We continue on in the flashback that started last episode. This episode focuses on the late teenage to early adult years of both Kikuhiko and Hatsutaro. Kikuhiko attempts to get better at rakugo, but finds it hard because he must also attend school. Nonetheless, he still leads a fairly successful social life, even meeting his first love only to have it torn away from him due to the coming war.
The upcoming war also causes rakugo to go into decline, as people begin to focus more on survival instead of entertainment. The city of Tokyo is essentially abandoned, and Kikuhiko and Hatsutaro are forced to part ways—Kikuhiko goes off to the countryside with his Master’s wife, while Hatsutaro and the Master go off to entertain soldiers near the battlefront. However, Kikuhiko makes Hatsutaro promise to come back alive, no matter what.
Many years pass, and Kikuhiko soon loses track of Hatsutaro and the Master. Although he tries to forget about rakugo, Kikuhiko finds solace in reciting it. Suddenly, the war is declared to be over, and Kikuhiko and the mistress rush back to their home in Tokyo. Because the Master is still not back yet, Kikuhiko diligently works as a rakugo performer in order to earn them enough money to live.
More time passes, but soon enough, Hatsutaro and the Master return home safely. And, as they return, Rakugo becomes popular once again. Kikuhiko and Hatsutaro eventually come of age and leave their Master’s care in order to perform rakugo on their own. But, the flashback isn’t over just yet.
AHHHHHhhhhh this episode was so good. SO GOOD.
At this point, it’s pretty clear that most of the series is probably just going to be centered around Gramp’s—er, Yakumo’s flashbacks. Which is fine by me, since Yakumo is a pretty interesting character, and it’s a neat story concept to “see” the flashback as he’s telling his life’s story.
The one thing I’m still really liking about this series is that there’s not a lot of focus on childhood or teenage drama. Although this episode dealt with Kikuhiko’s and Hatsutaro’s late teenage to early adult years, and Kikuhiko DID end up getting two girlfriends, that sort of stuff isn’t given too much focus—which makes sense as the series is really about Kikuhiko and Hatsutaro’s relationship with each other, as well as their relationship with rakugo. The series could have very easily spent an entire episode on each of Kikuhiko’s romances, but I’m glad they didn’t when it’s already a foregone conclusion that Kikuhiko never marries any of them; since he IS still single in the “present day” of the series.
They also could have spent an entire episode just on the war, and I am happy that they didn’t. Far too many anime flounder about and waste time by expanding on insignificant story details
(I’m looking at you, TWGOK), and since this series is set to only be around 13 episodes long, it’s good that they’re choosing to be brief about Kikuhiko’s early years. The real meat of the story seems to be centered around Kikuhiko’s years as a starting rakugo performer anyway.
There was a lot of character development for Kikuhiko in this episode. He goes from hating rakugo to loving it, and becoming an adept performer. Maybe the separation from Hatsutaro was good for him? Because without that incentive, Kikuhiko probably wouldn’t have bothered to return to rakugo. Also, it is revealed in this episode that Kikuhiko is rather experienced in playing the shamisen! And also that he almost attempted to do “bawdy and erotic” rakugo which would have made for… an interesting episode.
Overall, this episode was great. I love how maturely this series handles teenage romances as well as war times. This series manages to portray what it feels to deeply miss someone without making things melodramatic. I still love the dynamic between Kikuhiko and Hatsutaro, and this episode was so heartwarming to watch. It’s so nice to see a war-related story with a happy ending… at least for now. Because we all know what’s going to happen to Hatsutaro eventually…
Out of five for this episode: