I saw the first episode of Warotenka today. Started out in 1902, in Kyoto, with two young kids, a girl and a boy, running through a matsuri (festival). Glimpses of a trained monkey, other festival bits, and then... they sneak under the tent edge, and sit in the audience of a rakugo performance (comic monologue). Where they are soon laughing. But the manager comes up behind them, and says, “You didn’t pay” He and a helper try to grab the kids, who escape, run on stage, and dodge them. Pretty soon the audience is laughing at their antics. They think it’s a comic show, and the young girl enjoys their laughter, laughing and smiling back at them.
[The young girl is Ten, the heroine of the tale. The boy is her brother. I think the voiceover said something about her always laughing.]
That’s where they broke for the theme song. Warotenka!
Then we come back, and the voice over says it was a little before the matsuri. At the medicine company... her father, a tall man in brown, comes out of the store, grim. He does have a bowler hat on. As everyone watches, he looks around, sternly. Then sneezes!
Next, we see him grinding medicine, with several boys and girls around him. One of the boys is taking something out of a drawer behind him and chewing on it, smiling. The man says, “If you keep eating that, you will have a stomachache.” The boy drops back into sitting.
Meanwhile, the girl is chasing a butterfly through the house. Finally, she lays down, and the butterfly comes and settles on her nose. She laughs at this. The voice over says she is always laughing.
Next, the family is eating. As they are talking, the kids start laughing. Father grumps, “Don’t laugh while you are eating.” Then he says, “You laugh too much. Soon, we are going to have a home party, for the foreign guests. No laughing!” Mother makes some comments about but laughter. Father grumps, and they all bow.
Later, in the kitchen, the boy is talking about laughing. Mother shakes her head, says “Don’t laugh. He’s a bit stiff, but he is still your father.”
Outside the house, they are making persimmon faces. These are our no laughter faces. Big brother says, “Well, I like laughter.” So they all chuckle, and go on.
The day that the foreign guests are visiting, they roll out a red carpet. The foreign guests are coming! In the kitchen, mother has prepared all kinds of food, but no fish, because they heard that foreigners don’t eat fish.
The foreigner comes in. He gives Father a gift. He speaks German, and one of the boys translates. He has his wife and a young girl with him. The young girl has her hair caught up on both sides of her head in yellow bows. As they gather around the table, standing, a yellow butterfly starts hovering around the foreign man. Ten, our heroine, has a terrible time watching it flutter around, and then land on his head.
Introductions. Father says, “Introduce yourself.” “I’m Ten.” The butterfly lands on the foreigner's head. Behind him, her brother is trying to blow and encourage the butterfly to leave.
Father says, “We have some excellent sake.” Ten picks up the bowl to pour, as the foreign man leans forward, glass in his hand. Just then, another butterfly lands on the other side of his head, so he has butterflies on each side of his head, like the bows on his daughter's head. Poor Ten breaks out laughing, spilling the sake. Then in trying to catch the spill, they pull the cover off the table, spilling food, sugar, drinks...
The foreigner is furious, thinking that he is being made fun of. He stalks off!
Father carries Ten into the kura, the safehold of a Japanese house, and tells her “You will stay here until you laugh no more!” He locks her in. We see her pounding on the door...
Then, the voice over promises us that help is coming. And we see a young man, and a traveling troupe of actors. The young man tosses his cape over his shoulders.
And that was the end of the first episode. Stay tuned to find out what happens next! And does Ten ever get over her laughter?