Ensemble Stars On Stage!! Review
We just returned from seeing Ensemble Stars On Stage, and it was a complete delight! Here are a few preliminary thoughts to get you all excited for the DVD to come out. Hopefully, we’ll be back here soon to see the rest of the main story, and hopefully, there will be more cast announcements soon!
Stage: The stage was pretty barren as far as set was concerned; it was just a couple of platforms in front of a big projection screen, and stairs to either side. That makes it all the more impressive how much they were able to accomplish! Sometimes during songs the projection screen was just fun little sunbursts and stuff, but sometimes it was words that the audience could cheer along with. JoyfulBox in particular had a lot of this.
Akehoshi Subaru: Ozawa Ren is a consummate professional who brings a joy and intensity to every role he plays, in Daiya no Ace and Hakuouki, and he did no less here. Subaru’s enthusiasm really shone through with Ren’s patented charm, and his spirited defense of Shino Hajime left no dry eyes in the audience (mine included!).
Hidaka Hokuto: Yamamoto Ikkei was at his best in this role. He’s performed a multitude of times before, in serious theater as well as Anime on Stage roles, but in my opinion he really shone brightly here. His unexpected softness when talking about his grandmother, his intense passion, and above all his struggle to fit in with Trickstar’s manzai act of Makoto and Subaru was delightful. He’s also probably the most talented singer/dancer onstage. Trust me, you won’t be able to keep your eyes off of him.
Makoto Yuuki: Matsumura Taiichirou did a very good job as Makoto! He was hilarious in every interaction with Subaru, and got away with some very funny hijinks of impersonating Rei. His two best scenes are with Koga “training” the heck out of him, chasing him around the stage forcing him to perform physical feats, and with Izumi, where he’s a very appropriate blend of terrified, confused, and frustrated. You have to see their chemistry to believe it!
Isara Mao: Tanimizu Riki may be new on the scene, but he won’t be an unfamiliar face for long. His role in the beginning of the story is really beefed up, with his part as the Mole on the student council being emphasized. Since they didn’t cast Touri, Mao’s treachery to Keito is much more obvious. I hope he gets more to do when they do another run, since hopefully they’ll cast Ritsu then!
Sakuma Rei: It has become a running joke between us that we have no idea if any members of UNDEAD were good singers or not because they were all so distractingly hot. Kominami Koji is the biggest culprit here, stealing hearts with every move of his long, long legs. His deadpan snark was also on point, but honestly, I can’t remember anything else, I was too distracted by how hot he was.
Oogami Koga: Akazawa Ryotarou was a hilarious, fun, genuine, and energetic Koga, bringing a lot of heart to the Light Music Club and UNDEAD–even if he spent a good portion of it tied up and gagged! He has excellent comedic timing, and used it to the best of his ability to squeeze a load of laughs out of the audience. And of course, his hair looked VERY fluffy being petted! 😉
Hakaze Kaoru: Tomohiro Okutani didn’t have too much to do plot-wise, but he was absolutely sexy as Kaoru, putting his leather pants to good use, as all of UNDEAD used their mic stands basically like stripper poles. I can’t stress enough how little I remember of whether UNDEAD can sing. I think he sounded good?
Otogari Adonis: Akira was hilarious as Adonis, and had a very memorable scene with Koga, Makoto, and a few bags of meat (and bananas). I’m fairly certain he had the best singing voice in UNDEAD, certainly the deepest one. I can’t wait to see more of him!
Hasumi Keito: I’m personally offended that I’ve never heard of Komatsu Junya before, because I could have spent my time watching him. He was stunning, moving sinfully well in high black lace-up boots with heels, and was a phenomenal singer and dancer, leading Akatsuki well enough that you can really see how they hold such a highly-regarded rank in Yumenosaki.
Kanzaki Souma: Higuchi Yuta was SO funny as Souma! He was very quick to draw his sword, of course, and to lash out at any perceived insult to himself or to his unit, and especially to try to commit seppuku. But when he was onstage with Akatsuki, the game was on–he was incredible with both fan and sword in his dances, and so adorably short!
Kuro Kiryuu: Ueda Kandai was definitely cast because he has the perfect body type for Kuro. He was very impressive-looking onstage, and executed all of his dance moves perfectly. The cutest bits were his interactions with Tetora, up to and including inviting Tetora to bow with Akatsuki at the end!
Nagumo Tetora: I haven’t seen Konishi Seiya since his turn as Fuji Yuuta in Tenimyu, but he was SO impressive as Tetora! He performed “Meteor Rangers” entirely by himself, doing the work of five super sentai rangers as one, in a performance that I’m sure would have made Chiaki very proud. His interactions with Kuro were golden, and his bouts as the emcee of the Dragon challenge were perfect.
Shino Hajime: Keep an eye on Sakurai Keito–he’s going places! He brought the house down in Joyful Box, enough that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and performed the whole song by himself. I hope he gets some backup in the next show, since he was wonderful!
Aoi Yuuta & Aoi Hinata: The Aoi twins were perfect–probably the best singers in the whole stage, they stole every scene they were in. One of their most adorable traits was jumping to attention whenever Rei called, “Aoitachi!” and saluting, or tormenting Koga when he’s tied up and blaming each other for it when he turns around. They were great dancers, and sound exactly like Souma Saito when they talk or sing. And speaking of vocals…
Narukami Arashi: It should be no surprise that Kitamura Ryou brought the house down as Arashi. I’ve seen him live multiple times in different roles (Toudou Jinpachi in Yowamushi Pedal, Kija in Akatsuki no Yona, Yagen in the Touken Ranbu stage), but this is by far my favorite role I’ve ever seen him in. He truly embodied the flirty, fun, sassy aspects of Arashi, and was always there to keep Izumi in line. Here’s hoping he’ll have more to do besides commentary in the next one!
Sena Izumi: Takasaki Shota is one of the biggest stage chameleons I’ve had the pleasure to see. He’s always different in his roles, but always on-point as well, and this time was no exception. He brought a heart and an unbalanced frustrated affection to Izumi that could warm any heart to this boy. Also, now we know that Izumi cheats at chess.
Plot: The plot follows the main story of Ensemble Stars pretty closely, with the removal of Anzu/the transfer student/the producer. It goes from the first time Trickstar starts planning in earnest to defeat the student council through their first victory against Akatsuki (and UNDEAD, who is secretly mentoring Trickstar). If you aren’t caught up that far on the story yet, check out the manga; it runs through that part at least!
All in all, I can’t wait until the DVD comes out in September. I’m planning to watch it over and over again, and I hope everyone enjoys it!