Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2 – 11

For all the sorrow and tragedy and pain in his life, things turned out pretty well for Yakumo, AKA Bon, and as it turns out, he really did die under ideal circumstances: he died in his sleep, peacefully, painlessly, surrounded by those who loved him, listening to his grandson doing rakugo.

This episode, perhaps the finest in the entire run of the show, takes place entirely in the purgatory-like place the recently deceased go before crossing the Sanzu River to the hereafter. This requires a fare, which, big surprise, Sukeroku hasn’t been able to afford yet.

The show had always teased an interest in depicting a more fantastical world than that of the living, and in this place people can change their age at will, time is kinda hard to put a finger on. Yakumo is initially annoyed that once again Sukeroku is sponging off him, even after death, but once he’s a boy again, he quickly falls back comfortably into the very deep brotherly bond they shared.

The afterlife is suitably lush and otherworldly, but also borrows heavily from traditional Japanese aesthetics, which makes sense considering the characters we’re following. Sukeroku makes sure Yakumo understands how grateful he is for raising Konatsu.

The reunions don’t stop with Sukeroku, as Miyokichi died at the same time. While she’s cast away the “role of a woman”, she and Sukeroku are still a married couple, working together to earn fare across the river. It feels like, from their perspective, they only recently got here, just like Yakumo.

Yakumo wanted more than anything to apologize to Miyokichi for dumping her so heartlessly, but she holds no grudges in this place. In fact, she can now reflect on the mistakes she made in life, namely latching onto one person rather than rely on, and be there for, others. She’s also amused to no end by Yakumo talking like an old man, since he died as one.

The three travel together for a bit along that seemingly endless scaffolding, and Yakumo mentions the food is tasteless and unsatisfying. Sukeroku says it’s because they’re dead, but if he wants to be satisfied, he knows just the place: the very theater that burned down two episodes ago has arrived in the afterlife as well. It had a soul, after all. Even better: it’s a packed house with the biggest billing ever: All the masters of all generations…and Yakumo is on the bottom. He’s gone from grizzled old master to fresh new arrival in this place.

Sukeroku decides to warm the place up with a performance that really does seem to give flavor to the sake, meat, and onions he pretend-drinks and eats (never has his jaunty entrance theme, which Yotaro inherited, sounded better or more significant). “You can’t take this taste with you when you die!” also has new meaning. He’s still got it, in this place, which has gone back to exactly the same as it was in the old days.

There’s also a magic cushion (I’ll allow it) which brings the person from the living world the performer wants to listen the most. In Sukeroku’s case, it’s his daughter Konatsu, who appears the age she was when he and Miyokichi died. For Yakumo, it’s his grandson Shin, about the same age as his mom, and just as enthusiastic to hear Yakumo’s rakugo.

Yakumo takes the stage as his old self, but has never looked happier, beaming at his reunited family and full of energy. In a playful mood, he performs “Jugemu”, and Miyokichi and Shin “sing” along the comically long name. His story continues as the camera leaves the old, drafty, but brightly glowing theater, which slowly fades out of focus.

Yakumo then finds himself in a fine boat, packed and ready for his journey across the Sanzu. Sukeroku sees him off, and Yakumo makes him promise he and Miyokichi will join him soon, once they save up enough for their fare (the one thing he apparently can’t share with his friends, even if he wanted to). That could be a year from now, or it could be yesterday.

While en route, the ferryman reveals himself as Matsuda, who may have followed his master into death after nodding off himself, and he couldn’t be happier to be by his side again, chaffeuring him to the very gates of heaven.

It’s a fitting end to Yakumo’s story, and a achingly gorgeous episode full of joyful and tear-jerking moments, from Miyokichi first seeing Yakumo, to Konatsu hugging her mother, to Yakumo taking the stage one last time and meeting Matsuda on the boat.

The preview indicates the last episode will be an epilogue that jumps forward in time, perhaps to an older Shinnosuke with a red-haired young woman who may be his younger sister. That should be fun, even if it doesn’t come close to approaching the greatness of this, Yakumo’s farewell.

