Act 1 – Japanese Old Tales
Duration: 1hr 15mins.
My view of the stage from the 2nd floor (2nd show).
Can see 2 staff-san standing guard in front of the stage…
The view during our first show was good, from row 13. There weren’t many heads blocking us, and we had a clear view of everything. The view during our 2nd show was good too. Although slightly skewed towards one side, since we were on the right, we could see the hanamichi too, and all the “tricks” on the stage haha :) These 2 shows were the best I had so far – and both happened to be on DVD recording day, the 149th and 150th show :) During our last show, we were at row 17, and there were many heads blocking our view v_v. Still, the seats I got this year were generally better than last yr’s rows 18, 19 & 20 (i.e. last 3 rows *lol*).
This is a sneaky shot of the audience from the 2nd floor right column~ could see all 3 floors in it ne. Oh, I just realised that the posters can also be seen at the bottom of the pic lol~
The opening is rather similar to last year’s, only that after the violin player plays, Tono appears as “Shanao” (with a cloth over his head) and flew towards the audience – front and back. Immediately I was brought back to Enbujou 2007’s last scene, where Shanao flew out the same way after Yoshitsune-sama killed himself. I’m not sure if it’s intentional but I did immediately think of that last scene from last yr. He landed, walked a bit, pulled the cloth over him again, and started flying sidewards… then disappeared off the stage on our right.
After Kawai-kun and another jr came out and did their dancing, Mori Mitsuko’s narration comes on again, the cloths fell, and a ‘castle’ appeared on stage. The stage rotated with a masked Tono with yellow cloak standing on a “cart” thing. It rotated to the front of the stage, and the juniors pulled open the folding pane thingie… I saw Kawai-kun putting in a cable thru a gap, anyway, there was a big dragon flying behind, then the pane splits open, and Tono flies out in his majestic red suit. When we were at row 13, it looked like he flew so low, so near us! Wow~ we could see him so clearly!!! He went back to the stage, and danced/sang “Night & Day” (not sure of the title lol). Halfway through the song, he disappears…
… and appeared on the 2nd floor (like in 2006 & 2007). OMG~ during our 2nd show, he was SO NEAR US!!! KYAAA~~ He was kinda just in front of us!! We were actually 3rd and 4th seats from the lights/speakers. And there was a staff in black standing on the speaker box thingie, getting ready for Tono to appear. The moment Tono
came ran out, he hooked the cable onto Tono. Then the lights came on. Tono was ready at the edge of the 2nd floor, arms spread out holding his white cloak.
Then he flew, flew, flew, and finally landed on the hanamichi. Kawai-kun took off the cable from Tono’s cloak, then all lights darkened apart from a small spotlight on Tono. The light stayed for only a second, then the place was pitch black. And suddenly the lights came on again, and men in black were dragging a huge white cloth from the back of the stage to the front (background sound was like rumbling of thunder).
Juniors in ancient wear walked out onto the stage. The backdrop was a house covered with snow. The white cloth at their feet was the snow, and there were falling flakes or something, so it really looked like it was snowing~ very pretty sight I remember. One by one, the juniors introduced themselves, to the laughter of the audience. Some of them were really funny and creative. I rememeber during our last show, Kawai-kun sang a song lol. Then finally, Kawai-kun introduced Tono, who appeared from the hanamichi trap door.
Tono thanked everyone for coming and introduced the show and what they’ll be performing today etc. During our 2nd show, the 150th show, the music suddenly stopped for a few seconds lol. But Tono carried on as though nothing happened, so I don’t think anyone else noticed it :) After his speech (which includes bowing to the audience), he removed his cloak and started the bubble segment :)
The music changes to a light hearted one.. and there were a few juniors with bubble holders and tubs. Tono will go to the one nearest to him (in pink, I think he’s the one who acted as chibi Tono in One! DVD). Tono would burst the jr’s bubble on purpose – with his hands or blow it with his mouth. This entire segment was really cute and funny. After the jr makes his bubbles, Tono will take the stick from him and create bubbles himself too. He makes a series of floating bubbles :)
Then he proceeded to the next jr on our right (music changes to a more uptempo beat). This jr has an umbrella shaped bubble holder. He does some stuff, then Tono also takes the umbrella from him to create some bubbles. Then he goes to the chibi in the middle. This chibi is quite cute, when Tono says he’s kawaii, he replied that Tono’s kawaii too! ^^; Then Takki makes a huge bubble over the head of this chibi.
