Monday, November 9, 2015

On: AKB49 Musical Renai Kinshi Jourei

From left to right: Suda Akari (SKE48), Owada Nana (AKB48), Miyazawa Sae (SKE48), and Kojima Mako (AKB48)
Y'know those moments when you should be doing homework, but stumble across something really awesome that you just HAVE TO WATCH? Ok, maybe you don't actually have to do it, you can put it off until after the end of the semester, but life is short and I love musicals so I screwed myself over on schoolwork and just watched the AKB49 Musical Renai Kinshi Jourei.

So, some quick background on this before we jump in. AKB49 is a manga series and is largely considered an "official" manga title of the super mega Japanese idol group AKB48. Of course, it's a bit AU because a lot of the stuff that happens in the manga wouldn't happen in real life but it's a neat concept, similar to the "official" anime, AKB0048 (which I quite liked and still wish we could delete the last 5 or so episodes because that was a silly way to end the anime and there was so much potential for something greater~!! I should type up a separate post about the anime...) Anyways, the stars of the musical are Miyazawa Sae who play the male lead, Minoru Urayama; Suda Akari as Ai Okabe, who plays the main antagonist; and Owada Nana and Kojima Mako, who both play the female lead Hiroko Yoshinaga (they take turns portraying her character throughout the stage's run). I watched the version with Owada Nana as the female lead.

Now for a quick synopsis: Minoru always wanted to be a great baseball player, but due to an injury, he was forced to give up his dream. One day, while in class, he founds out that the girl (Hiroko Yoshinaga) he likes is a huge AKB48 fan and that she plans to take the audition to become a trainee. Deciding that he wants to help support her, Minoru decides to become Minori Urakawa and also audition to become a trainee. When the staff members announce who has passed the audition and Hiroko's number is called, Minoru decides his job is done and turns to take his leave. Right before he leaves however, his number is called and next thing he knows, he's a trainee of AKB48 alongside Hiroko!

Yeah, it's a bit far-fetched isn't it? Haha, but it was a fun idea regardless. Miyazawa Sae did a good job of portraying the cross-dressing Minoru. During the dancing and singing portions, Sae would dance in an awkward, stiff manner and her singing often turned into shouting, which was an excellent way to show that her character was not inclined to jumping around and singing and dancing. Sae also did a great job of showing how much Minoru liked Hiroko and during the emotional parts, while cheesy for quite a lot of it (it was a lot of "let's celebrate youth!" and "let's try our best!" which is typical of Japanese comics, but in musical format..ehhh), she did a really job expressing each emotion.

Owada Nana did a pretty good job as Hiroko. She was cute and shy; a girl with a dream - which is pretty much what Hiroko is in the entire play. I would have liked to see different aspects of her. I mean, sure we see that she's a really hard worker and that she's putting everything she has into her dream, but apart from that, she was a very flat character. I think the length of a play was a limitation on character development. Minoru was clearly the focus during the entire play but most other characters were not fleshed out as well. But, it's an idol production, made for an audience that are already fans, so I wouldn't have expected them to try to make a stellar performance.

Minoru in class with his friends.
Regardless of that though, I could tell all of the girls put in a lot of effort on the play. Suda Akari did a great job portraying the antagonist and then later, a good friend of Minoru/Minori. Some of herexpressions were over the top, but ehhh, again, something I can overlook. I really liked the costumes because of course, they used AKB costumes so they were pretty elaborate and well designed for the performances. There was a lot of great audience interaction and some really funny parts. Tani Marika and Matsumura Kaori did a great job of explaining the rules for watching the performance by acting like two fans. They also added a lot of comedy relief overall to the story, I really liked their addition.

Overall, it was cheesy, but entertaining. Not the best stage play I've ever seen by a long shot, but it was good for killing a few hours here and there. I really want to see the Majisuka stage play that AKB48 did a while back because there, the girls portray teenage delinquents and I just find that much more interesting. Maybe I'll watch in the future. My overall recommendation? If you're a fan, watch it. If you're not a fan but like love stories where the boy goes to unimaginable heights to help the girl he likes out, watch it. It's a sweet musical, because while Minoru likes Hiroko, he knows that while she's in the group, she can't have a boyfriend. Essentially, he likes her so much that he wants to help her achieve her dream even though it means they won't be together. It's kinda sweet. But yeah, if I had to rate it, I'd probably give it like 3/5 stars. Now I really want to watch the SKE48 version of the play though, because they choose some interesting girls to portray the characters. I'm curious as to how well they pulled this off, I'll definitely be watching it in the future ;)

SKE48 version! Takayanagi Akane plays the antagonist :o And Kitagawa Ryoha plays Hiroko!

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