The best place to start would be with the end. When this episode ended, we already knew that the show has been green-lit for another season. And while you could say that the show definitely ended on a cliffhanger, but I actually think if the show had ended here, then it’d have been terribly climactic (yes, you read that right, climactic, not “anti”).
Why? Because Bon’s arc has been about giving everything up for the sake of rakugo, and here it is, how he’s not going to leave anything behind him, unlike Shin who gave up on rakugo and will have both his bloodline and his rakugo continue on after him. One could understand why he looks at his beloved younger brother with this soft and rueful smile, that the dead will live on, while the living must die out.
Everyone is only able to say what they really feel on the verge of death, and if they’re willing to say so beforehand, then it means death of some sort is coming – It was the same with Master Yakumo confiding in Bon, or how Bon and Shin made their plans to the future, and Miyokichi bared her heart to Bon, just before they had to part ways. Same here. And man, that final scene, with how it just came to be. I’m really reminded of the movie version of A Single Man, with Colin Firth here. “What does it mean?” I asked myself here as well as there, and the real answer is, “The author wants you to think of a story, a theatre story.”
Don’t Let your Dreams be Dreams!
Speaking of which, let’s look at the final scene or two a couple more times, as it has a lot to discuss. First and foremost, it reminds me and addresses the scene in episode 9, where Miyokichi tells Bon that the next time they meet, it’d be in hell. More than anything else, that scene felt like a performance. I spoke of it before, but the way the characters speak and interact with one another often follows the beats of a rakugo performance. Is this because it’s Bon who’s telling the story to Konatsu and Yotaro? I suspect it’s more because this is the mindset the mangaka is in.
How could this episode have only been 21 minutes long (sans OP/ED)? It felt as if I’ve watched 4-5 episodes’ worth of material, with how much was covered, as the episode was split into several segments, each mirroring with other parts of the show, and the characters kept reflecting and contrasting, swirling by one another as the episode kept weaving about them, and as the story wove about us. So let’s get to it, bit by bit. Though it might get messy at times, because you can’t speak of one without the other, of the future without the past, can you now?
The episode opens with what this show is best at, setting up a feeling of a time and place. It’s a beautiful sunny day. A great day to spend outdoors. Bon doesn’t like the sun much, so it might be all fine and good for him to spend the day indoors, with his rakugo, but for all those other people? That’s quite a sacrifice, spending this lovely day, watching him. Watching his rakugo. A nice day for a social outing. A nice day for some culture.