Enter the venue and you will be met by a rainy Osaka, and the hustle and bustle ofdowntown. The stage is taken up by the signboards of bars, clubs and restaurants. Perhaps around the Ebisu bridge. You can see grilled takoyaki (octopus dumplings), a giant crab, and over there you also see Osaka Castle and the good old Kirin Plaza Osaka. The rainy night in downtown Osaka is eventually curtailed by the morning glow, then sunset turns into night again—a truly sleepless town.
With the chorus commencing, Mt. Fuji from Katsushika Hokusai’s Rainstorm Beneath the Summit enters the scene. As the sea stretches across the stage, another work by Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa is projected. Mt. Fuji eventually disappears into the distance, and the waves begin to undulate. The projected giant tuna jumping out through the waves. Then, back to the projection of Mt. Fuji (Hara: Mount Fuji in the Morning by Utagawa Hiroshige). Enjoy the dynamic visuals by Moment Factory.
SCENE 2Shijo Kawaramachi Kyoto
The visuals suddenly change from the Ukiyo-e world of the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido to Kyoto. At the center of the stage stands the heroine, Okuni. Women dressed in Kimono enter the scene to the sound of Shamisen (a three-stringed instrument). The graceful Japanese dance suddenly turns into an intense contemporary dance. Enjoy the collaboration of these performances with visuals, lighting, and music. Okuni then sings Japan’s Shunkashuto (the four seasons).
SCENE 3Seaside Yomatsuri (Night Festival)
Big-catch flags, fishermen shouting, waves crashing into the shore—swimming in the sea is Nikki Danjo, covered in Kumadori (Kabuki makeup). As fishermen beat barrel drums, female divers Ama start dancing as if they were swimming. Lightning tearing through the darkness. As the drums stop, the giant tuna flies off into the sky. The transition to Scene 4 is a tap dance performance by four men. Eight shoes glowing in the darkness move in splendidly light steps (Transition: Shoes glowing in the darkness)
SCENE 4Boneyard – Ghost Story & Japanese folk monster
Playing tag, boy Ninja Yuki, and Bacca—who looks like a Kyogen (Japanese farce) performer—wonder into a graveyard. The muffled sound of a bell from the shadows. A ghost coming out of a torn lantern that suddenly lit itself (chochin-nuke: escaping from burning paper lanterns). Will-o’-the-wisp floating in the well, through which, the obligatory appearance of a ghost. As Nikki enters the scene riding a giant toad, an all-star gathering of folk monsters takes place, where skeletons, Ochimusha (a fugitive warrior), a slippery cold soul, Tanuki (racoon dog), a fox monster, Big Foot, a longnecked monster, a one-eyed child ghoul, and a faceless phantom all start dancing together. At the end of this part, Nikki suddenly appears from the wicker basket that was held above the audience (Tsuzura-nuke: a man appearing from a wicker basket), posing for a dramatic mid-air stunt (chunori).
SCENE 5Samurai Theatre: The slaying of 18 men by the sword of a surohnin, a masterless samurai
A masterless samurai striding through the audience—the cinematic world of Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa. Yakuza-looking men come out of the bamboo grove in the background, leaping upon the samurai with their swords. The masterless samurai cuts off the men’s hands, then walks off as if nothing has happened. Dry wind blowing, with dust swirling in the town where travelers rest. Arriving here, Nikki’s subordinates are slashed left and right by the samurai. Then, a face-off against the kingpin, Nikki. The fusion of stylistic beauty, martial arts and acting put together by Tetsuro Shimaguchi (from Kengishu Kamui) creates a spectacular scene of clashing swords.
SCENE 6Osaka Office Workers
6 men wake up in the morning. Brushing their teeth, washing their face, brushing their hair, changing into their suits, and going off to work. Another day begins for the office workers. Office workers—men and women—squeeze on to packed trains. Break time at work, sitting on the toilet seat and resting at their leisure. Each scene is supported by the modern-art visuals of Moment Factory. Then, a surprise—a water entertainer appears from the darkness in the background, performing a water act on an arched bridge. The transition to Scene 7 is a collaboration between a sword dance and tap dance, to the music of Tsugaru Shamisen. (Transition: Sword dance and tap dance)
SCENE 7Trainee Monks in the Hall of the Great Buddha
During a Buddhist chant, a dozen monks led by Nikki appear from the walkway. As they light the candles, a sublime statue of the great Buddha emerges. All of a sudden, a tap dance by the monks. Then, a music uncharacteristic of a temple starts to play, with a male-female trio joining the stage, as if straight out of Ginger & Fred. The final part is a spectacular tap dance performance with the full force of 27 performers. The transition to Scene 8 is a Shishi-Dance (Lion Dance), performed in extravagant, rockstar-like costumes. (Transition: Shishi Dance〈Lion Dance〉)
SCENE 8Brawl Harbor, Scary Sumo Wrestlers
A harbor town just like in American comics. Stepping out of the Kei car that arrived at the dock in the dusk are a group of unruly high school girls and a gang queen. The head of the yakuza clan, Nikki, and his gang confront the women, and a fierce dance commences. Along with the visual montage, there is rapping, hip hop dancing, and sumo wrestlers running. As the scene transitions, the music eventually shifts to Swan Lake...
SCENE 9Sword-Fight – Black Ninja VS Red Ninja
Gando Chochin lanterns held up in the darkness by the training monks illuminates the audience with islands of light, as the fight begins between Okuni’s red Ninja troupe, and Nikki’s black Ninja troupe. The visuals by Moment Factory react to each movement, creating a comical, dramatic world. The beautifully calculated visuals and meticulous performance unfold. And then it will be the final showdown between Okuni and Nikki. The transition to Scene 10 is the world of YUKI. (Transition: Shadow picture)
SCENE 10The Collapse of the Great Buddha Hall
Okuni and eight other women are hidden behind the sliding paper doors. As the lights come up, a beautiful silhouette of women emerges. The women start dancing fiercely wearing kimono underskirts. As a silhouette of Nikki on the giant toad appears through the paper door, a furious showdown ensues between the black Ninjas, training monks, Okuni and her red Ninjas, and Bacca, with the Great Buddha Hall in the background. As Nikki uses the Ninja art of fire, the Great Buddha Hall is quickly engulfed in flames. The spectacular drama of collapse put together by the traditional Kabuki trick Yatai Kuzushi (crumbling of buildings on stage) and the world-class visual troupe is truly a shocking scene.
For the finale, all the performers join the stage, pulling off the final performances together. The stage turns into a huge pinball machine. A stream of pinballs spring out of the machine, and when a jackpot is hit, countless giant pinballs pour out. And with the performers’ curtain call, the show comes to an end.