Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – 11

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -12 Shouwa Genroku - 11 -34 Shouwa Genroku - 11 -51

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -1I’ve talked a lot about the symmetry between the two pillars of this season, Boku Dake ga Inai Machi and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (enough to where you’re probably sick of it).  It’s funny, though, just how much watching the one often puts me in mind of the other considering how different these two shows are in many ways.  I can’t help but think of the flak Boku Dake has received over the fact that it’s “mystery” was so easy to solve, while Rakugo Shinjuu (rightly) receives little for its predictability.

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -2What I’m getting at here is this – Shouwa Genroku is functionally a tragedy, a dramatic form where the ending is known basically from the earliest part of the story.  It comes down to expectations – no one expects this series to deliver mysteries and plot twists, but they do expect it from Sanbe Kei’s series despite the fact that while not strictly a tragedy the “mystery” there is no more the point than it is here.  I’ve often puzzled over why that is – why so many viewers seem determined to read something into Boku Dake that isn’t there, but not Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu.  Is it a question simply of narrative style, or (as I suspect) does the more modern setting in Boku Dake make a difference too?

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -3Ah, well – that’s all academic, I suppose, and we’re here to talk about this series.  And it delivers again this week, as it pretty much always does – quietly poetic and profound, the big stick-wielding Teddy Roosevelt of anime.  Rakugo is the spider web that ties the characters in this story together, but the thing that strikes me is that it’s really love that ties them – because what they share is their love for rakugo, not the rakugo itself (I do believe there’s a difference).  As fascinating as the rakugo elements are they’re most important as a light exposing the souls of the people touched by them.

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -4I certainly wasn’t surprised to learn that Miyokichi had left Shin and their daughter behind.  One could hardly imagine her as a mother, and she was certainly never in love with the man she married.  Miyokichi is a tragic figure that I’ve defended resolutely, but I admit she doesn’t come off well here.  It’s clear she’s banned Sukeroku from performing rakugo mostly because it would remind her of Kikuhiko, and even if he’s divorced himself from performing it’s obvious Sukeroku can never be a whole person (if indeed he ever was one) with that element of his soul stifled.

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -5The survival of Shin’s love for rakugo in Konatsu is, I suppose, a tribute both to the art and to the depth of his talent for it.  Almost any child would, I suspect, prefer his bawdy populism over Kikuhiko’s tightly-wound intensity.  The reunion between Bon and Shin – while several years in the series timeline – wasn’t one we had to wait long for, but it still packed a punch.  Kiku lays things out in very simple terms – to be able to keep doing his rakugo, he needs Sukeroku’s rakugo in his life.  But there’s more to all this, of a certainty.  I don’t think Kiku is capable of walking away after he’s seen how Sukeroku and Konatsu are living – not as a fan, and not as a brother.

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -6The choice of “Nozarashi” as the performance Konatsu demands from Kikuhiko is an interesting one.  It is, by its very nature, a piece better suited to Sukeroku’s style (no doubt that’s why Konatsu knows it).  We see Kiku dutifully slog his way through a piece as if slipping into an ill-fitting suit of clothes, slowly getting the moment until he loses his way midway through.  When Shin jumps in we see something that isn’t rakugo at all, a two-man performance – but even if not by definition rakugo it nevertheless provides the opportunity to witness two radically different ways for performing the same material.  It’s almost enough to make one imagine Rakugo Shinjuu as a Manzai series.

Shouwa Genroku - 11 -7While there are in fact two episodes left, it seems very likely we’re approaching the moment of truth at last – the tragic apex of this long flashback.  Yotarou has been conspicuously absent since the premiere and must surely be destined to appear in the finale, so next week’s ep might just be the true ending for this portion of the story.  The spark of sentiment and mirth this week feels like a mirage, a false hope, for we know how this is going to end.  Yet whatever happens, rakugo lives on – not just in Kikuhiko but in Konatsu (in whom not just rakugo but Sukeroku’s rakugo resides).  Next week should be morbidly fascinating to say the least.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

9 comments

  1. I don’t think the comparison between ShowaGenroku and BokuDake is very fair; this show has revealed the outcome from the very first episode, the only thing you are left guessing is the ‘how’. Still, I think this show also doesn’t get much flak because of its audience too, Bokudake attracts a more mainstream audience from what I see and rakugo is a topic obscure enough that only seasoned anime viewers would bother with. Its a show with more than ample time to tell the story of its source material and I suppose that helps too.

