(Click here for Psydoll samples and CD ordering info.)
Psydoll were fabulous, as usual, but there was also another band there that got my attention -- Zig+Zag, a Visual band with a slight Clockwork Orange theme. They obviously had their fans ("droogs") who didn't mind if she stepped on their backs to get further into the audience. The singer had a really deep, rich voice and incredible stage presence. The bassist was terribly pretty and looked marvellous in a dress.
The singer dived into the audience at one point and disappeared. The next thing I knew, she was behind me and hitting me over the head with a cardboard box in order to get back to the stage. They also had a raven cane.
...I'm now signed up to their mailing list and bought a CD directly from the bassist and singer, who tried to get us to come to their next livehouse. Um, am I a droog now? ^^
(Click here for Zig+Zag video.)
The final band of the night were Gothic Logic, who brought a bull skull onto the stage, lit three candles on its forehead, then spat up fake blood over it. I was really more amused than anything else. The band are Marilyn Manson fans, it turns out.
We went to the aftershow drinking party and got home on the last train with Nekoi and Loveless (drummer/percussionist).
Also a long time ago, here is a picture of me doing suikawari. That is to say, hitting a watermelon with a wooden stick while blindfolded. I went with kuroe, my coworker, her husband, her friend and her friend's husband. We had a steak lunch in a tiny roadside cafe and then went to a farm close to Haneda Airport in Kanagawa prefecture. The weather was warm and you could see for miles. Nothing but farmland.
An incredible afternoon. And I managed to keep up with the conversation, including a half hour discourse on the intricacies of watermelons, so I was proud of myself too.
As I mentioned, I went to Niigata city in Niigata prefecture on Saturday night with kuroe. We took the Moonlight Echigo from Tokyo and ended up in Niigata at around 8.00am after a three hour delay.
First, we wandered around a bit and saw the town. Then we headed for Royal Host, almost falling asleep in the middle of breakfast. The place was filled with people who were obviously heading for Tenimyu.
There was once a university at the top of the Fail Steps, which lead into town. If a student used them too often, they were likely to fail their exams, hence the name.
After that, we headed to the Nihonkai (Sea of Japan). It was amazingly beautiful and so full of wildlife and fish. There were creatures that were a strange cross between woodlice and shrimp crawling all over the rocks and a ton of crabs hiding in between. In the sea, there were hundreds of little leopard-patterned fish. Further up the beach, there was sand, so we rolled up our trousers and paddled for a while. Just like Victorian gentlemen at the seaside. :) The fish swam all round our legs and were so well-camouflaged against the sand, you could only really see them by their shadows.
Deeper into the forest near the Nihonkai, we found a cannon and I saw a lizard with a neon blue tail. I think it was a striped skink of some sort.
In the afternoon, we caught the boat and went up the river, drinking terrible ice coffee and waving to passersby. It was a wonderful feeling. We got a hotel, relaxed, and watched the latest ep of Code Geass. Um... I haven't finished watching the first series, so I'm a little lost. Lelouch... has got crazier? And Suzaku too? And... And...?
Clearly I have a lot of catching up to do.
And then we went into town for the Soh Dance Festival. They had teams representing the elements who screamed and danced. I really enjoyed it, although some political party was holding their rally at the same time (Democratic Party of Japan, I think).
The next day, we went to the Northern Culture Museum (Hoppou Bunka Hakubutsukan), an organisation mysteriously founded in the same year the Land Reform Act took away most of the property of the Itou Family. It's sad really, but a beautiful place. These are just a small selection of some of the photos I took.
After that, it was off to Tenimyu, yakiniku and karaoke.
Tokyo cast: 4th Generation Seigaku and B Cast Hyoutei, with Kai and Chinen as guests.
Niigata cast: 4th Generation Seigaku and A Cast Hyoutei, with Kite and Tanishi as guests.
(I may have doubled up on photosets because of this... I think I made some mistakes with ordering.)
It opens with a Hyoutei and Seigaku song and I thought Atobe B was kind of weak at this point, although he got better as the show progressed. I was disappointed because I really wanted to like him. Atobe A shone and was magnificent. Of course, this was also later in the run.
(Actually, I'm writing this after seeing the Saiyuki musical and don't feel adequately prepared to criticise the singing in Tenimyu ever again.)
The adlibs between Kai and Chinen were funny and I even got to see a mini rendition of Viking Horn (SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT SONG!!!11). Meanwhile.... Luke.C is a funny guy, but he hasn't got much to work with off the character of Tanishi. Ditto for Tanishi's actor, I guess.
