Akane-banashi, Vol. 1

Viz Media. (Akane-banashi). Aug. 2023. 200p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781974736485.
Gr 7 Up–As a youngster, Akane loved two things: watching her rakugo-performing father Shinta ply his trade, and telling off anyone who had the gall to ridicule him. But when the scorn gets to be too much for Shinta to grin and bear any longer, Akane decides to take up her father’s mantle to prove to everyone just how magical the art form of rakugo can be. Akane-banashi gets off to an exceptionally strong start with this opening volume. Akane is a wonderful leading lady, full of energy, whose devotion to her father and his beloved craft will have any reader excited for her next move. This title does a great job explaining rakugo and all of its ranks to readers, ensuring that the verbal entertainment form is never confusing or ambiguous at any point of the story. Rakugo relies on the performer’s movements, as well as the emotions they’re conveying while on stage, and the manga’s art adeptly displays everything the performers want their audience to witness through their presentations. Paced well and navigating Akane’s early experiences with rakugo through her undertakings without skipping a beat, the plot will keep readers engrossed in her character progression as she sets out to make a name for herself in the (shockingly!) cutthroat world of rakugo.
VERDICT With its lovable protagonist, strong artwork, and unique exploits at its heart, Akane-banashi is not only a must for any budding manga collection, but for any reader simply looking for a magnificent reading experience.

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