Heresy and SGRS
This scene is my favourite interaction between Yotaro and Yakumo, which occurs at the end of SGRS Season 2, Episode 1. The entire scene is a hugely important to their relationship and the path of the story, but I’ll concentrate on this particular exchange because it sets off the rest of the scene and the tone of the rest of the series.
The idea of writing new rakugo stories, presented and argued to Yota by Eisuke in the previous scene, is declared 邪道 (jado). This can be translated as in the CR subs as “heresy” or as “an evil course/road”. No one, Yota or the audience, is surprised that this is Yakumo’s reaction. That’s the comedy of the scene.
What is important, however, is that 邪道 is not immediately what leaves Yakumo’s mouth. Instead, following the question, Yakumo opens his eyes:
He is not angry by the suggestion. He doesn’t pull away from Yota; the massage continues. He thinks about the question, considering Yota, before coming up with his response. This tell us three things.
One, Yakumo is lying. He does not think new rakugo stories are inherently heresy.
Two, he is playing his role as Yota’s master. Yota is the type of student who needs to have a course plotted for him. Not so he can follow it to the letter but to give him something to fight against. This is the parallel that Yota has to Sukeroku, who was always fighting the established way. Yota, on the other hand, isn’t about to pull away just because he’s denied something. Instead, he tries to find a way to achieve his goal that balances his and other’s wants and needs.
Three, Yakumo is deliberately decides to draw a line between himself and Yota. He indicates that there is an evil course to rakugo, and, because such a course exists, there must also be a right way. He implies that he knows what the evil path is, and, if Yota was anyone else, this would successfully push him away.
Instead, this completely backfires. As Yota spends the rest of the scene formally requesting to live under the same roof as Yakumo, start a family with Yakumo and Konatsu and by extension Shinbo, and change the Sukeroku that lives inside of them. He throws the promises that he had to make to stay Yakumo’s apprentice–don’t die before Yakumo, learn both Yakumo and Sukeroku’s rakugo, and extend the lifespan of rakugo–back in Yakumo’s face and foreshadows that, rather than an evil course, Yakumo has laid out the right course by entrusting his stories to his apprentice.
And that is the great comedy of the scene: it pits Yakumo and Yotaro as Sukeroku against each other but, at the same time, makes them work to achieve the same goal: living and dying for the sake of rakugo.