Then a jr towards the back of the stage will call out to Tono. In the first & last show we went, this jr calls him “Tsubasa-kun!” LOL~ Tono will mumble “nani kore”~ and then shout “KORA!” He was so cute in the 25th show! That jr said something like “kodomo mitai” (like a kid), and Tono ran towards him like a small kid!!!! He moved sideways and ran “crablike” towards the jr. Kyaaaaaaa~~ So cute!! Loracyn & I were screaming “kawaii~~” like crazy hahahaha… but a pity this part won’t be in the DVD…
Jr Clog dance, Byakkotai
A group of juniors on the rising stage doing clog dance. From our second floor seats, we could see clearly whenever parts of the stage sinks and a new set of props/stage is ready to be raised to ground level hehe. After this clog dance, it was Byakkotai. A chibi jr started singing shigin. And same as the previous years, the juniors led by Kawai-kun started killing themselves. Tono ran in from the hanamichi, shouting at them. The last one to die this year is Totsuka. He tells Tono to give him the last strike. Tono kills him, and places him down to the floor – sideways. Then, Tono said the same lines “Why do the children have to die?” etc etc etc… And when he striked his katana, the lights didn’t totally go off, so you could see him running off the stage this year. An old man started talking on our left, and that shigin-chibi jr (I think he only appeared in our 2nd & 3rd show) walked slowly – still singing – off the hanamichi.
A uv-white-Takki-face mask in the middle of the stage (VTR) starts talking. Then lights come on and Takki was in a white costume with white hair and totally masked, in the middle on an elevated platform. Kawai-kun was on our left, and another jr on the right. They started hitting drums and Tono moved closer to the audience, still on that platform, and he started the face-changing segment. In chinese, we call it “bian lian” (face-change), and with a movement of his hands across his face, the “face mask” changes. Tono sometimes make fun of the audience during this segment, with sudden jerk of his face/hand lol, I dunno how to describe it. But he did a few face-changes, then landed back on stage again, and did a few more face-changes, before changing to his own face.
Then, it’s the normal mask-changing segment that we see on the 2006 DVD – change masks, costumes, pulling out umbrellas and fans from behind etc etc. This segment ends with Tono holding luminous green masks. Lights off, and we can only see Tono’s head surrounded with loads of luminous green masks. Even the VTR at the back was filled with masks. It’s kinda like the ultra-violet light thingie. In any case, the masks moved left-right-left-right, according to the music. At the start of this segment, they all did something like Indian-dance, you know the way their heads moved? hehe… After this whole segment of timing and coordination with other stuff, the lights come on and we see Tono holding a long pole with loads of masks on each end.
This just reminds me of Jack Sparrow!!!! =P Tono then starts to spin this pole which looks REALLY HEAVY! In one of the unofficial pics (that I didn’t buy), you could see the grimace on his face while he was spinning it. And all of us know how strong Tono is. So this must be really heavy ne! He spinned it a few rounds, then 4 juniors came and held the pole up. That ended this mask-segment :)
Lol. That’s what I call it. So glad that this song made it to this year’s shows! This was the song that was stuck in my mind for almost the longest time last year when I watched Enbujo’07. The intro to this song played, and Takki came out in sleeveless black/red/white! ^^ KYAAA~~~ BICEPS!! Most of the time, I was just oogling at his biceps using my binocs haha… And of course I was also scrutinising his erm…. body too, since his pants was tight and white *hides*! I love the dance moves to this, especially that robotic hand moves across his face that ends in a 360degree turn~ If someone knows what’s the title of this song, please tell me, or I’ll keep calling it the “Biceps song” ^^
Legend of Anchin and Kiyohime
The ghost segment haha… This year, there was a woman carrying a baby, and suddenly her head fell off LOL. Then there’s a ghost walking past me during the first show (I was at the aisle) *kowai* Another ghost climbs the wall perpendicularly on the right. The same midget in red kimono was on the hanamichi, and suddenly started moving so fast lol. Tono appears as the head of the snake and flew with what I call the “Pirates of Carribean music” *lol* This is the same as the 2006 DVD, only that when he flew, his “victim” flew with him too. On the 25th show, he hardly faced the front when he flew ne. Anyway, Tono runs round the bell, wraps the long snake body around it, and flew upwards.
Taki no Shiraito (The water magician)
The stage rotates, and the props for Taki no Shiraito slowly moves to the front. Same as in 2006 & 2007, he did the water thing among the flowers. Totsuka is the one reading the scroll this year, and he got chased off stage by the bad guy. The girls were also chased off stage, Tono slashed his wrist and shot at the bad guy. Like in 2007, blood flow down from the top of the panes. From the 2nd floor, Irene saw a staff in black behind the pane spraying something hahaha… Then Takki’s double hangs on to a pane which is lifted high up in the air, and falls down (Takki’s voice “aahhhhh….”)….
