Well I certainly didn’t expect that ending. There were a lot of emotional scenes this episode, and it was all going to end rather sweetly until the police literally crashed the party. Things can’t end happily, can they?
We focus on Yakumo this episode and the rollercoaster of emotions he goes through. He still remains to be as miserable as ever, and the topic of him and his rakugo continues. Because really he’s the one that has really made an impact on rakugo continuing. Higuchi visits and admits to him that he’s been recording his performances without his permission. Everyone wants to preserve Yakumo’s rakugo, but he’s irritated to what he hears. Higuchi won’t release the tapes though unless Yakumo gives him the okay, and he says he’ll think about it. Yakumo still probably doesn’t want his rakugo to go on, as he’s made it clear many times that when he dies he wants his rakugo to die too. He thinks the world of rakugo will just corrupt people and ruin them judging by the experiences that he’s had in his life. But there are just many things going on inside his head. We know he wants to stop doing rakugo, but we also know that he wants to continue doing rakugo and it’s eating him up inside.
The bridge scene was phenomenal. True emotions were shown here as Yotaro and Konatsu find Yakumo there at night. Yakumo claims that he was just taking a walk and felt ill, but Konatsu got angry because she realized his true intentions. Filled his rage with his want for suicide, Konatsu actually admits that she does love Yakumo. Even though she has false conclusions about what happened that night, Yakumo really was her father. Sukeroku wasn’t around for long in her life, and Yakumo didn’t have to raise her but he did anyway. She still wants to hear his rakugo, and she does love him. Hearing this it just makes Yakumo realize he can never kill himself because everyone is just going to stop him anyway. But he can’t get over the fear that wells up inside of him. His voice won’t come out right, he can’t remember some of his stories anymore, and he can feel his body slowly dying off. When you think about it, it really is sad. I don’t really think much about how older people feel, how they know they’re coming close to death. It can really be a scary thing. He goes on about his debilitating condition, but Yotaro says he and others still want to hear his rakugo the way it is, and then he suddenly interrupts by saying that he still hasn’t heard his “Inokori” yet, then says a line that Sukeroku had said to Yakumo before.
More Yotaro/Sukeroku comparisons happen again, as a little plan was made behind Yakumo’s back. To make a mini party of all the close friends and have Yakumo and Yotaro perform for them. Of course, Matsuda had to keep quiet as they went out together to see a play and then head over to the geisha place. It was hilarious when he was thrown into the room.
As planned, Yotaro performs first, and the story he performs is the same one that Sukeroku performed in the inn before he died. His very last rakugo. The look on Yakumo’s face when he started reciting was basically my same reaction too. I was so shocked that he would perform that story, and the way he did it was beautiful. At first I felt it was a more emotional story to be told by Sukeroku because it really was like a forgiveness to his own family for fucking up, being a drunk just like the husband, and changing things around. It was kind of a story of his life. But Yotaro’s version was just as emotional because this was his desperate plea to Yakumo to continue his rakugo. He told him that he saw the tapes of the performance at the inn, and how much fun Yakumo seemed to have there. And because of these different experiences, the stories came out differently from the two storytellers. Sukeroku and Yotaro are kind of similar with each other in terms of personality, but you can see that their rakugo isn’t really the same. I feel like Yotaro is a bit of Yakumo and Sukeroku, with the wild and the preciseness. At least that’s what I feel like.
The performance really struck a chord with Yakumo, and Konatsu, and it seemed to change how he felt. For even just a bit. In the end he was about to perform until the police interrupted the moment to arrest the mafia boss for violating the Gun and Sword policy thing or whatever. What could have been a sweet moment ended in a sour note, so you can’t really say this was a happy episode in the end.
Also, I know Studio DEEN is notorious for shitty animation (sometimes), but their work on Rakugo always looked great. Not this episode. Maybe because they’re working on three shows at the same time, but the bad animation was a surprise. Then again, DEEN is a weird studio when it comes to animation. It’s either really good, or really bad. But whatever. When it comes to this show, where the facial expressions are very important, the animation has to be good. :/