By Shanel Kamara
It's official; I am completely hooked on Shouwa! I loved the unexpected twist this episode. I knew the death of Konatsu’s parents was a delicate matter that weighed heavily on the characters minds, particularly Konatsu who blamed Yakuma for the demise of her father and Yakumo who blamed himself for not being able to save Konatsu’s parents despite being in such close proximity to them. However, I never suspected that the truth regarding the manner in which they died was different to what actually happened.
In episode twelve of season 1, Miyokichi, who unfortunately shares some traits to that of a femme fatale, approached Yakumo in a private room at first with the hope of reconciling with him. It swiftly became clear that Miyokichi’s feelings of love – if you could call it that - were murkier than before. She tried to force Yakumo to commit suicide with her, which is where the anime show’s alternative title, Showa and Genroku Era Lover's Suicide through Rakugo derived from. Sukeroku foils Miyokichi’s plan and announces that he will quit rakugo, and get a regular job. At this point, it becomes coherent that Miyokichi sense of instability is due to her lack of self-worth and her fear of abandonment. It also becomes apparent how much Sukeroku loves her, and her teary response suggests that she, in turn, loves him. Moreover, the fact that Sukeroku shouts out her real name ‘Yurie’ when the fence behind her collapses and she proceeds to fall off the building implies that the bond between the two was deeper than the bond between Miyokichi and Yakumo, as Yakumo never knew her real name. Sukeroku dives in to save her but ends up in a similar predicament leaving Yakumo responsible for the safety of both Miyokichi and Sukeroku’s lives.
Regretfully, Yakumo is unable to lift both of them up onto the landing and Sukeroku – fearing for his friend’s survival forces him to let go of his hand. Miyokichi and Sukeroku plummet to their deaths. The scene was so heartrending; I feared that my own tear ducts would remain open for the rest of the day. It ends with Yakumo stating his own feelings concerning the incident. The majority of season 1 seems to be from Yakumo’s point of view; however, in season 2 we finally learn that Yakumo’s feelings of guilt have greatly influenced his recollection of the tragedy.
After watching this episode, I felt like everything I thought I knew about Miyokichi, Yakumo, and Konatsu is in need of questioning. I’m eager to find out how Yakumo learned of Miyokichi’s real name if the event that transpired in season 1 did not actually occur. Did Miyokichi ever love Sukeroku and why did she kill Sukeroku? My opinion of Yakumo has changed...for the better!
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen E.07