Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju anime series cover art
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Series Overview

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu / 昭和元禄落語心中), also known as Showa and Genroku Era Lover’s Suicide Through Rakugo, is a historical drama centered around the Japanese performative art of Rakugo.

If you’ve never heard of Rakugo before, I don’t blame you. I hadn’t heard of it until this anime came out, which was back in 2016. It’s a form of comedic storytelling performed by a single person sitting on a stage with a few props to use for sound effects.

Honestly, Rakugo itself doesn’t seem all that entertaining to me — at least based on how it’s depicted in this anime. From what I understand, there’s a finite list of Rakugo stories, so it seems like it would get repetitive for the audience if they frequented the theaters.

Since Rakugo is what the series is about, there are plenty of Rakugo scenes throughout. Usually, these scenes aren’t too long, but the first episode is an exception. If you can make it through the first episode (which is double-length), you can make it through the whole series.

I say that because, in my opinion, the Rakugo scenes are the worst part of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. The characters and drama are really good. It’s just that, most of the time, I didn’t find myself caring about the stories being told, even if they were tying into what was happening in the lives of the cast.

Now, something that’s pretty unique about this series is that it has two seasons and they both take place in different time periods. The series begins in what seems like the 1950s but then shifts into a flashback of the 1910s – 1920s until the end of the first season.

The rest of this review will be about the pre-war portion of the first season.

Main Characters

There are four important characters within the pre-war flashback of the first season. These are Kikuhiko, Sukeroku, Yakumo (Seventh Generation), and Miyokichi. Kikuhiko and Sukeroku are the main characters while Yakumo and Miyokichi are major supporting characters.

I guess it makes the most sense to start with Yakumo Yuurakutei (Seventh Generation). Yakumo is actually a stage name that’s passed down through the generations of Rakugo performers. This Yakumo is the seventh generation and takes on Kikuhiko and Sukeroku as his apprentices so that he’ll have someone to pass the title down to.

Kikuhiko is also a stage name that was given to Bon upon becoming Yakumo’s apprentice. He was taken in by Yakumo at a young age when he was orphaned and unable to perform any other type of work due to having a bad leg. Kikuhiko has a delicate disposition, which leads him to perform stories with major female characters.

Yakumo "Bon, Kikuhiko, Eighth Generation" Yuurakutei from the anime series Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Yakumo “Bon, Kikuhiko, Eighth Generation” Yuurakutei

Sukeroku, whose real name is Shin, was originally given the name Hatsutarou by Yakumo. However, he didn’t like that name and thus chose Sukeroku for himself because it sounded more manly. He’s also the opposite of Kikuhiko in basically every way imaginable.

While Kikuhiko is quiet, polite, and reserved, Sukeroku is loud, crass, and outgoing. Kikuhiko is extremely responsible, and Sukeroku goes out drinking and picking up women on a regular basis. But, the one good thing you can say about Sukeroku is that his passion has always been Rakugo, which isn’t the case for Kikuhiko.

Miyokichi, also known as Yurie because everyone in this series has multiple names, is the female lead. She’s a geisha who’s introduced into the story as Yakumo’s mistress, but later becomes the primary love interest of Kikuhiko. I like Miyokichi; she’s cute.

Showa and Genroku Era

If you don’t want to be spoiled on the first season of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, you can skip down to the conclusion for my final rating. For anyone else, let’s start this section off by dissecting the title of the series.

The English translation of the title is Showa and Genroku Era Lover’s Suicide Through Rakugo. At the end of the first season, we see the deaths of both Sukeroku and Miyokichi. While not exactly a lover’s suicide, they were lovers who fell to their deaths after Miyokichi attempted suicide.

I’m guessing that’s where the “lover’s suicide” in the title comes from. So I’m going to make a prediction here that something similar is going to happen in the second season, which takes place decades later and with mostly different characters. This time around, it would involve Yotarou and Konatsu.

Miyokichi "Yurie" from the anime series Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Miyokichi “Yurie”

With that said, I don’t believe the two of them are actually going to die. Unless it’s done really well, I feel like that would be a pretty bad ending. Instead, I see them getting into a similar situation, causing Kikuhiko (now the Eighth Generation Yakumo) to see his old friends in them.

As for the Showa and Genroku Eras mentioned in the title, the Showa Era is when the story is set and the Genroku Era is, I believe, when Rakugo became a popular form of entertainment in Japan.

Moving into the Future

I liked the pre-war portion of the series. But, I have some reservations about the post-war portion. Hopefully, when I watch it I’ll discover I had nothing to worry about. However, based on the small parts of this period we see in the first season, I don’t like the characters as much.

For that reason, I’m really hoping that the series does something interesting with the dual time periods of the story. If the second season calls back to the events of the first, or maybe flips them around, that would make the series as a whole a lot more interesting to me.

I want more than a simple continuation of the story with a new generation. The series is set up this way for a reason, I hope.


Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is an 8/10. It’s a very good anime. However, my main issue with it comes from the Rakugo scenes. I get that Rakugo is what the series is about, but these scenes could have been done better, like the shogi scenes from March comes in like a lion, which focus more on the characters’ mentality than the thing they’re doing.

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4 Replies to “Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju”

  1. Slightly disagree about the rakugo portions, it’s a traditional part of the country’s arts history. While it may not be my or your cup of tea, I imagine people irl who are used to rakugo actually enjoy it, rather than it being boring. I liked it in the show, I won’t lie on first watch it was boring to me, but as the show went on and the stories started to fit the character’s more, I began to enjoy it. I too would’ve liked to see more of the characters’ inner thoughts while performing, but how are we supposed to understand their storytelling if we don’t hear them do it?

    But then again, rakugo really just serves as a backdrop for the character and thematic drama. Also, the beginning of the story most likely takes place in the 70’s or 80’s, the flashback portion is likely the 30’s to the 40’s/50’s possibly.

    I hope I don’t sound rude, just offering up a different perspective. Otherwise interesting review 🙂

    1. I think a traditional part of a country’s arts history can still be considered boring by modern standards. Things I find entertaining probably won’t be things my grandchildren find entertaining. That’s just how it is sometimes.

      Anyway, if you like anime like this one, I recommend checking out House of Five Leaves. It’s not about Rakugo, but it’s another good seinen anime.

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