This is a series that I found recently. At first I didn’t think I would enjoy it because it is unlike the types of anime that I normally watch. However after I got past the first episode I was hooked. I wanted to see what was going to happen to the characters. The fact that the next two episodes at least are flashback episodes make this series all the more enjoyable.
The first episode begins with a man who is released from prison. He has no where’s to go and no one who will bring him in. He does however have a strong desire to learn Rakugo which is a Japanese style of comedic storytelling. He has had this desire ever since Yakumo performed a story named Shinigami at the prison. When he meets the storyteller he is at first denied. After some persuasion however the ex-convict becomes Yakumo’s apprentice. The ex-cnvict is then nicknamed Yotaro.
Yotaro meets a woman who lives in Yakumo’s house. Her name is Komatsu. She is the daughter of the man who was apprenticed under the same storyteller as Yakumo and she wants to learn Rakugo as well. She becomes Yakumo’s apprentice as well.
Yotaro doesn’t appear to be learning Rakugo that quickly at the beginning as he is struggling to get through a single story. It isn’t until his old crime boss shows up that he shows his skill. He makes everyone in the audience laugh by the end of the story, including his old crime boss who looked down on him for deciding to learn Rakugo.
Yotaro takes a shine to the work of Komatsu’s father and begins to do Rakugo in a similar manner. This is noticeable when Yotaro is asked to open for a show that Yakumo is putting on. The show ends with Yotaro being expelled from being an apprentice for doing something that he probably shouldn’t have done. He fell asleep during his masters performance and snored loudly which served as an interruption. Yakumo managed to improvise through the snoring sounds but after he was done performing he was angry.
The first episode ends with Yotaro being forgiven for what he did. He ended up being an apprentice again. Yakumo also tells Yotaro that he needs to find his own Rakugo. After this he says that he will begin telling his two apprentices the story of how he made a promise with Komatsu’s father to help Rakugo to continue to exist.
The second episode starts with the flashback. Young Yakumo is being brought to his new masters house after being abandoned by his parents due to an injury that made him stop being a dancer. As he shows up he meets a filthy boy. This is the first time that he meets Sukeroku. They both become apprentices together, as well as great friends. While Sukeroku becomes great at Rakugo fairly quickly, Yakumo is unable to do it. This is because Yakumo has a very serious personality that doesn’t translate that well into comedy.
The next episode is focused on what happens during World War two in terms of Rakugo. Since Yakumo is a cripple he can’t go with Sukeroku and his master to entertain the soldiers. He goes with his master’s wife to the country where they stay until after the war. When they return they find the house has been taken care of and they wait for the return of Sukeroku and Yakumo’s master. They return and there is a very heartfelt reunion.
There are a few reasons why I am enjoying this anime. For one thing it is a simple retelling of an old man’s past. In the first episode Yotaro looks like he is going to be the main character. I didn’t think he was fleshed out enough to have that part because he has a very cliched personality (man who really wants to do something but isn’t the best at it, obsessed about certain things, adds comedy value to plot). In the second episode it is clear that Yotaro isn’t the real main character, it is Yakumo. That first episode merely introduced the characters in the present day before going right into the flash back story.
The second reason is because it gives a point of view of Japanese culture and the war from a point of view that I have never seen before. I have read a couple of novels that talk about Japans involvement in the war, but they are set in the present where the main character wasn’t even born yet during those events. I can see a point of view that I have never seen before.