The mood is happy and audiences are laughing in front of the comedy team, “Atsukan Dragon”. Flowing words from their mouths are totally stupid and hilarious, making audiences laugh. It is like magic to change the mood from nothing to happy. It seems very easy for them to give happiness to audiences because they are just talking to each other. Japanese call these comedian groups “manzaishi.”
Manzaishi are people who do “Manzai”, making audience laughing by talking hilarious things. It is said that manzai has been done for 100 years in Japan. It requires many skills, for example the speed of thinking hilarious things, abundant vocabulary, and so on. And manzaishi is basically done by two people but sometimes by three.
Atsukan Dragon are Takahiro Shinjo and Yusuke Oda. For the audience, manzai can be seen as easy thing to do. However, the actual fact is totally different. Manzai requires high skills of making story they speak, timing they speak each other, adding ad lib sometimes, and so on. For amateur it is very hard to do. But, even that they have only started their career as manzaishi this year, Atsukan Dragon can do it smoothly.
Nowadays, manzai business is very popular in Japan. Some popular manzaishi can earn much money because Japanese TV show often beg them to be on show by paying many money for that. However, because manzai business is so popular, some minor manzaishi have hard time trying to turn professional.
To be a manzaishi, most graduat a school of manzai. It is like a vocational school. The fees for attending those schools are not so cheap. The highest one is about 2,500,000 yen in a year, and the lowest one requires about 300,000 yen in a year. Whereas the fees for attending those schools are expensive, the number of people who attend those schools are increasing.
“I think it is worth attending,” Oda says, “because there are many people who seriously want to be a professional manzaishi and they do not hesitate to try hard to do that. And meeting those people can be a good to learn the many skills each of them have.” It is said that there are more than 3,000 manzaishi in Japan and most of them are struggling to find a job. The main jobs for manzaishi are to be on local TV shows or local events. And some local events do not pay. However, even they are not being paid, manzaishi want to be on a stage for practicing their skills and gaining attention from public. So, most of minor manzaishi are doing part time job while they are doing mazai activity.
There are competition to determine the best manzaishi in Japan. The number of participants have been increasing, which proves that the number of people who want to be a manzaishi is increasing. The prize for the winner is money, the most highest one is 1,000,000 yen. And there is another type of prize which is giving winner a right to be on a TV program. It might be more worth for those minor manzaishi. And like most of other minor manzaishi, it is a goal for Atsukan dragon to win those competition.
Wining a competition is a key to Atsukan Dragon’s future.
“I need to explain why our group name is Atsukan Dragon. Atsukan is come from hot sake which is famous in Kochi. And Dragon is come from Ryoma Sakamoto. Ryoma was the one who made a revolution in Ed era Japan from Kochi. So our main purpose of doing manzai is making our hometown hot and making revolution in Japan” Oda replies.
“So we want to win a competition in Kochi.” Shinjo answers. “It is because we want to show that everyone has a chance to win a manzai competition, even their stronghold is a small local area or even though we have not graduated from Manzai School.”
Manzai world competition is now very hard to be a famous manzaishi. Most of minor manzaishi firstly enter the Manzai School. But Atskan Dragon do not want to follow other’s way.
“While doing things like others do, no one can be famous or top of manzai world even manzi school is a good thing to go. To be a top of manzai world, they need to do something different from others and have innovative things.” both Shinjo and Oda say.
Although Manzai World is very hard and it is difficult to be famous, Atsukan Dragon seem to have a real chance. And while, of course now their goal is to win a Manzai competition like other minor manzaishi, they are also trying to energize the hometown. Perhaps that is the difference between Atsukan Dragon and others. Atsukan Dragon is trying to win a competition not only to be a famous, but also to prove that everyone in other rural areas has a chance to make a revolution in manzai world. That would encourage young people everywhere, and make the folks back home happy. Atsukan Dragon might have a real shot at revolutionizing the manzai world.
“After proving that everyone has a chance to win a manzai competition,” Oda says “we think our revolution in manzai world will be an inspiration for other people in other rural prefectures. Finally, it will make the lives of Kochi people vigorous and enjoyable, which means it gets hotter than ever–just like they’ve had an atsukan!”