Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – 04

Shouwa Genroku - 04 -3 Shouwa Genroku - 04 -24 Shouwa Genroku - 04 -37

Rakugo performers watching a Kabuki?  It’s like DEEN is trying to lose money.

Shouwa Genroku - 04 -1It’s always fascinating when a writer starts off by showing you where things are going to end up, then sets about unspooling the mystery of how they got there.  It’s a high-risk narrative strategy because in the wrong hands it can be ponderous and pretentious, but in the right hands (like those of Wells and Kurosawa) the upside is self-evident.

Shouwa Genroku - 04 -2As we’ve gotten to know the main players here, the process of trying to think one step ahead of the narrative has become a major part of the enjoyment with Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.  Just what was it that led to the moment that changed everything – Sukeroku’s death – and what exactly went on in that moment?  It’s been hinted that something more than friendship developed between he and Yakumo, a scenario which obviously has the potential to explain a lot of what’s to come.  But those hints are thus far only that, hints.

Shouwa Genroku - 04 -4That makes the arrival of Miyokichi onto the scene especially interesting.  From the first moment we see she, Sukeroku and Kikuhiko together at the Kabukiza a new possible path appears as if a great fog has parted – it’s easy to see the entire chain of events leading from that moment to that moment in great detail, step by step.  It’s the kind of thing that’s only possible in this sort of reverse-narrative story, but there’s a great sense of fate in that meeting – and it would be a tale as old as time, if Shouwa Genroku chooses to tell it.

Shouwa Genroku - 04 -5The other great mystery in this series is that of Kikuhiko himself   How is it that this awkward and overly diligent young man is going to become the leading light of the rakugo world?  Sukeroku (Shin has chosen than name for himself) is forever several steps ahead of his friend (and now roommate).  As Kikuhiko works as a waiter and struggles to make a living, Sukeroke drinks and enjoys the company of women (apparently with some frequency), all the while filching beer money from Kikuhiko and finding success in the rakugo world.

Shouwa Genroku - 04 -6It’s easy to see why Sukeroku is so successful on stage, and even if it weren’t Omata-sensei reminds us with regularity by showing him in the act.  It comes so easy to him, so naturally – he’s like a stick riding the current wherever it takes him and scholar reading the audience – and the moment – like a textbook.  Nothing is easy for Kikuhiko, certainly not rakugo and certainly not life.  It’s clear now that it’s really Sukeroku who’s much more like their master, but to his credit Yuurakutei never abandons his struggling disciple (after having cared for Yuurakutei’s wife for the entire war, the boy deserves that much).

Shouwa Genroku - 04 -7Again, the real pleasure is in trying to guess how things will progress from here to there.  Does Yuurakutei really see the seeds of greatness in Kikuhiko, or does he act based on affection and a sense of responsibility for him (perhaps even paternal love)?  While it seems very likely Miyokichi is going to serve as a catalyst for turbulent times between Kiku and Sukeroku, she may also be the spark that triggers something in Kikuhiko – whatever realization he needs to find before he can find “his rakugo” and become the man he was always destined to be.





  1. Time really flew after Miyokichi entered the picture, she’s a really fun character to guess the motivations of. I wonder what the title means, it contains something like “Lovers Suicide”? Its an interesting tidbit to speculate on at least.

  2. M

    心中 basically means a joint suicide (with a family, lovers…) but also has a metaphorical usage, that is, to dedicate your life to something (i can say it’s rakugo, in.this case)till you die.

  3. Man, this show is so good. When the last scene arrived, I was like “what?! No! Why it ended already?!” This anime really spoils me. Everything else (with the exception of BokuMachi) seems so dull and generic.

    Miyokishi is a really interesting and fun character, and Megumi’s delivery as her was magistral as always. The mystery is unraveling, but seems still far from getting solved. Did I need to repeat that I love this show? No? Well, I will anyway.

  4. s

    Corruptio optimi pessima (La corrupcion de los mejores es la peor)

  5. g

    Ah, damn! Now, this episode hit all the sweet spots for me.
    I’m almost sure Miyokichi is a mother of Konatsu, so it’s interesting, what happened and how she ended in relationship with Sukeroku. And if I’m right feeling vibe, Kikuhiko felt eros love for Sukeroku? Very intriguing, indeed.

  6. T

    I love the look of this anime. Absolutely love it.

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