The 12-episode Netflix series was beautifully crafted from a 400-year-old Japanese tradition. Rakugo is a ritualized stand-up comedy - very similar to storytelling- that is the central idea of Tiger and Dragon. Watching it was a treat, and I didn’t realize when time passed by, much to my surprise.
Japanese culture is wide and expands over hundreds of traditions. Rakugo was originally made to make people laugh daily since you know- laughter is the best medicine. Well, this show is a work of art. It is similar to Arabian Nights as it shares the same base of storytelling to make it through (just like the indebted Rakugo performed did).
Tiger & Dragon is about a yakuza trying to get his life straight so he can pursue this art of comedic storytelling. He meets whacky and noisy people along the way while figuring out how to tell someone a story without becoming boring (a problem many seem to have). The yakuza is asked to go to a Rakugo performer to collect debts. There, the performer tries to escape to do his show and comes back. The unnamed yakuza figured it out and sat through the show to figure out what the performer did. It was quite a journey for the viewers’ as well because the show followed a very light-hearted backdrop.
Although at first, it showed intense scenes, it switched to a funnier one instantly. In my opinion, it was a fun watch. However, this isn’t much appreciated by Western audiences. The scenes are swapped quickly from funny comedies and intense dramas to over-acting and the once-in-a-while ‘EHHH?’ I think they were all used in the perfect amount and in the best way possible.
Continuing the story’s plot, the yakuza tries to figure out his life as a non-scary man and navigates friendships and colleagues along the way. The indebted Rakugo master is finding it hard to pay the 100,000 yen he is supposed to. The yakuza decides to pay him 100,000 yen per lesson so they can both get what they want. The comedic element that I love is when the student is on his knees and hands for the teacher while paying him, and in the next second, the yakuza are acting bossy while asking for the money back.
Of course, Tiger & Dragon has the ever-present cliche scenes where the story he is learning exactly correlates with his life. But there is also a sort of genuineness and passion for what he’s doing. The yakuza seems to be doing his best to make it to the top and understand the workings of the Rakugo life. The Japanese series Tiger & Dragon have the perfect amount of goofiness, drama, and storytelling that you require to make it through the 1 hour long episodes.
Time goes by too fast while watching this masterpiece. It is amusing, heartwarming, and wonderful at the same time. Although the characters can get slightly annoying with the repetitive traits they seem to share, it’s the perfect family series to come home to.
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