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Everyone Eats and Drinks Almost Constantly in ACCA

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If you’ve been watching ACCA, you’ve probably thought to yourself: “Goddamn, they’re almost always stuffing their faces or drinking on this show!” And, well, you’d be right; they are indeed! In fact, so much of each episode is given over to eating, drinking, purchasing, or talking about food and where to get it, you could take out all the scenes without food and drink and still have a pretty sizable episode left…as I shall demonstrate:

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Episode 01 – We start with Jean and Lotta’s usual breakfast of toast with jam. Then we move on to his co-worker’s ten-o’clock snack of roll cake from Hachikuma. Once in Famasu, Jean chows down on what looks like a Reuben while Eidar orders a cheeseburger. The Five Chief Officers have tea and biscuits. The next ten-o’clock snack at Jean’s office is a five-pack of flan.  Jean buys more bread at a bakery with Knot while Rail and his colleague eat donuts. Jean joins the Five at a cafe for coffee. Jean has beers with Niino.

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Episode 02 – Jean and Lotta have a breakfast of what looks like eggs on toast with cucumbers and mayonnaise. Lotta asks Jean to buy tomato bread from Mugimaki, where he runs into Mauve. Lotta enjoys some chocolate cake al fresco at Picidae. Niino tucks into a sundae. Once in Jumoku, Jean samples the giant burgers, fries, and fruit at Basswood. Jean buys local produce to bring home. Lotta and Owl sample a nut cake at Honig. Niino and Jean have a huge dinner of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and bread, and wash it down with beer and wine. Later, Jean takes Niino on a drunken trip to the supermarket.

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Episode 03 – Jean gives his co-workers a 10-pack of cream puffs from Hachikuma for their ten-o’clock snack, and a package of fancy cookies for Lotta. Lotta and Niino have a dinner of meatpotatoes, and salads. Lotta receives a parcel of potatoes in the mail, with which she plans to make gratin. Jean has dinner with Mauve at Veil, consisting of fine wine, rare steaks with black truffles. Prince Schwan samples some fine pastries. After dinner Jean has more wine with Niino, along with grapes, pretzels, and a selection of cheesesPrior to Schwan’s celebration, Jean, Nino and Lotta attend a catered affair at the palace with pastriesbreads, and various jamsjellies, and sweets. That night, after the King’s address, they enjoy various desserts like Dowan nut cake and strawberries.

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Episode 04 – In the episode with the least food and drink, Niino and Lotta have tea and chocolate layer cake, as she packs chocolatenuts, wine, and other gifts for the building owner. At Chez Pierre in Suitsu, Jean has a bowl of rustic stew. Warbler buys some loaves of bread. Lotta polishes off a bowl of something, as one of Magie’s underlings eats an elaborate sundae. Pastis drinks some brown liquor. Jean’s captives give him some bread

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Episode 05 – Schwan has tea and cookies. Lotta has blueberry pancakes at Kakesu. Rail introduces Magie to toast made from sandwich bread. Jean’s co-workers plan to make microwave potato chips. Lotta has a snack of some kind of pink confection with an orange soda. Later at Mugimaki she orders two-centimeter slices of walnutcheese, and chocolate bread. Birra district’s branch chief presents a spread of local foods to Jean for dinner, including rye bread (to go with the wheat bread not made there), the local grog, meat and potatoes. Magie introduces the joy of buttered toast to Schwan. Niino takes Jean and Lotta for a dinner of steamed mussels served with bread and french fries. While Jean is in Rokkusu, Niino takes Lotta out for vegetable, meat, and cheese fondue.

