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Descending Stories: Shôwa Genroku rakugo shinjû 

Now a rakugo artist himself, Yotarou is challenged to keep the art form alive, meanwhile witnessing the final years of his master, Yakumo.

Creator:

Haruko Kumota
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1  
2017  
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Cast

Series cast summary:
Akira Ishida ...  Yakumo Yurakutei unknown episodes
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Ex-convict turned Rakugo apprentice Yotarou has finally taken the name of Yurakutei Sukeroku III, and with his master Yakumo's permission has attained the lofty rank of shin'uchi. He assumes the name at a critical time for Rakugo, with audiences fewer than ever. At the same time he has started acting as a husband to Konatsu, who is now a single mother. Yotarou thus begins the struggle to fill the role of Sukeroku, both as the future of Rakugo and as a part of Yakumo's and Konatsu's lives.

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Animation | Drama

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User Reviews

 
A Worthy Second Season
19 October 2019 | by Shostakovich343See all my reviews

I didn't believe "Shouwa Genroku rakugo shinjuu"'s first season could be bettered. To a certain degree, I was right. This second season is a tad less consistent than its glorious predecessor. However, when it hits, it does so even harder.

My initial scepticism was affirmed by the first four episodes, which feel the least rewarding. They focus strongly on Yotarou -- now a 'star performer' -- and his steadily growing family. Arcs are set up in regard to his master Yakumo, his fresh wife Konatsu, the mob boss who may have fathered her son, the writer Higuchi, and even Tokyo's old rakugo theatre. The issue is that all of these arcs are resolved much later in the series. Impressive, certainly, but this couple of episodes is a bit overloaded with set-up in proportion to the amount of pay-off.

This changes in episode 5, when Yakumo -- for the second time -- takes over the role of protagonist. Following Yotarou during a 'family performance', the feeble master takes the stage. He recounts the tale of a man calling his loved one back from the dead. As the story reaches its climax, Yakumo is visited by Miyokochi in a ghostly vision and collapses on the stage. He survives, but it is clear we are witnessing the twilight of his years.

"Rakugo Season 2" assures me that the Eight Generation Yakumo -- Kikuhiko, Bon -- is one of the great characters in anime. If 'contradiction means dimension' (Robert McKee), then Yakumo is anime's Hamlet. The writers have managed to recapture that gentle inconsistency that made these characters so distinctly human. Yakumo wants Yotarou to follow in Sukeroku's footsteps, but imposes his own philosophy upon him. He loves rakugo, but is decided to carry the art form to his grave. He longs for death, but clings to life.

From Yakumo's collapse onwards, season 2 just keeps getting better. I have made many notes on episode 7's gut punch twist, or the overwhelming final five episodes, but cannot bring myself to spoil any details. Suffice it to say that "Rakugo Season 1" was the first anime to make me tear up, and that "Rakugo Season 2" is the first anime to make me cry outright for three consecutive episodes.

Evidently, this season is less restrained in its use of melodrama than its predecessor, but "Rakugo" understands the key to successful melodrama: pacing.

I loathe tearjerkers like "Your Lie in April", "Clannad Afterstory", and "Violet Evergarden", that go for a sense of maximum inspiration-ness in every episode. "Rakugo" allows its emotions to flow naturally from the story it tells. It doesn't try to move its audience by constantly showing people cry and playing very sad violin music; we are touched because we have seen Yakumo evolve from a ten-year old boy into a beaten septuagenarian, and can deduce the significance of seemingly minor things in relation to the life he has lived. We are brought to tears by our involvement in the story, not by the narrative equivalent of 'press f to cry.'

A debate whether "Rakugo"'s first or second season is the better comes down to pitting "The Godfather" against "The Godfather Part II", or "Star Wars" against "The Empire Strikes Back". The latter arguably delves a bit deeper, but I prefer the original for its more consistent, and satisfyingly rounded narrative. "Rakugo", however, has something above either trilogy: It ends with its second instalment. Neither "The Godfather Part III" nor "Return of the Jedi" managed to live up to its illustrious predecessors, whereas "Rakugo" has finished on an emotional high point, wholly satisfying, and still cleverly ambiguous.

Now that this second season has indeed lived up to expectations, I can say with resolve that "Rakugo" is one of the most singularly accomplished anime series of all time. Invest the attention it demands; you will be rewarded!


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Official Sites:

Official Website (Japanese)

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

6 January 2017 (Japan) See more »

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Studio DEEN See more »
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Sound Mix:

Stereo

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Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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