Takarazuka Revue’s Rurouni Kenshin / 宝塚歌劇のるろうに剣心

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Today I saw the Takarazuka Revue’s performance of Rurouni Kenshin. It was everything I hoped it would be and a little more. 🙂

If you’re wondering what the Takarazuka Revue is check out this link: Takarazuka Revue.

If you are my friend or random follower, and for some reason you don’t know Rurouni Kenshin (Please don’t admit this to me. I’ll just be disappointed. :p), check out this link: Rurouni Kenshin.

And here’s the home page for the show itself: Takarazuka Rurouni Kenshin (and the English page).

Beyond this point there will be spoilers for the show.

You have been warned.

 

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The program book for the show. Soooooo pretty!!

 

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This was on the curtain before the show started. Really cool looking!

My initial feeling was full-on excitement, which I felt like I had to restrain a bit since I was surrounded by Japanese people. (They tend not to show as much emotion in public as westerners do.) I was doing a happy-dance in my seat and trying very hard not to “squee” out loud as the music started and the curtain went up. And it continued through the first scene of the show. Many of the characters from the manga were present. The story basically covered parts of Kenshin’s past and the beginning of the manga through the end of the Kanryu Takeda arc.

Then, after doing his thing as an assassin, Hitokiri Battousai broke into a song and dance. XD Watching the various Rurouni Kenshin characters sing and dance was pretty comical at times, but also really cool. I had trouble taking the singing and dancing Battousai seriously though.

All the characters had their signature lines from the manga. I’m really glad I’ve watched the anime in Japanese, because I was able to easily pick out the lines and quickly understand their meaning. Having watched the anime a few times, read the manga and watched the live action movies, I’m sure I know the RuroKen story pretty well. So even if I wasn’t able to catch all of the Japanese, I wasn’t completely lost.

Specific character comments

Himura Kenshin: The actress seemed to mix her take on the character and Satou Takeru’s, from the live action movie. The “oro” sound that Kenshin made wasn’t quite right. So that left a slightly incomplete feeling for me. But everything else was perfect. The mannerisms and personality were spot on. I think the actress looked so good, she could have actually been the real Kenshin. ❤

Sagara Sanosuke: Sano’s actress made a pretty cute Sano. :3 She portrayed him very well. Doing his macho thing and being a doofus. Seeing Sano and Kenshin interact was great too. One of my favorite scenes is the Kenshin vs. Sano fight. They made it a lot more lighthearted in this version. There were some kabuki elements thrown in that made it especially entertaining.

Saitou Hajime: Saitou’s actress was hot. 😀 She pulled off the stern, stoic, grumpy Saitou perfectly. Sometimes Saitou would just be standing off to the side of the stage during a scene. Not actively participating, just observing things as he does, smoking a cigarette. My only complaint with Saitou is that he didn’t hold his sword properly during his signature move, the Gatotsu. In the show, he held it with the sharp edge pointing down. But in the manga/anime, he holds it kind of sideways, so when you see the pose from the side the sword looks like it’s upside down, sharp edge pointing up. Like this:

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Random notes

  • Kanryu Takeda had an extremely entertaining song & dance number with his gatling gun. 😀 This version of Kanryu was particularly attractive, even though the character is a bad guy. They kind of made him a bumbling idiot villain in this version.
  • Tae, Tsubame (both from the Akabeko) and Tae’s parents being made to do opium… O_o And then they were trying to get Kenshin to do it. I think he actually did because then Kenshin is seen fighting the shadow of himself as an assassin, through a drug-induced haze. I was a little disturbed during this scene. Because Kenshin, and all of his friends, are very much against opium and they’re horrified that Megumi has been making it for Kanryu. But then Kenshin is forced to do it and he ends up having a mental battle with his other personality.
  • Kano Sozaburo gets Kenshin drunk during another scene. That was kind of funny. It only took one drink, too. Kano is making a toast with Kenshin, but he doesn’t drink it. Instead he dumps it out over a plant.
  • Saitou calls Kenshin “Hitokirazu Battousai” (人斬らず抜刀斎) Seems to be the first usage of this exact wording. :3 Hitokiri Battousai is the name given to Kenshin when he was an assassin for the Isshin Shishi at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Hitokiri means assassin or manslayer, and Battousai is the name given to Kenshin because he’s mastered a particular move in his sword style, the Battoujutsu. Hitokiri is person and kill. -kirazu basically means “without killing.” When Saitou changes it to Hitokirazu, he’s commenting on the fact that Kenshin has decided not to kill people anymore. Basically, I was pleased with myself for understanding this change in Kenshin’s title as soon as Saitou said it. ^_^”
  • I really liked the way they portrayed Shinomori Aoshi’s ninja/subordinates. In the manga/anime, they’re extremely exaggerated in clothing and body types. But in the show they gave them all similar outfits, like a ninja’s uniform, and they all wore different masks. The kind of masks that you might find in kabuki or noh performances.

