Inferno Stage Play: A Review

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Miranda Pahl

Theater: The show was held at the G-Rosso which is in the Tokyo Dome City area between the Tokyo Dome and TDC Hall where Tenimyu calls home. If you can get to TDC you’ll easily be able to find the G-Rosso. It doesn’t have a dedicated lobby as it’s used as a lobby to several shops so it can be a bit chaotic with people passing through. But just take a moment to see where everything is and what the other fans are doing and it’s easy enough to figure out where they’ve set up the goods, the present drop off and where you can buy day of tickets.

Stage: The G-Rosso is used mostly for the Sentai shows so Inferno was limited in their stage design by the mostly permanent set up that the Sentai shows use. Though since those shows include a number of action stunts, Inferno was able to make good use of some of the staging.

The stage is broken down into three main parts. A strip at the front of the stage on the main level, a staircase that led to a large raised area and then the catwalk area up above. The raised area also had three smaller platforms on it to denote different areas. And the backdrop was a bit of a city scape with a large full moon. If I had to describe the feel of the stage it would be sewer chic at the top, then host club feeling on the raised area and bottom which felt like I was at the sea thanks to the round porthole type windows that are permanently affixed to the stage.

The areas were used effectively to show people coming and going through different buildings and parts of the cities. It was especially fun when people were making phone calls to each other.

The set overall was a bit bare but they brought in the minimum props needed and the acting made up for the lack of anything else. There was some projection mapping but mostly for the intro and outro.

Cast:

Ueda Keisuke as Ricca:

Ueda is a talented actor and no novice when it comes to 2.5 shows. So it comes as no surprise that he was amazing as Ricca. Ricca has a limp and walks with a cane and even during the curtain calls Ueda kept the limp and stayed in character. The banter he had with Hirano (Noel) was perfectly timed and felt natural and overall he was the perfect mix of a young mafia type and caring soul who has trauma in his past. His commanding stage presence worked well for this role.

Hirano Ryo as Noel:

I was surprised by how well he did. His character shots on the website were amazing but I wasn’t sure how he would do on stage since the only thing I’d seen him in previous was Tenimyu. But he did a great job.

He was the doting son to Ricca while also showing himself to be perfectly capable of handling all the deadly situations he found himself in – often to get ingredients for dinner. He mentioned that he wasn’t used to all of the running around and fighting like others were but I would never had known if he hadn’t said it. It felt as if he had been doing fight scenes on stage for ages.

I believed him in his serious moments and in his sweet comedic moments. If Noel is one of your favourite characters of the manga you will not be disappointed in Hirano’s version. Also, he looked exceptionally handsome throughout the show.

Fujita Ray as Sasha:

Fujita plays Ricca’s slightly crazy older brother. And he does sophisticated and crazy really well. I’m not sure the wig was the most flattering on him but his mannerisms and laugh made up for it. He’s a bit of a complicated character and I thought that Fujita got across both his ruthlessness and his love nicely.

Yamauchi Keisuke as Cloud:

Cloud isn’t a character I’ve given much thought to while reading the manga but I felt Yamauchi did a good job with him. You can believe he is a leader when he’s with Snake but you can also see how he’s still a subordinate when he’s around Sasha. I think he showed off that balance of being in the middle of a chain of command well.

Kuwano Kousuke as Snake:

Snake is Cloud’s underling and if you can get through the show without feeling that Snake loves Cloud in a more than a platonic sense you might not have been watching the same show as me. Kuwano does passionate and aggressive well and if Snake reminds you of what Shishido (from Prince of Tennis) might be like if he joined a mafia well you aren’t alone. Some of Kuwano’s voice and mannerisms definitely reminded me of his take on Shishido but it worked for Snake.

Snake is a dedicated underling and also a little bit blood thirsty.  Kuwano showed off both parts well and even if he’s a bit of a villain you can’t help cheering for him.

Fujiwara Yuki as Olive:

Olive is our narrator type character as he’s always making notes of what’s going on around him.  He spends most of his time with Ricca and brings in some nice light hearted comedic moments. Fujiwara makes for a nice presence on the stage and his adlib at the end with Noel and Ricca makes me love him in the role.

Karahashi Mitsuru as Wi-Wi:

Karahashi is my unexpected favourite from the show. I’m not familiar with his other works and only somewhat familiar with his character from the manga but from the moment he stepped on stage he left an impression. He swaggers and he’s a little careless but he’s also ruthless when he needs to be. He’s a little like Captain Jack Sparrow. All fun, swagger and danger.

