Despite being fully-fledged rakugo performers, Kikuhiko and Sukeroku haven’t been too successful. Kikuhiko begins to become annoyed by Sukeroku’s care-free attitude; as Kikuhiko has to work during the daytime as a waiter in addition to performing at night, just so that they can keep their run-down apartment. Again, Kikuhiko feels the gulf in talent between him and Sukeroku growing larger.
After practicing in front of the Master one day, the Master says that Kikuhiko’s rakugo isn’t as “good” as Sukeroku because Kikuhiko is far too serious. Also, it appears that Kikuhiko still hasn’t found his own “style” yet. So, the Master takes Kikuhiko and Sukeroku to a theater play to relax and have fun. At the theater, Kikuhiko and Sukeroku are introduced to the Master’s mistress, named Miyokichi. Miyokichi is instantly attracted to Kikuhiko, and asks him to come by her place to help her learn how to dance. Amazingly, Kikuhiko takes her up on this offer. As Kikuhiko and Miyokichi begin to get closer, Sukeroku begins to look at Kikuhiko with different eyes…
This was a nice episode, and somewhat of a breather from the plot-heavy episode we got last time. Another whole rakugo act is present in this episode, but it’s a fairly short and humorous one. Once again Kikuhiko’s apparent inferiority complex shows itself. I suppose it’s not unrealistic for him to have such a complex, as he was abandoned after permanently damaging his leg. I’m sure that the last thing Kikuhiko wants is to be labeled as “worthless,” which is why he works so hard no matter what situation he is in.
Kikuhiko’s personality/work ethics contrasts nicely with Sukeroku’s, who’s extremely carefree about everything, even their dire money and food situation. If it weren’t for his intense passion about rakugo, Sukeroku might easily be labeled as a slacker by some people.
I do have to wonder about Miyokichi and her part in all of this. She was technically introduced last episode (at the very end) but didn’t get a proper introduction until now. She’s the Master’s mistress, and Kikuhiko seems to have some mixed feelings about this news. He also appears to have some mixed feelings towards her. However, I’m way more interested in how this will affect the relationship between Kikuhiko and Sukeroku. Sukeroku doesn’t seem to me to be the envious type, but he did seem rather fond of Miyokichi…
Overall, this series still manages to bust out some great episodes. The only criticism I have this time is that the animation quality seemed a bit lower than usual. Is it just me, or was Kikuhiko’s face drawn rather strangely in the first half of the episode? I almost couldn’t recognize him at first. Also, while I do like the way the flashback episodes are proceeding, I sometimes wish we could have had some commentary from Kyoji/Yotaro and Konatsu in the present.
Anyway, out of five: