Duration of Act 1:
- Approx. 1hr 20mins
Shows & Seats:
- 4/25 Eve: 2nd Floor C (Right side)
- 4/26 Day: 1st Floor K (Centre block, left)
- 4/27 Eve: 1st Floor H (Centre block, slightly right)
- 5/2 Eve: 1st Floor J (Absolute centre!)
The H seat was perhaps my best, followed closely by the J. There were no heads blocking, the path was absolutely clear so I could see whatever’s happening in the front stage, even when they were sitting down. The 2nd floor seat was good too coz the view was clear, and it was still near to the stage since the theatre was small. A plus (or minus, in some ways) point is, you can see some of the tricks from up there haha~ The worst seat I had was at row K. At one point, I felt like I was doing an Indian dance, my head moving left-right-left-right lol.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the middle front seats were converted into a stage. I’ll call this the front stage. There were red opera curtains down to the front stage. A gramophone was placed in the middle (On 5/2, the gramophone was directly in front of me ~ that was how I found out I was right smack in the middle lol). And this picture was taken by L-san. She allowed me to use it here. 39!
The two black dancers from Ensemble, Jeremiah and Dominic, walked in from the side doors. They spoke in English, greetings like “Hey! Hello! How’s everyone?”, “Who’s excited? Happy? Excited?”, etc…
They sat on each side of the gramophone. And one of them pressed the gramophone, and a hiphop-like music started playing. They signaled for us to clap along, but halfway through, cut us off with a “shh! shh!”. Pressing the gramophone again, a scary eerie sound was played…. And the two slowly walked away from each other towards the audience, and suddenly they screamed in fright, and Dominic hid below the curtains. On 4/25, some girl sitting in the first few rows came into the theatre at this point of time, and the two guys crossed their arms in front of their chests while “X~Dame” played in the background lol~
Pressing the gramophone again, a very romantic music played. Dominic moved towards an audience and did a loving expression, like cupping her face, or moving towards her, about to kiss her etc… And the music stopped suddenly. He continued to blow flying kisses while distracting Jeremiah. Then finally, Jeremiah said “kore yarou?” (let’s do this this shud be the one?) and pressed the gramophone one last time, to start the show. *Thanks, snuffles, for this explanation. Haha, now it makes sense to me. They were trying to find the right channel for Kabuki…
The ceiling lighted up with “blue stars”. And an introduction in English was played:
Ladies and Gentleman, thank you very much for coming. In Japan, there is a long long history and fascinating traditions, and graced by human warmth. We’re looking for hope, love and dreams. But sometimes we’re confronted by tragedy. That will never change. Today we want you to have a good time, and touch the beauty of Japan. And now, we invite you to the fascinating world of Takizawa Kabuki. This is for you.
Then, a silhouette of Takki playing a grand piano was shown in the middle of the screen, while beautiful piano music of the Enbujo theme played. Scenes of previous years’ Enbujos were shown on the screen while Takki’s voice came on in Japanese:
“Takizawa Enbujo” opened in Shimbashi Theatre in 2006. “Takizawa Enbujo”, which aimed for a new Takizawa-style Japanese world, has been adjusted repeatedly over the past four years. And, in this 5th year, the butai has moved to this Nissay Theatre, and will continue its history while starting its new adventure as “Takizawa Kabuki”. This is… Takizawa Kabuki.
The kanji “滝沢歌舞伎” flashed across the screen. As the beautiful Enbujo theme music played on, a silhouette of Takki standing in the middle of the stage was shown on the screen, and one by one, silhouettes of Jrs. appeared and walked out from behind Takki, to the left and right side of him so that they all stood in a row… The last one to walk out from behind Takki was Yara. He stood next to Takki… Somehow I like this part when Yara’s silhouette walked out. And all of them (silhouettes) ran towards us…
⇒ Haru no Odori
The Jrs. ran in along the aisles and onto the front stage. Yara stood on the front stage and shouted out “haru no odori wa… (and all Jrs. voices joined in) yo~iya~saaaa!”
