Long Review of Kanaria/CanaryWritten: Oct. 14th, 2007
By special request - a proper review of "Kanaria." Proper reviews are a rare thing from me these days. :)
Kanaria ("Canary") Flower Troupe, 2001. Here it is on the TakaWiki:
It's also about to be released on DVD:
"Kanaria" was a Theater Drama City show and the first top show for Takumi Hibiki, who had such a sad, short period as star of Flower Troupe. The story is rather unusual for Takarazuka and has a bit of a dark sense of humor:
It's the turn of the millennium, and Vim (Takumi Hibiki), a young demon, has to complete a "Final Exam" before he can graduate from demon school. As he is the principal's (Yashirou Kou) favorite student, she sends him off to the human world with his own assistant - a younger demon named Uka (Sena Jun). Vim's task: He must take the very first human he meets and make their life completely miserable. This would seem fairly straightforward: the area where he alights contains a well-intentioned priest (Haruno Sumire) and nun (Toono Asuka), a homeless man with a pet bird (Misa Noeru) and a stern detective (Ayabuki Mao). Unfortunately, he first runs into a bag-lady named Ajani (Ootori Rei), which makes his task impossible - for she is *already* completely miserable. Undaunted, Vim comes up with what seems the perfect solution: first, he will make Ajani *happy*, and then he will pass his exam by making her *unhappy*. Of course, as a demon, he has some rather unusual ideas about how best to go about this...
This show was dark (for Takarazuka), sweet, sad, and funny at times. There was a bit of the regular Takarazuka too-many-characters syndrome, with everyone being forced into a part *somewhere* in the show, but as a Drama City Show they didn't push *too* hard. There were some pretty cute young demons gallivanting in the background here, and definitely a bit of that "WTF??" feeling that *I* at least have every time Takarazuka tries to represent Christian theology (you know you've been watching too many ‘zuka shows when you keep waiting for the priest and the nun to get together...) I particularly enjoyed that the main characters weren't your typical Takarazuka male and female lead, with Vim behaving mostly indifferent and Ajani having been around-the-block a time or two. I get very tired of earnest heros and sweet, perky heroines.
Takumi Hibiki: Looked *gorgeous*, acted elegantly, and showed not a hint of her upcoming illness. Vim was maybe a stretch for her, because he's very restrained overall, and Charlie-san has such expressive eyes, that I think it might have been hard for her not to over-play him. I never felt like she did.
Ootori Rei: This was a great role for her, as she always had a "grown-up" style about her. And there wasn't too much singing. *cough* I think I liked her best when she was in her bag-woman outfit being rude to everyone.
Haruno Sumire: Hmmm... I felt like she was kind of wasted in this. The priest was a pretty boring role, IMHO. I wouldn't buy this if what I wanted was an Osa show...
Sena Jun: Her demon was kind of... cute. I guess he was sort of a demon-lackey. She looked very good in her demon outfit and seemed to be having much more fun than Osa.
Toono Asuka: Also had a throw-away role, IMHO. But at least she *had* a role, which is more than most secondary musumeyaku could really say. I thought she and Osa managed to force themselves into having chemistry a little better than usual (thank god Hankyu never paired them permanently! They're both better off with their "real" partners!)
Yashiro Kou: Yes, please; I'll take six. Her part was pretty small, but - evil demon principal? That lusts after Charlie? You can't go wrong. She should have sung more, though.
Misa Noeru: Plays great grumpy old men. Very nice.
Ayabuki Mao: Tried so *so* hard to be a good Tough Detective. It was cute. I love watching the younger performers when they try to do "grown-up" roles. Yumiko doing a "stern" "serious" role always feels like she's trying... so... hard. Give it up, Yumiko. We all want to see the dimples. :)
Ranju Tomu: Had a small role as a money collector who harasses Ajani and gets ensorcelled by Vim. He was mean at first and then he... had some problems. Tomu was very good.
Overall, I think this was a very good play to watch if you want to see Takarazuka doing something a bit different than the usual "fluff". Or if you want to see Charlie in black leather. Both are very good reasons to buy the upcoming DVD release. :)