Takizawa Kabuki – Make Up scene
… *sound of water*. And Totsuka (the guy reading the scroll in the previous scene) is on the hanamichi and appears to come out of the water. This was quite funny. Then he started introducing Takizawa Kabuki. The stage shows an ancient kabuki dressing room, with a red makeup table in the middle. Tono then walks out HADAKA *KYAA~~ABS!!* with his hair in a band! When I looked at him via my binocs, HE REALLY LOOKED LIKE HE DID IN SUGAO 1!!!!!!! Where he thought Pi how to dance, he had his hair banded up too! Yea, he had that look! I told Loracyn and she didn’t seem to believe me at first lol, but after she saw it through her binocs, she agreed! Hahahaha~~
The moment he walked out, we started using our binocs hehe! Tono sat in front of the make up table, and rubbed something on his face, neck, shoulders, then started painting his neck and face, followed by the puffing everything – face, neck, eyes, mouth – with white powder *NOSEBLEEDS LIKE CRAZY* Seeing Tono doing kabuki make-up LIVE is like a dream come true for me. I’ve been thinking about it since presscon day lol~ and to finally be able to see it with my own eyes.. ok, thru the binocs, but still… *tears* And while he was doing all these, the background music was the piano instrumental for “With Love”. Awww~~~~
On the 25th, I heard 2 ladies behind me whispering “sugoi…” while he did the make up. He was so professional and quick! There were 2 assistants in black behind him assisting him at the beginning, helping him to put on the head piece thingie and puffing his back with white powder, but after a while he was pretty much on his own. There is a live VTR showing a close up of the make up scene. Totsuka will walk near and talk to him lol~ and Tono’s response (and expression too) was so cute~~
Then 5 girls in orange came on stage, danced and sang “With Love”. They sounded really sweet hehe… The stage rotated but there wasn’t any close up VTR shown of Tono during the song, so the only way we could see him was via our binocs! Seems like more people brought binocs this year, probably just for this scene? ^^ Through our binocs, we could see him putting on the pink blusher on his cheeks. He also brushed on the pink powder to the area in between his eyes and eyebrows. Then he used his pinky to put the red paint to the tips of his eyes!!! The make up that you’ll see later for the entire Kabuki section was done by himself~ THIS alone is sugoi ne!
When the song was about to end, the girls started blocking our views as they were dancing in front of Tono lol. The song ended, and the VTR came back. Takki started drawing his lips with the red paint. OMG, the music… plus the close up…. the way he holds the brush (so steadily)… and THAT AMOUNT OF CONCENTRATION!!!!!!!! *DIES* I looked at the VTR thru my binocs! believe it or not, I was just staring at his lips, at how he drew the curves on the upperlips~~ so professional. As the music ends, the stage darkens…
The Five Onnas
The 5 girls started talking on the hanamichi. This segment was really funny and enjoyable! It’s very well-done and I thoroughly enjoyed it!! Love their “mairimasho~”s, “sa~”s, “hidoi~hidoi~hidoi~”s lol! Turns out that these 5 kawaii onnas were actually otokos! Bwahahahahaha!!! They disguised themselves as women but they were actually thieves wanting to steal stuff from the shop. I didn’t know at first coz I didn’t look closely at them, and since they were still young, their voices were quite deceiving lol~ My favourite part was when the main “onna” was hit by the shop guys, and “she” went “ahhhyyyaaaaa….” (ended up with a bloody forehead) LOLOL and another “onna” also did a “ho~ho~ho~” (like Yukichan lol~) fake laughter thingie, so funny!!! While all these were going on, I was also looking at Tono wif my binocs (from the 2nd floor, the view was clear~:)
The curtain closes, and the 5 juniors stood in front of the curtains to introduce themselves one by one. I applauded loudly for them :) After this, a VTR was shown on the curtains — it was a “live” video of Takki backstage getting ready for the real kabuki performance. It shows his backview, walking down steps to below the hanamichi trap door. Then the VTR ends and the Kabuki performance itself begins. Drums. Curtains open kabuki style (left to right). And lanterns with “Takizawa Kabuki” appeared at the top of the stage (these lanterns are similar to the ones Shimbashi Enbujou uses on each floor of the theatre. The words on these “lanterns” will later change to the titles of each performance. eg. Sagi Musume, Yagura no Oshichi, and Shuujaku Jishi).