Then, this was one of my favourite parts. The opera curtain was “sucked” very quickly into a treasure box at the back of the stage. It was a *wow* sight when you watch it from right smack in the middle on the first floor, how the red color disappeared into the box. I wonder how it’ll show up on DVD~ And this opera curtain was Takki’s idea, as he mentioned in Takiren #382.
Anyway, this curtain seemed to be manually “wound up” underground or something, coz there were quite a number of shows where the curtain got stuck and couldn’t open or close. Out of the 4 shows I went, it failed to work during the opening on 4/26 (and some Jrs. like Kawai were frantically stuffing the curtains into the box lol~).
Like past year’s, lotsa dancing by Jrs. followed by Takki flying out towards the audience.
But this year, there was no flying from 2nd floor. So the music was edited, and some parts were removed & re-attached. And there was more dancing on stage. I prefer this year’s coz we could see more dancing from Tono!
Then came the individual Jr. introductions. Tottsu was on the right side of GC floor, while Kawai was on the left. There were many funny introductions, from singing songs that rhymed with their names, to saying their names backwards, and saying how much they or their smiles cost while Kabuki tickets cost 12,000yen, etc… but some of the notable ones include Yamamoto Ryota’s, when he said that some ppl mistaken him to be Yamada from HSJ (in the short film of Act 2), so he has changed his hairstyle lol.
After the Jrs., Yara came out to introduce himself, and then he introduced Takki. The curtains opened, red carpet was rolled from the back to the front stage (on 5/2, the rolling was a bit off & staff at the front stage had to adjust the carpet a bit), and Takki walked out dressed in a modern blue suit. Note that ALL the juniors were in traditional clothes. Only Takki was in modern suit.
Takki thanked everyone for coming, etc. but this time instead of bowing in a traditional way, he does it in a modern way (while standing), while all the Jrs. behind him got on their knees and did the traditional bow.
I liked that a lot. This is Takizawa-style Kabuki :)
Some Jrs. played janken and other games on the right, while Takki stood on the left, took off his outer jacket, threw it backstage and rolled up his sleeves, then talked about how he’s grown up. Now that he’s 28, he has to worry about things like house loans, yearly salary, etc… Where did the blissful times of his childhood went to…
And he walked over towards the Jrs., and noticed that there was light casting onto the screen. I love seeing the shape of his body on the screen. While the Jrs. were playing, Takki did a shadow of a dog. A chibi Jr. asked Takki if he could do the shadows with him. But he called him “Takki-ojisan” (Uncle Takki) lol… and Takki looked at him and said “(You should call me) Takki-chan, right?”
On 4/25, the chibi Jr. obediently asked again, “Takki-chan, let me do it with you?” and Takki looked happy and said in a high pitched “UN!”! like a kid hehe~ kawaii!!!
On 4/26, the chibi Jr. refused to give in, and even though Takki said “Takki-chan, right?” three times, chibi Jr. still called him “Takki-ojisan”. In the end, Takki gave up and said, “Well, that will do.” lol~
On 4/27, it was similar to 4/25.
On 5/2, this was the cutest version I saw:
Chibi Jr.: Takki-ojisan, let me do it with you?
Takki: Takki-chan, right?
Chibi Jr: Takki-OJISAN, let me do it with you?
Takki: Then I’m not doing it!
Chibi Jr: Sorry, sorry.
Takki: Then kiss me first! Kiss me! *points to his cheek*
The Jr. looks troubled, but went forward and gave Takki a kiss on the cheek!! I could hear the *muack* sound from where I was sitting! *KYAAAAA* And Takki fell onto the floor, smiling!! He looked surprised but pleased at the same time. When he got up, he said with that smile still on his face, “You really did it~ Thank you~” and I remember he said “kawaii~” and ruffled the boy’s hair :)
They did a series of shadows, of a rabbit, two small rabbits, a dog, a turtle, an owl, a dove, and that funny creature again, followed by the tea pot and cups. The chibis then sat in a row, back facing us, and Takki sat in the middle of them. They put their hands on top of their heads, and swayed sideways slowly… to beautiful slow music – an arrangement of “With Love”! I’m not sure what shadow this was, but it was sweet.
