Joshiraku

May 4, 2013

I guess you have to be a Japanese or someone who has been living in Japan and accustomed to its customs and traditions to really understand and appreciate many of its, urm well, customs and traditions. One of them being rakugo. As a non-Japan native, I guess the best way for me to understand what rakugo is, it is a Japanese style of storytelling done by a sole storyteller on stage. In short, it is a verbal entertainment that lacks all the sound effects and even visual effects that you mostly see in televisions, cinemas and the likes. Just your good plain ol’ storyteller and your vivid imagination. I think.

So when they decided to make an anime based on the rakugo theme, I wasn’t really that interested because it will probably be lots of gags and jokes that only Japanese could understand. So what made me changed my mind? Joshiraku is about five young female rakugo comedians and the story is about their daily lives. You can say I fell for that trap. Shame on me. However it isn’t exactly about their everyday lives that we will be seeing. Instead, you will see them discuss on several topics while making cultural jokes and puns about it.

As expected, due to my very lack of knowledge on just about everything, the jokes they make are very hard to understand. Thankfully, there is this site that at least explains some of the important scenes and the puns including the examples stated in them. Although I may not grasp some of them, at least it provides good enlightenment on several topics that I (and anyone else) would have easily missed or not comprehend. The fansubbers really did a good job and really know their stuffs well so hats off to them in helping to make the viewing a little more enjoyable with such notes. After all, even the girls do not have common names. They sound so odd and foreign that I had a hard time trying to remember them. By that time, I think 3/4 of the series is already gone. So what do you think of names like Marii Buratei, Gankyou Kuurubiyuutei, Tetora Bouhatei, Kukuru Anrakutei and Kigurumi “Kigu” Haroukitei? I may need to go over them again. Each episode is divided into 3 parts and though the first and third parts have the girls in their traditional hakama talking at the backstage, the second one sees them visiting different locations in Japan in the midst of their talk and observe the different fashion clothing and hairstyle they put on? Sometimes girls need to take a breather as well.

Episode 1A: Normal Dialogue
* We are being kept reminded that this anime is filled with ordinary dialogues so that viewers can enjoy how cute the girls are. You know what is cuter? Girls who don’t speak. Oh sh*t! Just kidding, I swear! I hope I didn’t step on a landmine. Sorry -_-.
* So we have the girls talking about how this manga got animated and told to act ‘normally’. This leads to a discussion of what they normally do.
* They receive an invitation for a party and the theme is to dress casually. So how casual is casual? If everyone dresses as they do, it will turn into some cosplay party? More discussion on what clothes constitutes normal and how often they wear them.
* If Marii sleeps in the nude, doesn’t that make it her normal pyjamas and thus her casual wear? So casual wear = nude party? The rest starts stripping her and though she’s naked standing behind a name sheet, the rest felt it looks like it is them who is being naked and starts flipping the sheet. And all the ridiculous names (some not even names) start to appear as they flip through. Is “The End” considered as one? It only has just begun.

Episode 1B: Different Clothes
* As Gankyou appears in a gothic loli outfit, they discuss about the different types of lolis.
* Marii appears in a sweater as they all head into the rakugo theatre. However they all have seemed to have forgotten Kukuru.

Episode 1C: Shouting Instructions
* Kigu asks her friends whether they like dogs or cats. This leads to a discussion if they like this or that (example: coffee or tea). Both sides argue about the pros and cons about canines and felines, including famous ones.
* The kanji for dog has a dot somewhere and they debate if they can actually remember where to put that dot. Putting it somewhere else may conjure a different word and meaning.
* On the topic of while shouting towards the mountain or the sea, whatever they shout depends on what sea they are facing because if you shout towards the Pacific Ocean, the nearest island would be thousands of kilometres away. Instead of shouting “You fool”, they decide to shout “Give us back (insert anything to be taken back here)” since it would cover all the angles. So, give back their money?

Episode 2A: Backstage Riches
* Kukuru asks what would they do if they won the lottery. Save it? Look for the missing mother? Find the culprit? Till Kukuru points out even if they had won that much money, she wouldn’t be telling anybody. This leads to everyone being suspicious as there might be a winner among them.
* Everyone suspects Marii due to her recent actions which seems only people with money can afford. The merry-go-round continues till Tetora points out another way to tell rich people: Based on how they speak. Well, they’re making Marii seem like the culprit when she is just a winner.* Gankyou realizes that the winner will keep a low profile and you can tell that when unknown relatives or pros show up. Then a couple of ‘pros’ enter the room to preach about God. She wants to convert Marii but the latter beats her up because she didn’t win the lottery. The light goes out for a while and when it comes back on, Marii is ‘killed’ with blood written on the wall that they’ll all go to hell. The rest start suspecting each other when the real culprit was actually one of the ‘pros’.

Episode 2B: Three Towers And A Vow
* The girls are visiting Tokyo Tower, discuss and compare about its height as well as other landmarks in the country. It leads to a discussion about left or right and how they would remember it.
* A discussion about domed stuffs and sides that stick out has Marii felt being insulted because she thinks they are referring to her as someone whose front and back can be switched

Episode 2C: Cold Girl
* Who is this Masked Girl sitting with them? Is he part of the group? Well, they don’t really seem to mind.
* As the rest are being cautious of the new strain of influenza, this has them debate on how long something is constitute as new. This includes of how products are considered new when all they did was change the packaging and switching up roles so as to market a whole new cast.
* Speaking of the influenza, they talk about doctors who are first in line who should receive vaccination as they need to treat everyone else. Because it is limited, not everyone can get them so they argue who are next in line.
* Because pregnant women are given priority, what happens if one fakes pregnancy? Everyone has problem doing that imaginary pregnancy but Kukuru is acting like the real deal so much so everyone is convinced that she may be about to give birth anytime and play along.
* When Kukuru collapses and wakes up panicking about her missing baby (to a point she is going crazy about it), the doctor arrives and ushers her away into the ambulance. The rest note she got priority treatment, though it wasn’t for the flu.