  2. Yeah, Boku Dake is framed like a mystery under many respects. For example, it regularly ended its episodes with cliffhangers, whereas this show has always been much more subdued. To quote Enzo quoting Shakespeare last time, Boku Dake has “sound and fury” to spare (the jury’s still out on the part about it “signifying nothing”). With that kind of style, viewer expectations grow up to match.

  3. My familiarity with both is solely the anime adaptations and I have not read the mangas that the respective anime are based on. I come from that angle. My view is that it comes down to how each is presented and executed. The anime adaptation of Boku Machi made the murder mystery/thriller its hook, while Rakugo Shinjuu made the tragedy its hook. Rewatch the first few episodes of both and you can see that.

    As an anime only watcher of Boku Machi, I saw that it flubbed the murder mystery/thriller angle with its reveal and development. The mainstream anime fans that it lured in with the murder mystery/thriller angle starts reacting against it as it felt that their expectations were let down. The other angle that I saw with Boku Machi was when he went back to the present time with Airi while being in pursuit as his mother’s killer, I saw the other angle as not really a murder mystery/thriller but one where his mother’s murder was the catalyst to redo his life by jumping back in time with his special skill and, in the process, become a more rounded and involved individual compared to the start of the show. Looking back, it was trying to have its cake and eating it too with the limited number of episodes to properly show what it is all about.

    In comparison, Rakugo Shinjuu presented itself as a tragedy and the show takes the well worn path but executing it brilliantly with good pacing and developing the moments into the sustained crescendo that we have had for the past few episodes before the expected coming tragedy denouement that we were prepared for from the very first episode. It had been clear what the story is going to be about and it kept going with that in mind. It is straightforward in its approach but what elevates it all is the execution – the direction, the acting, the art and the historical backdrop in which the tragedy happens.

    Thus far, the trajectory deviation for me between Boku Machi and Rakugo Shinjuu began about 2-3 episodes back where Rakugo Shinjuu just flew higher while Boku Machi coasted at a stable level and even dipped a bit. Let’s see how both of them end. Having flown higher now, Rakugo Shinjuu has more to lose for me than Boku Machi with how they execute their anime endings.

  4. s

    The different audience might be a reason, however it seems to me that until now this show has been telling Bon and Shin’s struggle more than anything else. We were never reminded of the incident after the first episode. Therefore our expectations haven’t raised high. regarding this matter.
    On another hand, was Miyokichi seeking revenge on Kiku? Was she trying to lure him?

  5. Z

    This was certainly the happiest of any of the episodes, which will just make it that much more heartbreaking when our tragedy finally plays out.

    I watched that “two man rakugo” scene through twice in a row because I liked it so much.

  6. Well, it seems like BokuMachi needed more than just 12 episodes, so the rushed 10th and 11th offerings will get the audience really angry. The lack of subtlety in this series is not fitting with the mystery genre, I think. Rakugo is taking its time to build up the tragedy and has done it well – we are now only waiting for the climax next week.

  7. e

    Well well, see what a nice BL family fantasy we got get when and as long as that adult pesky female is out of the picture :p. I give no praise to Miyokichi’s endeavours both as spouse and parent but oy Sukeroku is one crappy manchild spouse and parent leeching off both women in his life until his old pal shows up to save the day as new Team’s Mom… But hey crappy dad is such a likable natural charmer riiiiiight. Now, leaving some of the snark aside ( but really this episode wasn’t subtle at all ), Konatsu – as it happens when either/both parents are lacking in the parenting department IRL as well – is quite a winning character in her mix of maturity and child traits and heartbreaking in how she deals with the two irresponsible sources of her DNA. And even more than a slowly reviving Sukeroku she seems to ultimately bring up Kiku’s best traits here. The interaction between these two was indeed heartwarming.
    And leaving the fanservicy undertones aside the episode managed to convey how the bond between the two men here – unlike when Miyo is involved/present – hold the potential for mutual improvement and growth. But of course the female nemesis awaits. I’d just love to get some love in terms of characterization from her next week because this time that wretched evil rival despicable woman trope vibes were a tad too strong for my liking.
    Konatsu though… awww sweetie <3

  8. n

    Es lassen sich aktuelle Nachrichten zu den kleinsten Vorfällen in nahezu jedem
    Ort finden.

  9. D

    Kiku and Suke’s double-handed Rakugo moment was quite wonderful to watch, also the contrast between Kiku’s telling of “NozarashI”, which young Kontatsu found scary, and Suke’s telling, which had her laughing.

    Miyokichi’s tears over the bill for Kiku and Suke’s upcoming performance were heartfelt.
    There are going to be more, next episode, I suspect.

Leave a Comment