Sagi Musume (The Heron)
Tono appears from the hanamichi trap door, and slowly walked towards the stage. He had a white cloth over his head that covers his eyes and almost his mouth, holding an umbrella that’s translucent. It was a very kirei sight~~ The backdrop was snow, the ground was snow white~ flakes falling~~ it was snowing :) And the kabuki stage assistants (men in black) were there at the back of the stage. A jr started playing the shamisen, and after a while, another chibi jr beside him started shigin. It’s like we were suddenly watching a real kabuki performance. If someone came into the theatre at this moment, there won’t be a slightest indication that this is a JE production LOL.
His hood and cloth were removed. This should be the transformation to the machi musume? And Takki – in pretty purple and white kimono – did a series of moves with the umbrella. He was very graceful, and thru the binocs, you can see his expression!! hehe…. I kept thinking to myself while watching him, “Ah~ this is the make up that he puts on himself ne~~”, “ah~ his right eye’s makeup is slightly bigger than the left’s~” (LOL — this was for the 25th show~), and “HER movements are so gentle…” :D
He then turned and faced the back, squatted down, and the stage assistants came and did the quick costume change. His hair is now half down, and he changed from the purple kimono to a white one :) This should be the transformation to the wings-flapping spirit of the Heron… He did this in Yukichan ne! Flapping of wings, loads of turns, and there was also the pose where he arched backwards…
Yagura no Oshichi
Then comes my favourite of the kabuki section – Yagura no Oshichi! From Sagi Musume, the stage assistants helped Takki do a quick costume change, from white to slightly red kimono, and completely let down his hair. Takki now is transformed to the character Oshichi. She does a series of poses with the help of the stage assistants – being carried up by them, had her legs around one of their bodies etc etc. Then she tries to climb a tower but slips down so gently… Takki’s movements were really so gentle hehe~ Oshichi was pulled by the rope on both sides, she runs away from the baddies and climbs up a wooden tower. Takki then wears on a long red cloak, and he does a very spectacular pose on the tower – the long red cloak falls over the tower down to the stage, and he bent his body backwards!!!
The back VTR was fire~ and there was wind blowing… Oshichi started hitting a bell hard. She hit the bell again and again and again… and finally struck a pose (exactly in time with the beat of a sound). This image got stuck in my head for a while – Oshichi on top of the tower, hair and cloak swaying, fire burning. I didn’t use binocs for this coz it has to be viewed as a whole, the stage in its entirety~ it was red and fiery. Ahhhh~~~ I wanna see it again!!
A red curtain comes down with the huge words “Takizawa Kabuki” on it. Then the 4 Jrs (Fujigaya, Kitayama, Totsuka, Kawai) came out with “mops” lol~ and danced – from the stage to the hanamichi. This is to give time to Takki to change to the last outfit of the Kabuki section ne.
The last of the kabuki section is this lion-head-swinging performance. Takki wears this huge and long red hair thing. His kimono was black and gold. The 4 Jrs also wore similar long haired headgears but theirs were white in color. All of them swung their hair/head at the same time, in the same direction. I’m not sure what performance this is, but I felt slightly dizzy just looking at it. I wonder how it must have been for them to keep swinging such heavy stuff…
With this performance, the Kabuki section, and the curtain closes kabuki way – from left to right, with stage assistants holding the curtains and running across the stage hehe. Everyone was applauding non-stop! I think the curtain was striped – blue, red and white. But the music for “With Love” plays again, and Kawai-kun walks out – really slowly lol. There’s something about him that’s quite weird… the way he holds out his hands. Apart from that, he’s fine :) He started introducing the next and last segment for Act 1 – Chuushingura!
A black & white VTR plays at the back of the stage while Kawai-kun introduces the story (the revenge of the 47 ronins). Then Kitayama walks from the hanamichi, some baddies ran across the stage, and Totsuka walks out to the middle of the stage to commit seppuku. Just when Totsuka does the seppuku, the music stops suddenly, and changes. Then the part of the stage where Totsuka was sinks in. (Just realise Totsuka had to “die” 3 times in a show lol).
Tono appears at the top of a high platform. He wears this really kakkoii black kimono!!! (His enemies wore white this year~) Then the entire platform falls towards the audience flat onto the stage. I don’t know how to explain it but I thought this was a scary stunt! I think the repelling force upwards must be rather strong. How does he manage to keep his feet stuck to the platform as it falls? This is the beginning of a series of dangerous stunts. But I love the music here… And Tono was hella KAKKOII! hehehe….