Takki stood up and introduced the next item, then ran off stage on the left.
The kanji “忠臣蔵” flashed on the screen in red. And the 2 black guys danced in from the sides again, one holding an umbrella. Kawai played Kira Kouzukenosuke (last year, the role was played by Kitayama), and Tottsu played Asano Takuminokami. This year, with Takki’s direction, they showed the background of why Asano had to commit seppuku. Takki was Ooishi Kuranosuke like previous years, who tried to avenge his master by killing Kira.
Takki appeared at the top of the white wall thing, and slid down to the stage like last year. He fought with the baddies in white, and ran up the planks to the upper stage to do the famous “break into the house” stunt. From there, he jumped down to the stage, crashing through the paper windows like last year.
Takki was initially in the black samurai outfit, but he disappeared backstage and Kawai became his stunt double. Kawai continued fighting and suddenly Takki appeared in white (just like all the other guys). He started to fight Kawai, and after a while, the took off his top to reveal a red top.
There was no free fall this year. Fortunately. But it was replaced by some ladder stunt. Takki clasped his legs around the bars of the ladder, and they turned him upside down, and back up again. A 360゜turn. Then the ladder was held up vertically (tilted slightly towards the audience) by many huge forks held by Jrs. Takki climbed up the ladder, and posed at the top of it. He then dropped his sword down to a Jr who caught it. And did a “front hip circle” down to the stage, picked up his sword from the Jr. and continued fighting.
The floor of the front stage opened, and it was a water pool. Both Takki and Kawai jumped in and water splashed out. The fans at the first row were given plastic sheets before the show, to protect themselves from splashes. Takki and Kawai fought brilliantly there, loads of water splashing, and finally Takki shouted with his raw voice “Give me your life!” before killing Kawai.
Suddenly the music changed to a familiar tune while 2 masked men in black grabbed Takki from the back and as they struggled in the water. From the 2nd floor I saw Takki swimming towards the back of the water pool. Either a double replaced him there, or he only moved backwards in the water to wear the mask. When he emerged from the water again, he had a mask over his face and was struggling.
④ NEW MASK
This music started to pick up its beat and merged into a special arrangement of “Mugen no Hane”, which was really nice. Yara and some Jrs. danced in front. And someone behind (I think Takki’s double) performed the mask dance. Jrs. did street dance, some did backflips and spins etc. Btw, Yara is really a good dancer!! I was really impressed!!! He had many solo dances in this butai :)
Then there was a slow version of “Mugen no Hane” which was soo beautiful~~~ I really love the arrangements of all the “Mugen no Hane” and “With Love” variations used in Act 1. “Mugen no Hane” and “With Love” are my favourite of the songs Takki written. So to be able to hear them all (in different variations) in one same butai is really awesome!
⑤ Face Change Taiko (a.k.a. Hadaka Feast!)
After more dancing, Takki appeared in the ‘face-change’ costume. Tottsu started hitting the Taiko (drum), and he was topless of course. Many topless juniors started to roll their drums out on the stage. Yara took his seat in a set of modern drums. The rest of the Jrs. had traditional drums (taiko). This is another modern + traditional mix which I like! Another Takizawa-Kabuki point ^X^
Takki did the face-changes according to the beats, and finally he revealed his face.
In the dark, he removed his face-changing costume, and goes to his own set of traditional drums, below where Yara was. He was TOPLESS of course. So the entire stage had 1 modern drumset, 1 traditional drumset, and many individual and dual-drums. I also noticed that before Takki started hitting the drums, when the lights weren’t on him, he would turn behind to look at Yara, and I always saw Yara smiling back. Takki also looked towards the Jrs on his right and he would smile after that.
Then the spotlight was on Takki, and he started hitting the drums.
