Title: Show-ha Shoten!
Author: Akinari Asakura, Takeshi Obata (Art)
Release Date: February 7, 2023
Publisher: VIZ Media
Comedy is an essential part of human life and a typical genre for multiple media. Show-ha Shoten! Vol. 1 isn’t a comedy manga but a series about comedy with illustrations by Takeshi Obata, who worked on Death Note and Bakuman, among many other famous works.
Show-ha Shoten! Vol. 1 tells the story of a young boy called Azemichi Shijima. After failing to speak a joke to a girl he’d never see again, he decided to dive deep into comedy. By embracing the persona of Everyday Shijimi, he worked hard to develop his humor to the point of enjoying some fame on the internet.
Though he’s supposed to be the epitome of funny, and people even call him a genius of comedy, he has a considerable flaw. Azemichi is just too shy to make a show himself. He may conceive great scripts, but he freezes up when it’s necessary to put them into practice. So even though radios call him to participate, Azemichi declines them due to his shy nature.
One day at school, the student council asks Azemichi to contact a boy from another class, Taiyo Higashikata. Meeting him will be just the opportunity for Azemichi to break his shell and make it to the comedy world he sees as an impossible dream despite his talent being so recognizable.
Azemichi also wishes to work in comedy due to his unique circumstances. But for his dreams to come true, he needs a partner, and he wants Azemichi to be the one. Together they could make waves in Japan’s comedy scene, or so he believes.
Show-ha Shoten! Vol. 1 focuses on establishing the duo and making their dreams clear. The whole setup of “wishing to be number one” and “trying to impress a girl he likes” feels like Bakuman changing the manga scene to the stand-up comedy context.
The result is a formulaic shonen take on what it could be like to work with comedy. The story doesn’t nail the funny bits and instead tries to convince the public of the “tough battle” for audience laughs. In the end, it feels unoriginal and bland most of the time, though it does offer a unique discussion of comedy reach and how humor isn’t a universal trait.
In the art department, there’s hardly anything to complain about Show-ha Shoten! Vol. 1. Obata’s sense of dynamism and expression is professional enough never to waste a panel. This structure means characters feel alive, and the movement flows perfectly in the scenes. Even though everyone is just your run-of-the-mill people with average looks, he still manages to make their silhouettes distinctive enough that it’s easy to see who’s who.
Show-ha Shoten! Vol. 1 isn’t an impressive start to a series that has a unique premise. The concept of a duo of teenagers fighting for the right-to-be comedians sounds like a lot of fun, but the story doesn’t explore this in an enticing way. As a result, it feels uninspired and bland, but the volume ends right before a big stand-up performance that could be the switch to make it all click going forward.
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