While it's not the biggest show of the winter 2016 season (that would be the breakaway success of Erased, which at time of writing has managed to break the 9/10 barrier on MAL), Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu has been the sleeper hit of the season. It's the only other non-sequel anime to get above 8/10 on MAL this season and has been drawing appreciative noises from anime critics and fans. But what it hasn't been attracting yet is a large audience. It's a historical anime set between the 1940s through to the 1960s about the dying Japanese theatrical art form called rakugo. There's no action to speak of. Nobody gets trapped in a video game. Nobody has to travel back in time to rescue a loved one. It's a hard sell.
Obviously you, oh mighty reader, are already watching and thoroughly enjoying this great new anime, because you are a fan of fine and discerning taste. However you may be having difficulty converting your more casual anime watching buddies. That's why I'm here to help you. I'm going to give you four great ways to convince those people to watch Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.
1) Appeal to their inner weeaboo.
Even if you have long since passed your slightly embarrassing young teenage phase of shouting Japanese phrases while being really hyperactive at an anime convention, every anime fan still has that little weeb inside them. You spend enough time watching Japanese anime that you develop a natural interest in wider parts of Japanese culture. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is full of these little cultural lessons without it ever feeling like you're sitting in a history lesson. From the censorship of racy material by the Government during the height of World War 2 to the fact women weren't allowed to perform rakugo even in the '60s, lots of information about Japanese society forms the backdrop to this story. Plus it doesn't just cover rakugo as far as performing arts go, but also various forms of traditional Japanese theater. So if you want to sound like an expert on Japanese culture and impress your peers, you should be watching Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.
2) Appeal to their crude side.
All right, so attempting to appeal to your friend's innate interest in Japanese society fell flat because they're all uncultured swine. Their tastes are more crude. That's fine too though! Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu has those friends covered as well. In particular, there's the one part where a guy wakes himself up by accidentally grabbing his own testicles because in his dream he thinks they're bags of money. You see, for all the posturing some fans might give about their superior knowledge about Japanese culture because they know about this high art form called rakugo, in reality the form is not a whole lot different from stand-up comedy. A lot of the performances are very comedic in nature, telling stories about bumbling thieves and witty con-men. Don't expect fancy Shakespearean dialogue either. These are crude conversations about prostitutes and testicles.
3) Appeal to their inner yaoi fangirl.
So telling them the testicles story didn't work, but you caught a glimpse in your female friend's eye when you started talking about a man grabbing a lewd part of the body. Your yaoi fangirl radar has just started going haywire. Suddenly you remember that there was a scene in Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu where the two main guys fell asleep next to each other with their pinky fingers wrapped around each others as they made a promise. You remember how angry our more reserved of the duo looked whenever the more boisterous one brought home women, or how disinterested he acted whenever another woman showed an interest in him. Inform your friend that this rakugo anime is easily the gayest thing airing right now and then you'll get them interested. I'm not even joking about this either. There's something of a love triangle being formed with heavy hints given towards a murder being committed in a fit of romantic rage and right now the only realistic couple being portrayed are the two lead men.
4) Tell them it's actually really good.
When all else fails, just lose your patience and tell them that Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is an amazing anime, goddammit. It's a gripping tale of two diametrically opposed personalities chasing their dreams. In a medium full of teenagers, this is a show about adults for adults. It treats its audience intelligently and doesn't need to barf exposition at them for them to understand what's going on. It's marvelously written with dialogue that flows naturally. It's shockingly well animated considering it's Studio Deen, with an incredible attention to detail given to character movement during rakugo performances, which is really needed to bring across the nuances between everyone's styles and level of nervousness when going on stage. Similarly with the voice acting, which manages to convey an array of emotions without being super in-your-face about it. It's just a really great anime and everyone should go watch it.
And if that doesn't work... why not try telling them about the testicle grabbing scene again?