February 13th, 2016.
Joy in, Joy Out:
This show is really pretty, isn’t it? From the very definite sense of locale and time within Bon’s memoir within the memoir, to how the theatre suffuses Bon as he tries to concentrate, and draws him to Shin’s performance (and man,this shot in particular is so good), and finally, to the place Bon conjures within the viewers’ minds through his performance, which is also his most notable aspect in the “present”, where his voice paints a scene and transports his listeners, and certainly did for Yotaro.
But I don’t want to discuss all of that, or the relationship between Miyokichi and Bon, or Shin and Bon, that’s something I’ve done before and will probably do in the future. Instead, let’s talk about what this episode was about. Which was actually pretty clear, so why are we discussing it? Probably because I like the sound of my own written voice, but aside from that, that is.
And yes, I did say I’m not going to discuss what I mentioned above, but this screenshot I pointed out earlier is actually relevant to the theme I want to discuss, which the episode also commented on through Bon’s rakugo performance, and it was at the same time subtle and unsubtle. So what’s going on here? Bon is trying to keep himself apart from the theatre, apart from Shin, apart from the audience. He tries to be his own person so hard that he’s willing to lock everyone out. But as Shin’s performance had shown us, it’s a symbiotic relationship, where you need to allow others into your heart before they will allow you into theirs.
Bon had done rakugo out of necessity, and resented it. He did not let it into his heart, neither rakugo, nor a smile, so how could he bring the joy of rakugo to others? But as I said, that part was clear. What was the performance about then? The performance was about a woman it’s not worth dying for. A woman that’s not worth dying for not because she’s going old and soft, but because she doesn’t care for you, and because to her you’re just a stand-in, the best she could get at the time and place. And this is what rakugo had been to Bon, a thing he did because he had to, for an audience that happened to be there.
Is it any wonder they didn’t warm up to him?
And although it’s not too much of a mystery, I guess I can answer one more question for you all. What is it that allowed him to open up his heart? Was it that he was confronted with how he has other options, and yet chose to do it on himself? To a degree, yes, as simple as that. It’s not as if his issue with Shin pointing the path out to him has suddenly disappeared, but it’s the realization that even if he follows the path someone else pointed out, so long he also chose it for himself, it’s his own path. That’s it.
Except, to walk upon the path is to make a choice every step of the way. Bon was making this choice all along. But it’s the recognition that it’s a choice that is liberating, not the having of it. And of course, getting outside affirmation helps. He was struggling with having a talent for one thing (acting), but a desire for another (rakugo), but it’s the realization that he does have a desire for rakugo, and not one born just out of expectations, that allowed rakugo in, and then out.