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Episode 06 – Jean’s co-workers have apple cake for their snack. Jean invites them to his and Lotta’s apartment building party where they have drinks, and a buffet. Both Rail and Owl give Lotta cakes as New Years presents. The Five have tea and coffee in their common area. While in Hare, Jean is treated to an elaborate, sumptuous feast consisting of grilled meat and shrimp skewers, whole fish, red and green curry, beef stew, pork belly, salad, and more, washed down with quite a lot of beer, to the point Jean refuses to share a bottle of booze with Niino later. Jean and Lotta have toast with jam for breakfast when he’s back.

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Episode 07 – Magie puruses a catalog listing all of the flavors of bread Mugimaki makes. Jean passes by fancy cakes at Patisserie Fuchs in Dowa, searching for famous flavored snowball (“Yukinotama”) pastries Lotta wants him to bring home. Niino takes him to Cafe Berg, where Jean orders the snowballs and tries one for himself, then joins King Falke over a spread of fruit and nut tartspies, and rolls. Jean and Niino have wine with a platter of sausagesmeatspatecheeses, and other snacks. Jean samples Mugimaki’s new walnut mugwort bread. Niino eats squares from a chocolate bar. While in Korore, Jean inspects all of the chocolatiers the district is known for.

Please, dear readers, I implore you: Don’t watch ACCA on an empty stomach. Have some food and drink nearby. I’m going to go eat some bread now.

Working’!! – 05

Takanashi and Satou are both sick of manager Kyoko never working and stuffing her face with the restaurant’s food. After they convene with Souma, he agrees to tell Kyoko she’s cut off by feigning an ordering flub. Kyoko is quickly struck by intense food withdrawal, which isn’t helped when Takanashi leaves a lost kid in her care. The girl, possibly sensing Kyoko’s despair, even offers her some of her dessert, but Kyoko declines, showing progress.

So Working’!! keeps chugging along with nice, pleasant, airy slice-of-life in the limited setting of a restaurant, as its predecessor did. Previous episodes of both have touched upon the question of whether Kyoko pulled her weight around Wagnaria, but things came to a head this week. If we were Takanashi, we certainly wouldn’t stand for our manager dropping potato chip crumbs over where we had just cleaned. It’s one thing to be lazy and not doing anything, it’s another to make other peoples’ jobs harder by making messes and eating food meant for customers and not paying for it. Yachiyo has been her chief enabler, but when all is said and done, nobody who works at the restaurant can consider themselves blameless for letting Kyoko continue as she has.

As Takanashi says, someone her age is set in her ways (he should know, having two grown sisters who act like children). But we like Kyoko’s simple philosophy: she likes anyone who gives her food. That’s a girl we can get behind right there. She even shows a little perceptiveness by telling Satou she doesn’t like him as much as Yachiyo does (though he continues to be lame about that) – and we really thought she’d take the kid’s pastry, but she didn’t! She may not do much and she may eat a lot, but her presence is still crucial to Wagnaria’s success. Why, we don’t know. But it just wouldn’t be the same without her.


Rating: 3

Ao no Exorcist 6

So, five episodes in, and we get filler? Oh dear. Focusing an entire episode on cooking and food was a misstep, IMO, and I like cooking and food. And while it’s great that Rin loves cooking, it certainly wasn’t mentioned or came into play until this episode. Frankly, even with 26 episodes to play with, this was not the time or place for this.

Everyone’s behaviour is a bit baffling: I understand if you’re shy around girls, but why would Yukio repeatedly turn down lunches made especially for him by his admirers? He doesn’t have to eat them; he could accept them with gratitude, then give them to his starving half-demon brother. And why do they never question who cooks their meals in their dorm? They’re the only ones there. You’d think the fact they never had to pay for those meals (since Ukobach doesn’t need money) would be a dead giveaway that something was amiss.

Furthermore, when Rin trespasses in the kitchen and Ukobach goes on strike, why doesn’t Mephisto just let Rin handle the cooking as both he and Yukio would prefer? Doesn’t the headmaster of an enormous academy have other things to do? I could write more on the silliness of this episode, but I won’t. It was silly, period. Ao no Exorcist: if you’re going to go off on a tangent, do a better job next time. I know you canRating: 2.5