And OMG, u can see all his muscles when he hits! Just how much strength he uses~ It was really a feast for the eyes and I had my binocs glued to my eyes for most of this segment. Even when the lights weren’t on him, my eyes were fixed on his biceps and abs LOL!
But I didn’t forget to watch it once without binocs, coz the effect on the whole was awesome! There was a part where the lights dimmed out and you can see the neon (glowing-in-the-dark) sticks hitting the drums in symphony, plus the water splashing out from drums.
The ending was sugoi!
Kyaaaa!!! This dance was really kakkoii!! HADAKA Takki (with a vest/jacket only) plus hat, dancing in purple kirakira pants! KAKKOII!! *lost for words* Sorry I can’t really describe the dance, but you have to watch it for yourself when the DVD is released. At first, the 2 black guys came out to dance (slow music). Then Takki walked out and stood behind them.
The intro beat kicked in and the three started dancing. Jrs. joined in the dancing as well. The song itself had English words in them, though I can’t figure out the words yet *lol*, but there was a very clear “Revenger” in it. Personally, I prefer this one to “Kareha no Kage” of Takirev. After Takki sang & danced one verse of the song, he walked to the back of the stage and sat in a “throne” hehe~ Takki THE KING! ^^
Then, Yara jumped over Takki from the back to the front. I liked that part! hehe~ He started dancing and singing the 2nd verse as well. Takki was so cool in his throne, singing in a relaxed way. I love the song best when Takki & Yara sang together! Somehow their voices blended really well!
There was a segment where spotlight was used a lot (a bit like ‘Hoshi no Shizuku” of Enbujo’08). Takki & Yara danced within a spotlight too. I think this was Takki’s idea as well. He mentioned he had to think of the lighting, and I found instances in Act 2 as well, where lights were used to complement the dialogue.
Anyway, for the last chorus of “Revenger”, Takki came to the front stage and danced right there!! *KYAAAAA* On 4/26 and 5/2, he was right in front, so near~~!! *dies* I was ogling at his abs and not sure when to breathe!!! And erm… I also didn’t forget to look at the “Takizawa Happy Trail”~ fufufufufufufufu~~~ XD
⑦ Takizawa Troupe
⇒ Cleaning Up
Two juniors, Fukuda and Tatsumi, walked in from the left, holding those “sponge mops” and a pail. They talked really fast and this segment was really funny each time. They explained that they were told by their Zachou (Takki) to mop up the water from the front stage, coz it would be slippery. They did a “splash check” to see how far Takijiru splashed till. They even checked with the audience on the 2nd floor lol.
Then, they both did a “Jikashibori” squeeze thing. Note that Takki is advertising for the Takara Can Chu-hi Jikashibori drink. So after mopping the area, they squeezed all the water collected into a pail. That was the “Takijiru Jikashibori” LOL!
One of them also imitated Takki’s “breaking into the house” stunt of Chushingura, holding the 2 knives… then he pointed to his biceps, saying “TAKIZAWAA!” lol~ Then he said, that Zachou has such a “PERFECT BODY” (in English), that even guys will like. And one of them also imitated Tottsu’s “SAA!” *hits drums, legs joint together* “HAA!” from the Taiko segment lol~~
Meanwhile, Takki walked in topless and hair banded up. He sat in front of his make up table, and started painting his face. Matsuzaki was the black men (kuroko) who was like Takki’s assistant, fanning him etc. Sometimes, Fukuda and Tatsumi said so funny things that Takki behind would smirk or smile haha!
⇒ Tour Guide / White Paint Make Up
Then, another Jr. was a tour guide, bringing the two black guys around Japan. They walked in from the right, and the tour guide introduced Takizawa Kabuki, and asked if it’s tough to do the face painting etc. The two black guys would take photos of Takki, etc… Then someone would say that there was “Tsubasa Kabuki over the other side. Let’s go there.” etc… and they would walk off the stage on the left. Takki’s reaction was so funny. He would just twist his waist and point to himself, like “hey~~ what about me?” kind of way lol.
