After trying and failing to see the actual show three times, I finally managed to see this show in the form of a live viewing on March 26th. Unfortunately my two close cinemas had both sold out of tickets, so I had to go to one further out. I was wondering what the atmosphere would be in a cinema so far out of the city, but the moment I walked towards the doors I saw groups of girls taking pictures of the sign outside the theater, and this one girl had a giant plushie of Iwatooshi. I figured then it was going to be okay.
I’d already watched the trial performance so I had an idea of what the show was going to be like, but it was a long time since I watched it and I had decided not to watch it again just before the show so I could get a mostly fresh view on it. Although there was a lot I remembered as it went along, there was also a lot I forgot as well, so I can mostly base this review on the new version only.
The stage set up for this musical was one of the best I think I’ve seen. With a few simple steps, a few doors and a couple of walls and panels, they created a limitless number of locations and situations all by projecting images onto the stage. It’s not the first stage I’ve seen with projections like that, but it was the first I’ve seen it used so extensively to portay different places without the need of props. Sometimes looking it at, especially the indoor scenes, I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t real. Another thing I liked was the little effects they also projected, for example to show someone swiping their sword, or someone being hit.
I’m not familiar with Japanese history at all, and so I went into it knowing only vague details about the plot (in that they’re going back in time to stop history from being changed) and even less about the actual characters but with what I already knew from being told and being able to fill in the rest, it wasn’t overly hard to understand. I was a little confused as to who everyone was at first because some of them looked similar to me (sorry dudes, you all have beards…), but eventually I got used to seeing everyone on stage and how everything was going to work out.
All of the songs in the musical were amazing, and it was nice to hear them again having watched a few of them online. My favourite song in the musical is the one performed by Mikazuki and Iwatooshi. The song is really nice and their voices go really well together. For mostly visual reasons, I also love the ending song Kimi no Uta. The PV is pretty in itself but the huge sakura tree projected onto the stage along with the petals falling was really nice to watch, and the song is one that gives everyone the chance to have a big role and chance to sing.
I ranked the characters quite a while after watching the trial performance, and because I couldn’t remember much about them, much of it was based on looks alone and what little I did remember. I wondered if it would change when I saw the show again, but it really didn’t.
Mikazuki Munechika (Kuroba Mario)
I’ve always said he’s my favourite, but I wondered if a lot of that was bias towards Mario and that I liked the way the character looked. But the moment I saw him gardening with Kogitsunemaru and not having any idea how to use the hoe, and then weilding the thing like a sword, I knew I had picked the correct spot for him. And while everyone was fun in this scene, there was something pretty amusing about watching Kashuu trying to stop him from drinking his tea, only to be offered some too. And then being an old man and going to bed early. His lack of concern about anything. And that laugh.
Kashuu Kiyomitsu (Sato Ryuji)
Such a brat right from the beginning, but I can’t help but love that. Especially because he’s a pretty brat with lip gloss and perfect red cheeks. I love that he knows from the beginning that he’s surrounded and having to lead this bunch of complete misfits and he doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he is 100% frustrated all of the time. I kind of felt bad for him at times when he looked like he was slowly losing the will to live because he’s trying to control all these people with huge personalities of their own. What’s nice though is that with all those issues, and those billions of arguments with Ishikirimaru, and almost losing one along the way, he does manage to complete his misson along with everyone despite all of his complaints.
Iwatooshi (Saeki Daichi)
One thing I forgot from watching the trial performance was that this musical is very much centered around Imanotsurugi and Iwatooshi, which is natural given the plot. But this means that Iwatooshi has a lot of time on stage and a whole lot of scenes. His character has such a huge presence on stage with his booming voice and laugh and his size and I really fell for him a lot through the course of the musical. He has a lot of dramatic and emotional scenes and Daichi pulled them all off very well. His solo is also one of my favourites in the musical too, and perfectly performed.
Kogitsunemaru (Kitazono Ryo)
It’s kind of a shame about this guy because out of the character’s designs, Kogitsunemaru is actually my second favourite. If I was going on the way the characters looked (as characters, without any bias towards the actors) he would be a lot higher up this list. The problem is that out of the guys, Kogitsunemaru has the least to do in the musical and the least stage time. I couldn’t really get much of an idea about his personality or anything else about him from the time he was there, which places him further down. I hope when they do their live later in the year we get to see a little more of him because I really do want to like him more than I do.