Episode 3A: A Bath Beyond
* With the topic of who would they give their Valentine’s Day chocolates to, Marii feels that girls are supposed to receive it. Well, here comes a pile of them for her. This has the rest to doubt if she is really a girl or a boy cross-dressing as one. No matter what she says or does, the rest aren’t convinced since they view her actions and speeches to be unlady-like. Not even showing she has boobs.
* Marii is made to sit or stand like a girl but with disastrous results. Since it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem, it is suggested that women talk about grudges but all those resentments seem petty. Even so, those grudges go back to her previous life! Who was she in her previous life?! But that only makes the rest believe that she was a man in her previous life.
* The only way left is to go to the bath together. In the end, Gankyou points out that it isn’t whether she’s a man or woman now. She points out that she is just a ‘child’.

Episode 3B: Visit To Asakusa
* At the gates of the Asakusa Temple, they discuss about the Kaminari gate and compare it to other famous gates around the world. They also talk about the purpose of the gate-cum-shrine and feel disappointed that their conclusion led them to think it is some checkpoint.
* Because Marii feels she has nothing to cure, she doesn’t want to join the rest in putting themselves in the temple’s smoke. Till they insult her that she starts doing it to prove it to them.
* As they pray, they debate how is Asakusa Temple read as and this leads to a conversation about other places in Japan whose names aren’t as clear cut as they should be read.
* They take their fortune and while the rest have good luck, Kukuru obtains great misfortune. That bad, huh? Tetora gets the opposite and has the greatest luck. Marii thinks she should share her fortune with them but I guess this means treating them.

Episode 3C: Sanada Little Zoo
* Gankyou and Marii are facing off with each other giving that mosquito thingy an excuse to hit each other. Everyone else got bit by the mosquito and they notice Tetora isn’t the only one who didn’t get bitten. Is it the place where she sits and the flow of the air? This has them remember how Tetora has always been the lucky girl avoiding all sorts of danger while the rest bear the misfortune. Is she favoured by the Gods?
* Marii may seem like a stalker taking pictures of Tetora but her goal is to examine her way of life and perhaps imitate her to get her luck. She concludes that it is some old TV of hers with an analogue tuner. She manages to get her permission to get it as the rest feel if they watch it, they can get good luck. But it explodes in their face! Tetora notes that it was making weird noises last week and wanted to get rid of it. Yeah. Marii brought it here… And Tetora avoided it being exploded in her room.
* Thus the rest decide to copy and follow every move she makes. Just to be safe. The group movement makes it look so odd that some shrewd producer thinks this breakdance rakugo will be a new hit. The girls go on stage and perform this new dance but are pelted with stuffs because the audience didn’t come to see this sh*t! And Tetora isn’t part of the performance because she is stuck in traffic. Such luck…

Episode 4A: Glasses Girl
* When the girls mention about Gankyou’s glasses fogging up during rain, Gankyou shows her violent side only towards Marii. Gankyou notes glasses are fitting for violent people because they would hesitate to hit them.
* But when Gankyou takes off her glasses, she obtains even more strength. So the glasses are some sort of limiter? The rest start wearing different type of glasses so as to avoid Gankyou being stereotyped as a glasses girl.
* Tetora stands up for Gankyou that she wears them to keep the balance among the crowd and also the perils of having someone walking around in fogged glasses. Gankyou shows she can still be accurate (by touching the nipples?) when her glasses fog up but misses for Marii’s case since she dodges it and puts up something fake in its place. The rest pity Marii because she doesn’t realize she’s being made fun of.

Episode 4B: Nausea At Daiba
* While taking a train, they talk about laughing gulls and the training they did for their rakugo performance. Cleaning a master’s ass is one of them?
* Kukuru starts feeling nausea so they try to calm her with sweets, writing ‘person’ on the palm or just swallow and get over it. Making her look outside the window makes her even sicker. I don’t know why Marii starts drinking and wanting to throw up too.
* Finally when they get off the train, they realize they are in the wrong place. Lots of cosplayers start streaming from the opposite direction. Trivia time! How many anime characters can you identify?!

Episode 4C: Bunny Eyes
* Why the heck are the girls watching a video of the moon in the room despite there is a full moon outside? So of course when you talk about the moon, you’re going to discuss what the crater looks like. A rabbit. Does it? Noting that different people see different things on the moon, I guess the most ridiculous one has to be Kukuru’s comment that it looks like a NEET asking his mom to buy the latest issue of Jump! I take that back. Gankyou’s one is really ridiculous: A pervert sniffing somebody’s ass!
* Suddenly the Master Rabbit pays them a visit and they have to serve him if they do not want him to get violent or show his temper. Whether it is dancing, singing or doing bunny hops, Master Rabbit isn’t appeased. Become Playboy bunnies to please him? Not working.
* When all else fails, Marii turns into Princess Kaguya to make the rabbit bow to her. However Master Rabbit kidnaps her to the moon and the crater now looks like the rabbit sniffing Marii’s ass! WTF?!

Episode 5A: Praise The Girl
* Kukuru is depressed. She asks the girls which is more important, her or rakugo? Because she wants to kill rakugo and then die, Tetora suggests celebrating birth rather than suicide. They do a Christmas party and sing to cheer her up.
* She thinks they are making fun of her and after she collapses, a ‘miracle’ occurs. Little cupids descend on her and send her into ‘high spirits’. The rest start signing but Marii refuses to join in. Thinking she is tone deaf, another ‘miracle’ happens. She becomes low in spirit and thinking she has become a fallen angel or demon, they feel the need to exorcise her. I’m not sure about this suggestion that rubbing the demon’s boobs will purge it. Is it some handphone application?