The Goods!

I bought 2 clear files, the program, a furoshiki that came with candy and a postcard, and many beautiful pictures of the cast. (Clear files are folders, but they’re made of plastic. And they’re everywhere in Japan.)

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All the beautiful things I bought. :3
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Close up of the photos/bromides I bought.

One of the things that surprised me were the costumes that the 3 leads were wearing at the end of the show. It’s the picture at the bottom left. They’re basically wearing some spectacularly crazy, peacock-like outfit. It’s really beautiful, and completely unexpected. Especially since the rest of the cast was still wearing their character’s costumes.

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This is a furoshiki. A cloth you can use to wrap various things. And sugar candy that came with it.
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The English info about the show and some of the characters and their actresses.

I hope you enjoyed my review. I don’t know if it’s particularly useful, but if I never blog about anything again, I wanted to make sure that I definitely posted about this. Rurouni Kenshin is a very important and special series for me. If you’d like to geek out with me about RuroKen in the comments, go for it. 😀 And please don’t hesitate to ask any questions.

The DVD/Blu-ray for the show will be released in April. You know I’ll be buying a copy. 😀 I can’t wait to watch the show again! If anyone would like for me to try to purchase a copy of the DVD/Blu-ray for them, we can talk. Send me a message or mention it in your comment.

 

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Takarazuka Revue’s Rurouni Kenshin / 宝塚歌劇のるろうに剣心

Detective Conan/Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory

Soon after I arrived in Matsue, I went with some of the other new ALTs to the Tottori Sand Dunes.

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It was pretty and kind of fun to walk on so much sand. And the water was really cold still. (We took this trip back in April.) On the way there we passed two other places.

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The Tottori Sand Dunes Conan Airport. 😀 They renamed the airport because the creator of Detective Conan is from Tottori Prefecture.

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And the Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory. \^_^/ It’s basically a museum about the life and works of Gosho Aoyama, the creator of Detective Conan, Magic Kaito and Yaiba.

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They even had a couple things setup where you could try things that criminals have done in the manga/anime. Like a partial door that has a security lock on it. And you try to use scotch tape to lock it from the outside, creating a locked room murder. 😀

You can see the rest of the pictures here: Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory pictures

I went to Osaka during Golden Week and found this cafe at the Osaka train station.

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So I’m a little obsessed with Detective Conan (名探偵コナン) right now… I even found this jacket the other day. XD

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And in my free time I’ve been working on watching the anime. :3 I’m currently around episode 280 out of about 780. ^_^” So my Japanese vocabulary has been skewed a bit towards crime related things. But that’s useful, right?

Detective Conan/Gosho Aoyama Manga Factory

Yakumo Nyan (cat cafe)

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I went to a cat cafe with my friend, (and fellow ALT) Sara, today. The cats didn’t seem too interested in being petted or scratched but I was able to get a few of them to chase a toy. They were mostly Maine Coon cats and 3 regular domestic cats. The Maine Coons were kinda huge. I’ll probably go back. Maybe if the cats get to know me they’ll be more friendly. :3

Yakumo Nyan (やくもnyan)
yakumonyan.com
blog.goo.ne.jp/yakumonyan
http://goo.gl/maps/9G9Xf

Also, if you like cats at all, you should try this smartphone game. 😀

ねこあつめ/neko atsume

Yakumo Nyan (cat cafe)

Long Time No Update…

First, I’d like to apologize for not updating more frequently, or at all, really. Sorry, everyone. ^^” I always have good intentions with my blog, but it’s difficult to keep up with it. Maybe it would be better to post shorter updates here instead of only on Facebook. Not that I’ve really been doing that either…

So here’s a brief breakdown of what’s been happening since I arrived.

Training

I arrived in Okayama on March 24th and training started the next day. It was really great to finally meet the people that I’d been chatting with on Facebook before arriving in Japan. And it was, and still is, a wonderful feeling to be in Japan again.

I think the Interac training was really great. Especially for someone with no teaching experience whatsoever, like myself. The 5 days of training were long, usually ending around 8-9 pm, but they were definitely useful. I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to teach. I also found out that it’s much more difficult to speak in front of your peers than in front of students. I’m terrified of public speaking, but somehow I can get in front of a classroom and my stomach isn’t tied in knots. ^^”

Teaching

I sometimes still wonder why anyone thought I would be a good teacher. What did Interac see that made them think I could do this? It’s not that I don’t think I’m doing a mostly okay job of teaching now, just that I wonder what they saw in me before I started teaching. Especially since I’d never done this before. Somehow I’m able to teach… I think… The Japanese teachers seem to be pleased with how things are going. It’s really difficult to gauge how well I’m doing though.

