This time, I attended 4 shows, and I didn’t get a fantastic seat like last yr’s 1F-H. But it’s not too bad as Nissay is a really small theatre. I watched the opening show alone, and the rest of the shows with Kat & Snuffles.
08 April 18:00: 2F-F centre [Opening show]
09 April 18:00: 2F-C centre
10 April 13:00: 1F-N left
10 April 18:00: 2F-I centre
Anyway, the stage setting was similar to last year’s, with the red opera curtains spread across its surface. What’s missing is the gramophone in the centre. And there was no Dominic and Jeremiah (black American guys) this year to open the show. Instead there was a clown that came out and ‘played’ with the audience before the show started. He’d throw balls to & receive them back, then finally he descended down the front extended stage (really quickly, lol).
The lights dimmed and there was the same recorded narration in English from Dominic/Jeremiah as last year’s… followed by Takki’s narration in Japanese. He said that this is the 6th year since Takizawa Enbujou opened in Shimbashi Enbujou, and the 2nd year since the butai has moved to Nissay Theatre. Until now, he has taken many risks and challenges towards this Takizawa-style Japanese world. The time in Nissay Theatre is very precious to him, and it’s from the support given to him from everyone, that he can present us this “Takizawa Kabuki”.
The background video footage is similar to last year’s – I love seeing silhouette Takki playing the piano.
Jrs in modern white suits ran in along the aisles and stood at the front of the stage. Takki’s voice introduced them. Yara walked out from behind the curtains in the centre to the front of the stage, and said “Haru no odori wa yo iya sa!”
~ Haru no Odori ~
The red opera curtains spectacularly opened, and were sucked into a treasure box placed at the back of the stage. Now the Jrs were wearing traditional clothes and they did the “spring dance”. Like always, Takki appeared on top of the cart thing and flew out towards the audience, wearing the same red costume as last year.
~ Inishie ~
Similar to last year’s as well, except that ABC-Z has been replaced by the 4 Kisumai members.
⇒ Jr Introduction
Beginning with Senga on the left of GC floor, on to Yokoo on the right of GC floor, followed by Miyata and Nikaido on the first floor, the Jrs introduction was shorter this year. I remember Chino-kun’s introduction on 4/8 was cute~ but he didn’t get to introduce himself on 4/9. The chibi Jrs took turns, I think. The funny ones were usually Tatsumi Yudai or Matsuzaki (Takki, Lucky, Ore Matsuzaki? lol~), and on 4/10 night show, they added “2011 (version)” to their lines lol.
Yara introduced Takki, the curtains opened, a red carpet was rolled out from the back towards the front of the stage… and Takki appeared behind some Jrs in a *KIRAKIRA* black suit!! KAKKOII!!!!
As he walked towards the front, we started clapping… and on the opening day (4/8), the applause didn’t stop and grew louder and louder, even after Takki started speaking!!!! It was so loud that I was almost moved to tears… As I thought back on all the butai shows I’ve attended since 2007, this was the LOUDEST applause I’ve heard! I’m really glad that I decided to buy that opening show ticket…
Takki gave his aisatsu speech and introduced the Jrs, then told us to yukkiri enjoy the show. Like last year, the Jrs in traditional dresses bowed in a traditional way while Takki in modern suit did a half bow.
A beautiful music played… Takki took off his jacket, and I was staring at his slim body once again~~ kakkoii~~ hehe~ then Takki started singing… IN ENGLISH!!!!! By the second show, I figured out (what I think are) the lyrics:
Hold on to your dream
You can find the way
If you look inside your heart
Don’t be afraid in the dark
Together we can
Keep moving on through the winding road
The Jrs started singing the rest of the song… which is fully in English, and a really beautiful song! Yara came out from the right, in a black shirt~ kakkoii too! I love them like that~ and they did the shadows corner together! Very beautiful~ Come together, hand in hand… Never give up on the future… Always, we can see the light of hope…
Takki made the body of a rabbit, and Yara slowly made its legs and ears “grow”~ then Yara made a rabbit too, and the two rabbits played with each other *kawaii*, then kissed each other~~ ♥ I love the way their ears and hands moved haha… Yara’s turned into a dog suddenly, and Takki’s rabbit became frightened, then it turned into an even larger dog, and Yara’s dog backed away.
