Here we are on Day 7 of Anniversary Review Week! This week has really blown by this year, and I am really sad to see it be over. But we still have today and tomorrow, and more posts every weekend day for the rest of the month so the celebrations are not over yet. Today we are talking about a show that reminded me a little bit of my childhood. A time when my Grandma sat me down and told me the stories about when she used to ride a horse to school, or the stories about how my Great-Grandma first came to America. How that side of my family was affected during World War I & II because we still had family in Germany (the other sides of my family having already been here for generations). Then she slips up and tells me about the multiple times my uncle used to come back home drunk from parties and would pass out on the coffee table. The show today kind of reminded me of that. Except my mom was not running in after the last part to stop it because “she should not be hearing those things about her uncle”.
So here is my 44th Anime Review and the post for Day 7 of Anniversary Review Week. The review for the anime that reminded me of my Grandma’s stories, a show that I really enjoyed despite the problems that it had: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju.
Before we start I want to make clear that we are only reviewing the first season of this show today. I had planned on doing both seasons, but I missed the second season when it aired back in the winter and was unable to rewatch it in time to do this review. I changed the show I was reviewing today kind of late, and was only able to watch the first season. With that said, let us get started.
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, or Showa and Genroku Era Lover’s Suicide Through Rakugo, is a 13-episode anime that aired from January 2016 to April 2016 as a part of the Winter 2016 Anime Season. The show was animated by Studio Deen and Directed by Shinichi Omata. It is based on the manga of the same name that was written by Haruko Kumota. The manga released ten volumes between March 2010 and June 2016. While we will not discuss it today, the show does have a second season Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: Sukeroku Futabi-hen which aired in Winter 2017. There was also a two-part prequel OVA called the Yotarou Arc Part I and II that aired in 2015.
Our story starts with ex-yakuza member Yotarou who gets out of prision with one goal in mind. Instead of returning to crime, he aspires to start performing Rakugo. Rakugo being a type of traditional Japanese comedic storytelling. This goal came to him when well-known Rakugo performing, Yakumo Yuurakutei, performed on the radio while Yotarou was in prison. He meets Yakumo and begs to be his apprentice, and after a lot more begging the aging man agrees. It was the very first time had ever taken an apprentice. When he starts training, Yotarou meets Konatsu, an intense young woman who has been taken care of by Yakumo since the death of her father Sukeroku Yuurakutei. Sukeroku being Yakumo’s old rival and trained under the previous Yakumo. Yotarou becomes very fond of Sukeroku’s style of Rakugo, a kind very different from Yakumo’s. Yakumo, seeing this, sits Yotarou and Konatsu down and tells them the story of his childhood leading up the present, and covering important events in Japanese history.
Now I am a huge history buff, so this plot of kind of going back in time to see how Japan has changed and the lives of the people in it was very interesting. We get to see what life was like on the civilian side of things during events like the way, and how popular things like Rakugo have lost their popularity. There is also the importance of Rakugo in the show, and it is very important, in almost every aspect of Kikuhito…sorry Yakumo’s life. And it is somewhat explained to us as we go through the show and learn it with the characters, so do not worry about having no idea what it is. It is very important but you can still follow the story without completely grasping the concept of it. Another thing I will as is that as Yakumo tells his story, we already kind of know how it is going to end. Sukeroku is going to die eventually and while it seems kind of dumb to tells a story we already know the end it, you have no idea when we will get to that part or the events leading up the story. Was it a little infuriating at first, yes, but as we got farther and farther into Yakumo’s story the more interesting it go. It had me hooked from episode one!
Onto the characters! While Yotarou may seem like the main character, most of our story is center on Yakumo and his life. We only get to see Yotarou in the first and last episode, but we know how silly and devoted he is from his little appearance already. The story does tell us a little about the characters we do not get to spend a lot of time with because of Yakumo’s story. We know why Konatsu is the way she is both because of her present-day appearances and her past with Yakumo and her father. But the important character is Yakumo. He is telling us his story, and we follow him from childhood until he is an old man. We see how he started, personality wise, and how he ends up. Not to mention how certain events in his life have changed him in either a positive or a negative way. How many shows show that much of a character’s life? Not many! I loved the cast of this show because they were added to be important to the story. Even the smallest part somehow effected Yakumo and his story, and that was so cool!
The show was animated by Studio Deen, and boy did they do a good job. It was nothing flashy, but they put a lot of effort into the important parts to kind of remind you “HEY REMEMBER WHAT’S GOING ON”. Since Rakugo played such a big part, those scenes were lighted different and depicted so you could really tell that is was a part of the Rakugo story being told. The opening theme was “Usurai Shinjuu” by Megumi Hayashibara and the opening was wonderful as well. The song was beautiful and the opening itself was different and focused on important characters and had some hints about what was going to happen. The ending theme, “Kawa, Taredoki” by Kana Shibue was beautiful was well, but the opening was really the star for me. The OST soundtrack was also neat because it was a lot of older music which made you feel like it really was that time. There was some jazz man!! The soundtrack was something that really gave that show something extra.
In the end, I award Rakugo with an A. it was a really interesting show that had a plot that had me hooked, taught me some history, and had animation and a soundtrack that I loved. Not to mention getting to watch Yakumo as he grew up really made me feel connected to him as a character. I was cheering for him. While the Rakugo can sometimes be an infuriating aspect because some episodes are focused primarily on the Rakugo and not on the story, it is important to remember the show is about Rakugo. It is about a young boy and his rival who were fighting to keep something they loved alive, and how fighting for that love changed them in a lot of ways. It was truly a beautiful show that I really recommend giving a try.
Well that is all that I have for Day 7 of Anniversary Review Week and my 44th Anime Review! Tell me what you think? Opinions on the show? Have you watched the show? Anything you want to add? Let me know down in the comments below!!
See you next time!!