The tournament arc is a staple of Shonen dance series, but a manga, Akane-banashi, took their rivalry to a whole new level with a great twist. Yuki Suenaga and Takamasa Moue’s Akane-banashi follows a young girl named Akane as she strives to become a professional Rakugoka, a performer of the traditional Japanese art form of comedy. This is already a creative enough concept for a Shonen manga, but Akane-banashi makes it even better by using it to push the boundaries of classic Shonen manga.
Akane-banashi is currently in the middle of a tournament featuring some of the best new Rakugoka in Arakawa High. This type of tournament is based on judges scoring a performance, which makes it unique. Chapter #62 shows how complicated this can be by revealing that all judges score according to different standards. One judge is a seasoned critic who is most concerned with the technical aspects of the performance, while the others are professional Rakugokas who are more concerned with crowd reaction. Chapter #63 then further reveals the extent of the revolutionary change to tournaments with Kaichi’s performance. Kaichi is a Rakugoka who despises criticism, instead serving his performance to the crowd. This almost turned the tournament into a clash between competitors and the referees, which created a whole new class for this classic Shonen trilogy.
Shonen Jump’s Akane-banashi transfers conflict to tournament referee
This isn’t the first time Akane-banashi has set her own sights on grueling ridiculousness. In fact, the manga changed Shonen Jump tournaments forever by making Akane the clear favorite to win instead of an underdog. It has also gotten creative with its own form of “combat”, adapting Shonen games such as over-long attacks into its unique competitive form. Many other Shonen series will learn well from these innovations and begin to put their own unique twists on these tropics. However, part of the reason that Akane-banashi’s latest twist is so interesting is that it can’t really work outside of this series.
In other Shonen manga, tournaments often feature contestants fighting each other until one is eliminated. Some series sometimes change this formula by not letting the battles go one-on-one or adding extra rules, but usually these battles are still lively with live characters. fight and eliminate each other. In tournaments like this, it doesn’t make any sense to have a referee for the contestants to play. Only in a series like Akane-banashi where the “battles” don’t really take place can you have this kind of twist.
Akane-banashi can innovate in a way that other Shonen Jump manga can’t
Unique innovations like these are why even manga fans who just read the more typical action Shonen series should give Akane-banashi a chance. It may not be a fighting manga but this is what makes it one of Shonen Jump’s most exciting new series. As its latest chapters show, Akane-banashi can put spins on classic Shonen games like no other Shonen dance manga can be completed.
Akane-banashi available to read from Viz Media.