And then the following adlib part was perhaps the funniest of the whole butai. On 4/26, Matsuzaki said “Zachou! (Don’t worry) I’m here yo!” and made a *chu* face towards Tono, and Tono just threw the towel at him. On 4/27, Matsuzaki blew a kiss at Tono, and Tono fainted haha~ But on 5/2:
Matsuzaki called “Zachou! Zachou!” and moved towards Tono and KISSED him on the cheeks!!! *KYAAAA* Takki fell flat onto the ground *motionless* haha~ A very flustered Matsuzaki went over to Takki and started to do CPR for him! After Takki was “revived”, he hit Matsuzaki on the head, and Matsuzaki fell onto the ground *motionless* haha… Now it’s Takki who got flustered and went over to do CPR for Matsuzaki!
After he was revived, Takki finally sat back at his seat in front of his make up mirror. But he used a cloth to clean the spot where Matsuzaki kissed earlier. LOL. And as Matsuzaki moved near Takki, Takki moved his body away from Matsuzaki and started to paint his hands white. Matsuzaki now was right in front of the mirror, and he took Takki’s sponge and started puffing his own face!!! Hahaha~~~
Takki stood up, hit Matsuzaki on the head and kicked him! hahaha! Then he turned towards Fukuda and Tatsumi who were standing at the side, and crossed his arms in front of his chest, telling them to change the black guy for the next show lol…
*Anyway, I heard that on senshuuraku (8th May), Matsuzaki finally kissed Tono ON THE LIPS!!!! And Tono went to the side of the stage and cried like a kid, then went back and strangled Matsuzaki with the towel! Ahhh~ I wanna see that!!!!
⇒ Shounen WITH LOVE
Some Jrs onnagata (Kyomoto Taiga as main), plus chibi jrs. dressed in modern suits (Konno-kun as main), came out and performed “With Love”. I was watching young Chino-kun dance this one, but I noticed he didn’t perform in the 5/2 show. Anyway… it’s always nice to hear the Jrs singing the song Takki wrote… and while they were singing, Takki would be putting blusher on his cheeks, eyes, and when the song ended, he painted his lips like last year.
⇒ Comedy Skit
The same as last year, 5 males disguised as females came into the shop trying to steal cloth. But this year, it was funnier. The way Fukuda and Tatsumi acted even made the females (Kyomoto Taiga, Yamamoto Ryota, etc) laugh on 5/2, that there were a few seconds of silence lol… After the “girls” admitted that they’re in fact guys, Matsuzaki added a “It’s alright even if they’re guys” lol~~ before the curtains closed.
The 5 males introduced themselve, then they left the stage.
⑧ Takizawa Kabuki
Some Jrs. came on stage dressed as monks. Konno-kun, who was ALWAYS smiling, kept asking in his high-pitched voice “kiita ka, kiita ka” (have you heard? have you heard?) lol~~ I really enjoyed this short segment. Tottsu would be answering questions that the chibi Jrs. have on Takizawa Kabuki, like why do men play female roles? or why paint the face white? etc… There was one show (on 4/27 perhaps) that Tottsu couldn’t stop laughing while explaining…
⇒ Musume Doujouji
The curtains opened, and Takki was already dressed in a red kimono.
I think this was quite difficult to dance coz he had to do it with legs bent, and move his feet according to the music etc. He then did a quick change of clothes, into a white kimono. And started to play with the chibi monks. He threw a bag towards the audience for each show. I was always too far back to catch it, coz it usually reaches around the 4th or 5th row.
There was one part where chibi monks stood in front of Takki, and she he would rub their heads with his hand… One by one they would just stand still and let him rub their heads, but the smallest Chino-kun would move his head in a circle according to Takki’s hands. Haha… Beside Chino-kun was Kawai-kun, waiting for his head to be rubbed. But Takki would smack him hard on the head lol~
Then Takki did some dance with two tambourines-like round objects. Then climb up a large green bell, and posed on top of it.
