The BEST Episodes of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2020

When a certain man is released from prison, he knows exactly where he's heading first. After falling in love with a traditional comic storyteller's rendition of the story called "Shinigami," he is determined to become his apprentice. The performer, Yakumo, has never taken an apprentice before, but to everyone's surprise, he accepts the eager ex-prisoner, nicknaming him "Yotaro." As Yotaro happily begins his new life, he meets others in Yakumo's life, including Yakumo's ward Konatsu. Konatsu was the daughter of a famous storyteller, and Yakumo took her in after her father's tragic death. Konatsu loved her father's storytelling, and would love to become a performer in her own right—but that path is not available for women.

Episode 1

#1 - Episode 1

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 9, 2016

"I've got nothing, so I'm going there." Former small-time crook Yotaro has never forgotten the rakugo tale "Shinigami" that the great artist Yurakutei Yakumo performed to him in prison. After his release, he goes right to Yakumo's theater, and pleads to be made his apprentice. He's accepted, but quckly finds himself dealing with many strange twists in the world of rakugo, including a growing bond with Yakumo's ward, Konatsu, and reminders from his own inescapable past.

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Directors: Shinichi Omata
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Episode 2

#2 - Episode 2

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Jan 16, 2016

Yakumo begins the story of the promise he made with Sukeroku. When he was young, he was taken in by the 7th generation Yakumo and named Kikuhiko. He met the young boy Sukeroku, a strange child who insisted on taking over the Yakumo name, with a natural talent for rakugo. He is given the stage name Hatsutaro, and although his personality is unconventional, and his rakugo is rough, he loves rakugo more than anything. Together wth his polar opposite, the reluctant Kikuhiko, they begin their days of training.

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Episode 3

#3 - Episode 3

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Jan 23, 2016

After their first performance, Kikuhiko sharply feels the difference in skill between himself and Hatsutaro. Hatsutaro recommends he try erotic stories, but Kikuhiko is struggling so hard just to memorize the beginner stories, he can't even begin to consider anything else. The fact that he has to go to school in the mornings causes the gap between him and Hatsutaro, who can spend the day learning rakugo, to grow wider. Even so, he gradually comes to love rakugo more and more, and to develop something of a normal life. But the shadow of the war approaches, tearing rakugo, love, and friendship apart...

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Episode 4

#4 - Episode 4

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Jan 30, 2016

Kikuhiko and Hatsutaro, promoted to futatsume, left their master's house to live an impoverished life on their own. Ever since changing his name to Sukeroku, Hatsutaro's popularity has skyrocketed. Even Kikuhiko is shocked by his unwavering ability to make people laugh at difficult stories. Meanwhile, Kikuhiko is working to feed the both of them, so much so that he can't even get good training done. To cheer him up, his master introduces him to a geisha called Miyokichi...

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Episode 5

#5 - Episode 5

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Feb 6, 2016

After a performance, Sukeroku comes home drunk with girls on both arm. Work or play, he navigates all areas of life smoothly. Kikuhiko is annoyed with him, but he's also jealous of how easy he has things, while Kikuhiko himself struggles with practice for their play. Is he really cut out for rakugo? As he asks himself that question, Kikuhiko happens to run into Miyokichi, who leads him off with a mischievous grin...

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Episode 6

#6 - Episode 6

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Feb 13, 2016

Kikuhiko is feeling better about himself after the success of the play, with the audience hanging on his every word and gesture. Sukeroku tells him that he had a similar experience during the war, and that ever since then, he decided that he would do rakugo for the people. He asks Kikuhiko what he's doing rakugo for, but Kikuhiko, who has always done rakugo to secure a place to live, has never even considered the question.

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Episode 7

#7 - Episode 7

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Feb 20, 2016

After finding his own rakugo, Kikuhiko has become quite popular. Even when he's out with Miyokichi, rakugo is all he can think about. Meanwhile, Sukeroku is buoyed into arrogance by his own popularity. He takes on stories beyond his station, he picks fights with the masters... Sukeroku is dragging Kikuhiko around, complaining about the lectures he's receiving, when Miyokichi arrives to interrupt...

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Episode 8

#8 - Episode 8

Season 1 - Episode 8 - Aired Feb 27, 2016

Kikuhiko's tour with the 7th Generation Yakumo was a huge success. His master is satisfied with Kikuhiko's growth, and plans to promote him to shin'uchi soon. The problem is Sukeroku, whose behavior is forcing Yakumo to bend over backwards to get him promoted. Meanwhile, Sukeroku learns something surprising from Miyokichi: that Kikuhiko didn't even tell her about his trip. Her face is sad, but accustomed to heartbreak... and beautful.