Episode 5B: Stylish Town
* The girls are at Harajuku and they prevent Marii from calling humans, trash. They discuss about the famous director, Miyazaki and the shortening of Ura Harajuku (Back of Harajuku) is shortened to Urahara. Marii wants to call the place Top-hara.
* They talk about the different fashion magazines and then go get crepe. Marii is dismayed at all the different types of crepe choices when Kigu recites a long order like as though she is reciting a resurrection spell.
* Marii has trouble trying to eat her crepe as she is thinking too much like as though her life is going to change once she bites it. They shut her up by sticking all their crepes in her mouth.

Episode 5C: Farewell To Glasses
* Everyone misinterprets the different kind of unique skin they have. Gankyou teases Marii if she really wants to have a big sister skin (an expression that means big sister character) and strips her only to reveal a blue black spot on her butt. They all try drawing their own version of big sister on her back but they just turn out hideous.
* Seeing that each of them has a different skin, they decide to become Dry Squad, Skin Arrangers! I guess their problem is solved by skin creamer.
* Gankyou feels left out from the squad since she has no unique skin so the only way she can have such is to have goosebumps. She’ll have to keep this up if she wants to join them. I’m sure the various examples would just freak her out. To solve this problem, they graduate her. Only her.

Episode 6A: Four Vows
* Now that Gankyou has been ‘graduated’, she is no longer part of the gang! They discuss how much easier things are with only four of them and the good things that come in fours. This includes bad stuffs when things are in five.
* As they are talking about four panel comics (yonkoma), they feel it is time to go home but find the door lock (you can bet it is jealous Gankyou responsible for that). Electricity is cut out to save power. They start playing a game that has them stand in each corner to stay alive. However if you think about it, there needs to be a fifth person if you need to keep the game going from corner to corner. As the rest think that having the fifth person is a good thing, Gankyou is waiting for the moment they’ll thank her. But to her dismay, they thank Masked Girl instead.

Episode 6B: Musashi Scenery
* Tetora is upset that everyone got off the wrong train station. Yeah, she passed Gankyou but didn’t notice her. So when she manages to get her attention, Tetora is sarcastic that she met someone who has graduated and commands respect. Gankyou denies the latter. So if she doesn’t, so what?

Episode 6C: The Servant’s Vengeance
* So Gankyou is back with the gang as Marii talks about hierarchy. Gankyou is considered a newbie and must look to the rest are her seniors. Her first task is to please Kigu and learns the hard way the kind of snacks and magazines she prefers.
* Gankyou becomes a pro in guessing what Kigu wants with only a hand sign and is told to serve her other ‘seniors’ as well. They have a bad feeling about this since Gankyou really wants to serve them. Evil aura coming out… Yeah, they get tortured as Gankyou praises herself for knowing what her seniors want.
* Tetora’s good luck means she is spared from the torture and suggests Gankyou to run as public servant since she is good in knowing what people wants. So they talk about politics and the machinery to run elections but she hasn’t the money for the deposit. Needing to just win any simple election, the rest think the neighbourhood election is a good one but the only condition is that she needs to be bald! Because all her candidates are. Marii tries to shave her but ends up getting her own butt exposed.
* Since Gankyou will run for anything, an alien beams her up and has her enter the Prime Minster race for the solar system. Because she needs to pay a deposit equivalent to 1 Earth, and learning that this dude has made money this way, she punches him for selling her planet. She thought she is done for but everybody rejoices in her actions. I guess that guy is really hated. Gankyou brags to her friends about having a meeting at a galactic level and that they mustn’t tell anyone or else people will come flocking to her. I’m sure they won’t. Maybe she’s just going crazy.

Episode 7A: Yankees Are Scary
* Discussing about modern triathlon and pentathlon, they discuss about putting some Japanese games in the mix like shogi or even sleeping in the kotatsu. Is that even a sport?
* They realize they forgot to put away the Hina dolls after a certain date and old wives tale means they won’t get married. Due to some pun, when Kigu gets splashed with green tea, they mistake it for moss and want her to stay away. But she goes berserk and turns them all green.
* Gankyou thinks the only way out is to be a delinquent and marry young. They look to Marii to turn them into a misfit! But after praising her as a leader, she is more inclined to do so. First, they talk normally but write using different kanji words (it’s more for the sound rather than the meaning).
* Discussing about if misfits have any legends, they decide to create one for Marii. But Tetora reminds them even if they are misfits, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll marry early if this room is isolated on a tower top. Thus the Hina dolls are as if locked away. Marii starts dreaming she is like a princess locked in a tower and doesn’t want to leave as the rest heads home. Next day when they come in, they see the place a filth and notes Marii turned into a shut-in instead.

Episode 7B: Fish Story
* The girls are at a fish market and talk about foreigners who love disturbing locals doing auctions and take silly pictures.
* They discuss about the top 3 ways to move around and the electro-cars along with different types of high-end luxury cars.
* They also talk about the history of the Tsukiji market and how it was relocated after a great earthquake.
* Next, they speak on the different names of fishes and why their kanji is written or named in a certain way and do the same for their own names. All the talking has made them hungry so they head into Yoshinoya to eat.

Episode 7C: Backstage Files
* Kukuru is depressed that the manager ticked her off for high electricity usage. So the rest try to find out what in this room uses lots of energy. But all they find are non-electrical freakish things hidden beneath the floor, ceilings and walls. And nobody but Kukuru is disturbed by it! Are their eyes so fixed on what consumes electricity that they can’t see the oddities?
* Marii suggests instead of cutting down power, they should produce more. This means she starts peddling her energy-producing bicycle but how much can it produce? Marii crashes through the wall but again nobody really sees the freaky thing and patches up before the manager gets back.
* Thinking about the best way to produce electricity, because of some twisted deduction that a gust of wind happens when love is sparked (I guess they’ve seen too many animes and read too many mangas), as long as people are getting it on, they can produce electricity. So why this hostess thingy? The guy is actually an undercover cop and is going to arrest them for this illegal activity when Kigu shoots a finger beam! They realize Kigu is a robot and the one using lots of electricity. The real Kigu is sleeping at home dreaming of electric sheep…

Episode 8A: Bag Of Gold
* Because it is the New Year, they discuss things that have ‘new’ in them. Since the master sent them mysterious New Year envelopes, they debate who should be going to take first. All lots have Marii ended up being the last one. She laments he would get the worst gift. Gankyou goes first and gets only 1,000 Yen. Kigu is next and ends up with 30,000 Yen. Kukuru is disheartened she got 2,000 Yen because this note is not in use anymore. Tetora gets a stock certificate! It’s worth 600,000 Yen! Marii feels she has drawn the short end of the stick. Why does it only feel like coins? Discussing about the value if she gets a foreign coin, Marii thinks she is the winner as the envelope might hold the key to an apartment suite.
* A camera distracts them to do a New Year greeting when Masked Girl steals Marii’s envelope. Everybody ponders what her envelope was and Kigu thinks it was the key to Marii’s heart. In actual fact, it’s just a 500 Korean won. That’s like around 40 Yen, right?

