Sunday, May 31, 2009


So, last Monday (a week ago in 4 hours and some) I went to see the Kabuki 'Shibaraku' at the Kabuki-Za. I saw a little of it one a video that Aoyagi sensei showed us in class. The plot line is very basic and it is actually pretty short for a kabuki, but it is one of the most famous and easily recognizable ones. This is mostly due to the strange appearance of the main character.

This time I did not get the English translation head set, nor did I have binoculars. I missed the binoculars, I may need to invest in a pair. But the lack of translation was okay. Mostly because the plot line is so basic. Bad guy and his huge group of goons take over this group of kind, but whimpy, nobel men and women and are plotting to kill the Emporer. One thing I found kind of funny about this is you don't even see the take over. In fact the first half of the play is pretty darn boring. Everyone walks in on this cool set. They talk a bit about the plot to take over, and the whimpy nobel people say "oh woe is us," the bad guys goons re-affirm that they are on the bad guys side and kinda do an introduction thing, and thats really about all that happen for the first part.

I really did like the set. It reminded me of one of those big houses that they put the pretty dolls on for Girls Day. In fact it looked almost exactly like that. And the outfits of the nobel people were cool. They were very colorful, where as the bad guy and his crew were all color coded. For example, all the head people (main bad guy, his concubine, and the cat-fish preist) were all bringly, almost ridiculously dressed, the fat stupid guys were all the same color, the samuri had the same gold color scheem going, the lower samuri were all dressed the same. In my head I see some kind of analogy for a militeristic rule where everyone looks the same. As opposed to the weak but beautiful and creative nobels.

Anyways, the nobels are about to get their heads cut off (and I think their little harrum or daughters? rapped) when you hear, from some where back stage, SHIIIIIBAAAAAARAAAAAKUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!
In the fiercest voice possible. It's awesome! Everyone started clapping. The bad guys stop (which was what they were told to do (lit. wait a minute)) and are all "WTF was that? Who would dare tell us to stop?" They debate over this (and I think talk about what they are going to do to who ever it was when that person finally gets here (again, I kind of missed some of the finer details of the dialog due to the lack of translation thing)) when you hear the voice again from back stage.

Finally, after a lot of dialog from the bad guys, you hear the *shhhhhhink* of the curtain that leads to the little room on the other side of the hanami, and out comes this HUGE, GARGANTUIN, CRAZY LOOKING DUDE!!!. His hair really looks like bike spokes (thick black ones) the sleves of his kimono look like plane wings. He looks terrifying and huge and terrifying. The crowed goes wild. Shouts of the actors house name all over, applause. It was great! All he does is sit there. This giant dude (did I mention he had a 5 foot long sword?) just chills at the end of the Hanami, not going anywhere.

The bad guys are terrified at the sight of him and don't really know what to do cause he told them to stop but he isn't doing anything but sitting there glarring at everything (I wish I had the binoculars for the glare.) After a bit of debate, the main bad guys all go up one at a time and ask what he wants and try to convince him to leave. Nothing works. He introduces him self at some point. Which is pretty awesome to hear, but I didn't know what he was saying, just that it was an introduction. I might have to go back and look up the translated script and see what he says.

So, the bad guys try to convince him to go away, nothing works. After a while they send their goons after him, all he has to do is glare at them and they blow away, literally. No one can stand up against his fierce glare! After this great show of force the bad guys cave (his concubine defects to the good guys side) and he releases the nobles and even gives back some of the treasure he stole from them.

But then the bad guy sends his goons to just try and kill this guy. This too does not go according to plan. There is an awesome costume change where the outer kimonos are peeled away to revel a huge rope belt and the wings taken off, he still looks really fierce. In this kind of cool dance scene all of the bad guys goons come up to this guy and try to kill him. He pulls out his big sword and easily dispatches them all, some in one swing!

The play ends with the scene before the good guy goes against the bad guys head goons. It's a pretty nifty dramatic ending, and one I find happens a lot in Kabuki, they like to stop the play just before the big final climactic action (like in the Double Love Suicide I saw, they ended the play right right RIGHT before the man killed his love.) I think it's for dramatic effect, it's kind of nice, and actually makes me think of some anime I have seen that end like that. Coincidence?

Anyways. I really like this play a lot. I kind of wish I had gotten the translation thing, but not having definitely didn't ruin it. I also got to stand the entire time. By the time I got there it was standing room only. This was okay because I got to stand on this little bleacher like thing in the back and it actually gave me a decent view of the hanami so I could see the main character the whole time he was just chilling on it. This time was also cool because the audience was really into it. Every 5 lines someone would shout an actors house name. It was really cool. I can tell that there are actually breaks in the lines that seem almost especially made so that the audience can show their appreciation. I want to learn where those are and the house names so I can shout at people too. It's very different from Western theater. I like it a lot! It's almost more like a sporting event.

And that was the awesomeness of Shibaraku.

The next things I am planning on seeing (and boy are their a bunch of them coming up) are;
The Twelfth Night (kabuki style) on the 17th
Siayuki (AKA Monkey Magic) on the 19th
I might see Noh on the 13th, they have a special thing for it.
And I want to see Fuji-hime or whatever it is called (wisteria maiden dance piece) at the Nationl Theater (not the Kabuki-za)

We will have to see which ones I actually end up seeing but I really want to see the Noh and I already have the tickets for the first two. We will see. I am very excited!

I will let you know how those turn out.
Thats all for Kabuki for now. I will however post a new general post either tonight or tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure of Eve Terrific! And her magic mystic samuri cat, Manfred (I am changing that so much, you don't even know.)

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