Hello, Kyra here! This is Onamae wa? #46, our weekly encounter where we pick Anime character’s names and look for anything interesting in them.
“I don’t know what you guys like about this show, nothing ever happens”. (Anonymous back in S1)
Our guest today is 有楽亭(yuu.raku.tei) 助六(suke.roku) from Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, a historical drama Anime which had its Season 1 aired in Winter 2016, returning one year later in its currently airing Sequel. I am not very confident about finding relevant trivia here, but let’s try anyway. This post considers Season 1 and Season 2 up to Episode 8. Beware of spoilers!
The man known as 助六(suke.roku) has beared a few names along his yet short-lived story. Considering the nature of those and the inheritance aspect of names in Rakugo Culture, it is intriguing, or rather seemingly unfruitful, to write a post about him. Yet, this is not the first time that I pick a guest character before properly checking his name, so let us hope there is anything interesting at all.
What do we know about 助六(suke.roku)? Extrovert. Lady-killer. Alcoholic. Nuisance. Boisterous. Noisy. Yes, I know these last three overall mean the same idea. It is just that only one of them wouldn’t be enough to describe his overall personality. I admittedly despise these kind of people, be it in fiction or reality, but I agree that they are great moodmakers. It is just that the overall balance does not sit well with me. And while it is a given that he greatly annoyed 菊比古(kiku.hi.ko), it is impossible to deny that these bothersome traits shaped his friend character as well. In hindsight this might give some points to Sukeroku, but hindsight isn’t a very reliable source of judgment, I would argue.
As mentioned above, prior to being known as 有楽亭(yuu.raku.tei) 助六(suke.roku), our guest had many other names. While still a kid, before becoming an apprentice under 八雲(ya.kumo), he was named Shin, probably in hiragana only as しん. This page here mentions it being written as 信(shin; kanji depicting honesty, confidence), but as I don’t have access to the original manga, I cannot confirm that. From here on we have some confirmed kanji, so let’s check those out. お名前は？
(Given) Family Name: 有楽亭(yuu.raku.tei)
有楽亭(yuu.raku.tei) was the Family Name of his Master. As far as my brief research went, this isn’t an actually used Family Name and I’m not going to go very deep here as the main idea is very clear. 有楽亭(yuu.raku.tei) could be interpreted as a venue where you can relax; or maybe a stage name for entertainers. It a name seriously created for artists and overall theme of this work.
Given Name: 初太郎(hatsu.ta.rou)
初太郎(hatsu.ta.rou) was the name given by his master on Season 1 Episode 2. He wasn’t very fond of it, pointing out how it obviously implied he was just an “Opening Act”, a reference to the practice of having your apprentices warming up the crowd before the Master performance.
初 brings the idea of first time or beginning, present in plentiful of daily life words as 初めて(haji.mete; for the first time) and 初夏(sho.ka; early Summer). A beginner may be addressed as a 初心者(sho.shin.sha) and someone past 40-years-old is considered a 初老(sho.rou).
For this case it is better to see 太郎(ta.rou) as a single entity. This name was originally the standard choice for the elder son of a given family. It is a very common name as well, which probably contributed to Sukeroku not enjoying it. On the other hand, it is known to carry ideas as strong, heroic, masculine, all of which can be associated with Sukeroku’s life and are a huge contrast to the much more feminine and delicate name 菊比古(kiku.hi.ko). More on that next week.
By the end of Season 1 we learned that his Master actually knew about his apprentice’s past and these manly traits could also be a way to redeem himself to the former Sukeroku, as his new apprentice was a carbonated copy of him, as shown on Episode 10.
(Self) Given Name: 助六(suke.roku)
On Season 1 Episode 4 we were introduced to this new name. 助六(suke.roku) was a homage to his previous Master, who also trained under the Yakumo house, in a striking similar situation to Sukeroku and Kikuhiko. Besides 助六(suke.roku) being a name used for some types of sushi rolls, I’m not sure there is any way to relate it to the personality of our guest. Surely, 助ける(tasu.keru; to help, to assist) could be linked to how he helped Kikuhiko developing his own Rakugo style, mainly seen in Season 1 Episode 5, but that is as far as we could get. 六(roku) would have been amazing if his Master, Yakumo the 7th, were actually the 6th Generation, as this would create some underlying meaning of him Saving the Sixth. Seems like we can’t win every time.
Hmm. The idea of rescue/help also plays well into Sukeroku drive about saving Rakugo, preventing it from perishing in face of new entertainment options that arrived in post-war Japan. I think we will go with this.
有楽亭(yuu.raku.tei) 助六(suke.roku), the man who sought to save the relaxing entertainment known as Rakugo, but couldn’t save himself.
Thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed your reading. Yeah, some surprises here and there but I wish I could have found some deep meaning to the 六(roku) in 助六(suke.roku). Yuurakutei was an interesting one though! This time we mostly focused on Season 1, but next week we will check Kikuhiko, some comparisons and further dive into Season 2 as well. See you all then!