Descending Stories is a niche story that not many would enjoy, but if you do enjoy it, the manga will stay with you forever.
As its name suggests, this story takes place over multiple generations. From WWII to the present day, it chronicles one family as their fate intertwines with the Rakugo world. This manga asks some big questions about art and the survival of it. With modern technology and a faster society is Rokugo, the artform of oral storytelling, still relevant?
This story is shocking. Especially if you're not prepared for the numerous time skips it goes through and you see characters grow old and have
kids in a matter of volumes. It's also not afraid to straight-up show the Rakugo show. A lot of chapters will have characters reciting Rakugo for pages upon pages, and quite often they'll recite the same story volumes later, but somehow it lulls the reader into a trance that connects you to these characters even more. The character of Yotaro performs a certain story four or five times throughout the manga, and each time you can feel the difference in his choices through the dialogue of his oral story. Really well done.
But what's more shocking about Descending Stories is that it's about deep pain as well as hope. Most of the series is surrounding a traumatic event that happened in the past that has influenced so many characters in who they became, but it's presented in a cathartic way in which characters grow out of their depression. Almost as if the manga is all about the small speck of hope in a sea of darkness is enough to light the way to a new road.
This manga is such a satisfying ending. I wasn't sure how they would be able to end it in a way that ties up all the characters, but they do and it's extraordinarily beautiful. Probably my favorite ending to any manga series.
If you enjoy stories and the human condition then I'd recommend this series. It doesn't try to be anything more than what it sets out to be and I can definitely see many readers skipping pages whenever characters perform Rakugo, but just like the tumultuous journies of life, it's all worth it in the end.
(Also, yay for non-traditional families!)