Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Ends

4 Stars
Final announcementAccording to the announcement at the end this is “Act 1” of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (Crunchyroll.) But they didn’t give a date for the second season and the wording of the announcement suggests that they haven’t lined up funding for it yet.

This is a high-quality show. In American terms it’s sort of like the anime equivalent of a BBC costume drama. But is there enough of an audience to sustain that? That’s not clear to me. (For renewal purposes the only audience that matters is the one in Japan, especially the number of fans willing to buy expensive Japanese DVDs.)
Crematorium
It makes a big difference whether we get a second season. The first season was fascinating (at least for anyone interested in traditional Japanese culture) but it doesn’t make a fully satisfactory story. It ends with the central tragedy that the title refers to, followed by a brief epilogue in the 1970s that leaves more loose ends than it resolves.

Young Konatsu with SukerokuThe biggest revelation of the last few episodes way the child Konatsu, who is just about the most adorable little brat that I have ever seen in any series. The brattiness is forgivable given what she has had to put up with. She makes a stark contrast with the bitter woman introduced in the first episode.
Yotarou with audience
After Rakugo was devastated by the war the best hope for its survival as a living art form lay with Kikuhiko and Sukeroku, the most talented young performers. But the epilogue makes clear that they failed, largely due to their own personality flaws. Rakugo’s survival hangs by a thread.
Konatsu and Yotarou
It will be up to their heirs, Yotarou and Konatsu, to pick up the torch and make sure that Rukugo survives into the 21st century. (That won’t be easy since they are hardly flawless characters themselves.) This has to be the focus of the next season and I hope we get to see it.