Sukeroku’s final performance is the perfect final encapsulation of everything that makes Shouwa Era Rakugo Shinjuu such a great anime. From the very first episode I had always admired how the anime showed the entire rakugo performances because to properly use them to tell your story, you needed a level of nuance beyond most others. The voice acting had to be on point to get across how the characters were feeling and the different methods of delivery. The animation and directing could only really use very subtle movements and gestures to get across their meaning without it just being a boring radio play. Rakugo did this time and again, but it was in their final performance that they nailed it harder than anywhere else.
What I loved about it was they picked a story that specifically fit the main character’s place in life at that time. They knowledge of famous rakugo pieces to pick out that specific one, then to have our character deliver it with its comedic value while still getting across that the emotion was welling up inside him as he told the story. At most you could argue it was a little obvious and possibly heavy handed, but it was the final piece in a long-running tale that needed to hit hard at exactly that moment and boy did it ever. While the tragedy that struck later was inevitable given the first episode and even the title spoil the whole thing, that singular moment when Sukeroku finishes the performance and the emotional release you get from that is probably my favourite moment in anime from this year.