Giving him Ankh, his straight laced underling, was a great way to balance him out and up the comedy.

Nakamura Ryusuke as Black Santa:

Black Santa is a strange character so he’s a bit hard to judge for me as I don’t really like him. I feel Nakamura did a good job but he also didn’t really stand out in any way to me despite being an essential character. Though the audience seemed to appreciate him.

Roppongi Yasuhiro as Katagiri:

His character exists for comedy and to get beat up on. In that, he was a success.

Nitta Kenta as Ankh:

He was really popular with the crowd. I think his stoic sidekick persona to Wi-Wi’s swaggering carelessness made him a fun character. Nitta was handsome in his costume and did a great job at playing it straight next to all the antics going on.

Ensemble:

These guys worked hard. They played multiple parts throughout the show with most even having speaking lines and characters. Their fighting skills were amazing and they made everyone else look fantastic, too. And as the show had a lot of fight scenes it wouldn’t have been half as good if these guys weren’t giving it their all. It’s even more impressive as for all but 2 of them it was their first stage show.

Plot:

I like to call this play the most dysfunctional family Christmas get together ever. I’m not quite sure why it was staged in September when so much of the plot revolves around Christmas but I certainly left the theater wanting to wish people a Merry Christmas.

The play starts by quickly introducing us to the world where Inferno takes place in, how Noel and Ricca came to be son and father and the dynamics of their unique family situation. If you’ve read the manga this will all feel familiar. The main plot also has moments of familiarity though I haven’t read enough of the manga to know if was taken fully from the manga or just inspired by another arc and changed slightly to suit the characters in the show better.

The main plot (as it were) revolves around Sasha inviting everyone over for a Christmas party and the chaos that ensues. It’s a fairly simple plot and even if your Japanese level is low I think you’d still be able to understand most of what was going on and enjoy the show.

Since we move between different character groups and there is plenty of action the story seems well paced and I never found myself getting bored or being overly confused by what was happening.

Overall it’s a simple story taking place in the world of Inferno. If you like that manga at all, you will enjoy the play.

Best Scene:

It’s hard to pinpoint just one best scene but one of my favourites was the opening where we see Noel trying to acquire one of the ingredients for the dinner Ricca has requested. We get a mix of great fighting and action from Noel on the main stage while on the raised area we see Ricca on the phone and then other members also coming on to make phone calls of their own. It’s a fast moving scene that quickly introduced characters in a fun way and made the most out of the set design.

Another great scene was at the end where Noel and Ricca are remembering how they met and Olive stops the scene to point out how strange their relationship is and Noel and Ricca insist they are just father and son. There’s some adlibbing and Ueda cracked slightly and gave the most adorable laugh before recovering. After the heavy action in the scenes before this was a nice light hearted way to wrap up the show.

Best Point:

I often prefer musicals over plays since I find plays can start to feel a bit long and drag a little – especially since at some point I tend to go into Japanese overload and my brain shuts down – but this show did not suffer at all from that.

I think it was because of the combination of amazing background music and fight scenes which never felt overdone or repetitive. The sound effects team was also on top of their game making the action scenes shine even more.

If you’ve ever watched a Sengoku Basara play you’ll understand just how important good music and sound effects are to keeping the show going. And I think Inferno excelled at using both.

Overall Thoughts:

I follow Fujita Ray and Kuwano Kousuke on twitter and when they posted about the show I was intrigued by the visuals and went to read the manga. The storyline also seemed fun so I thought that I might as well see the show since the cast and visuals seemed good. However,  I still went into this show with fairly low expectations because it was a play but I came out completely blown away. I would have happily have gone to see it again if I had been free the next day.

From the wonderful dynamics between the actors on stage to the great music and excellent choreography for the fight scenes I enjoyed every minute of the show.

I didn’t pre-order the DVD but it’s definitely going to be going on to my wish list of DVDs I’d like to own. If you get a chance to buy the DVD or if they restage the show I highly recommend going for it. Though I do suggest reading as much as the manga before you do as it will help you understand what’s going on more.

As a last point, the show I went to watch (September 10 – 6pm) was broadcast live on NicoNico and is available for timeshift viewing until November 30th, 2016. It’s a paid broadcast so you have to be a registered member and have 1600pts to purchase.

http://live.nicovideo.jp/watch/lv274497906

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