Episode 8B: Totter
* Marii is dressed as a maid and several old ladies molest her for good luck. Even her spot on her ass.
* They notice the shop selling t-shirts with several auspicious words. Then they eat some eel for vigour before visiting a sweets shop.
* At a temple, Gankyou explains about the Thorn Protector whereby legend has it that a servant swallowed a thorn but a charm from this temple saved her. They decide to splash water for good luck as Marii purposely splash on Gankyou. Suddenly she becomes nice and polite! Can it be true? The rest start pouring on themselves but there is no effect. Why? Because Gankyou was just pulling their leg! She got them!
* The girls are eating at a shop and word has it that eating soft shell turtles will give you softer skin. This leads them to think eventually they’ll grow old and wrinkly and their visions all fogged up. Then the vapour fogs up Gankyou’s glasses.

Episode 8C: Is It Over Yet?
* Everybody is saying that today is still April. Yeah. April the 40th! The friends fear if it is May, Kukuru may get May blues again. As for Kukuru, she thinks her friends are expecting her to get May blues.
* They decide to cheer her up by putting on funny faces and since she has no reaction, Kigu starts crying. The rest continue to cheer her up with their silly antics but Kukuru points out she doesn’t feel that bad in May. Marii thinks there are other sickness months too. The rest decide to take a monthly blue each. Marii is left out seeing the other months she picked seemed suitable for the rest. And the other months don’t seem so bad. Yeah, she’s having fun all year long.
* Tetora points out the more cheerful she is, the easier she’ll get May blues. Suddenly Marii sees visions of that creepy assistant called Yamashita. The rest couldn’t see her. Marii becomes haunted as she sees Yamashita around just about everywhere. Turns out to be Kukuru in a suit and she’s not yet finished having her fun yet. Yeah. It’s May 45th and the month isn’t going to end yet for fearful Marii.

Episode 9A: Butt-tofu
* Though the school holidays are here, Kigu is upset that not many children come to see rakugo. They come up with ideas to attract kids like trading cards or adding round things to their costume. Tetora suggests making their body round and invites them to eat all the snacks. Marii realizes this is a ploy because she knows Tetora doesn’t go fat no matter how much she eats.
* Desperate, the only way left is to force Marii and show her butt spot! How are they going to do that without turning it into porn? They discuss if they screw up, she’ll be mislabelled and remembered wrongly for years to come. Marii still refuses to show her butt but the rest aren’t giving up and continue to convince her. Suddenly some foreign admiral barges in to take Marii away thinking she is the victim of child abuse. Gankyou comes up with a thought that the kids may not be coming because the foreigners took them away.

Episode 9B: The Bear Of Ueno
* The girls meet at the zoo as they talk about the panda being used as the main attraction for visitors to visit the zoo. The panda isn’t doing anything much to Marii’s dismay so the rest think it has got a good life but notes it has no privacy since its sexual life is broadcasted on the internet.
* They also talk about another creature which has been named the lesser panda, the crap that other animals throw and what kind of animals they like each. Kukuru likes the naked mole rat so they go see those ugly rodents. She likes them because they don’t get cancer and do not revolt against the queen.
* When they converse about animal trivia, it led them to start mentioning about tear-jerking book titles that has animals in them. Hachiko, oh Hachiko! Finally Kukuru points out an animal that nobody seems to know where it originated from. What the hell is this mascot character on Jump’s magazine?

Episode 9C: Sleep Talking
* The girls are trying hard not to doze off as they talk about the origination of the sound asleep idiom. Because Marii mentions about fortune striking one when asleep, and then quickly dozes off, each time she sleep talks something good, that good fortune actually happens to them. Whether it is delicious sakura mochi or getting 5 people for a commercial ad (Masked Girl took Marii’s place), they’re sure enjoying the fortune.
* They realize as long Marii is asleep, good fortune will strike them. Each time she wakes up, unaware what just happened, they get mad and try all sort of stuff to make her go back to sleep. Hypnotism? Chloroform?! Listening to boring speeches? How about knocking her out cold with the table! Selfishly evil!
* The girls continue to ride on the luck of winning beauty contests, getting married to an Arabian prince (who can take on 5 but not 6 wives) and going on an idol tour. Then they realize they’ve been too lucky for their own good. What if all this was just part of Marii’s dream? So can you imagine when Marii sleep talks about the end of the world?! Hey! Where has everybody suddenly gone to?!

Episode 10A: Pumpkin Band
* The girls are enjoying their snacks they got from Halloween. Only thing is, they aren’t sweets but Japanese snacks for drinking! They talk about how this Halloween thingy has become popular in Japan since it’s a western tradition. This leads to discuss about copyright stuffs and that they have to watch what they say on TV.
* Because more of the western festivals are creeping into Japan, they think that soon they will be celebrating American holidays like Independence Day or Lincoln Day. As for the trick or treat motto, if they put it on a national scale, it may seem like something intimidating or threatening.
* They talk about doing Halloween the Japanese style and incorporating Japanese elements. Looks odd, don’t they? One of them being saying thanks after being given candy. Obviously. But they add that they need to do something in exchange like singing. Soon the girls form a death metal band but notice how they fail in comparison to a certain light music club band.
* If getting candy is so troublesome, Kigu would rather not have them. She gives the candy back and the girls start exchanging and trading up the given gifts till Marii ends up as some super rich girl! Yeah, they’re getting further and further from Halloween.
* Next on the topic is that Halloween doesn’t necessarily mean they should give sweets. Maybe it is just an abbreviation for something. It leads to Tetora thinking there is a bomb hidden in the pile of sweets as the girls make a mad escape dash. But it’s all fake as Tetora starts eating all the sweets.

