glitra: (Tomu - Bugs)
[personal profile] glitra
Yet again I am the slowest person to get up reviews. At this point is it really even a surprised? Although this time it didn’t help that I utterly adore this show and trying to find the right words in the proper order is hard for me. A gifted wordsmith I am not, anyway here I am. Take me as I am.

This show opens with the nihonomono show, Sekkashou. This show was a knock out for me, which I think was a shock to everyone, most of all me. I’ve seen a handful of nihonmono shows while I’ve lived here, but they have all fallen a little flat for me. Japonizm was way to modern, and TAKARAZUKA Flower Poems 100!! was gorgeous but it was directly following Tomu’s taidan so I my emotions clouded any chance it had of being considered a win for me. This show put both of the others to shame in every way.

It opens in true nihonomono style, the lights go off, and in a pitch dark theatre the entire cast shuffles out in full regalia, opening with a kage solo and a giant dong as the lights come on. Thematically it is seasonal, picking up and using a lot of traditional cultural elements, which if you are familiar with Japanese culture will make you feel all warm and fuzzy with the natsukashii factor.



Overall it seamlessly transitions from number to number, which I found rather surprising. There is no point in which I looked at my watch to see how long was left in the show. The numbers flow into on another, there are very few scenes which I like less than the others. Notice that phrasing, I liked everything. I know right, it is shocking coming from me. I’m the bitchy fan who has Opinions and shares them with everyone. This show had weaker numbers but nothing where I would chance asking Hankyu to replace it for me for fear of them digging out something truly horrendous. It was as close to perfect as I’ve seen.

I also want to say that they did something that I’m totally in favor of, which is not giving Matsumoto Yuri huge solo numbers like they have in the past. Her numbers were evenly placed and used as the centerpiece in which there was other actresses onstage also dancing. It turned her from the only thing onstage to the best looking thing onstage. Her numbers were also shorter than I remember them being in the past. Which I am here for, I respect her talent and her dedication to art, but my attention span during 10 minutes buyoi scenes is short.


Honestly, if I mentioned the scenes I liked I would be here all night with a comprehensive layout of the entire production complete with translated scene summaries. Since I don’t want to drop down that rabbit hole yet I’m going to merely mention my favorite two scenes.

The first is the Tanabata scene, which opens with Chinatsu and Bei-chan singing about singing under the night sky.


Then it opens up into a larger scene starring Kiki and Yuki. This scene is just amazingly gorgeous. They are tied together by the red string of fate, and while the stage rotates there are dancing couples and the sky lights up with stars against a mirror background. It makes my heart dance every time I see it.

The second scene I adore is the closing scene. I actually cried my way through it the first time I saw it because I was deep in the crisis of dear god trump is elected am I really willing to stay in Japan another four years. It is the end of winter transitioning into the full bloom of Spring. I have no words for how much that was the scene I needed to see at that moment in time, and every time after that first time it still lights hope in my heart that even after a heartbreaking winter, spring will come and the flowers will bloom and good things do exist.


12/10 I do recommend this show.
Golden Deserts

In the true fashion of Ueda Kimiko this show was both aesthetically gorgeous and heartbreaking. I mean, I don’t think I’m spoiling anyone by pointing out that something subtitled “Tragedy Arabesque” is in fact a tragedy. Kimiko-sensei always manage to pack such a punch with her aesthetics, staging and plot.

Synopsis from the wiki:

In the ancient desert kingdom of Esfaan, King Jahangir invites suitors of his three princesses to a grand party. Giy, the slave boy of Crown Princess Talharmine, has mixed feelings upon seeing Theodoros, a prince from another land, pursue Talharmine’s hand in marriage.

Along with Ger, the slave of the king’s second daughter Princess Virmaya, and Puri, the slave of the king’s third daughter Princess Sharaddha, Giy has worked in the palace, waiting on Talharmine since he was young. Yet he is unhappy with his life. While Pipi, the slave of Queen Amu Darya, tries to reason with the proud Giy, he holds romantic feelings for the beautiful yet out-of-reach Talharmine. On the other hand, Talharmine, due to her pride as a princess, realizes but is unable to accept that she needs him, and adopts a cold attitude in their interactions.

Talharmine accepts her suitor Theodoros’ marriage proposal. The night before the wedding Giy risks his life to approach her, and Talharmine yields to his passion in spite of herself. With her pride as a princess shattered, she is prepared to throw away her status and run away with him. Giy promises that after escaping the kingdom he’ll show her the gold sands of the desert, which Talharmine has been enamored with since she was a young girl. However, as they approach the palace walls, soldiers confront them and the situation takes an unanticipated turn...

Giy harbors a strong desire for revenge. It boils over, forming a tall vortex in the blazing desert, shaking people’s fortunes...

This show has sucked up my entire life. The characters are so questionable, and filled with so many faults that it reads like a soap opera, yet the show itself is so gorgeous that I find myself sucked in and entranced by the entire thing. About a week ago I picked up the script and since then I have been in a translating fervor. I’ve got about 80 percent of the show done at this point, so it will probably be ready for mass consumption before the DVD comes out. I understood most of the show after watching it, and what little pieces and nuances I missed before are now getting filled in as I work my way through the script.