Most of the time it’s actually a lot of fun to get the students using English. As long as they’re even mildly interested in trying, it’s pretty easy. I still need to work on the hard cases though. The students who are probably thinking “Why do I need to learn this stuff?” The same thoughts a lot of people have about school when they’re young. The high school students are the toughest. Mostly because they’re becoming self-conscious and afraid to make any mistakes in front of their classmates. But that’s the only way you’re really going to learn is by using the language and making mistakes. I can definitely relate since I dealt with the same problems when I was learning Japanese.

Almost all of the students from 6th grade to 12th grade are super adorable!! 😀 Even the really little elementary students that I don’t teach, but sometimes see in the building. They’re all so cute! During my introduction lesson with basically every student I teach, when given the chance to ask questions, I almost always got these two: “Do you have a boyfriend?” and “How old are you?” I just tell them the truth, but some people like to tell them it’s a secret. I don’t really mind. I just wish they’d come up with a wider variety of questions. :p

Life in Japan

The one part I was really looking forward to, besides simply being in Japan, was having an apartment all to myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve really lived by myself. Not that I haven’t had great roommates over the past few years. It’s that I highly value my personal space. When I come home, everything is exactly how I left it. I can arrange things however I like. And as long as I don’t bother my neighbors, I can do whatever I want. 😀 My apartment is also really cute and just well designed. There’s a lot of useful storage space and thankfully it was already basically furnished. It’s also plenty of space for just myself. (About 300 square feet.) Around my apartment building there’s a bunch of farms. In the evening, you can hear a ton of frogs and maybe insects making the most interesting sounds. They sound exactly like the kodama (tree spirits) from the movie Princess Mononoke (animated film by Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli). 😀

With the help of a couple lovely Japanese women (contracted by Interac just to help people like me ease into life in Japan), I was able to find all the things that I needed to buy for my apartment, get my bank account set up & other utilities, and buy a cell phone. I would have been a huge ball of stress and frustration if I’d had to do that alone. My Japanese isn’t that good. ^^”

I’ve also had to get used to driving in Japan. Yes, they drive on the left here. It’s been interesting. Luckily no major mishaps, but I still can’t get used to the crazy narrow streets though. Before the end of my 1st year here, I’ll have to take & pass the driving test so I can get my official driver’s license. I’m sure I’ll manage but I’m not looking forward to it.

Thank you all for following my adventure. If there are any specific things you’d like to know, please ask in the comments. ^_^ I’d like to say that I’ll try to post more often, but I think we all know how that will work out. ^^” I’ll do my best. 頑張ります!

またね!

Long Time No Update…

We meet again…

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Warm milk tea, we finally meet again.

This would be my announcement post that I have finally made my way back to Japan. There’s already been a number of moments where it really hits me and I feel like I’m going to cry because I’m so happy. And I’ve only been here for about 3 hours. I’m safely in the hotel and I have some food for the evening. Next a hot shower, then bed. It has been an extremely long, exhausting day.

ただいま。

We meet again…

Placement: Matsue, Shimane Prefecture

On January 19th I finally received the telephone call that would tell me where I will be working in Japan. I will be living & working in the city of Matsue in Shimane prefecture. (Google Map here) I most likely won’t be in the main part of the city, but hopefully I won’t be too far. It would take about 3 1/2 hours to drive to Kobe and about 4 hours by train. (To Tokyo: 7 1/2 hours by train, 9 hours by car and 1 hour 15 minutes by plane.) Considering it’s going to take about 1 day for me to travel from the US to Japan, that’s not too bad.

I will be leaving the US on March 23rd and arriving in Japan on March 24th. Then I will meet an Interac representative on the 25th in Okayama. After that, I think there are 4-5 days of training there. Then it’s off to my new apartment in Matsue. I don’t know about my apartment yet, but I will have a place by myself. I am really looking forward to living by myself. It’s been a long time since I haven’t shared space with another person.

Another interesting part is that I will have a car while I’m living in Matsue. I guess I will be living far enough from the schools where I will be working that I won’t be able to rely on public transportation to get to work. Or I’m just that far from city center. I think it will definitely be a learning experience.

I received my International Driver’s License yesterday and I sent off my Visa application. I still need to pack and get rid of a few more odds & ends in my apartment. But I don’t really have too much longer before I’ll be headed to Japan. I’m really excited, nervous and scared. I know things will be fine, but it’s going to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster for a while.

I may try to post one more update before I leave, but don’t hold your breath. ^_^

Placement: Matsue, Shimane Prefecture