Akane-banashi is a superb success story for a Shonen manga not featuring magic, sorcerers, ninjas, or pirates. Instead, it focuses on another relatable story for teens, a coming of age as its plucky protagonist strikes out to make a name for herself. Akane Osaki joined the Rakugo world when her father, Shinta Arakawa, failed to achieve the top rank in the profession, being expelled instead. In an attempt to honor her father’s legacy and engage her passion, Akane attempts to climb the Rakugoka ranks. But what are all the rakugoka ranks in Akane-banashi?
What Are the Rakugoka Ranks in Akane-banashi?
Rakugoka are sorted into three grades or ranks in Akane-banashi, the same as in real life. The rank from lowest to highest is the following:
A Rakugoka is a storyteller who performs in the traditional Japanese art of Rakugo. A simple way to describe this art is as a one-person sitcom where the performer narrates and plays all the parts. It’s performed live in a theater with the Rakugoka sitting while they act out the experience for the audience, in the form of stories or scenarios.
What Do the Rakugo Ranks Mean?
The Zenza is essentially an apprentice, who will help out at a yose (storyteller theatre) and their master’s residence. Akane is currently a Zenza, and thus she works as a Rakugoka while not making anything resembling a living, but can learn from her fellow Zenza while aspiring to climb the ranks. Their primary focus is learning to serve and anticipate the needs and attitudes of their patrons, honing that into their craft. As pointed out by Shinta, they’re “the opener.”
The Futatsume is the next rank up, where the practitioner is recognized for honing their skills and is no longer seen as solely a student. They’re professional performers and will get proper money out of their work, however large or small, depending on their success. The Futatsume rank is seen as a stepping stone by those who are serious about the craft. Shinta was a Futatsume before being expelled following his exam to make it into the Shin-uchi rank.
The Shin’uchi is the top rank, the master, the “headliner” in the world of Rakugo. Performers with this rank are the most sought-after of all and are able to take on students and apprentices of their own. Issho Arakawa is among the Shin’uchi characters in Akane-banashi, whose students include the potent performer Kaisei in his Issho school, while Akane studies under another Shin’uchi, Shiguma Arakawa.
Akane’s main ambition in the series is to attain the rank of Shin’uchi and show the world her father’s craft was great. But in the process, we see her unique talents on display, as she grows up and reaches her dreams while experiencing exciting highs, dramatic lows, learning, and lots of compromise.
- This article was updated on October 9th, 2023