By Shanel Kamara
Oh My Gosh! that last scene in Shouwa featuring Yakumo and Sukerou had me on the edge of my seat; I wish the preview would not keep me in suspense regarding Yakumo. I have a love-hate relationship with cliffhangers. They stir up your anticipations but force you to accept the fact that you will have to wait to find out what happens next. I suppose in a way that is good, though because it means that the show is keeping you engaged. Lately, I have noticed that most of the shows I tend to prefer feature cliffhangers or plot twists. It may sound a tad cliche, but Shouwa is unlike any series I have previously watched.
I definitely feel that with each episode, I develop a greater fondness for the main characters especially Yotarou and Yakumo. The ways in which these two polar opposites perform rakugo, interact with others, and operate in general are some of the highlights of the show. Their differences become evident (once again), this episode, with Yakumo insisting that the purpose of the story "Inokori" - the President's special rakugo – is to reveal a storytellers nature. However, Yotarou admits after listening to the recordings of previous master’s renditions of "Inokori," that he cannot project himself into the story like his predecessors or Yakumo. He adds that despite Yakumo's wishes to see him assert his ego, his lack of one prevents him from doing so. Yakumo, who is fairly haughty and stubborn, immediately asks Yotarou in an accusatory tone whether he believes that what he taught him was wrong. Even after Yakumo admonishes him, Yotarou stands firm and humbly admits that he does not know whether his newfound answer is right or not, but that it is more fun for him that way.
Overall, the discourse between these characters made me realize their motives for working in their profession. Obviously, Yotarou does rakugo because he loves it but Yakumo does it because he has stuck with it for decades and it is all that is left of his life before he lost his close friend, Sukeroku and his former lover, Miyokichi. Another thing that became apparent this episode was Yakumo's regret over the loss of Miyokichi. During his performance, she appears before him in a ghostly form (whether it is due to a hallucination caused by "hang on-ko" incense or her soul has actually materialized, is unknown); her presence leaves him stupefied, but he manages to finish delivering the story. Although Yakumo projects himself as callous and apathetic, he is not. Yakumo's flaws are what make him human.
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen E.05