Tiger and Dragon is an interesting dorama (Japanese TV Series), I learned new things from it. I have loved things Japanese since I was in junior high but there are still so many things I didn’t know about Japan…it’s a country with so much tradition.
This dorama is about Rakugo. I have never heard of Rakugo till I watched this series. Rakugo can be considered as sit-down comedy (while western has stand up comedy), but the comedy is not like stand up…it’s more like a story telling. The story is always comedy with the punchline at the end. From the dorama, it said that the stories are mostly a story which has been told so many times. The quality of the story depends on the the Rakugoka.
The story is mostly a kind of dialogue between two or many characters. Rakugoka has to have skills to change face expression and voice intonation to depict all the characters. Noriko Watanabe called it as a sitcom with only one person playing all the characters.
Rakugo is an old art created by monk in 9th/10th century as a way to make people interested with their religious lesson. It’s amazing how Japan managed to keep such old tradition/art going on for so long. It’s one of many things that makes me admire Japan. See this video to get a clearer meaning of Rakugo. The Rakugo is spoken in English (I enjoy many English Rakugo in Youtube), it starts at minute 5.40
Now, the story of Tiger and Dragon.
A Yakuza member named Toraji (Tora means Tiger) is a person who couldn’t tell jokes at all. He had a very serious face. He had been adopted by Yakuza leader since he was a kid. One day, he saw a Rakugo performance and completely in love with the performance. He never laughed so hard like that. He was so impressed he kept chasing the Rakugoka to be his sensei. He wanted to learn to be a rakugoka. He even planned to quit being a yakuza and become a rakugoka.
His problem was not only he couldn’t tell joke, his expression was always the angry expression of a yakuza, he also couldn’t remember the story. He finally changed the classic story into a story that happened in real life but had the same outline as the classic story.
Meanwhile, his sensei had a son who happened to be a very talented Rakugoka. Ryuji (Ryu means Dragon) decided to abandon rakugo and opened a fashion shop but all his clothes was so lame. He didn’t profit much but he continued his work. Toraji asked his help to make him a better rakugoka.
The two of them became friends.
There are 11 episodes with one prequel (so, the total is 12 episode) and each episode has a funny rakugo story.
I really like this dorama. I laughed a lot when I watched. I like the way it shared about the art of rakugo, I love the warmth of sensei’s family, and of course I like their odd friendship. I know for sure I will rewatch this one day.
You can see the series in youtube. Here’s the prequel.
Tiger and Dragon
full series> here
Title: Tiger and Dragon ( タイガー＆ドラゴン)
Starring: Nagase Tomoya, Okada Junichi, Ito Misaki, Nishida Toshiyuki, Shoufukutei Tsurube, Tsukamoto Takashi, Takuma Takayuki, Gin Pun Chou, Abe Sadao, Nekoze Tsubaki, Shunputei Shota, Hoshino Gen, Fukami Motoki, Asari Yosuke, Aoi Yu, Kiritani Kenta.
Broadcast: Special: 2005-Jan-09; 2005-Apr-15 to Jun-24