Show-ha Shoten! Volume Two focuses on Azemichi and Taiyo as they try to progress as high school comedians.

Show-ha Shoten! Volume Two
Written by: Akinari Asakura
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 2, 2023

At the end of Volume One, Azemichi and Taiyo discovered that another duo was doing the exact same routine they had planned to do at the contest, and they now have half an hour to come up with a new routine. At the start of the volume, you can feel the tension and pressure that the two are under to come up with something new. But after Azemichi sends Taiyo to a nearby mall to look for items they can use, we start getting some comedy to ease up some of the tension. Considering that this is a manga about comedy, it would have been odd to not have some form of comedy during this section.

Since they know the audience is likely to be determined to not laugh during their routine, Azemichi comes up with the idea of making the audience question the need to do that. He writes up a sketch that will make them look like total losers in order to try to force the audience to laugh. It seems like Azemichi is on the right track, because the audience does end up laughing and giving them a good reaction. Unfortunately, it only manages to get them to second place… when the deal with Azemichi’s father was that they needed to win.

When the winning duo find out that Azemichi and Taiyo could be splitting up because they came in second place, they “resign” from the competition and ask to have the two of them awarded as the winner instead. While this ruse fools Azemichi’s family, both Azemichi and Taiyo feel guilty about this deception. But, the two of them get surprising help from Sprechchor, one of the competitors at that competition. And it turns out the big guy from Sprechchor who looks means is actually quite a softie, but he only knows how to express himself with brusque words and phrases. I actually kind of liked this twist, and it’s something that’s utilized each time this character appears after this point.

It’s during this point that it’s revealed that while Azemichi and Taiyo did get the audience to laugh, they were ultimately helped by the fact that the duo that actually won the competition had loosened the audience up shortly before Azemichi and Taiyo went on stage. Learning this, as well as having Azemichi and Taiyo placing second in the competition, added a nice touch of realism to this story.

At this point, we also get a brief flashback of when Taiyo was younger, which allows us to see him in his acting classes, his interactions with his mother and his motivations for going into acting, as well as his parents’ divorce. I appreciated seeing this flashback, because it starts fleshing Taiyo out as a character and helps the reader to better understand his actions and his motivations.

We then see Azemichi and Taiyo practicing manzai with Akane Hanamori, and they learn that they’re not connecting and not doing well at it. Akane puts them in a “training camp,” which is to spend four days at an open house at their school for the parents of middle schoolers and convincing them to take an application. They have to have all 100 applications gone by the end of the four days, and they aren’t allowed to practice manzai until they do. Let’s just say that by the end of this section, both of the boys figure out what Akane is trying to teach them with this, and it’s actually a rather simple concept. It takes the boys almost failing to meet the goal to realize what it is that Akane is trying to teach them, and they put this knowledge into action at a school event.

By the end of the volume, Akane has appointed herself as Azemichi and Taiyo’s manager, and one of the first things she does is to set up an official Twitter account for them. We do see references to the Twitter account throughout the remainder of the volume, but it’s being realistically portrayed that their online following is developing slowly. I suspect that as the series continues, we’ll see their online following growing as references continue to be made to the Twitter account.

Right at the end of the volume, Azemichi and Taiyo are heading to their block for the Wara-1 Koshien preliminary round. We see that Sprechchor is competing, which is expected. We are also introduced to our first male and female pair of comedians, and they have quite a gimmick attached to them. Taiyo also runs into a guy he knows from the past, and there’s obviously bad blood between the two of them. He seems to hint that Taiyo hasn’t been entirely honest with Azemichi about what happened with his previous partner, but Azemichi wants to believe in Taiyo. It’ll be interesting to see what happens at such a point that the truth is revealed and how it could affect Azemichi and Taiyo.

The final chapter of Show-ha Shoten! Volume Two is setting up for the preliminary round, so I’m guessing that this is going to be the major plot point for Volume Three. At this point, I think it could either way for Azemichi and Taiyo. Normally, I would assume that it’s a given that the two of them will win and progress on to the next round, but with the touches of realism we saw at the previous competition in this volume, it’s really not as sure of a thing. We could see Azemichi and Taiyo not win, and then have them spend a year in the story perfecting their act and coming back again to the preliminary round next time. I’m very curious to see which way Asakura will take the story.

So far, I find that I’m really enjoying Show-ha Shoten!, and that I want to keep reading in order to follow these characters and to find out what happens to them. I also appreciated getting a little more backstory for Taiyo, because it made me care about him even more. Volume One gave the reader an insight into Azemichi’s family already, so getting Taiyo’s backstory helped to complement that.

If you read and enjoyed the first volume of Show-ha Shoten!, then you likely won’t be disappointed by how the series continues in Volume Two.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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