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Episode 9

#9 - Episode 9

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Mar 5, 2016

The Seventh Generation Yakumo manages to get Kikuhiko and Sukeroku promoted to shin'uchi. But although their unveiling ceremony is a huge success, Sukeroku gets in a fight with the president of the Rakugo Assocation, and insults him by performing his specialty work. When his master takes him to task for his conduct, Sukeroku gives an impassioned speech about his own feelings about rakugo... All the while, Kikuhiko is meeting with Miyokichi to break up with her. Both men's fates are about to take a turn...

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Episode 10

#10 - Episode 10

Season 1 - Episode 10 - Aired Mar 12, 2016

For Kikuhiko, it's a time for goodbyes. To Sukeroku, with whom he shared the joys and frustrations of rakugo. To the woman who raised him as her own child. Men ask to be his apprentice, and he has so much media attention that he's sick of it... but the people most important to him keep leaving. To this struggling Kikuhiko, the Seventh Generation Yakumo tells the tale "Kowakare", as well as the story of his own sins. For it seems this is a cycle of karma from which they can never break free...

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Episode 11

#11 - Episode 11

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired Mar 19, 2016

The girl Kikuhiko met at the soba shop in the hot springs town turned out to be Konatsu, Sukeroku and Miyokichi's daughter. She leads him to her house, where Kikuhiko finally reunites with Sukeroku, who seems to be living in squalor. Miyokichi made him quit rakugo, but he also wouldn't work. Miyokichi had to resort to working in nightclubs to support Sukeroku, and eventually got fed up and left. But Kikuhiko just has one thing to say to Sukeroku: "Come back to Tokyo and do Rakugo again."

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Episode 12

#12 - Episode 12

Season 1 - Episode 12 - Aired Mar 26, 2016

A small rakugo performance takes place at an inn in a hot springs town. As he performs, Sukeroku feels the warmth of the audience's love for rakugo, and remembers what it means to be a storyteller. Kikuhiko brings and insists Sukeroku wear the 7th Generation Yakumo's montsuki, and he performs the story "Shibahama." Time, which had stopped for Sukeroku and Kikuhiko, begins to move again... As it does for Miyokichi, as well.

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Episode 13

#13 - Episode 13

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired Apr 2, 2016

Their promise to each other was to carry rakugo into the future. To perform unchanging rakugo was Kikuhiko's job. To create a rakugo that would change with the times was Sukeroku's job. The story of the promise between two men who lived for rakugo is at last at an end, with Kikuhiko deciding to take on the Yakumo name at last. The era begins to wane, and both rakugo and people change. But what decision will Kikuhiko make about rakugo, and the destiny it bound him to?

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Episode 1

#14 - Episode 1

Season 2 - Episode 1 - Aired Jan 7, 2017

After ten years' apprenticeship to the eight generation Yakumo, Yotaro has finally achieved the rank of shin'uchi and taken on the name "Sukeroku," after his master's fellow student and Konatsu's father. Things appear to be smooth sailing at first, but complications soon arise. Between rakugo's fading legacy and Yotaro's concerns about single mother Konatsu, can the third generation Sukeroku bear up under the burden he has taken on?

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 2

#15 - Episode 2

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Jan 14, 2017

A magazine has exposed Yotaro's past as a former convict and member of the yakuza, plunging the rakugo world into scandal and sullying Yotaro's name. Although he continues performing as if nothing has happened, his growing desperation is coming out in his performance. He loses TV appearances, and the customers in the theaters have begun to turn on him, as well. But Yotaro's insecurities seem to come from more than just the scandal...

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 3

#16 - Episode 3

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired Jan 21, 2017

Consumed by concerns over not finding his own rakugo, as well as harboring doubts about the relationship between Konatsu and a local gang boss, Yotaro lets off steam by performing the rant from "Daiku Shirabe." Higuchi joins him, idly wondering why the carpenter goes off on the rant. Yotaro confesses he never thought about it before. Soon after, Yotaro hears that the gang boss is visiting the restaurant where Konatsu works, and decides to come along...

