I love stories that show clumsy people who can not live without doing what they can devote themselves to.
I love characters who steadily put all their efforts into what they believe in even though they can’t gain any understanding from others and the society.
I love the moments they suffer from severe distress and are being hampered by obstacles such as a bad environment, a lack of talent, and aging; when they stubbornly try to carry on while writhing in agony.
I love their outstanding performances that overwhelmingly enamor and fanaticize people. These moments that seem as if they reach the realm of god and turn into something godly after putting all their heart and soul into what they do.
The last volume of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju was released the other day and it was full of such content. But the series’s attractions don’t stop there.
Inheritor and Giver
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is about ‘inheritance’. Yakumo Yurakutei VIII (the protagonist Yotaro’s teacher) hadn’t accepted any disciples until he met Yotaro, and because of this, the rakugo culture in the comic has declined much more rapidly compared to our real world.
Yakumo’s life had been filled with hardship and many vicissitudes. He had his mind set on committing a love suicide with rakugo, ending it in his generation. The story begins from old times and revolves around Yakumo, Yakumo’s foster daughter Konatsu who violently hates Yakumo, and Rokusuke who has some deep history with Yakumo.
The weakening of culture has been a serious problem in real life too. As we hail newly-emerging cultures, there are always obsolete cultures destined to fall out. We are faced with a tough decision on whether we should make some changes to old historic cultures to preserve them or just let them get eliminated by natural selection. We never know if it’s really worth preserving them by making changes.
The meaningfulness of cultures is always questioned. Culture though can last forever as long as there are inheritors, unlike human beings who can only live for 150 years at best. It is, in other words, synonymous with the notion of meme.
Everything that is handed down over the centuries has some sort of universality. That universality can be embraced forever as long as there is humanity. In the comic, Yotaro says, ‘The true essence of rakugo is not just comicality but also sympathy. Everyone has sympathy, so it will last forever.’ I was actually very impressed by these words.
That idea had never crossed my mind at all and I always thought rakugo was there to make people laugh. In fact, Yakumo unleashes his outstanding talent when it comes to expressing fear and women’s elegance. He made me realize that rakugo could last forever as long as there’s humanity, if the true essence of rakugo is a sympathy toward various emotions including joy, just as Yotaro says. However, over time, as it has been handed down over thousands of years while being matured and sophisticated by countless numbers of people, it has become something extremely valuable.
We enter the rakugo world with so much aspiration and adoration, and we have an unimaginable amount of responsibility. Being overwhelmed by a heavy feeling, we would very likely be forced to kill our true selves. Traditions are created after sucking in a lot of emotions including struggle, evil deeds and evil thoughts.
The ones who live with all these things on their backs are still people. Since we are people, it’s inevitable for us to get sometimes tired and sick of what we do. Even if we’re aware of its great significance and value more than anyone else, we still get an uncontrollable urge to end it. Yakumo’s decision to die together with rakugo may look like a great shame or an irresponsible act to other people. However, it’s really difficult to measure what’s lying deep down someone’s heart.
It’s nearly impossible for others to see through the abyss that only dwells inside their troubled heart. However, it’s also true that we humans are animals controlled by emotions and thus, we are nothing but fickle creatures who often get impeded by emotions and inspired by strong bonds and links. People with greed and without thoughtfulness either hurt each other or respect and help each other. They cry and smile but they also feel anger and fury.
I can’t help but sympathize with the characters’ remarks and rakugo.
The following line is what Yakumo spoke in the comic. I think it accurately and deeply reflects the human essence.
Even though people can’t understand each other, they still live together. We are simple creatures who like to share small things with each other. That’s why people never become alone.
That’s simply beautiful: to protect things at all costs in a constantly-changing world. In spite of the changes in their external world, their essence is permanently handed down. Their heart-moving and soul-shaking essence will never fade away. When I saw the scene where the ‘inheritance’ was finally carried out, I couldn’t hold in my tears.
A Story of Ultimate Sophistication
Even if people are as brittle as the sakura on the volume 10’s cover, there are so many things inherited and thus, they can live as blooming flowers more beautiful than a sakura storm and fireworks. I’m not sure if rakugo will stay forever, but as long as it goes on, it would keep giving people something priceless. I feel that Yotaro intuitively understands and implements that.
I also couldn’t help my tears when Yakumo showed a very gentle smile. He used to look just like a Grim Reaper, living in the dark.
Yakumo was in an abyss of despair, unable to perform rakugo due to aging. However, he happened to encounter something that dramatically moved his heart. It was certainly a great sensation that indicates what human life really is. In Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, there is each character’s life that gives us a sensation of pulsation.
Reading this comic made me want to visit a rakugo theater. This work isn’t just about rakugo. It also depicts a variety of emotions that live through rakugo. For that reason, I’d like to strongly recommend this to anyone who is even remotely interested in rakugo. This is an elaborately depicted rakugo that gives a you-are-there feeling. It has well-made compositions of drama that progress with their outstanding performances, their emotional dialect, pretty body lines and facial expressions drawn by Haruko Kumota and the character’s way of life.
There are just too many attractions in this comic that I can hardly tell every single bit of them. I don’t think that’s so cool to tell you everything about this comic here. Please give it a try and enjoy every bit of this story. I’ve been constantly reading heaps of comics to meet such a comic like this and I rediscovered how awesome manga because of this title. I’m so grateful to the author Haruko Kumota for delivering such a great work.
The second season of the TV anime scheduled to air next year looks incredible and I strongly recommend you to watch it as you can fully enjoy the very zenith of the voice-actors’ artisan skills. When I was wondering what kind of story Haruko Kumota will write next after getting this far with her first work, I found out that she will serialize Fune wo Amu in ITAN from October 7. I am definitely watching it.
source : http://honz.jp/articles/-/43392