I think Hyoutei A were better all round, except for Jirou from Hyoutei B, who did a much funnier adlib on court, pretending to die in a tennis racket gunfight. Hyoutei A also had nice chemistry in the background... during the Momo/Oshitari match, Mukahi kept having to explain what was actually going on the Jirou.
Loved the Kabaji/Tezuka match, although I think the sound quality was better in the Tokyo venue. Basically, the sound of the rain combined with the lightning was fabulous on both occasions made it really atmospheric.
The Ooishi/Kikumaru scene after that was confusing though. They went to all the effort to have water pour down on stage and did nothing with it? They just talked?
There was a really good song after that which has stuck in my head. Sadly, only one word has stuck in my head. It goes "Ameeeeeeee~!" and involves Fuji, Atobe and a few others.
In all the flashback scenes, they had some 80's-ish electronic music going on. Very nice.
To my surprise, the Atobe/Ryouma match was the highlight of the musical (no, really!), mostly because of the comedy. I don't think I could stand a serious match between them.
First, Ryouma takes control -- he clicks his fingers and throws his jacket behind him before Atobe has the chance to. In response, Kabaji personally removes Atobe's jacket. In the Hyoutei A version, he takes it the seating and slowly folds it step-by-step while the ichinen trio try to copy him for Ryouma's jacket.
Then Atobe have a competition to see who can laugh most maniacally.
The 'final' song takes place after a speaker has crashed into the play area, giving them an excuse to clear the stage for an EPIC song. In Niigata, I noticed that most of the girls around me were sobbing. Scary.
Hyoutei A were adorable at curtain call. They crossed their legs one by one in a wave pattern, then kissed out to the audience, finishing with Atobe. The crowd went wild. THIS Atobe is super-popular and I can see why. He also managed to stay in character when addressing the audience.
I really enjoyed it. The first show seemed better because it had funnier moments thanks to Chinen and Kai. Meanwhile, I think Hyoutei was better in the second show.
I warned hinoai about Twilight before she read it, and so she warned me about Saiyuki musical. Despite the quality of both sources, we both came out loving the pieces in question anyway.
The pamphlet is gorgeous. Wonderful, wonderful costumes and poses. Great stuff. If hinoai hadn't told me, I would have been confused about what happened next.
The musical opens with music that builds to a swell, followed by lots of posing and dramatic monologues.
Then they sing.
It was painful. Embarrassing. I kept hoping that there wouldn't be any more solos. At the start, not one of the four could successfully hit a long note. Together, they weren't bad, although even early Weiss could kick their arses. When they sang together, the overall sound hid the wavering as they tried to find the notes. Really, I blame the casting director. They were the one that made the decision to hire based on teh pretteh rather than singing ability. Hey, if I were offered the part of Sanzou, I'd take it in a heartbeat, regardless of my (lack of) suitability for the role. I don't blame the boys.
Anyway, there are flashback for everyone, although there was a lot of posing and it was a little too stylised. Usually I love that, but you need singing to back it up. They weren't so strong on their monologues, but as friends hanging out and arguing just before the start of a fantastic journey, they were really good. There were also plenty of pairing moments. I got a feel for Hakkai and Gojyo, Sanzou and Goku, plus Sanzou and Gojyo.
The highlight had to be Ni and his bunny. He was FABULOUS. Watching him prance around his lab waving his bunny was the grandest thing ever. Unfortunately, I got the impression that the actor felt the part was beneath him. He was a bit older and far more experienced in singing and acting. And Kougaiji and Dokugakuji were very sweet dancing together. DO WANT.
Kanzeon was fabulous too. Serious love for her. Ryohei did a great job with her and added to the number of cast members who coud actually sing. She also kissed Gojyo and Sanzou.
A lot of it was centred around how cool the main four characters were, which was a bit of a problem. You can only maintain that illusion if everything else is perfect. Having said that, they improved throughout the show. For curtain call, each appeared one after the other, with a 'bam!' sound effect.
When Sanzou did his speech at the end, I did feel sorry for him. His started(?) by saying, "madamada ganbatte imasu..." Awww....
This show would really benefit from Rocky Horror-style audience participation. Not that I'm seriously suggesting it, but I would like to see it again. Yes, really. Let's buy the DVD and have a drinking game! Who's with me?
It's still running until Sunday...
Fantastic costumes, great set, great acting, fabulous chemistry, a handful of high points, Ni and his bunny... just really poor singing.
Reviews here (dilettantka) and here (hinoai).
(Let me know if either of these reviews didn't make sense. I wrote them really quickly and missed out tons.)
There's been a lot of Kuroshitsuji news lately, including the launch of an official fanclub (from what I understand, I'm supposed to send lots of money to an anonymous address through the post office?) and a new drama CD.
The anime is going to suck, isn't it?