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 4

#17 - Episode 4

Season 2 - Episode 4 - Aired Jan 28, 2017

As far as Shinnosuke is concerned, Yotaro is his beloved father, and now that he's become a popular storyteller, Yotaro is even appearing on TV shows. After he performs "Jugemu" on a children's program, all the kids begin reciting it. Meanwhile, he's also getting steady work at the theater, while Konatsu plays shamisen in the wings. Higuchi is overjoyed to see it to see Yotaro satisfy so many people, but his desire to create new rakugo works hasn't changed. That's when he decides to entreat Yakumo for aid.

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 5

#18 - Episode 5

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired Feb 4, 2017

Hearing Yakumo's "Inokori" blasts the doubt from Yotaro's mind, and spurs his sudden rise to fame. Now, he himself is to perform that story in two months' time at a family show with Yakumo. Yakumo claims that he sees none of Yotaro himself in his rakugo, and that the character of Saheiji will be the key to unlocking his own "ego." Will Saheiji finally allow Yotaro to find his own rakugo?

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 6

#19 - Episode 6

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Feb 11, 2017

While performing "Hangon-ko," Yakumo passed out and dreamed of being in a hall of candles, being strangled by the Second Generation Sukeroku. Yotaro's voice brings him back to consciousness, but he won't be getting back on stage. Yotaro was about to get on the ambulance taking Yakumo away, when he heard the voices of the people looking forward to his performance. "I gotta do rakugo." Left behind in the theater, Yotaro steels himself to get up on the stage. His performance? Inokori.

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 7

#20 - Episode 7

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired Feb 18, 2017

Yakumo finally awakens a week later. But the light inside him has faded, and when he speaks next, he declares that he won't do rakugo anymore. He also quits as president of the Rakugo Association, and gives Matsuda more free time. Why would Yakumo, whose life is bound to rakugo, want to stop doing it? Meanwhile, in search of a film taken of the previous Sukeroku, Higuchi takes Yotaro and Matsuda to Shikoku. There, they learn a truth about the two old storytellers...

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 8

#21 - Episode 8

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired Feb 25, 2017

Triggered by Yakumo's desire to quit, everyone is trying to find ways to preserve rakugo and Yakumo's own style of it. Higuchi has also been collecting documents about Yakumo to preserve his journey, but Yakumo himself is sour about the idea. Faced with the limits of his physical body, Yakumo is trying to turn his back on the rakugo that once enchanted people.

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 9

#22 - Episode 9

Season 2 - Episode 9 - Aired Mar 4, 2017

As eras change, one thing remains rock solid. To Yotaro, that's Yakumo. After being inspired by the "Shinigami" he heard from him in prison, he decided he'd follow him anywhere. Those straightforward words lead Yakumo to talk about rakugo and his own death. Yotaro insists that if he wants to die in the theater, he needs to do rakugo again, and invites him to perform at the prison with him. Though Yakumo hesitates at first, he eventually decides to try doing rakugo for the sake of others.

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 10

#23 - Episode 10

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired Mar 11, 2017

The Uchikutei caught fire after the performance, and Yakumo, who was alone there, was badly burned. Though he has managed to survive, his comeback will be more difficult now. And that isn't the only disaster: Tokyo's last remaining rakugo theater has burned down. A dark cloud hangs over rakugo's future, but rakugo can continue as long as the people still exist. Yotaro believes this, and begins to work on behalf of the future of rakugo. And a big change comes over Konatsu, as well...

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 11

#24 - Episode 11

Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired Mar 18, 2017

Yakumo was listening to Yotaro's rakugo on the porch with Konatsu when he suddenly found himself lost on a scaffolding of candles. There, he met the Second Generation Sukeroku once more, who told him that he had arrived at the Sanzu River. Sukeroku then guides him on a journey through the land of the dead. On the way, return to their childhoods and young adulthoods, talk to each other about Miyokichi and Konatsu, and look back on their lives as they were. And then Miyokichi appears...

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Writers: Jun Kumagai
Episode 12

#25 - Episode 12

Season 2 - Episode 12 - Aired Mar 25, 2017

Fifteen years have passed since that fateful day. Yotaro and Konatsu's children are growing up: Shinnosuke is a futatsume, and Koyuki has entered high school. Those who made their lives from rakugo, those who gave their lives to rakugo... aspects of their checkered pasts carry on to the next generation. What feelings lie in the hearts of those who inherit the names Kikuhiko, Sukeroku, and Yakumo, as they face their rakugo?

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Writers: Jun Kumagai