One year ago today, I watched the first show of Tenimyu’s Seigaku vs Yamabuki in Tokyo Dome City Hall. I was particularly happy with this musical before even seeing it, knowing that so many of my favourites were in it. I had committed myself to at least six shows. The only thing I was missing was a favourite character or cast member from Yamabuki. I didn’t know at the time that it was going to turn out to be the same person.
Shota wasn’t someone I had paid any more attention to than any of the other members of the Yamabuki cast. He wasn’t someone that stood out, or that I thought I’d become a fan of. It’s rare that I become a fan of someone before seeing them actually doing something, so that wasn’t unusual. I do know though that before the second time I saw the show on Christmas Day, I went through the goods line and bought his photo set.
I’m honestly not sure how long it was after that that I really became his fan, but I know by my final time seeing the show, he was making it difficult for me to keep my ranking of five favourite Tenimyu actors level. At some point, he pushed his way to Number One.
When the Seigaku vs Hyotei musical was announced, I found out that Shota wasn’t going to return as Akutsu. It put me on such a downer about the musical that I was really not in the right mood when I went to see the first show. Of course I got over that, especially with Akutsu’s voice making an appearance, but it definitely made me realise where my bias was.
Before that though there was of course Dream Live 2016. The above news had come before this, so I knew this would be my last time seeing Shota on stage as Akutsu (or at least, for a long time). With him not having announced any more work, I also knew it could be my last time seeing him on stage at all for a while.
A couple of days before the final of Dream Live though, it was announced that Shota would be appearing in pnish’s stage Samurai Mode. I remember being so happy I actually almost cried, and it made my whole Dream Live experience a whole lot better. Of course, there were still tears from me when Shota cried his way through his graduation speech, but I didn’t feel as bad as I would have done otherwise.
Shortly after that, it was also announced that he had been cast in Rock Musical BLEACH. I remember being at work when it was announced, and made the mistake of checking between classes and then having to not cry my way through the next class. After a long time with nothing, suddenly there were two things I was going to be able to see him in. And this one was a pretty big production as well which made me even more happy.
Although I can’t say I “liked” Zaraki Kenpachi, Shota certainly allowed me to gain an appreciation for him enough to collect over 30 badges of his face. Representing him as his fan that day and having people hand over their badges to me made me really happy and I enjoyed the show so much I ended up seeing it twice. I thought Shota had a powerful presence on stage as Akutsu, but this was a total level-up. Seeing him in the backstage having killed his voice yelling so much proved that.
Samurai Mode was reasonably enjoyable but I admit that I spent most of the play waiting for the moments when his character appeared on stage. The story was somewhat slow-going for me but eventually it got to the climax scene and suddenly he was thrust into the spotlight, and I was so proud of his performance. Even more so when I downloaded the show through DMM and saw it closer. Although I prefer Akutsu as a character, this has been my favourite of his acting-wise.
In December, Shota finally managed to escape the “angry” role. I had been wishing this for him for a while because he’s such a nice guy in real life that it was sad for me that he had been typecast as angry. As soon as he came on stage as a space-nerd flailing around, asking questions and touching every single thing in the room, I knew I was going to enjoy his character. It was nice to see him being able to smile for real in-character. I couldn’t stop watching him and I left with a huge smile on my face.
And now, again, there is nothing lined up for him at the moment. Waiting is hard but I’m confident that once he’s had his Christmas break, something exciting will happen!
Why do I like him so much though? On a shallow note, his face is amazing. Every time I see a picture of him, my hear basically stops for a moment or two. It makes me very happy to see his face. Of course though, I’m not that shallow and there are other reasons why I like him too.
It was obvious from watching them together and from seeing how the other members reacted to him and talked about him, that the other members of Yamabuki loved Shota and had a lot of respect for him. They all saw him as a “big brother” but he had a particularly close relationship with Mashiro. Mashiro basically sees him as a role model much like his character Dan did with Akutsu, but I like to think that Shota is a far better role model than Akutsu is. He’s always in everyone’s pictures, always socialising with everyone and seems to just genuinely get along with all the people he works with.
Although he comes across as this intimidating powerful presence in most of the roles he has done so far, in real life he admits to having difficulty talking and expressing himself when talking to the audience as himself. He was proud of himself for talking more than usual during an after-talk for his most recent stage Space Traveloid. And during one of the release events for the Seigaku vs Yamabuki DVD, other cast members had to keep reminding him to keep his microphone by his mouth when he wanted to speak, because he was so out of his comfort zone not being able to move his arms. There’s quite a gap there and it’s nice.
I could talk about him all day, but this just reached 1000 words, so I should bring it to an end here… Maybe there will be one of these posts for my 2nd Shotaversary!