A Performance to Feel

A Performance to Feel (A Shouwa Genroku Analysis)

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (from here on: ShoRoku for the sake of my hands) shows only as much, says only as much, and does only as much as it needs to. Like the rakugo it depicts, ShoRoku allows us to understand a complex story despite comparatively minimalistic storytelling. As quickly and implicitly as we learn the characters of a rakugo performance, we’re able to make meaning from the smallest of hints in the show. ShoRoku asks us to let up on our imagination’s leash and experience the details of the story for ourselves. Let’s explore Episode 6 and figure out how this series is a rakugo performance all its own.

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If we’re going to compare to rakugo, of course we need to start at voices. Kikuhiko and Sukeroku can be viewed as two characters in a skit, and their voice acting as two separate voices from the same rakugo performer. Kikuhiko’s voice is always controlled, like he’s holding it tight in his chest and only letting words escape once he’s carefully chosen them. Sukeroku’s voice bounces from quick and high to rolling and low, instantly informing us of his mercurial personality—goofy one second, but serious about rakugo the next. This is voice acting, and every show is going to have its voice actors portray the characters’ personalities, but the difference in these particular characters’ voices plays directly into the plot.Read More »