Yara’s became a plate containing food for Takki’s dog to eat… then somehow, Yara’s became a kitten, and Takki tickled it (this part was so cute~~~). Yara made an owl, and Takki made a bird on a tree – it flapped one side of its wings, and real Takki kissed the bird!! I loved this part – his side view on the screen was so defined, and during the final show, I looked at Takki instead of the screen, and saw him kissing his own hand :)
Both of them made doves flying in the sky… and the music ended beautifully; their hands moved off the screen gently, and they looked towards the audience and nodded their heads *pachi pachi* Takki exited on our left, and Yara on our right, then the 4 chibi Jrs stood at the front of the stage to introduce the next segment…
☆ Takizawa Hideaki “Ran” 10 roles
This to me is the highlight of this year’s Kabuki, and also the part mentioned during the press conference. In this segment, Takki did really quick changes of costumes and portrayed 10 historical figures. It’s hard to explain it in words, coz it happened fast (all 10 characters were played in 15 minutes), even though I might be writing a lot.
I’ll break it down into each story, but I’ll bold the characters’ names in red when Takki appeared as them. Other times, the characters might be played by others (doubles). During the opening show on 4/8, we applauded whenever Takki appeared as a different character.
The curtain opened, and it’s the famous sakura bridge scene (the bridge was perpendicular to our view so we only see the bottom part of it). Ushiwaka stood holding a cloth over his head. He flew for a while, then Benkei appeared and they fought. On the left side of the stage was a huge stone structure. Minamoto Yoritomo stood on top of it and said something. Then he jumped off the stone structure. Ushiwaka (chased by Benkei) ran into a hole in that stone structure, and we see Ushiwaka running out from the other side of that structure.
He fought with Benkei, and threw the cloth over Benkei’s head. Benkei pushed him out of our view for a while, then continued fighting again as Ushiwaka (double) came into view again. They both ran behind the stone structure on the right, and Benkei ran out from the front of it! [Benkei Takki kakkoii~~!!]
They fought, and ran behind some trees on the left, and came out from the right, and this time Takki became Ushiwaka again! He walked up to the top of the bridge, Saburo (played by Nikaido) walked onto the stage and asked who it was on the bridge. Tono said “My name is Ushiwaka!”.
Then the music changed, some men in black came out and stood in front of him, blocking him with a black cloth. Saburo and Benkei started fighting the bad guys on stage, Ushiwaka shouted “Benkei!” and the lights at the top of the bridge blacked out. Saburo and Benkei ran up the stage and disappeared into darkness.
Honnoji no Hen
Then Akechi Mitsuhide appeared at the top of the bridge and walked down to the stage with his men. He was wearing this gold samurai suit & black hat [kakkoii!!!!]. Mori Ranmaru (played by Senga), loyal kerai of Oda Nobunaga, came out and fought Akechi. The bridge rotated and was now horizontal to our view. They fought on the bridge and in a moment of darkness, we saw Takki jump off the bridge and a double took his place.
Moments after, Oda Nobunaga walked out from below the bridge. He was in white, hair down. And he fought many of Akechi’s men. I read that it was in this Honnoji temple that Akechi launched a surprise attack on Nobunaga. Nobunaga fought hard, but asked Ranmaru to set the temple on fire before commiting seppuku, so that nobody would be able to find his head.
Then, Takki performed “Noh”. The music suddenly changed, there was a kind of chanting going on, the background was fiery red, dark and smoky… and Nobunaga took out a sensu from his clothes and performed the dance (thanks, C-san!). This was one of my favourite scenes. I loved the entire feel when the music changed. At the end, Nobunaga walked slowly towards the bridge, which was starting to be covered with red smoke… and he disappeared into the “fire”.
Shinsengumi (Assasination of Serizawa)
The stage was lit again and we see the bridge again with now a peaceful looking backdrop. Two kisumai members appeared on the sides of the stage to introduce the story, and Okita Souji, in blue holding an umbrella, walked up the bridge. Serizawa Kamo was in red, also holding an umbrella, followed behind him.
Then suddenly there was a flash of lightning, and the stage darkened for a couple of seconds. When the light came on, Takki was now Serizawa Kamo (in red), and they have switched places. This was the fastest ‘live’ change they did, and what I saw was Takki taking off the blue outer layer, and the other guy quickly wearing that on. Whenever I watch this, even I feel nervous lol.