Episode 10B: Battle of Shinjuku
* The girls are at the Kabukichou entertainment district and their conversation begins that there are no kabuki performances in the area despite its name (along with other examples in other places). Gankyou explains the history why there is none and the theatre that was built in its place in which it was eventually closed down due to poor sales.
* They head to an underground building for hardcore anime events and they got terrified (except for Kukuru) seeing some anime mascots killing each other in a death match!
* Marii imagines the kind of Kabukichou she would like to see. I don’t know. It seems dangerous. Illegal foreigners trying to sell her stuff, hosts trying to get her enter their host club and in the midst, a yakuza battle with the police. I’m not sure which movie she saw to get such an impression.

Episode 10C: Cavity Shore
* Kukuru is drawing her dentist in a depressed look. Why? When she was asked to pick which crown, she chose the one that is covered by the insurance. I guess that means he makes less profit, eh? Because of that, his grief stricken face is carved into her mind and starts seeing his face everywhere she goes.
* As they even joke about the release of this series’ DVD and its timeline and the possibility of being cancelled (don’t jinx it!), they soon discuss about the lame dental puns that dentists have in naming their clinic.
* Kigu shows off her shiny teeth she really takes care off as Gankyou notices Marii has been silent all this while. Actually she has cavities even though she denies it. They want her to fix it right away since the earthquake can hit anytime. I guess they’re really trying to nail the message because they put on a full face helmet on her even if the earthquake alert is fake.
* Since Marii doesn’t want to take off the helmet, this upsets Masked Girl as it overlaps her character. The painful submission move to take it off has Marii pleading for painkillers. But Kukuru gives her painkillers that only heal her heart. Now she is one happy singing girl. Till the effects wear off. Each time the pain worsens. It’s either high or pain.
* They suggest a primitive do-it-yourself to extract her teeth when Tetora introduces a high-tech machinery to do the job. Actually it is the same idea but only made more complicated. So the ball rolls and rolls and rolls, unleashing the domino effect to other contraptions from inside to outside the building and making some guy lose his wig! And the tooth eventually came out.

Episode 11A: Family Play
* The girls are having a swell time at the beach. Well actually, they’re in their dressing room. The background posters must be that realistic, huh? They discuss the various designs of swimsuits which leads to a topic on Japan’s loose education.
* Speaking of that, Gankyou bought a very loose and oversize swimsuit. So much so it can fit Kigu inside! Because it looked like a mother giving her daughter a piggy-back ride, they suggest Kigu to call Gankyou ‘mama’. Somehow it awakens her maternal instincts and they both love it.
* Kukuru got jealous and wants in but gets disappointed when she couldn’t smell anything on Gankyou. So as not to let her get depressed, Tetora throws soapy water all over the floor. This causes Kukuru and Marii to slip and somehow they squeeze and fit into Gankyou’s swimsuit. Can you believe it? Four girls fitting in a swimsuit? Man, it must be one very elastic swimsuit or a very, very, very loose one.

Episode 11B: Sakai Five
* Gankyou waits at the Musashi Sakai train station as slowly her friends pop up one by one after taking the wrong train stop.
* Walking along Skip Street, they talk about why the street is named so as well as Doppo Boulevard. They are about to stop by at a shop to eat ramen but Kigu has doubts entering it because it sound like a vulgar anatomy. But the rest convince her by giving examples of other sound effects similar to it. I guess the ramen tastes good, no? To relax after meal, Gankyou takes them fishing. Well, I guess this is fun for a lifetime. Because fun in getting drunk lasts only a day. Because fun in marriage only lasts 3 days, right?
* Finally the girls pass by and pay their homage to an anime studio that is responsible for animating them.

Episode 11C: Tree Tragedy
* The girls are holding a Christmas party in the dressing room. During the gift exchange, everyone knows Tetora will get the best gift. Gankyou got from Kigu a Santa outfit (what do you do with it after Christmas?), Kukuru got from Tetora sweet chestnuts (horrible pun on ‘Christmas’), Marii got a wooden block from Kukuru (an even worse pun), Kigu got a bunch of toilet rolls from Marii (what has it got to do with Christmas) and Tetora a 1,000 Yen note from Gankyou (she was too busy to buy anything – see? Didn’t she get the best gift?).* As the girls talk about buying stuffs from the internet, Tetora has ordered a Christmas tree. Because she couldn’t see its size on the internet, I guess it turned the dressing room into a jungle. Worse, the branches knock out the lights. In the dark.
* Since Marii had a runny nose from the start, it starts glowing. Oh, Rudolph… Everyone thought they should use her nose as the guiding light but some see a different ‘light’. Kukuru had better not go into the light at the end of the tunnel. Gankyou gets pissed when she realizes the light is coming from a handphone. Marii feels like she has the upper hand in ambushing violent Gankyou but wrongly attacks Kigu instead. So the ‘dark jungle’ turns into a war zone with parodies of Rambo, Predator, Apocalypse Now and even a cannibal coming into the scene.
* Marii is inches away from ambushing Gankyou from behind but Gankyou lands a clean hit into her face. I guess having a light in the dark means a big disadvantage too. Because it makes her nose glow even more, it attracts several other people in which Kigu is happy that they got some Christmas guests.
* All they need now to complete this Christmas is a red sock and here comes a giant one now. Getting crowded, eh? Yeah, Tetora ordered it from the internet and couldn’t judge its size. And she already ordered decorations for New Year. Oh shi…

Episode 12A: The Dreamers Strike Back
* Tetora is not serious when she really did order a giant New Year ornament, right?
* Because the girls are talking about first dreams of New Year, this has Kukuru all riled up because she hasn’t slept a wink since who knows when. They try to put her to sleep like singing a lullaby (sounds like a curse), counting sheep or total silence (what the hell are they making funny faces) but this only serves to irritate Kukuru. Especially about her weird and realistic ‘dreams’ which aren’t dreams but reality.
* To cheer her up, the rest dress up as auspicious objects believed to bring luck: Mt Fuji, eggplant and eagle. However no one has ever seen all 3 together so the surreal is very freaky for Kukuru.
* The girls try to dress up in other objects that include vegetables, bacteria and finally atoms. I think Kukuru doesn’t want to see any more of it.

