By Shanel Kamara
Okay, now this is the reason why I adore this show, the reason is that whenever you think you know something it turns out that you know nothing. In other words, always expect the unexpected, which is still something I struggle to grapple with concerning this show. I mean it's the eighth episode, and I still keep on anticipating Yakumo's death despite how lamentable it would be to lose this forlorn yet impressive character. The slow build-up to the dramatic climax of this week's episode was pure genius; from the moment Yakumo performed at the penitentiary, followed by him giving his cherished fan away, this episode had me hooked. Passing the fan to Yotarou was a massive sign that heralded an unfortunate event to come, Yakumo's death. However, near the time of Yakumo's demise, Yotarou's arrival reignites or reaffirms Yakumo's quiet yet strong desire to live, which in turn allows him to escape his imminent death.
Admittedly this show is sinister, but I found this episode particularly eerie when Sukeroku - who was simply a manifestation of Yakumo's old age and an illusion conjured by Yakumo - turned into a shinigami or "death spirit". This anime is not a supernatural show, but it does strongly emphasise how one's perception can become one's reality. Yotarou could not see the embodiment of death hovering over Yakumo, yet there is no question that for Yakumo the shinigami's presence was very true and very real. The shinigami (or the enemy) was out to deceive Yakumo by tempting him to believe something that was not true. Fortunately, Yakumo learned the truth; he was able to win the battle for truth that took place in his mind, albeit not without a fight.
This may be the turning point for Yakumo whereby he is able to let go of a life filled with dread, guilt, and despair, and embrace a life of joy, peace, and hope.
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen E.09