In standard fashion, I’m going to not go into the plot, mostly because this play has amazing plot twists which I don’t want to ruin. Instead I’m going to focus on actresses. That being said, still read it at your own risk.

Asumi Rio played Giy. I enjoyed reading the headlines after this show opened because most of them read along the lines of “TOP STAR IS SLAVE IN NEWEST PLAY” and “STEPPED ON BY TOP MUSUMEYAKU”. Which is in fact one hundred percent true, and I am totally here for both of these things. But what they didn’t say was that she was really great at doing it. This show offers so many opportunities for Mirio to really play an adult character that has two different sides and I think for the first time since she’s made top I’ve walked away impressed with her overall performance. You get to see her play this young child that grows up into a man who is pulled in two different directions. The slave that he has been raised to be, and the man that loves a woman. You then see the evolution as Plot Happens and all that made him who he is burns away and you are left with a completely different person. If wishes were horses, we would all ride, but lord do I wish she would have been given death now, I think she would have played it very different and it would be better.  –sigh- if only they did decided shows like that.

Kano Maria played Princess Talharmine. This show as an amazing show for her last play. I’ve become oddly fond of Kano, and after what seems to be a quick shove out the door earlier than she would have liked I’m relieved that this show treated her so well. She was every inch the The Princess for the entire production and she was so impressive doing so. I find her child-voice a tad irritating, but her performance outweighed that by far. You want to dislike her, but at the same time you can’t help but being endeared to her because she really truly doesn’t know any better for most of the show.

Serika Toa played Ger, the best friend to Mirio. She serves as both a part of the play and as the narrator itself, which makes her very interesting and a pain in the ass to translate. Kiki is constantly improving and every time I see her she’s gotten better. She is hands down one of the best characters in this show. Paired with Princess Virmaya (Ousaki Ayaka) and Goraalus (Tenma Michiru) they are the best three characters of the entire show and you want to see what I keep referring as the “lost years” in the plot.  Really they are the only decent human beings in this show.

Yuzuka Rei plays Prince Theodoros, who is courting Princess Talharmine. Rei plays Theodoros as slick and charming, and she does it so well that you want to trust him. Which is a bad decision because sooner or later you are going to realize that he is 100 percent in this game for his own benefit and the fact that he finds Talharmine pretty and charming despite her barbaric desert customs is merely a plus. If she would have been a hag he would still have acted the same as he did.  Problematic fave, who exits the play in the most dramatic fashion ever.

Ema Naoki plays the Queen Amu Darya’s slave Pipi. I feel like this is the type of role the company are really comfortable putting Junko in, and Junko is really comfortable with. It’s very much the Father Lawrence figure, an older adult providing guidance to the younger important character. The thing about this role that I liked was that there was so much more to it than merely Father Lawrence. I don’t think hanagumi had anyone in their lineup that could have played this character with so much heart, conviction and  nuance. Pipi is slave to Amu Darya as Giy is to Talharmine. They have been together since they were both young, growing up together. Pipi watched his mistress lose her husband, her family and her honor. He has watched her become a shell of the person she was, and does it with more grace and dignity than I thought possible. Thank you for this casting Hankyu.

Queen Amu Darya is played by Senna Ayase, our next top musumeyaku. This was such a wonderful, and I mean wonderful role for Yuki. She shines as this otherworldly mysterious figure that comes in and out of scenes that raises so many questions. Why is the Queen of such a prosperous nation so totally disconnected? What happened in her history that has left her so dead inside yet continuing to walk around? She also wins the acting MVP award for a key scene that I cannot talk about yet ;) I was highly impressed with her overall performance and as shocked I was that she snagged the Top Musumeyaku crown, she does deserve it.

King Jahangir is played by Houzuki An. Very few actresses could have pulled this role off without it seeming laughable. Jahangir is like the villain in Aladdin. She is all billowing robes and sexy strutting, which in the shinko digest and in the flashback seen always make me giggle because it looks ridiculous.
In terms of baby watching, there is a few people who stood out to me. Oto Kurisu remains the Flower 100th musumeyaku to watch. Her career isn’t quite taking off like Hoshikaze Madoka but I think she’s a strong contender for Kiki’s partner. She plays the youngest and bitchiest princess of the three, which she does perfectly. A lot of the cast have talked at tea parties about how utterly adorable she is. Ayaki Hikari plays the servant of Theodoros, which is a fun role and she gets to flounce in make a remark and flounce off. Texas (Tatsuki Mio) plays a soldier who gets handed babies during one scene and has no idea how to hold them. The child straight up looks like she’s never held babies in her life, which is somewhat fitting. This year’s Hatsumode Poster Model, Maisora Hitomi also has a line and stage time, which has a lot of people talking about how she’s super tracked, for better or worse.

For the record the finale is considered part of the overall show, so it also is gorgeous and serves as a twisted sort of epilogue. I do adore the finale dance because satin shirts and turbans are apparently my weak point. Overall I would give this show a 9/10. There’s some dubious consent scenes, some shitty characters but overall it is gorgeous and it’s a well done show.

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