KOUNOIKE Yoshitake (1914-1945) was a student of Bunraku puppet theatre who worked tirelessly for a decade, starting from 1935. He took an interest in Bunraku in his youth and studied Edo period literature at Waseda University, receiving guidance from senior researcher ISHIWARI Matsutarô.
Kounoike's critique work can be divided into three periods; practice, establishment, and completion. In the establishment period, Kounoike wrote critiques for a non-commercial magazine edited by TAKECHI Tetsuji, who was one of Kounoike's lifelong colleagues. After he formed his critique style, he wrote more than thirty.
One of the vital points of his critiques was the importance of “fuu,” (風) an artistic quality in Bunraku. Another point was a comparison of performances between two Bunraku theaters, the Hikoroku-za and Bunraku-za. Kounoike commended Hikoroku-za's performance because of their superb embodiment of “fuu”, while criticizing the performance of Bunraku-za. A third point was the sensuous importance of music in Bunraku. These critiques appeared in “Joruri Magazine”, a non-commercial theatrical magazine with a limited print run.
In this article, the author performs a comprehensive study of the “Critiques of Bunraku” written by Kounoike by integrating and analyzing his critiques, all of which were not issued as research publications, but rather appeared in non-commercial magazines.