There are some things that don’t translate quite right.
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, just as a title, doesn’t really work. You basically need a full sentence in English to unpack “Shinju,” even though MyAnimeList biffs an attempt in “Showa and Genroku Lover’s Suicide Through Rakugo”. In reply, I think my moé-addled brain was able to come up with “Ragtime Stand-up Suicide Pact” – but that’s not short enough at all! What I really want out of anime again, is the “Adjective Noun Protagonist” title format. You know, groin-punching names like Battle Angel Alita, Combat Unit Shinesman, or Ramen Fighter Miki.
Therefore, the English language version of this title should bear the name
Standup Comic Rakugo!
Wherein the dying art of Rakugo is itself the series protagonist. I think that’s bourne out by the four episodes I’ve cribbed fujoshi-squirming screencaps off of.
Rakugo is a curiously Japanese form of theatre. It blends rote recitation with poetry, comedy, and voice acting, so it’s no surprise that this attracted top-tier talent.
Though there’s plainly more to it than I’m able to notice, the art involves tongue-twisters and rhymes, which you can hear just fine with untrained ears. Most essential to rakugo is the timing, tone, and delivery, which is absolutely spot-on. I never thought I’d be happy about a laugh track in a comedy, but without it, I’d probably be just as lost as I was with the deadpan Sayonara, Zetsubo-Sensei (where the only thing that translates is *crippling depression~!*).
I don’t think a dub could do this justice, given the plethora of licence houses from the flap-match reich that underbid on translators and seiyuu. Yet somewhere out there, there is a cadre of passionate voice actors that could get hold of this and prove me wrong with exceptional panache.
Maybe look it up:
Standup Comic Rakugo! (Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju)
Based on the manga by Haruko Kumota
Produced by Studio Deen, Simulcast by Crunchyroll