Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (Showa and Genroku Era Lovers' Suicide Through Rakugo) is a Josei manga by Haruko Kumota, which was serialized in ITAN from 2010 to 2016. It was adapted into two OVAs (known as Yotaro Hourou-hen, or the Yotaro Wandering Part) and a winter 2016 anime adaption. The anime started airing on January 8th 2016, and Studio DEEN did the animation. The anime's official website is here. The manga ended at 10 volumes.
It's The '70s, and an ex-con, whose name we later learn is Kyoji, wants to learn the art of rakugo from Yurakutei Yakumo, a master that did a special performance of a rakugo story called "Shinigami" in prison one day. While Yakumo is more than willing to keep Kyoji in his house alongside the rebellious Konatsu, it turns out Kyoji (or Yotaro - rakugo slang for "fool") sucks at rakugo. Luckily for him, Konatsu is the daughter of dead rakugoka Sukeroku and willing to tutor him, but unluckily for her, she cannot pursue the path of rakugo herself because she is a woman.
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is on Crunchyroll for the curious note . The manga has a few accolades and was nominated for more. The OVAs are in No Export for You status for most places of the world (although episode 1 of the broadcast anime tells the same story as the OVAs, only abridged). The manga was previously unavailable in English until Kodansha USA licensed it under the name Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, releasing it fromin May 2017 to December 2018.
Shortly after the first season finale, a second season was announced to air in January 2017.
See also Joshiraku, another, more modern series centered around the art of Rakugo.
Tropes found in Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu:
- Adults Are Useless: All Sukeroku did was drink booze and sleep, while a very young Konatsu did the household chores and tried earning money by doing rakugo in a local soba place.
- Anti-Hero: "Yotaro" can mean this by interpretation, and an ex-con is most definitely not the typical hero.
- All Just a Dream: In one of the rakugo stories, Yumekin (Dream Treasure).
- Artistic License – Biology: It is quite hard to believe that the slim Kikuhiko could manage to hold two dangling adults using only one arm. It is later revealed out that Kiku is hiding the truth.
- Bland-Name Product: A man listens to the opening rakugo performance over a Zony radio.
- Call-Back: All Kiku wanted to do was perform a rakugo for his grandson Shin. During his sendoff, he gets to perform Jugemu while Shin watches.
- It's also notable, seeing that Kiku for the longest time refused to do children's rakugo since he saw the practice as a serious art form.
- The Casanova: Hatsutaro/Sukeroku.
- Chaste Hero: Kikuhiko, just look at how he acts with Miyokichi and the ladies at the restaurant. Funny enough, he came to specialize in bawdy/erotic stories.
- Credits Gag: In the second season’s opening “Imawa no Shinigami”, Miyokichi’s face appears on a spinning gramophone record, seen here. Her voice actor Megumi Hayashibara is an accomplished singer. The record also represents a memory of someone dead and gone.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Yotaro's boss and previously Yotaro himself. The boss even sits in the rakugo theatre sunken into his chair, the way a gangster would be expected to sit, and tries to recruit Kyoji back with the promise of getting this trope's lifestyle back. Kyoji/Yotaro's "Dekigokoro" proved him wrong.
- Decoy Protagonist: Kyoji in the anime, as the story revolves around Kiku's flashbacks. At least for the first season: he is more important in the second season.
- Dream-Crushing Handicap: Kikuhiko was going to be a dancer, until his leg got injured in an accident and he was shipped off to unwillingly learn rakugo.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Kyoji's boss. Whether he's called "Mr Boss Man" (Yakumo) or simply "boss" (Kyoji), his actual name hasn't been revealed.
- Flashback: Most of the show is a flashback to how circumstances are the way they are...
- Flashback Within a Flashback: ...resulting in this trope.
- Foregone Conclusion: It's established from the beginning that Kiku becomes the 8th Yakumo and that Sukeroku dies.
- Foreshadowing: A lot of details in episode 1 get unveiled as being deeper in meaning as the show progresses.
- Geisha: Miyokichi previously, and some are seen playing the shamisen while rakugo is being performed.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Plenty of it between Kikuhiko and Sukeroku. note
- Infodump: People who haven't seen a speck of rakugo would go in expecting this trope, but it's surpringly averted. Description Porn is also averted, by the way.
- I Have Many Names: The rakugo performers are called by different names in their stages of life including their original name (which may not even be their real name), the name given by their master, the stage name they choose for themselves, and the name of their master which one best apprentice inherits.
- The Klutz: Yotaro, before performing for his boss. Justified as he was nervous.
