo is entirely well known in America overall, and some otaku may know of it, but it felt even further odd to put it under the Shonen Jump brand. There are no traditional action scenes, instead we have scenes of Rakugo performing on stage, sitting in front of a live audience. Rakugo is typically uses well-known stories to the Japanese in its performances as well, something the uninitiated in America would also not have the prior knowledge of upon reading this manga. The manga does a fine enough job giving context to each of the referenced stories in each performance, and the expressions of the characters do a wonderful job of showing what archetype they are presenting for a character, but given my limited knowlege of Rakugo, I didn't take to this manga as I had hoped I would.

The art is all well done, the expressions exaggerated when needed, the characterizations are well crafted, and overall screentone application was balanced. The panels were laid out in a readable manner and there were a couple of dramatic two page spreads as well. I also appreciated that Akane, the main heroine, is not overly sexualized like in a lot of Shonen manga. She is always wearing an appropriate amount of clothing and no one seems to have any sexualized thoughts about her except one person commenting that she was cute. It was nice to see this kind of female representation in a manga written for teen boys.

Unfortunately, this manga didn't quite hit home with me and I think it is really due to the focus on rakugo itself. I see quite a few people have given this glowing reviews so it may be a case of "this wasn't written for me" and that is fine! I am glad this series exists in the world and offers more variety into the shonen landscape that is often filled with buster swords and bustier women.

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