Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 11

You know, if we stop watching now, we can pretend they lived happily ever after…

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My goodness, was that a delightful episode. While Showa Genroku makes for a fascinating character study, it’s not what you’d call a “feel-good” series–our protagonist’s dour outlook, our cast’s ongoing struggles, and our knowledge of the eventual conclusion weigh too heavily on the story, infusing it with a quiet sorrow even in its brighter moments. This week, though, for perhaps the first time since the premiere (or at least since Kikuhiko’s first triumphant performance), we had an episode that was positively resplendent with joy. My grin was nearly as wide as Konatsu’s.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 10

One big, happy family…

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In an episode that begins and ends with apprentices, it’s no wonder this week’s Showa Genroku is all about inheritance—the legacy we leave, what we try to pass on, and what ends up getting left behind. This is true of genetics, yes, but also of traditions, from religious ceremonies to social norms to scientific knowledge to storytelling and other art forms. Just as the human race depends on progeny for survival, human cultures depend on good teachers and willing students.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 9

Showa Genroku is the Crocodile Dundee of winter anime. “You call that art? Now THIS is art!”

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I had a moment after this week’s episode where all I could do was stare at the end credits while making little half-articulated “wow” noises. That was a beautiful, haunting, painful, stunning 22 minutes, so riveting that I straight-up forgot to take notes my first time through. Regardless of how the next few weeks pan out, after an episode like that I feel confident in saying that SGRS has already established itself as something truly special, an achievement in character writing and visual direction, using its art and music and phenomenal vocal performances to create a whole even greater than the sum of its fantastic parts. Two days later and I’m still trying to lift my jaw up off the floor.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 8

The light at the end of this tunnel is looking more like a speeding train with each passing week.

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Due to a series of unexpected and slightly ridiculous events, I wound up handwriting this in the back of a car between bouts of motion sickness (#XtremeBlogging!), then quickly typing it up and posting it via shaky hot-spot WiFi. As such, it’s a bit scattershot, but I’ll do my best to keep it organized as we chat backgrounds, priorities, and shifting relationships.

After spending a whole lotta time firmly rooted in Kikuhiko’s perspective and developing opinions about others based on the way he sees them, we at last get some direct back story from our two supporting players that offers us our first real glimpse into the histories, hopes, and fears that have influenced and continue to drive them—and they’re not as different from our dour protagonist as you might think.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 7

Showa Genroku: A classic love story of boy-meets-rakugo.

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Having at last found his voice, Kikuhiko’s star rises swiftly, as his performances earn him accolades from audiences and masters alike. But one person’s success can sometimes be another person’s loss, and the rapid changes occurring this week are as much about unraveling personal connections as they are about tightening professional ones.

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Panning the Stream: Winter 2016 Midseason Review

The party is shrinking faster than expected.

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While it’s not unheard-of for me to drop shows between the third and sixth episode, my retention rate is something like 80 percent. Basically, if you can hook me after three, I’m usually invested enough to stick around through the whole cour even if I wind up with a negative opinion of the show.

This season, though? This season there was enough mildly entertaining mid-range stuff that I threw it all at the wall and waited to see what would stick. Not much of it did, and some of the results surprised even me. Hit the jump to see where we stand halfway through this chilly season.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Episode 6

They say you should spend this day with a loved one, so…

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Seeing as how it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d begin this post by saying something I’ve neglected to mention throughout these many words of character analysis and directorial discussion: I am completely, utterly, over-the-moon in love with Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. I give myself a couple of days to write these commentaries because my hot takes would just be several paragraphs of caps-lock gushing and a bunch of sparkly-eyed, flailing reaction gifs. Every week I think I’ll get used to how good this show is, and every week I am once again floored by the sheer amount of thought and artistry that goes into this production.

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