So, as much as I love Tsukigumi, I really am so much in love with Saeko-era Hoshigumui, and Epiphany very recently reminded me why. I don’t know why I was putting off watching this show – other than, for some reason, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to follow the plot at all – but I can see now that I was simply being an idiot. This is, without a doubt, one of the best Bow Hall productions I’ve ever seen, and it has reaffirmed my complete and utter love for Ayaki Nao.
Not that such a love really ever need reaffirming, but really, Ichiro’s cheekbones *have* been giving her competition.
Synopsis here. Originally based on Shakepeare's Twelfth Night (which, due to my excessive love of this show, I must now read). Hey, Zuka's Romeo and Juliet was awesome, so I don't see why this should be any different!
This was one of those rare, lovely productions where every character was perfectly and flawlessly cast. There was not one ‘sienne who did not fit her role. I’ve noticed that this seems to be a trademark of Bow Hall shows, however – look at Ernest in Love and Singin’ in the Rain – and I was not disappointed in the slightest.
I adored Saeko, of course, because I always do, but I must say that this production was particularly suited to her talents. She really is one of the most androgynous ‘siennes, and she was the perfect choice to play both Otaka and Takagorou. Otaka was, of course, my favorite of the two roles, because the idea of Saeko playing a woman pretending to be a man is just the height of irony. She had the perfect combination of feminine charm and male gruffness, and it just seems like a role she would have really enjoyed playing. She totally won me over.
Yuri Rie as Mari was an incredible surprise. Since she doesn’t have a TakaWiki page, I couldn’t find anything out about her, but she honestly blew me away. She may have played a traditional musumeyaku role – quiet and subservient – but she did so with a passion and flare you generally only see in really high-ranking actresses. She also had a very lovely voice. I’m assuming she’s not still an active member, but if anyone has any information on her, or knows any other roles she played, I’d love to see her again!
Tsukasa Yuuki’s Iriya was probably my favorite character in the whole show, aside from Otaka. He was such a sweet and soft-spoken character, but one who obviously cared deeply for his friends and his profession. His unrequited love for Mari was both adorable and painful, and my biggest regret of the whole show was that he and Otaka never really got together. They interacted so well, and I was really looking forward to some nice romance. Still, the character was phenomenal.
I was perfectly expecting to love Matobu Sei’s Shingoro, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. I really must make an effort to watch more shows with her in them, because the more and more I see of her, the more and more I like her. She’s one of those nice, steady actresses that you can always count on to make you laugh, and who just radiates passion in her acting. She was a perfectly convincing ex-pickpocket, the type of wants to move on and live his own life but can’t seem to totally shake the last vestiges of his checkered past. She was a truly a joy to watch.
Without a doubt, the funniest scenes were those that contained Mari’s suitor, Fukunaga (Asazumi Kei) and Mari’s family servant, Marui (Miya Erika). Fukunaga’s vanity and ego were so large as to be nothing but comical, especially coupled with his exaggerated leg and arm movements. His ability to make Really Cunning Plans was overshadowed only by Marui’s humorous advice. After all, she merely wanted to make sure her Mistress Mari was happy, but she couldn’t leave poor Fukunaga all by himself, now could she? He was too foolish to be on his own! Their interaction was amazingly comical, and I was very nearly rolling on the floor laughing during good portions of it.
Almost equally hysterical were Otaka’s two kabuki companions, Mimasuya (Nishiki Ai) and Kisaragi (Oohiro Ayumu). Watching women pretending to be men pretending to be women is just too amusing not to mention. That’s really all I have to say on the subject.
Other than being well cast, I must say that the dialogue, from what I could understand of it, was also first rate. Some of my favorite scenes just had me dying of laughter from the banter. In one, for example, Iriya was coming to warn Takagorou (who was still Otaka at that point) that he was in danger, but Iriya actually came across the *real* Takagorou, who didn’t know him, and it took quite some time for Iriya to figure out that something wasn’t wrong. It occurred when he grasped Takagorou’s hand and noticed that it was different from the “man” he knew. He then proceeded to stare at it for quite some time, leading Takagorou to enquire if Iriya was all right (i.e. if he didn’t require some padded walls). Another was at the end of the show, when Otaka informed Mari that she was really a female, leaving poor Mari devastated. Otaka asked if there was any way she could make it up to Mari, and Mari responded by ordering her to turn into a man. It may not sound funny here, but trust me, I was cracking up. Probably the best scene, however, was when Fukunaga got stuck with the bill at a fancy restaurant, and discovered belatedly that he didn’t have his wallet with him. The waiter continuously addressed him in a very deadpan voice, even after the lights went out on the scene. It was soooo funny!
All in all, I really can’t stress enough how much I loved this show. It honestly reminded me how incredible Saeko’s acting is, because, believe it or not, I sometimes forget ^^;; It was a very action-heavy show and didn’t have all that much music, which is generally a let-down for me, but in this case, I honestly loved it. It was also an incredibly beautiful show to watch, as the costumes were simply lovely. Saeko in kimono AND hakuma is just too much for the poor fangirl in me to take.
Since ekusudei so recently did her own write-up on this show, I am going to choose the lazy way out and point you over to her pictures. She got a good number of the shots I would have taken in any case. Just pay particular attention to angsty!Saeko! Gah, she cries so pretty!
Watch this show!!! *orders*