Japanese classical theater is abuzz with anticipation as the critically-acclaimed manga, One Piece, sets sail to bring kabuki back on Tokyo's Shinbashi Enbujō stage later this year.
The play will run throughout October and November 2015 and star popular kabuki actor Ennosuke Ichikawa IV in the leading role. Ichikawa IV commented on the collaboration, saying, "The One Piece manga is supported by fans all over Japan — no, the world — and with so many fans you can't count. To try and adapt this work into kabuki will be difficult, but it's a challenge worth taking. It might be proper to say that this is a big adventure for me." One Piece manga creator, Eiichiro Oda, also expressed his approval for Ichikawa IV, saying that the actor performed the most beautiful kabuki he had ever seen, and that he felt at ease with him at the helm. \
For those unfamiliar, kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater that features dance-drama, extravagant costumes, elaborate makeup, lavish scenery, and the, well… “Avant-garde.” Unlike the “higher class” Japanese Noh drama, kabuki is intended for the common man and typically involves a lot of shouting (perhaps one of the selling points for adapting One Piece).
The producer will be movie company Shochiku, whose “Super Kabuki II” series was shown at Tokyo’s Shinbashi Enbujō Theater. “Even we staffers cannot imagine how the mash-up, mixing kabuki and the popular manga series, will end up,” said Shochiku spokesman Hiroshi Masakawa, “but we are thrilled to depict the ‘One Piece’ world on a kabuki stage to make something interesting for all audiences, including overseas visitors.” Masakawa hopes affection for the manga will introduce more people to the world of kabuki and make it a more familiar place for everyone. “I think for many people this will be their first kabuki experience. . . . I hope not only current kabuki fans but also many newcomers will find it entertaining and become regulars,” he said.
A total of 78 performances will be responsible for helping challenge the nation’s conservative entertainment industry and perhaps shake up its assumptions about borders in art by mixing the traditional with modern stage techniques.
Upon serialization in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine in July 1997, the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy have enthralled readers young and old. The manga’s total sales top 320 million comics, including more than 60 million overseas.
Tickets for the October performances will go on sale beginning August 20, 2015, while tickets for the November performances will go on sale beginning September 20, 2015. The play will be based on (spoiler alert!) The Battle for Marineford, aka The War of the Best, in which Monkey D. Luffy attempts to rescue his brother, Portgas D. Ace, from execution at the hands of the Navy.
In addition to Ennosuke, the play will include the talents of refined kabuki actors Ichikawa Ukon, Minosuke Bando, Hayato Nakamura, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa Kotaro, Ichikawa Juen, Ichikawa Emisaburo, Ichikawa Enya, Ichikawa Emiya, Ichikawa Mon'nosuke, Fukushi Seiji, Noritoshi Kashima, and Kazuyuki Asano.
Get your tickets here: http://kabuki-bito.jp/theaters/shinbashi/2015/10/ii_1.html