Episode 12B: Gotta
* The girls visit various famous art landmarks in Roppongi that includes a giant spider statue with eggs under its belly, a giant rose, a random number generating Counter Void, The Hill, Protector Stone and talk about the medaka fish that is said to have been born from space when some astronaut went up there to conduct such experiments.
* They make a stop at a disco once known as Velfarre now renamed to Nicofarre. Because Marii mentions she would love to live in the bubble age 20 years ago, the rest put her on a swimsuit and push her into a time machine that claims it can do so. Marii becomes part of the bubble age and enjoys being part of it. Till she sees the bubbles of the champagne and is brought back to reality.

Episode 12C: Blacks
* As initiative to save electricity, the girls wear lighter cool biz rakugo uniform. However it makes them look like ninjas and they can’t help play ninja in the dressing room.
* Kukuru suggests telling ghost stories to feel cooler but Kigu is weak in them. However Gankyou explains reality is scarier than ghosts and shows a picture that contains something white that may look like a ghost. However it turns out to be a man in white radioactive suit. Scary or not? How about politicians who raise taxes? Scarier or not? What about a certain pop music that is so popular but no one seems to have bought the CDs? Scary or what?
* For visual effects, Tetora suggests painting the entire room blue. Though it does have a cooling effect, once they get used to it, they start feeling hot again. This time they dye their hair blue. Again, they feel hot after getting used to it. After changing into blue clothes, the shrewd producer enters to tell them about a new idea. However he only sees their ‘floating’ faces (everything else is blended into the blue background) so he freaks out thinking he has seen ghosts. The girls quip his wife is scarier. Huh?
* Lastly they wonder if there is anything else they could do to make it feel cooler. Yes there is. They all enjoy looking at Marii’s butt spot!

Episode 13A: Character Ruining
* The girls are talking about the last episode. Treasure every moment they have. Treasure every encounter for you may never meet again. Suddenly, a new character pops into the room. She is Uzannu Uzattei and this fast talking strawberry motif hakama b*tch starts getting on everyone’s nerve by hinting about their secrets.
* I guess the girls are prepared to put up with her since it’s the last episode, you know, the once-in-a-lifetime thingy. But I don’t think that will last because Uzannu continues to irritate everyone. She’s making it hard to tell her name too. Somebody shut this girl up!
* This has Kukuru think that once is more than enough and a host of examples why people queue up for the oddest reasons because of it. But Uzannu wants more annoys everyone (especially Kukuru) talking about sequels and remakes.
* That’s because she mentions if she gets one chance, she’ll mess them all up. This means she’ll ruin the character balance of everyone. She does it by annoyingly imitating everybody! Worse, she makes her own opening credits and fills it with her annoying self and irritating lyrics (literally).
* The only way left to kick her out is to summon the Masked Girl clones. She’s swept away with the clone wave. She’s gone. Thank goodness! But when a mother asks a girl about the rakugo performance she saw, she quips, “Once is enough”. And that Uzannu girl had the guts to come back and say she’ll be featured in the second season. In glorious 3D! Get out of here!

Episode 13B: Mighty Akiba
* The girls are lost in the Akiba train station due to the confusing signs. It’s like a giant underground maze if you don’t know your way around.
* Gankyou wants to show the girls around since this is her area but the first place she took them to some radio hall is under construction. She also got stopped by a couple of policeman for wearing a pouch (blame the slasher incidents for everyone being too jumpy).
* Gankyou continues to bring them around the electronics area and a bridge. Talking about places to eat, they note the several different themed cafes and restaurants around.
* Lastly they visit an underground idol but it turns out to be Uzannu making her annoying debut. Feel like going home? Yeah, I agree. Hate her but don’t hate Akiba.

Episode 13C: Extra Lectures
* Marii has trouble eating mochi so Tetora suggests eating it like a bowl of rice. This doesn’t sit well with Gankyou and tells her off to eat things as it is. This has Tetora twist the meaning of her words that since this show is heavy on dialogue, it shouldn’t be made into anime! Same thing goes to broadcasts. You should watch this show as it is and not burn it onto DVD!
* Gankyou argues if they would like a piece of ham on every fruit they eat. Not appetizing, right? That’s why it’s best to leave things as they are. Her point: Don’t add unnecessary things or weird twists. After a list of examples, in the end Tetora mentions it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it.
* Gankyou still isn’t convinced and tears up the clothes a dog is wearing. The dog didn’t like it and tears her clothes. I guess this is your last episode fanservice. Only a metal washbasin is hiding her modesty.
* Suddenly World War 2 patriot women come in to take her metal washbasin. Now she’s totally naked. Tetora passes her a guy suit and she looks stunning in it!
* However Marii gets upset because they once suspected her as a cross-dresser. Pointing the problem isn’t in their genders but their characters, the rest conclude Marii is not a boy or girl. But a being called Marii.
* Masked Girl calls Marii as it is her turn on stage so she goes out and talks about the end. The end of the show. The end of life. The end of everything. Okay, we get it. The end.

