Akane-banashi, one of the most unique and refreshing Shonen Jump manga right now, completely shakes up the trope of the tournament arc.
Warning! Contains spoilers for Akane banashi chapters 16-18!
The Tournament bow is a classic Shōnen trope found in a variety of manga, but an unexpected series flips the whole thing on its head. Most tournament arcs involve the protagonists of a series entering into a competition for a number of reasons. Although the exact nature of tournaments differs from series to series, these arcs generally share certain elements. However, Akane banashi takes the basic formula of a tournament arc and flips it.
Akane banashi is a manga by Yuki Suenaga and Takamasa Moue following teenage Akane as she tries to become a professional Rakugoka. Rakugo is a style of Japanese comic storytelling in which a lone performer regales his audience with a variety of traditional stories. Although it focuses on a niche topic, Akane Banashi became somewhat popular, even garnering praise from master storyteller Eiichiro Oda, the author of A play. It’s easy to see why, as the manga feels fresh and unlike anything currently in Shonen Jump. And one area where the manga proves this is how it handles its ongoing tournament arc.
In Chapter 16, Akane joined a Rakugo contest meant to shine a light on young and aspiring Rakugoka. As at the start of many tournament arcs, various contestants are introduced with brief mentions of what makes their Rakugo style or background unique. Shockingly, Akane is shown as the overwhelming favorite to win the competition, as she once had the tutelage of a Rakugo master and made an impression on one of the preeminent Rakugo performers at the event. This is a shocking shake-up of the protagonist’s position in a tournament arc, as they usually start out as unknown underdogs (although Western comics may challenge this trope, as robin shows).
As the tournament progresses, attention shifts to the other participants, who are the true underdogs of the event. As they interact with Akane and vow to defeat her, the reader is able to care about them more than if they had been favored to win. Since people naturally tend to side with the underdog of a story, these competitors become more than just obstacles Akane must overcome to achieve her goals. They become people striving to achieve what she has already achieved that she will have to crush to achieve her own selfish goal. Which is ironic given how much his motivation to enter this tournament in the first place comes from the fact that his father’s Rakugo dreams were crushed in Akane banashifirst chapter.
It will be interesting to see how this tournament develops given its innovation so far. What makes this even more exciting is that this series is not a manga that has physical fights like many other Shonen series that include tournament arcs. By subverting the classic trope of the tournament arc, Akane banashI stand out even more from her Shounen jump its peers and is proving to be one of the most exciting currently running manga.
More: A Manga Is Already Destined To Become Shonen Jump’s Next Mega Hit
Akane banashi can be read now at Viz Media website.
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