The opening of this episode starts us off with an ominous note as Sukuroka’s eyes are shown with a deep blood red. Perhaps it is a sign that the reaper has come for Yakumo, but I think it’s too early for that yet. On Yotaro’s side of things, something I previously suspected was brought up as Yotaro still hasn’t found his Rakugo and I think that until the writer gives him some new material, he won’t. One thing he did realize was that s and his and Yakumo’s approach to Rakugo are different. Yakumo tends to push his style as a performer onto all the characters he portrays while Yotaro wishes to become the characters themselves. It’s an important step for Yotaro as it means that he is moving away from simply copying his master to developing his own style. Considering the events at the end of the episode, I hope he doesn’t regress back from this step forward. It was indeed a very unfortunate timing for Yotaro to have this revelation.
The final scene reminds me of a moment during the first season, when Miyokichi claimed that she would haunt Yakumo in episode 9. In a way she has done just that, so perhaps it gives her joy in the afterlife. Is this truly the ghost of Miyokichi come back to torment Yakumo or simply a hallucination due to his failing health? It really is up to the viewer, but it is rather interesting that Yakumo was telling a story about a man meeting his loved one by lighting incense and making the story more dynamic by having Konatsu light the incense. For the ghost of Miyokichi to appear from incense lit by her daughter, who just so happens to still hold a grudge against Yakumo is rather intriguing. As I stated in the title, I don’t think this is the end for Yakumo. Things may look grim but he still hasn’t hit the apex of this character arc yet. He is essentially the main opposition for Yotaro and for the writer to kill him off now would leave a gaping hole in the narrative. I think this near death experience should give him some perspective though. One thing that really caught my eye was in how Yakumo reacted to Yotaro calling Rakugo fun. Once upon a time Yakumo found Rakugo fun, but it seems after Sukoroku died, that event killed Yakumo’s enthusiasm for it. Rakugo is just a job for Yakumo now and I think this marks a turning point for him to regain that love he once had.
One thing that threw me through a loop this episode was before Yakumo collapsed, he looked at Konatsu and repeated “My Beloved, My beloved.” I personally saw the relationship between Yakumo and Miyokichi to be one sided. Unless that flashback was Yakumo playing unreliable narrator I don’t think Yakumo truly loved Miyokichi. He may have cared for her but often his more intimate moments with her felt like he was just indulging her. Of course time is a fickle beast and it’s possible that looking back over his past that Yakumo’s affection for Miyokichi could have grown into love. It was a long time ago and she was clearly the woman who made the greatest impact on his life. But perhaps there is something more to this. Perhaps Yakumo was hiding something that he didn’t tell Yotaro and Konatsu. What that could be is anyone’s guess. As a nice bit of symmetry this episode is the fifth episode of the second season which could potentially be Yakumo’s end as a Rakugo performer. The fifth episode of the first season was where Yakumo crossdressed for a play and discovered his talent with could be considered his beginning in Rakugo. In that regard this could be the beginning of great change.