Last Saturday a friend and I headed out to Tokyo to catch one of the last Fushigi Yūgi play showings at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel.
With Sailor Moon getting a musical revival (here and here), it was only a matter of time before another girls’ anime got one as well. Fushigi Yūgi brings back so many great memories for me, because it’s how I connected with a group of girls that later became my best friends throughout high school. We would pretend we were priestesses and pass around a priestess notebook that we filled with letters, drawings, and notes to one another during class. It was silly and fun. I still consider one of these girls to be my absolute BFF even to this day.
Here’s a short summary and review of the show, with pamphlet scans, too. 🙂
Props to organizers for choosing an easily accessible venue! However, although the Shinagawa Prince Hotel is conveniently located right outside of Shinagawa Station, it’s club eX on the third floor isn’t the first place that comes to my mind when you mention the words “play” and “Tokyo”. It’s a concert hall usually reserved for music performances, with a small floor area and some balcony box seats above. I was wondering how they were going to accommodate any scenery or costume changes, or if they would even be possible.
When my friend and I reached our balcony seats, we were greeted with this huge backdrop in the center of the hall, featuring the celestial kanji characters relevant to the characters and story. When it came down, there was a stage set up of the Book of the Four Gods in its place. Apparently the director of the play must have shared some of the same hall limitation concerns, because it was quickly apparent that this would be the sole stage of the entire play. But not to fear, they really made great use of it, with effective lighting and strategically planning different scenes along different areas of the book.
This play was also served as Yutaka Kyan’s (guitarist of popular pop/visual kei group Golden Bomber) acting debut. If you’ve ever seen Golden Bomber perform, naturally you might be worried about his acting ability. Truth be told, I think he did a great job! Kyan started out a little too loudly at the beginning for me, but as the play went on his performance was pretty much seamless.
You can bet that many girls in the audience were not entirely familiar with Fushigi Yūgi, but had come just to watch Kyan perform. Not just Kyan, but the whole cast offered a lot of eye candy for the ladies, dressed in gorgeous costumes designed by elements.H. That said, I felt the cast was quite strong overall. I’m glad they decided to cut Namiko Itō’s hair or give her a wig for the performance. And although I wasn’t sure Toshiyuki Someya made the most convincing Nuriko looks-wise, his acting was spot on. I wished they’d been able to somehow incorporate Chichiri’s mask, but I imagine that would have been nearly impossible to do convincingly.
I’m not going to go over the whole story of Fushigi Yūgi, but the script was a watered down version of the first season and something easy to understand for new and old fans alike. Not much time was spent on the side stories or details of the original. Neither Miaka’s nor Tamahome’s family ever made an appearance, and most of the backstories of the other Suzaku Seven weren’t touched on. The ending seemed like a combination of episode 7 from the original first season of the show and the end of the season 1 mark, except Miaka returns to the present world without the all the Tamahome proposal commotion. Because of this, the ending seemed a little lackluster unless there will be an eventual sequel in the works, but overall my friend and I both enjoyed the play very much.
Some highlights of the play included the back and forth “Miaka!” “Tamahome!” scenes famous in the original. They way they strung Taiitsukun up and lowered her from the ceiling, spinning around and teasing the cast, was pretty funny. There was a lot of comedy mixed in to keep things exciting and on a light note, and they incorporated a lot about Kyan’s personal life and career into Tamahome’s character without it seeming all that out of place, including an excellent Miaka and Tamahome fight seen coordinated to Golden Bomber’s hit song, “Memeshikute”. If you’ve never heard the song, here you go:
You can check out all the goods, including gacha gacha items, on the official website here. One of the items on offer was a beautiful, full color pamphlet with all the members. Here are some scans. 🙂
Before and after the play, pre orders were being taken for an upcoming DVD release. If you’re a fan of Yutaka Kyan or Fushigi Yuugi, it’s probably worth checking out!