OVA Part A: Store of Spoils
* Marii gets upset when the audience claps before she finishes her story. It’s like wanting to get rid of her, eh? Kukuru also relates the same experience. Just when Marii wishes for those kind of people to drop dead, the rest point out that Marii is no better because she too has bad timing. Whether it’s an orchestra or baseball match, her bad timing makes her an embarrassing standout. Even there are other characters vouching for it. Clap too fast? Laughed at parts that are not funny?
* Kigu suggests mending her rhythm via mochi pounding. Miss and it will be major pain. This is serious. This is life and death. Of course Marii plays it safe and this has Kukuru wondering if she is tone deaf too.
* They let her use a metronome but it seems Marii got hypnotized. Then they realize her timing has been healed. Just like a normal person. When Tetora wonders what happens if she is snapped out, Marii returns to her old bad timing self. And got her hand pounded by the mochi hammer.
* After being released from hospital, Marii now knows why her timing is off due to the messed up timing of her heart. The girls point out that is arrhythmia and so she goes back to the hospital once more. Thankfully her condition is stable. But her timing still sucks…

OVA Part B: Three Bookstores
* The girls are at Jinbouchou, a place with numerous bookstores, publishers and universities. They decide to pay homage to their publisher but realize they got the wrong one. Shogakukan instead of Kodansha. But since they’re here, they visit the other publishing buildings around. They also discuss the various types of magazine genres they publish.
* Next they make their way to an old temple and a grave of someone supposedly responsible for building several Kodansha buildings.
* Once they arrive at Kodansha, they learn its formation history and its original ridiculously long name that contains too many strokes. Inside the hall, they check out past presidents and feel a sense of deja vu of being on this stage (something about 5 seiyuus in a talk show and signing posters. Them?).
* Making their way upwards, they notice several beautiful models for other fashion magazines. Hoping their publisher would have a nice office too, they enter and are appalled to see it messy like a pig sty. Yeah, there’s a tired editor sleeping in the midst of his work. I suppose this magazine is built on the daily sacrifice of the editors. Pay your respects!

OVA Part C: Surprise Focus
* Kigu is so serious in learning a new story that her facial features start focusing in the middle of her face! Cute or hideous? After several solutions to help ease her focus, her face finally loosens up back to normal after some massaging.
* However she has focus lines all over now. She becomes stressed and even though she takes it easy and relax, the focus lines make it seem she is focused. Imagine, she’ll have focus lines in everything she does till the day she dies!
* Marii shows off her pink fluffy background that she’ll never have but Gankyou says it doesn’t suit her. This means whatever troubles she gets into, it doesn’t seem dangerous because it feels she’s not having too much trouble.
* Kukuru suggests they start scattering instead of focusing and sarcastically hints because Marii is scatterbrained. Marii feels they should have separate dressing rooms. She goes to ask the manager but was beaten up. So they settle for little cubicles instead. However the cramped space means Kigu is now focusing too much and her face is messed up! I don’t even know how to describe this. Is her face swallowing itself?
* After being rushed to the hospital, Kigu is cured of her focus and her focus lines are gone too. Yeah, the focused treatment has her much less focused now. But as for Marii, there is no cure for her pink fluffy background. No medical advancement yet? Despite Marii sounding desperate and threatening to find a cure, I guess her background doesn’t give an impact of urgency or threat. Everything’s fine…

Girls’ Talk
I won’t really go so far to say that I didn’t enjoy this series but due to the lack of my knowledge in many of the topics the girls talked about, I couldn’t really understand the joke or what is being implied so that really takes a chunk out of the enjoyment. Oddly, the most entertaining segment that I find is Uzannu’s debut. I guess this shows I’m a person who prefers slapstick or sarcastic types of jokes. I can still remember how this was the only segment in the entire series that I was laughing my ass off. Real hard. She’s a real pain in the ass and neck. A part of me wanted her to stay and another part of me wanted her to get out for good. Maybe after we are so used to the quintet and their typical characteristics, suddenly somebody like her, a total newbie barges into the scene and brings her own form of chaos and throws everybody off their pace. This anime is also one of those few comedies that not only breaks the fourth wall but also fairly goes overboard (on purpose) in making jokes about the staffs behind this series. And it is usually a jinx to even mention about hoping to buy their DVDs and increase sales in hopes to get a second season. So it is no-holds-barred for everyone in the dressing room and some of the topics discussed are worth pondering as the examples given are good points to think about. At least everybody is free to express their views no matter how absurd or impossible they are. That’s the irony of the world and life we live in today.

Still nevertheless it is quite fairly entertaining especially to hear the girls talk (seriously, guys like me hearing girls talking is interesting?) and some of the examples that I understood were funny in their own way. So all isn’t lost actually. Though my Japanese vocabulary isn’t good, there are some simple lines that I am still able to aurally catch. What am I trying to say? I noticed that some of the lines said weren’t really precisely translated and were given a whole new different line instead. As I read, the fansubbers did make a note that they were aiming for a funny script and making it a priority over literal accuracy. Due to the difference in languages, I guess this is a dilemma that one has to face. Of course it is best to always learn the language itself but that’s not the point. Should they have translated exactly as said, the meaning would have been lost and I’m sure you don’t want to be reading the translator notes each time when this happens, right? This is going to happen a lot. It will be a pain. It will be annoying. That’s why to keep the funny flow of the topic, certain words are changed to keep the continuity of the flow. But if your Japanese is zero, I guess it doesn’t make any difference and you’ll still enjoy the ‘revamped’ joke.