Then the curtains with the words “Takizawa Kabuki” came down.
⇒ Yagura no Oshichi
Two black men came in with a female Oshichi puppet, holding a scroll… As Konno-kun sings out the feelings of Oshichi (he’s REALLY REALLY GOOD!!!) with shamisen accompliment, the two black men moved the puppet… Then the puppet started to climb a miniature tower. And that tower split into two, and Takki appeared as a full-size Oshichi puppet.
I liked how Takki showed the background of the story. Takki as Oshichi was ‘controlled’ by the two black men and their movements were really synchronised. I particularly love the part where Oshichi was “dragged backwards” by the two black men. Takki was really like a puppet.
And then, Oshichi broke free from the two black men, and she was on her own. She was attacked by bad guys, went mad and spinned around at the front stage, climbed the tower, and the entire place was on fire. This year, the red cloth was really magnificent. There was red cloth not only from Oshichi’s kimono, but also flowed down from the tower itself, so it was double power! Everything was red!
The Jrs. danced with red/orange/yellow flags, and they represent the burning fire as well. The background VTR was burning fire too. On 5/2, the red cloth from Oshichi’s kimono failed to work, but fortunately there was still the cloth from the tower, so people (like my bf) who didn’t watch previous shows might not even notice.
After striking the bell many times, Oshichi said “inochi ni kaetemo” in a kabuki-voice way of coz, like last year. Then a video screen with ‘fire’ footage closed downwards… and the stage plunged into darkness.
⇒ Spider’s dance
Yara walked out from the left, and he was dressed in modern black top and gold pants. Beautiful music started playing, and Yara did this beautiful dance… Then the screen changed to a nice scenery with some flowing water and sakura. Taki-hime appeared at the top right, playing a koto. The music was so beautiful~~
Yara noticed Taki-hime, and walked up towards her. She stopped playing the Koto, and they walked down the stairs together, then started this romantic dance ^^ I was smiling like mad at one point, coz Yara was moving in towards Taki-hime, almost about to kiss her hehehe… But Yara himself was shorter and smaller in size than Taki-hime who was perhaps wearing many layers of Kimono. But their expressions were priceless haha~
And suddenly, the music changed, and Taki-hime threw out spider threads at Yara!
Yara and Jrs. then did a dance which I love. The only thing I didn’t like was the hitting of the wooden thing by some Jr. at the side. It was so distracting… But apart from that, I really enjoyed the dance.
Then Takizawa Spiderman appeared! Haha! The background music was kinda like rock or metal. He had his face painted with blue & black strips, on top of his white face~ I REALLY love this image of him, it was so different from Taki-hime. Here, he showed his manly side. He got on top of a high platform and threw spider streaks out at his enemies on both sides, then he jumped down from the platform and fought with Yara and the enemies.
And there’s this thing (spider’s mouth?) that stuck out slightly from his lips too, like an extended nose. It was obvious when he bit on the stick with his mouth while removing his clothes hehe~ Un, he at first was wearing some white costume, and holding a stick weapon thingie~ then after fighting with Yara and group, he bit on the stick, and both his hands went into the white top and pushed it outwards… His “body” was a white painted tight-fighting costume with blue/black drawings as well – similar to his face. Kakkoii!
I love a part where he & Yara fought, and he bent backwards really low.
And I also love one move after that where he bent down low, stretched out both arms, kinda like ‘hissed’ at Yara. The body shape was really good hehe~ And finally, he climbed up to the raised platform (same height as the 2nd floor I think) and stood on top of a spider body. The spider’s legs expanded outwards and around the raised platform, and I always noticed Takki’s expression then. The way he moved his mouth, his body, his head, and his hands was REALLY GOOD!!!
He struck a final pose, and there was an explosion (of spider streaks towards the audience). We picked some of them and brought them home on 4/27.
And the curtains closed to conclude a really superb and in my opinion, the best ever Act 1 in the history of Takizawa butai!! XD