Tono then dances with some girls in white! And wow, they got really close to him ne~~ I can already hear some fangirls screaming “GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM!” or “DON’T TOUCH HER!” hahaha. The music was very nice and slow for this segment. But when he fight the guy baddies, the music was macho and fast haha. Then, he did the “running up wooden planks” thing again like he did last year. He runs up to the elevated platform, climbs on top of the wooden plank. 2 vertical planks were placed below this horizontal plank to form a “TT” shape, and Tono stood up there for a good few seconds (sound of only the wind blowing). Then he came crashing down with a loud “BANG!” This is what Tsubasa said last year that was the most scary scene or something. This year, in contrast to the other stunts, this seemed quite mild lol…
Then he does a backward fall down to the main stage (landing on some ropes held together by juniors). After a shout from Tono, all the juniors backed off and continued fighting him. Then Tono did a couple of stunts. One was just standing on one of the baddies, while another seems more dangerous. This happened at the hanamichi near the stage. There’s a wooden plank that’s held up by 2 baddies 45degrees to the ground, in this angle => \ . This happened very fast: Tono ran from the right, stepped up that \ plank, and jumped backwards to land on another horizontal plank (which was following him and held by 2 baddies). Their timing has to be good, or Tono would have missed the second plank. Then from this horizontal plank, he jumped off and landed on the trapdoor. Meanwhile, they brought out a tall circular metal tower and placed it at the left of the stage. It was about 3 stories high with ladders leading to each level. This was the most scary part of the entire show!
Tono fought his way up that tower. Every move he made caused the tower to shake!!! And it SOUNDED scary~ there wasn’t much music in the background, so it was just the sound of that tower shaking, Tono’s movements, swords slashing, ppl shouting, and the baddies dying. He fought to the highest level. By this time he was on the same level as the lights!! So near the ceiling~~ Then he got slashed by one baddie…. He swayed a bit from the slash, and fell off the tower down to the stage!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!! (This was the biggest spoiler that I wasn’t told.. and it sure shocked me!!)
During the first show, I was looking at him thru my binocs, and the next thing I knew, ppl around me were letting out gasps, then I heard a “POM”, then realised he had already landed on the mat below lol! I watched the entire thing without binocs during the 2nd and 3rd show. This was really a scary stunt coz he fell face down and had to make a 180degrees turn in time to land on his back. And if he landed a little bit off – to the left, right, front, or back, he might break his neck, arm, back… *yeeks*. This was definitely the most dangerous stunt this year. There were no ropes or cables, so it was free fall, and anything could happen during these 38 shows. Kowai desu ne!! And I noticed from slowmo-ing the Mezamashi news clip, that when he landed on the mat, the entire mat went upwards! The force was that great! His back must have made quite an impact with the mat.
He got up, still shaking from the slash/fall. I was so scared too coz I’m not sure if he was shaken BY THE FALL, or just shaken as part of the act (from the slash). You know what I mean rite? And when he landed, he held on to his arm/shoulder, so it was like… he really LOOKED like he was injured. And I had to hold my breath for a while to make sure he stands up alright! *sweats*
And then he was one-on-one with Kitayama. They fought a bit, smoke filled the stage and we hear a slash. Then silence. And Tono emerges from the smoke with a white cloak over him (indicating his victory) ^^ He walks off from the hanamichi… and his followers followed him one by one. “Villagers” stood at the bridge waving goodbye to them….
Soon after, Tono walked back in from the hanamichi, now dressed in Shanao – with the cloth over his head. Everyone applauded~ He changed really fast ne. He was fighting the entire Chuushingura WITH the Shanao kimono inside the black one already, how heavy is that! (although he’s probably so used to it by now ^^).
Shanao walks to the bottom of the bridge, while Benkei is over at the other side. They walked slowly up the bridge and passed each other~ lovely music in the background, sakura petals falling. Totsuka walked in on the hanamichi and introduced himself as Saburo, Fujigaya said he was Benkei, Musashibo Benkei… and Tono said that his name is “Ushiwaka!” Then, the curtains closed to conclude Act 1.
*Phew*~ that was long :) I apologise if there might be some memory lapses, but it’s as detailed as my brain can handle. The show started out quite normal as it’s rather similar to 2006 & 2007’s. BUT ONCE THAT MAKE UP SCENE CAME ON… I JUST DIED ALL THE WAY TO THE END OF THE ACT :D I really don’t know how it’ll turn out on DVD~~ but my favourite parts of this act are the Kabuki and Chuushingura. I can’t even decide which I love more! They are a good contrast when placed back to back – from the graceful onnagata to a super kakkoii samurai :)