So the scene ended with Serizawa killed and his body (played by a double, as Takki jumped off the bridge during another moment of darkness) was left on the bridge.
There were villagers walking around in the foreground while the bridge in the back was split into two and pushed off stage. Takki’s voiceover narrated the story of Amakusa. The backdrop was stunning, and reminded me of a scene in Avatar lol. Anyway, it was like this huge tree trunk, with light shining in from the top (through leaves we couldn’t see).
Suddenly Takki appeared in this super colorful costume and very pretty black hair. This is Amakusa Shiro, the young leader in the Shimabara Rebellion, who fought for the Christianization of Japan in the 1600s. He walked slowly towards one of the fallen people and gently touched him. A huge gold cross appeared on the background screen. Amakusa walked along a lighted path towards the back, and some bad guys appeared and stabbed him.
He then flew upwards into the air, and the bad guys pulled off Takki’s outer colorful costume to reveal a white feathery dress. Amakusa Shiro has transformed into a white bird (I think, or maybe a dove) after his ‘death’. It flew in the air, flapping its feathered wings gracefully, then down onto the stage, dancing gracefully.
Asano Takuminokami was played by Sanada of Mis Snow Man this year, and Kira Kouzukenosuke by Fukuda of 4U (didn’t know such a group existed until I saw the pamphlet).
The last of the 10 roles Takki played was Ooishi Kuranosuke. He was wearing the same black clothes as last year. Chuushingura corner was shorter this year, and had lesser stunts. But there was still the “breaking into the house from the roof” scene, where he stood on the horizontal board placed on two vertical boards thing. But this year, perhaps because of the possibility of aftershocks happening during the show, this stunt was carried out on stage level – not on the raised platform.
The Jrs also formed a slope with the wooden boards and like last year, Takki ran up the boards. But this year he disappeared into darkness at the top of the slope.
The characters he played earlier appeared and walked out onto the bridge. We see Ushiwaka, Benkei, Nobunaga, etc all standing in a row. Jrs in white did some dance with sensus in front… And Takki walked in from the aisle along the audience seats. He was wearing the black kirakira suit again.
On 4/10, as we sat near the aisle, we saw Takki walking in quite early, and sat on a seat (apparently, a folded chair that a man in black carried in for him) beside a row 2 seat, I think. He let the Jrs run pass him before he got up. He walked up to the front stage… and spoke a little before descending down the stage (kakkoii~).
☆ NEW MASK
Then a familiar music played, and I knew it was the mask segment. It was slightly different this year as they had vocals in it as well. But I’m so glad that they kept this segment this year! I love the Mugen no Hane remix~~~ and Yara’s dancing was still so kakkoii to watch.
☆ Face Change Taiko
Similar to last year but the 4 Kisumai members came out first with Takki in the center in his face-change costume. This year Takki has a black cloak which was kakkoii! Yara walked passed Takki to where his modern drumset was, as Senga started off the shouting and Taiko hits. Soon the Jrs pushed their drums out as well… and Takki started doing the face-change while the Jrs hit the drums.
After the face-change, I saw Takki taking off his cloak in the dark, walking quickly to his traditional taiko set, putting on a earphone and clipping on the sound device onto his pants. The drumming was similiar to last year, but there were a couple of misses during the shows I watched this year.
4/8: The drumming was slightly out of sync. I think there was too little time to practice as a team due to the earthquake (which took 2 weeks off their rehearsal schedule). But from the second show onwards, they were back in sync. Good job :)
4/9: Takki’s drumstick (I think it was his right one) dropped while he was hitting the drums. I saw him pick it up from the floor. But as it was dark and his stick was neon green, I think it was rather visible.
I’m glad they kept this corner. HADAKA feast is always nice to see! Haha~
Instead of the two black guys doing the intro dance, it was the four Kisumai members instead. Takki walked out onto the stage, and I saw Senga pass him the hat.
~ REVENGER ~
Kakkoii!! So glad they kept this as well. As usual, my eyes went towards where the “Takizawa Happy Trail” was, and… ITA! fufufu~ I made it a point to watch the dance once without binocs too.
During the second verse, Takki sat on a chair that’s been raised onto the stage, and I saw him taking off the plasters/bandaids around his fingers (which he wore for the Taiko corner), and he usually twirled them around with the other hand, scrunged them, and tucked them behind him on his right :)
On 4/10, during the day show, somehow the chair wasn’t raised up to the stage!!
