Almost a year has passed since the second season of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju aired, and even now the show stands among the top with the best of 2017. The sequel was not to be outdone by the original season, which focused largely on the past, and spent much of its time contemplating the role of rakugo from present to future. One of the story’s champions for progress can be found in the complicated character of Konatsu.
From child, to troubled teen, and later on to marriage with children, Konatsu lives in a world harsh to those who seek it. We experienced intimately the tragedy that befell her father and mother in the first season. In season two, we finally see her open up to the people around her and pursue her interests. Watching the woman, who as a child recited her father’s rakugo with passionate abandon, participate as a musician felt satisfying after everything she went through up to that point.
But the time comes when Yotaro pushes her to do what she’s desired for so long, performance on a stage of her own. The stage may have been small and the audience mostly children, but for the first time, she is the storyteller and they her crowd reacting to every word and expression. I cried with happiness at her performance of “Jugemu,” and knew at the end that even though she claimed satisfaction, she still wanted more.
And the show delivers. We get that moment of triumph after a lot of prodding and more misfortune. Konatsu stands in a rakugo hall with an official title and works written with the future in mind. The old model for rakugo may be dead, but its spirit lives on in the people who remember and share it with the next generation.
Watch Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju on Crunchyroll.