Basically the characters themselves are pretty amusing and if you pay additional attention to their talk you’ll find that Marii’s butt spot is a recurring butt joke (bum pun intended). It’s like a running gag throughout this series. Though we won’t see them doing it very often, it will happen enough times to make you think that the other girls are sick perverts who enjoy watching that blue black spot on her ass. Gankyou despite being the coolest among the lot is also a violent girl and it seems her ‘sparring partner’ is often Marii, though I feel that Marii bears more of the brunt than Gankyou. Except for the final episode whereby Gankyou’s role totally switched with Marii and the former became the ‘victim’. Kigu may be acting like the innocent baby of the group but after she does something cute to amuse the rest, we see her dark evil side and note to herself she won’t put up with this sh*t for them anymore. Do you really want to know this dark side of hers? Guess not. But for Kukuru, it is more obvious that she is unlucky and emotionally unstable. One could easily mistake her from coming out from the movie, The Ring. Speaking of luck, Tetora may seem carefree but something about her luck bugs me. If it is true that her luck allows her to avoid all sorts of misfortune, how come in some episodes I notice that she also receives the kind of bad luck streak that the others would receive? I thought this good luck of hers is only unique in that episode but apparently this is prevalent throughout the series. So when I noticed that she received some misfortune too, it made me wonder if she was really lucky or not. Unless you’re telling me that she really enjoys it and thus not considered to be unlucky for her. That’s a possibility. And who the heck is Masked Girl anyway? Popping up in a few scenes here and there, adding randomness to the talk the other girls are already talking about whether it is related or not. Feels like you want to know who is behind that mask, don’t you? And of course, the most annoying character of all is no doubt Uzannu. Thank heavens that she only appears in only one episode. I think the viewers will be driven to insanity and madness beyond cure if she was a regular.

Thanks to the notes that I have mentioned earlier on, this means there are quite a number of trivia for you to spot. Provide if you know your anime culture well enough and your general knowledge on the worldwide affairs must also be up to date. Maybe also including those that have occurred some years or decades back. So for the producers to put in all these trivia, it  really seems like one Herculean effort especially to a person who knows nothing. Hats off to them and also the fansubbers who are quite knowledgeable and know their stuff very well. Here is an extra site that I discover having more trivia to read upon: Animenewsnetwork. Happy trivial pursuit. Hope you don’t die of trivia overload. For me, I’m too ‘stupid’ so I didn’t really understand some of them. That’s how I ‘survived’. Ah, ignorance is bliss.

This anime is animated by J.C. Staff, thus you could sometimes see some in-reference of them inside the anime. Being a veteran studio production house in the anime industry, they have brought us lots of animes like Azumanga Daioh, Honey To Clover, Hayate No Gotoku, Toradora, Kill Me Baby, Excel Saga, Ai Yori Aoshi, Nodame Cantabile, Shakugan No Shana, Bakuman, To Aru Majutsu No Index and Zero No Tsukaima to name a few famous titles. With many series animated under their belt, they don’t stick to particular one style of art. So in the case of this series, we have the Joshiraku girls having round and cute facial features. However, I thought I have seen shades of SHAFT’s animation style in a couple of scenes. Especially some of the side characters looking like those minor characters that appear in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. But the one little thing that I find odd is the round black spot over Kukuru’s top face whenever she is going into unlucky mode. It feels like there is some sort of a ‘crater’ at that spot, which makes it rather odd. Maybe it is part of her character’s feature just like how the butt spot is to Marii and glasses are to Gankyou. Another thing to highlight about the visuals is the various real locations that the girls visit in the middle part of each episode. As pointed out by the fansubbers, all (if not many) of them are real places. The drawings of the location, landmarks, building or monuments may not be in great detail right to the exact dot but the main standout feature is there and at least they look satisfactory. I suppose those familiar with them should easily identify with it. Good job, though.

For the voice acting part and being an anime with heavily dialogue, I guess they are pretty decent. Surprisingly Uzannu is the best one because of her annoying character. More surprisingly, Ryoko Shintani voices her and it’s not like the kind of usual roles I am used to hear her in like Rihoko in Amagami SS, Sae in Hidamari Sketch or Milfeulle in Galaxy Angel. I never know she can sound this annoying, yet so good. She’s wild, she’s fast, she’s lively, she’s… Annoying. Not even her role as the delusional Araya in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru could match up to this one. Total respect and hats off to her. Saori Goto (Keiko in Minami-ke, Soako in Hatsukoi Limited or Limited Girl) as Kukuru really makes her character like an ominous woman. If she ever dies with regrets lingering, she would definitely become a ghost. Oh wait. As of now she sounds almost as one. And when she goes crazy, she really goes crazy. Other casts include Ayane Sakura as Marii (Miyabi in Kono Naka Ni Hitori Imouto Ga Iru), Kotori Koiwai as Kigu (Yoshikuni in Ao No Exorcist), Nozomi Yamamoto as Tetora (Yukimura in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai) and Yoshino Nanjou as Gankyou (Kokoro in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes). I thought he Masked Girl would be a character that has no lines. Apparently she does but very minimal. Her seiyuu is Aoi Yuuki (Tooru in A Channel, Madoka in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica).

The opening and ending credits are both amusing. The opening song, sung by the quintet of Joshiraku, Oato Ga Yoroshikutte… Yo! is a catchy rock piece and the credits animation is crazily filled with, erm, crazy random stuffs. The ending theme, Nippon Egao Hyakkei by Momoiro Clover Z (I thought they sounded like the Joshiraku quintet) with Yoshida Brothers (for the traditional shamisen sound) is a mix between traditional and rap. That is what makes it amusing. Somehow I find it catchy too. Really. To top it off, in addition to the other crazy random stuffs, the girls are doing a very cute dance which I feel could have rival Oppa Gangnam Style but it will only works if you dance to all that in a group. Can’t resist… Doing that… Hip dance… I suppose that’s the easiest part of the dance.

I still can’t understand rakugo. I know the title of each segment in the series is derived from a real rakugo story and the beginning of each episode has the girls finishing up their rakugo story to the audience with some with horrible puns which I don’t really get. Even if you put in cute girls and try talking me into it with such funny jokes and puns, most likely I won’t be swayed to convert either. So like I said, perhaps you need to be a true blue Japanese and of the older generation to appreciate them. Not only rakugo but a host of other types of traditional Japanese theatre entertainment like kabuki, noh and bunraku. I guess my tastes lean more towards the modern type of entertainment. Can I consider animes to be a modern and more sophisticated form of storytelling then? Well then, that’s all from me for now. Oato ga yoroshii you de, oyasuminasai…