Yara was supposed to jump over Takki towards the front. But as there was no chair, they just simply walked pass each other cooly. Then Takki started dancing/moving his body on the spot, back facing us. Kakkoii!!!!!
If it was a new corner, no one would have noticed that it was a ‘miss’ coz they were both so calm and cool lol. He was peeling the plasters while standing, and one of them dropped onto the stage. Soon the chair raised up to the stage, and Takki sat on it, just in time to sing his line ~ *phew*
Btw, I love the way Takki sat on the chair , and when he sang the “tsukandemo…” part, his hand grasped the air above.
☆ Takizawa Troupe
There was no water pool this year, so no cleaning to be done by Tatsumi and Fukuda. Instead, they went around asking the audience questions like “who are you here to watch?” or “what is your favourite segment so far?” etc…
⇒ White Face Painting
Then Takizawa zachou walked into his “dressing room” (on stage of course) half-naked for the face-painting. Matsuzaki was his ‘kuroko’ (helper dressed in black).
This year, they show Kisumai visiting Takizawa zachou in his dressing room. So the 4 Kisumai members came on stage, and did many things like showing zachou their monomane etc. On 4/9, ABC-Z came on stage with them too. And Kawai was made to do a monomane of Matsujun’s Wish. But the funniest was Nikaido’s monomane of Tsubasa’s flamenco! It really made me LOL!
They also did this “ganbare ganbare Takki” thing and they raised their hands left and right… including Matsuzaki who came to the front of the stage to do the actions. This guy is really funny na~ Last year, he did the small resuscitation shibai with zachou, and even kissing him on the lips during senshuuraku lol~
Takki’s expressions were so cute during this segment. There were a few times he just stared at the camera (at us, coz the live footage was shown on the screens), and shrugged, or mouthed words we couldn’t hear etc… there was once he even did the ‘puking’ expression – with his face all painted white already. I think it was when Nikaido went behind him and said some really mushy feminine things LOL. Many times, he would grin, trying not to laugh, or do silly faces which I just can’t describe here. All I can remember was… TAKKI CHOU KAWAII! XD
After Kisumai members left the ‘dressing room’, Matsuzaki said things like “finally~ it’s the two of us alone~” LOL! Then he did more silly things and made silly sounds at the front of the stage. Ah, twice, white face Takizawa zachou got so ‘irritated’ that he shouted with his raw voice. On 4/10, he shouted “Bakayarou!” during the 13:00 show and “Yamenasai!” during the 18:00 show. Matsuzaki (who had a black veil thing over his face) also gave the string – attached to the veil – to zachou and asked him to pull it. Once Takki pulled it, the black veil rolled up to reveal Matsuzaki’s face. Takki always gave a “shocked” look when he saw Matsuzaki’s face lol! And in one show itself, he can pull it like 3 times.
On 4/10, I think it was the night show, Matsuzaki did or said something again and Takki got so ‘angry’ he did the “kubi” (cutting the neck) action. He wanted Matsuzaki changed from the next show onwards haha…
~ Shounen WITH LOVE ~
The Jrs and onnagata chibi Jrs came out to sing and dance “With Love”. This year’s version had extra vocals in it. And two Jrs were given solo parts to sing, including Konno Takayuki (during the first show). On 4/9, he was absent and some other boy took his place).
While they were singing, my eyes were still glued on Takki… Matsuzaki was mouthing very wholeheartedly the lyrics of “With Love” while fanning Takki with the uchiwa and dabbing Takki’s back with a cloth. On 4/9 I think, he was fanning so vigorously non-stop, that it was funny watching him. On 4/10, he even used the cloth to clean Takki’s abs(!) which made Takki react LOL! After Matsuzaki left, sometimes Takki took the uchiwa and started fanning his face :)
After the song ended, it was the usual painting of lips. As usual, I love using my binocs on the screen footage so that I can clearly see Takki and how he painted… It’s so close up that we even noticed a pimple above his left eyebrow~
⇒ Comedy Skit
This year, the entire onnagata Jrs were replaced with chibi Jrs. I think the older boys’ voices have cracked too much to play females… This year, the kids like Otsuka and Hashimoto took the stage, and it was quite funny and cute though they weren’t as natural as the older boys yet. Still, it was fun to watch as they called the shopkeepers “Oji-san!” lol! And I had a fun time imitating Tatsumi Yudai’s wolfish “hum sup” laughter later on lol~
4U were especially funny at the end when they were called Ojisans again, which broke their heart. Koshioka went down on his knees with a sad “o–ji–saaan”, and Matsuzaki also fell on his back and his legs were frozen at 90 degrees to the ground lol.
