Show-ha Shoten! Volume One introduces the reader to two high school boys who both have tragic reasons for wanting to become comedians.

Show-ha Shoten! Volume One
Written by: Akinari Asakura
Publisher: Shueisha, Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 7, 2023

The volume introduces the reader to a high school boy named Azemichi Shijima. He’s a shy boy who, back in middle school, was asked by a girl to say something funny to her before she moved away. But, being the shy kid that he is, he couldn’t come up with anything. Since that happened, he started studying comedy and began sending in funny captions to radio shows under a fake name (“Everyday Shijimi”), and has become notorious for constantly winning contests being held by both radio and television shows.

Azemichi, who was coerced into joining the student council by his teacher because of his good grades, is given the assignment of talking to another first-year student who signed up to do a comedy routine for the culture festival. Unfortunately, he has so much listed on his application as “undecided” that they want answers before they can allow him to participate.

It’s through this assignment that Azemichi meets Taiyo Higashikata, a boy who has dreams of being a comedian but doesn’t have the follow-through. The reason he’s wanting to pursue comedy is because he had a friend who he did a comedy duo with, but his friend passed away. Taiyo wants to keep going in order to carry on his friend’s dream. While Azemichi is talking with Taiyo, it’s accidentally revealed that Azemichi is “Everyday Shijimi.” When Taiyo learns this, he really wants Azemichi to be his partner. The shy Azemichi is hesitant, but Taiyo comes up with a plan that forces Azemichi to partner with him for the culture festival.

Even though Azemichi comes up with a brief outline for a sketch on short notice, and Azemichi starts out with some stage fright, the two of them actually pull it off and are a hit at the culture festival. Taiyo wants to continue working with Azemichi and participate in other events, but Azemichi says his parents probably won’t go along with it. It’s revealed that Taiyo is a former child actor and that Azemichi’s family is familiar with his work… well, except for Azemichi. But as Azemichi predicted, his father puts up resistance to the idea of Azemichi going into comedy. However, Azemichi’s father says that he’ll consider Azemichi’s request… if the two of them can make the family laugh. Azemichi knows this is a challenge, but he comes up with a creative way to accomplish the goal.

What I liked about the depiction of Azemichi’s father is the fact that his reluctance to let Azemichi become a comedian is rooted in his father’s own experiences in his youth. I appreciated the way Asakura depicted the father’s reluctance to support his son because he is shown being this way in a realistic manner and not in any kind of exaggerated or comedic way. Basically, it’s not treated as a joke.

While Azemichi is able to meet his father’s condition, he’s still not entirely sure about supporting his son 100 percent. When Taiyo mentions a competition they’re planning to participate in, Azemichi’s father says they have to win the competition or the boys’ days as a comedy duo will be over. They agree to this condition.

Even though the event is a local competition, a finalist duo from the previous year’s big competition are competing. As Azemichi and Taiyo, who are the last contestants to go up, see the reactions of the crowd, Azemichi realizes the truth of what’s going on. The volume ends with the two of them trying to write something new that will hopefully impress the audience. I thought this was a great spot to end the volume on, because it will make readers want to continue on to see what Azemichi and Taiyo come up with for a new routine, as well as to see if this new routine can help them to win the competition.

Before I forget to say anything, I should mention there is a female character who is kind of important in the series at this point. Her name is Akane Hanamori, and she is the treasurer on the student council. She’s also a big fan of comedy, and we see her volunteering to work at the reception desk at the competition that Azemichi and Taiyo are competing in. You could tell at the culture festival that she liked their act, and that she wants to be supportive of them at the competition… but she also understands the reality of going up against a finalist from a bigger competition. I think it’s safe to say that with her love of comedy, that she’ll become an important character for Azemichi and Taiyo to interact with as the story continues.

When it comes to the art, I thought something looked kind of familiar when I saw the art style. At the end of the volume, when I saw that Takeshi Obata, who is known for doing art for such manga as Death Note, Bakuman., and Hikaru no Go, was the artist for the series, I understood why the style looked familiar. After reading Volume One, I think that Obata was a good choice for the artist to provide the art for the series. His style works well for the characters in the series, as well as for the story that’s being portrayed.

Overall, I found that I enjoyed reading Show-ha Shoten! Volume One. I thought the two main characters were engaging, Akane and Azemichi’s father are strong and well-written supporting characters, and I genuinely found myself wanting Azemichi and Taiyo to succeed. In some respects, Azemichi and Taiyo’s desire to win the local competition and their determination to keep going made me think of the sports anime I’ve watched over the past few years. While this story may not focus on sports, there’s still the competition element here that allows the characters to be depicted in a similar manner to protagonists in sports anime and manga. I also liked the fact that even though the two main characters want to become comedians, the manga is depicting the story as a serious drama. There’s comedy in the comedy routines, but the actual story isn’t comedic in nature. I appreciated this dichotomy.

If you enjoy reading stories about high school students who have goals and the drive to try to make their goals, then you’ll likely enjoy Show-ha Shoten! Volume One.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media