- Legacy Character: "Yurakutei" is a surname passed down from rakugo master to pupil. The "Yakumo" is only passed down to one student of the previous Yakumo who masters the art.
- Love Triangle: Between Miyokichi, Sukeroku and Kiku.
- Meaningful Name:
- The "raku" in Yurakutei can mean "comfort" (which he gives by letting Konatsu and Yotaro stay at his place) or "ease" (which is what he does rakugo with).
- Kiku means "chrysanthemum", which could indicate Kikuhiko's delicateness and beauty.
- Meaningful Rename: Kyoji -> Yotaro. Kyoji didn't reveal his previous name at first, but with the way Kyoji acts, Yotaro suits him better. He for the most part abandons the name Kyoji after prison (but still acknowledges it's his former name for people who knew him before prison) since he wants to do rakugo, and his Stage Name is Yurakutei Yotaro (since he's Yurakutei Yakumo's apprentice, Yakumo gave him the same surname).
- Moment of Weakness: The argument between Sukeroku and the Seventh Yakumo starts in earnest when Sukeroku blurts out that Yakumo's rakugo was old-fashioned and boring. From there things escalate into Yakumo taunting Sukeroku with plans to pass his name to Kikuhiko. Sukeroku gets riled up to the point of nearly attacking his master and gets expelled.
- Mood Killer: In season 2, episode 8, just as Yakumo is about to have his first rakugo performance since his health worsened, the police bust in and arrest the Yakuza boss in the audience.
- Not Good with Rejection: Miyokichi still pursues Kiku even after he broke up with her.
- Only Known By His Nickname: The ex-con protagonist is only called by the name Yakumo the 8th gave him—Yotaro—for quite a while until his real name is revealed to be Kyoji. Also Bon and Shin before being bequeathed with the Yurakutei surname.
- Overly Long Name: In the second cour, Konatsu performs the famous Rakugo story "Jugemu" for a delighted kindergarten audience. The story is about a boy whose father asks a priest for a list of auspicious baby names, and when he can't make up his mind, he decides to name him all of them. Therefore, his name is Jugemu Jugemu Gokō-no surikire Kaijarisuigyo-no Suigyōmatsu Unraimatsu Fūraimatsu Kuunerutokoro-ni Sumutokoro Yaburakōji-no burakōji Paipopaipo Paipo-no-shūringan Shūringan-no Gūrindai Gūrindai-no Ponpokopī-no Ponpokonā-no Chōkyūmei-no Chōsuke. It's a Running Gag with Serial Escalation because every character in the story refers to Jugemu by his full name every single time they have to refer to him, and Konatsu milks their increasing exasperation for all the comedy it's worth.
- Parental Substitute: The boss to Kyoji, or so Kyoji says. Konatsu's not convinced. Kiku's a rather complicated version for Konatsu herself.
- Psychopomp: The tale "Shinigami" involves the rakugoka playing one.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: In the anime's second OP, Shin's ghost is seen behind Bon with a dissonant smile on his face. By the ninth episode of Season 2, Shin's eyes turn a very blood red.
- Shown Their Work: The work has shown that its creator has extensively researched rakugo. She has also researched to some degree dodoitsu (a normally comical poem which is structured similarly to a haiku), Geisha and the kyogen (comic theatre derived from Noh intermissions) play Benten Kozo, about a man disguised as a woman who is revealed by samurai tattoos on his arms.
- Spurned into Suicide: Miyokichi during the inn confrontation wanted to kill herself and take Kiku with her because he would not love her. Guess who she took with her instead?
- Stage Name: Kyoji, by circumstances detailed under Meaningful Rename, gets the stage name Yurakutei Yotaro. By similar circumstances, "Yurakutei Yakumo" is one but it's also the successor to the Yakumo name's real name. The 8th Yakumo was originally Kikuhiko (and his name before that is unknown), Sukeroku's was Shin.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Kikuhiko. Shinnosuke as well, after he grows up.
- Technician Versus Performer: Sukeroku and Kiku's dynamic at first. Kiku is technically perfect, not stumbling at all on very tricky wordplay and tongue-twisters, but very stiff and emotionless. Sukeroku's has a lot more emotion and can play a crowd better, but is a bit more fast-and-loose and does much simpler Rakugo.
- Unrequited Love: Miyokichi to Kiku.
- The Unreveal: We never do learn who the biological father of Shinnosuke was. Even though Higuchi theorizes at the end that it might be Kiku, Konatsu intentionally keeps her answer vague.
- Yandere: Miyokichi's attraction towards Kiku borders on yandere.