☆ Takizawa Kabuki
Similar to last year, just that Jrs are slightly different. Konno Takayuki said the “kiita ka? kiita ka?” line for all the shows I went to, except for 4/9 when he didn’t perform that night. I can’t remember which Jr. took his place. Questions from Chino-kun were, “What is Kabuki?” and “What is Takizawa?”. A Kisumai member answered, and for the 2nd question, he said “(Takizawa is) not Tsubasa from ‘Tackey and Tsubasa’.” They went on to ask who’s the most baka person in Kisumai? (Fujigaya) and who’s the most boring person in Kisumai? (Kitayama) etc.
⇒ Musume Doujouji
Similar to last year, so I won’t go into detail. But when the “Takizawa Kabuki” red cloth fell from the stage, it slowed down towards the end to give it a floating effect. It’s a trivial change but to me, an improvement :)
On 4/10, I think it was the night show, the cloth fell in front of the monks, instead of behind… most of them managed to sneak in before the cloth hit the stage, but one was “caught” outside LOL!
⇒ Yagura no Oshichi
The Oshichi puppet and its controllers Fukuda and Matsuzaki were raised up the front of the stage. Konno Takayuki sang Oshichi’s voice like last year. His voice is beginning to crack already ne~ wonder if he will still do shigin next year. But I think he’s growing up fine :) Also, on 4/9 when he didn’t perform, there was no one replacing him on stage. Instead, they played his voice from the Takizawa Kabuki DVD last year.
The rest of Yagura no Oshichi was similar to last year. Everything went smoothly except on 4/10, during the night show, when the red cloth on Takki’s dress failed to open. Fortunately there was a second layer of red cloth flowing from the tower itself, so it wasn’t that bad a miss. Takki cool-ly continued to turn and “pray”, then strike the bell as though the miss didn’t happen.
⇒ Spider’s dance
My favourite of the Kabuki segment. So happy it was kept this year~~ of course, it started off with Yara’s solo dance with the BEAUTIFUL music, Goto Hiromi playing the ‘erhu’ hehehe~ Then Takihime so BEAUTIFULLY playing the Koto!!! Kyaa~ I think that figure of him playing the koto is really really pretty… especially his side view…
Yara this year has a gold streak on the right side of his black hair, so it really matched his gold & black clothes well in this scene. He walked up and gently brought Takihime down to the stage… And we have again, the love scene between Takihime & Yara lol. I still prefer to watch it close up with my binocs, looking at their expressions fufu~ Like the way Takihime tried to seduce Yara fufufu~
And I always had fun looking at how Takihime placed his hand on Yara’s shoulders, and Yara touching his hands gently… Of course, Yara never took his eyes off Takihime from the moment he took her down the stairs LOL… until she showed her true self of course~ Btw, C-san told me that the ‘throwing of spider streaks’ is also a form of ‘Noh’ performance.
This year, Takispider had 4 smaller spider subordinates lol~ the 4 Kisumai members also had spider hair wigs, and were on Takispider’s side in the fight with Yara & team. I LOVE the background music and all of Takki’s movement as the spider. I still feel that he really nailed it well~ plus, this year, he had a scary looking red-tongue! I think he ate some kind of sweet or something that turned his tongue totally red…
And right at the end, when he sat on the spider ‘balloon’ thing, bouncing a little on it as he sat lol (btw, last year, he stood on it~), he moved his head, did the ‘rawrrrrrr’ thing with his mouth, then stuck out his tongue – and left it there until the curtains closed!!
⇒ End of Act 1
Instead of the two black guys holding the signs, this year the clown came on stage again, this time with two chibi clowns. Every step they took had cute sound effects. The chibi clowns threw a futon on the front stage, threw a pillow, threw themselves in, and covered the futon. The older clown held out the “Intermission” sign, and the chibis turned off a lamp beside them. All three sank down the stage to conclude the first act.
*Note: Sorry for the lack of good quality pics here, as it’s still the first week of the butai… so pics of the show are really hard to find. All of the above were taken from y!a and the wideshow recordings yesterday morning.