March 12th, 2016.
Echoes of the Past:
First things first, this episode started with a series of callbacks to Yotaro, from someone who came and begged Bon to take him as an apprentice, to grabbing his arm, to saying how moved he was by his performance. And on Bon’s part as well, with lines that were proven false later on, such as “I will never take an apprentice,” to “If you couldn’t even convince your parents, how do you expect to convince the audience?” – Which was a callback to Yotaro’s first real trial, of convincing his old boss that he could be a rakugo performer.
Moreover, lines such as “I don’t have anything to teach an apprentice,” which fed later into his discussion with Yakumo on his death’s bed, about how he had to find his own style of rakugo, fed into how the premiere ended, with him telling Yotaro (and Konatsu), that they have to find their own styles, just like every single artist.
Tying the past to the present and the future was the line about how rakugo is a dying art-form, and how a “respectable young boy” such as the hopeful apprentice should find something better to do. On one hand, this is perhaps why he didn’t want Konatsu to become a rakugo performer, aside from being a woman – he wants somethingbetter for her. And on the other hand, this is a betrayal of his pact with Shin, of keeping rakugo alive. But Shin left him, and thus stopped doing rakugo, so for his betrayal of the agreement, it shouldn’t be surprising that the dejected Bon will betray it as well, or an admittance of defeat – that he can’t uphold it on his own. He needed Shin to have hope of keeping rakugo alive.
And then we had what ties it all together. The Master on his deathbed, saying how he lost one of his sons to jealousy, to anger. This is about him accepting Shin to try and make amends for his past sins, but his own anger at himself led him to being unable to go all the way, until he cast Shin out. This is all about how we pay for our past sins. Likewise, Bon in the present with adult Konatsu and Yotaro. And Yotaro, whom he both accepted and then grew to resent for his similarities to and love of Shin, and obviously Konatsu. We’re drawn to do the right thing, to undo our past mistakes, just as we are to vindicate ourselves by acting as if our past decisions were no mistakes at all, and try to erase everything and everyone that reminds us of them.
One more thing I’d like to mention is Bon’s performance of Shinigami, the final “call-out” to the present, as this is the performance that later became his masterpiece, and the one that drew Yotaro to him, as he performed it in prison. This is also the final growth of Bon’s performance, from one who only performs as a duty and doesn’t invite the audience in, he grew to be someone who can invite the audience in, who looks at them. But now, he performs for himself. He performs for an audience of one, where he himself is drawn in by his performance, who can see the roles he portrays as if they were other people beside himself. He’s creating a world, and he watches it even as he creates it. He doesn’t perform for the audience, but they, like him, can’t help but be drawn into the tapestry he weaves.