I’m afraid I have to agree with others who have said that Kimura-sensei is better at adapting than writing original scripts. The script itself was nothing special, although I’ll admit that I’m always a sucker for a story about bohemians. Unfortunately there were a few too many times when the show was almost Ueda Shinji-esque in going off on tangents and not advancing the plot. The characters were also fairly stock (will get into that later).
All of that being said, Kimura-sensei is still very good at direction. His shows always feel more intelligent than your standard Takarazuka fare. Grand Theater shows by their nature always have a lot of the ensemble in the background, but Kimura-sensei manages per usual to find interesting and artsy things to do with them. He really does seem to have a thing with using chairs, doesn’t he?
In the last year I’ve been lucky enough to see both Elisabeth and Silver Rose Chronicle. Elisabeth is of course Elisabeth, and even the rather silly Silver Rose Chronicle had pretty interesting characters. Therefore, I was disappointed when so many of the yukigumisei got stuck with such stock characters this time around. Take Tonami’s role, for example. I think I’ve been spoiled by getting to see her in such a wonderfully complex role as Elisabeth, because I couldn’t help but feel like she could do more if she had a better character. (And yet sadly Marquise still falls above the “as interesting as a doorknob” category that characterizes most musumeyaku leads). Tonami is obviously Tonami and was still wonderful (love for her repeatedly attacking Mizu with kitchen implements), but I felt cheated that she didn’t get a better role.
The same unfortunately goes for Kimu and Yumiko: I felt like I’ve seen them perform in more interesting roles and was a bit let down this time. That being said, Kimu’s energetic Filantes was pretty fun.
Kaname, on the other hand, was so adorably pouty that I didn’t care that she had a stock character. I was also happy to see Otsuki Sayu get a noticeable role. She’s not the best vocalist, but there’s something very striking about her. Kitarou was also very cute. Finally, a "yay" for Yamashina Ai getting more lines than she did in Elisabeth.
I have strangely not seen that much of Mizu. I didn’t really like her Death. I thought her acting was very skillful, but her abusive-boyfriend Death in the context of Takarazuka’s romantic take on Elisabeth didn’t sit well with me. I liked her better in Je t’aime. In Elisabeth she had the problem of having to be vocally compared to people like Zunko and Osa. Since there’s no previous incarnation of Je t’aime, I didn’t have that comparison going on in my mind and enjoyed Mizu’s singing. Georges is a fairly standard Takarazuka white hat, but I liked him anyway. Besides, there were some pretty amusing flusetered-Mizu moments. I don’t understand how Georges’s fashion can be so uncoordinated and yet look so good.
Hiromi got to 1) attack Mizu with a fencing sword and 2) get accidentally hit over the head with a ladle by Tonami. I can’t figure out where she falls on the star track these days. In any case, you Hiromi fanatics out there will find plenty to squee about. She really does look like a mini-Saeko.
Hamako has a really nice solo about halfway through. The song itself is nothing special, but Hamako is such an amazing vocalist that it didn’t matter. I hope Hankyu continues to find not-star-track-but-still-noticeable roles for her. Miho Keiko’s role was kind of fun, and she got to show off her singing too. It makes me sad that with Keiko’s move to senka that the two of them will be split up.
Whoops, I was talking about the score, right? Mizu’s “Kimi wo Aishiteru: Je t’aime” was really pretty. I’m adding it to my list of songs I want otokoyaku to sing to me when proposing XD I also loved the “yay circus!” song. It was definitely a highlight.
Miroirs was very sharp, pardon the pun. The mirrors concept was used to good effect and I really liked the choreography. One of the better revues I’ve seen recently.
A couple of comments:
-I cringed when Yumiko came out after the opening number and started singing “Johnny Angel” (nothing against Yumiko, just the song -_-;). However, all was forgiven when Kimu joined her and they began a really cool mirror sequence. Other than staring at the pretty Yumiko and Kimu, I spent a lot of this number wondering if the song they were singing was “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray.
-I was really amused when "It Don't Mean a Thing If You Ain't Got That Swing" was used. In my mind that song is completely associated with Jazzmania XD
-The Medusa number was really well executed. Apparently my “siennes-in-glasses” fetish extends to sunglasses too. I felt bad though for the siennes who got stuck in painful-to-hold poses when they were “frozen.”
-The Kaname/Hiromi Snow White and Cinderella number was what you would expect XD
-Kimu had the etoile at the end. She’s a decent enough singer, but I felt like either Hamako or Miho Keiko could have done better. (Which er, isn’t an insult to Kimu. Most siennes can’t do better than those two). Then again, I’m totally blanking on who sang the etoile parts for Elisabeth and Tantarella, so maybe Hamako and Miho Keiko both had etoile parts recently?
-Tonami needs to stay in Takarazuka for the next millennium or so. Her material was more interesting in the revue half and she really shined as a result. On a shallower note, in addition to various forms of glasses, I also have a thing for musumeyaku shoulder blades. The duet dance at the end therefore made me very happy. Speaking of which, Mizu and Tonami really do have good chemistry, don’t they?
-Generally speaking Kaname seems to be very hot right now. Maybe it’s because I’m paying so much attention to her while fangirling her vicariously for Katharina, but she seems very highly promoted for a yonbante. My pet theory is that either she or Kimu are going to be transferred to Tsuki, given that tsuki is losing/will lose a lot of people recently. (Maybe Kimu, of the two she has more of the tsuki feel). *braces herself for the yukigumi fans hitting her over the head with kitchen implements*
Yukigumi fans will really enjoy Je t’aime/Miroirs when it comes out on DVD. Je t’aime isn’t the best play ever, but it was much better than I thought it would be. Miroirs is a really great revue that I recommend for everyone. Regardless, both halves demonstrate how strong yukigumi is right now. Now please look at the pretty mirrors while I go steal Kimu for tsuki.