Ishikirimaru (Sakiyama Tsubasa)
My feelings about this character are kind of the opposite of how I feel about Kogitsunemaru and I think these are probably both ranked the same for me. I really don’t like the way this character is designed. But, although his character still didn’t get a lot to do in this musical, everything that he did do was executed 100% perfectly and I couldn’t help but enjoy watching him being dragged around the stage. I especially liked the scene where Kashuu headed off stage expecting to follow along, and then there was this pause where Ishikirimaru was just standing in the middle of the stage, and then Kashuu suddenly appeared again to drag him off.
Imanotsurugi (Ohira Shunya)
I always said I didn’t like this character, and after watching again I still don’t. I find him super irritating throughout the entire show. However, I’ve learned not to judge actors based on characters and I think the reason I find the character so annoying is that he is played so well. His character is one of the main characters with a lot of stage time, and Shunya pulled it off with so much energy. He jumped around and up and down those stairs with ease, and from having the advantage of being in a live viewing and being able to see him up close, his acting was really amazing. So while I don’t like the character, I still really enjoyed watching him on stage. Also, his solo song was super cute and kind of catchy.
With the musical over, there was an intermission before the live. I was glad to see that when I came back to my seat everyone had their penlights out and ready. I pulled out mine as well, and set it to blue ready for the live to start.
What really helped me get into the live, although it annoyed me sometimes, was that the girl sitting beside me was holding six penlights and had a mini-heart attack every time Iwatooshi spoke or appeared on camera. She bounced up and down so much that my seat shook every time. But I could feel a similar atmosphere (if not a little more calm at least) from the rest of the room too so I was swinging my penlight at full power along with everyone else. What was nice too was that there was a pretty even spread of colours throughout the room, with no bias towards one particular person.
Maybe I’m a little bit biased, but my favourite song in the live was definitely Mikazuki’s solo Endless Night, a ballad where he spent most of the song sitting on the steps with a moonlit sky projected onto the stage. The song and the surroundings were beautiful and Mario did a great job of singing the song. I could have listened to it forever and I was sad when it ended.
I was quite familiar with Kashuu’s solo having heard it sung in karaoke a few times and remembering it vaguely from the trial performance, but it was nice to see it being performed again. It’s such an idol-like song with an idol-like dance complete with backdancers, and that totally seems to suit Kashuu as a character with all that pretiness and perfect face. It was a lot of fun to watch.
For one of the songs a couple of the guys went up to the second floor, which was nice to see. During this time Ishikirimaru grabbed one of the girl’s uchiwa and decided to use it to try and purify her sins. Not entirely sure if that’s the best way to go about doing that, but I’m sure he tried his best. I think it was also during this song that Mikazuki stopped in the aisle and sung directly to a girl, which caused everyone in our theater to gasp and flail a little (including me, I admit).
At the end of the live, there was a big surprise in that they had the cast of the new musical come on stage to perform a song. I’ll admit that I haven’t paid too much attention to whatever visuals have been released for the new musical, didn’t know most of the cast and definitely didn’t know the characters, so when they first came on stage I had no idea who they were. When everyone started screaming I knew something big was happening but it was only when I realised one of them was Ogoe Yuki that I realised they were the musical cast. It was interesting to see what was to come though, and I like the way the new characters look. It made me look forward to seeing more of them in the future.
Finally, they made an announcment that they will be doing a big live (with both casts) in Tokyo and Osaka which will be performed in December. Everyone in the theater and in our live viewing theater was basically going crazy at this point. With that, the live ended and they went off stage, but we were treated to a further two encores so we got to see them all bow many many times.
Finally after the show finished, we got the special live streaming limit message video from the boys. It was nice to finally see them out of character since they had remained in even for their final greetings to the audience. Ryuji was either exhausted or relieved it was over or a combination of both and spent much of the time with his head down. When they had to greet the Hong Kong fans watching, he squinted at the screen and complained that he didn’t know how to read it. He was also super blunt in correcting Mario when he made a mistake because he misread one of the numbers on screen. The others all seemed in pretty high spirits in comparison, which somehow made it all the more obvious.
And then it was over, sadly.
… I should go and order the DVD.