Joshiraku episode reviews will probably be churned out later than expected because first, it takes a while to get the jokes and screencaps all compiled together, and two, because for some reason the site where I watch subbed episodes releases them on Thursday. Perhaps there were changes because of the Olympics? It’s difficult to sub Joshiraku, so I’m glad that there are fansubbers who’ve decided to take on this challenging endeavor. Whatever the case is, I hope you’ve watched/tried to understand the episode beforehand, so let’s get started!
Praise the Girl
We start out with Kukuru feeling down in the dumps – she’s usually like this, but today, it seems as if she’s gotten worse. She forces the others to choose between her and rakugo, and when they imply that they like rakugo more (or at least, in her eyes), she freaks out and they think that she’s going to commit a double-suicide. (I think they’re referencing the 17th century “The Love Suicides at Amijima,” but they could just be referring to shinju (心中), or the lovers’ suicide.) The girls decide to cheer her up, so they plan a Christmas party in the middle of August.
There’s more talk on Ebizou (subbed as E**zou), who is a famous kabuki actor; it seems like all the girls (except Marii) have some sort of a crush on him, or at least, a huge respect. Here’s where stuff gets tricky. Marii says that Christmas is a time where you should buy all the useless crap so the economy will be stable – since business is going slow these days, people are buying less and making the situation worse. This probably refers to the world economy crisis/recession that’s been going on in recent years. Man, that brings back some awkward memories. This has to do with the pun on the word kabuku (傾く) which has a double meaning of both to spend a lot of money and Ebizou’s kabuki (theater.) They go on to play with the words some more, referencing some scandals that kabuki actors were involved in.
This doesn’t solve Kukuru’s sadness so the girls try to sing a song to cheer her up. They start singing and then some old ladies (they were also in an earlier episode, attempting to cure/exorcise/convert Marii) come along; it doesn’t work. I got lost somewhere in here but it seems to be that Kukuru ends up seeing a random Reuben painting with all their faces replaced by (being the Norway fangirl I am) Munch’s “The Scream,” and she somehow becomes saved by angel-spirits.
Kukuru undergoes a major personality change and suddenly starts dancing and singing (though through her facial expressions, it seems rather unwillingly) with the other girls (san Marii.) There’s an American reference here – “A true miracle from 34th street, Shinjuku!” – they’re referring to the movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” but changes it to a place in Tokyo. This drive Marii insane, and she collapses to the floor as well and undergoes the same angel-spirit process that Kukuru goes through – but she become a demon instead.
Small Holey Town
This part is very wordy and I only have one image from this section, so I’ll keep it short. Basically, the girls travel to Harajuku (in Tokyo) and explore the area. They make a few puns and tongue twisters about the area, as well as referencing Nico Nico, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and Hayao Miyazaki. Then they go buy crepes and Marii flips out because she’s so confused by why there are so many toppings for just a mixture of flour, eggs, and water. (It’s kind of like ordering Starbucks, you can go on and on about how you want your order prepared.) When they finally get the crepes, Marii doesn’t want to eat it because she’s worried she’ll have a life changing experience – so she rants on and on, even getting on the nerves of the almost-perfect Tetora. The others just get fed up with her and shove their crepes in her mouth.
Phew! I dare you to say that all in one breath!
Farewell to Glasses
This episode’s all about skin – Tetora has dry skin, Kukuru has shark skin, Kigu has silky skin, and Marii has…big sister skin? Tetora means anego hada (姐御肌) which means ”big-sister,” but it has hada in it, which means “skin.” Marii doesn’t know what a big sister should be like, so Tetora suggests a “girl with a dragon tattoo.” They decide to mark up Marii’s skin to make her have “big sister skin” and end up with this:
Gan’s feeling left out since she’s the only one without a skin type, but when a centipede appears, it’s clear that she has goosebump-skin. She even references Susan Boyle, the old lady with the amazing voice from Britain’s Got Talent. That was another great western reference. This lapses into a Power Rangers-like dream scene where the girls (san Gan) are fighting against a villain who is supposedly named “Beauty.” Or at least, that’s what the kanji pasted on it said.
The villain throws them some skin cream, they try it on, and find their skin to be smooth and young (or something of the sort.) Back in reality, they thank the masked girl for her idea. I’m just really confused as to why the masked girl’s even there – she’s been in a previous episode with no explanation whatsoever. The other girls don’t find it weird that she’s there, nor do they find it weird that she’s in a mask. She scares me – if she’s even a she.
Rating: I hate to admit it, but I give this episode a 6/10. Kukuru’s part in the episode was disappointingly confusing, maybe even for a Japanese viewer. That Reuben painting certainly came out of nowhere. The dialogue was very wordy and if one didn’t understand the multiple meaning/puns, the whole thing would come off as meaningless. Some things were unexplained, but I guess that’s the trouble of adapting a 4-koma comic. (Perhaps they were better off to be unexplained.) It would’ve been better if the other two parts of the episode were interesting, but they were just as verbose. Hey, at least we have Kukuru and her awesome casual wardrobe.