01 February 2017 @ 11:44 am
2017.01.23 Tegami - Yanagishita Tomo Verson [Review!]  

This is the THIRD Tegami stage, the first one in 2008, then the musical in 2016 and now this one is the rerun of the 2016 musical... Also it is originally a book written by Higashino Keigo (a hugely popular mystery/thriller/crime author here in Japan so explains why it’s gotten so many adaptations) in 2003 and there is movie adaptation of it too from 2006 (available on UK Netflix at least!). So safe to say this story is popular.

Official Site here.
Official Twitter here.
Dress Rehearsal Video here and here and here.
Press Coverage 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

This was my first Tomo play since, well his last one, September so it was great to see him again! I'll admit I was nervous because it's technically the first time I've heard him sing (Tenimyu and the D-DATE CD doesn’t count!), and it's definitely the first time I've heard him sing in person and live. But more on that later! First let’s get the cast list out of the way:

CAST

Yanagishita Tomo / Ota Motohiro (Double Cast) as Takashima Naoki (Younger Brother)
Yoshihara Mitsuo as Takeshima Kouji (Older Brother)
Fujita Rei as Terao Yuusuke
Kato Ryousuke
Kawaguchi Tatsuya
Someya Kouta
GOH IRIS WATANABE
Igarashi Kae
Wada Kiyoka
Okonogo Mari
Yamamoto Sayaka

Some PreShow Stuff:

I was in the first row and my seat was the FIRST one!! I was Row A-1!!! How weird is that!! I still needed my glasses but not much. I was a little nervous when I first showed but because the first 30 minutes loads of kankeishas turned up and were picking up their tickets so I definitely felt out of place. And then the guy ROLLS into the theatre with this loud rolling suitcase and tight jeans and sunglasses and he takes them off and it was so actor-like that I almost laughed right in front of his face. I didn't think actors who acted like they're actors and all actually exist! It was hilarious to witness xD

Anyway, so there was I was in the front row and one of the first in and obviously everyone's looking but I've learnt to deal with it but this I felt like it was more than usual.

Ooooooh! Before I go on I must talk about the very angry moment I had before the play started. So I put all my stuff on my seat, grabbed my letter for Tomo and instead of looking around embarrassingly for the 'Present' section, I decided it was safe to just go to staff and ask 'where do we give stuff in for actors?' and he's like 'you want a blanket?' um... 'No, which staff person do I hand stuff into for the actors?' 'The goods are here' seriously... 'no! I WROTE a LETTER, WHO do I give this to?' 'Oh, over there' 'Thank you....' and so I made more of an embarrassment of myself that way anyway! Seriously though, my Japanese ISN’T that bad and I KNOW it. Maybe it's because I speak SUPER fast (even in English people can’t catch what I say sometimes) but like, it really was a blow to my confidence that I had to say the same thing about 4 times and in 3 different ways and even had to slow down to a ridiculous level and emphasis before he understood me. I get that you don't expect me to speak Japanese and at first hearing me speak Japanese when you expect English is jolting but come on!! It made me super pissed. I obviously bowed a thank you to him but the last 15 or so minutes before the stage started, I was just sat in my seat super pissed and embarrassed and filled with not nice feels.

ANYWAY!!

Now to the set:

The stage is set out in sections thanks to the use of box platforms and they used these platforms to look either like rooms or like cages/cells, as well as there being a flight of stairs and then there's two high platforms at the top just under a cloudy sky backdrop. It's a good set up.

Now to THE STORY: I’m going to try and be as concise as possible because, as I said, this is like the 3rd/4th adaptation of this story so you can easily watch the movie (available with subs on the UK Netflix btw! So I assume other netflixs have access to it and I doubt the story has changed much.)

One day Naoki gets a call and it’s from the police; his older brother has killed someone will breaking and entering the victim’s house; he now faces life in prison. This affects Naoki’s life multiple times and in negative ways over the next 10 or so years, and the only thing that keeps Naoki and his brother, Kouji, connected is through writing letters to each other, that Kouji can only receive and send once a month.

Simple enough plot line right?

NON-SPOILER:

Overall: I cried my heart out. And it wasn’t just me. The entire crowd were balling tears from about 10 minutes into the stage until it finished. I could even hear whimpers some were crying that hard. This was a touching story and it hits you in the feels. I am very pleasantly happy with Tomo’s singing ability and I did enjoy myself. But I feel the first half was much more engaging, interesting and more enjoyable (enjoyable isn’t the right word when it’s something this sad but you get the jist). The second half I personally didn’t like because I’m personally very tired and bored of ‘Japanese salaryman having a hard time’ story lines. The story was very predictable too when it comes to the friendship and romance plotlines in this, and again I personally don’t like being able to predict stuff correctly. My only serious negative is the constant repetition of songs in the second half/part of this play. Nevertheless I enjoyed it, I cried my heart out completely, I’m definitely getting the DVD, and I feel bad not having the money to go and see it again for Tomo’s sake and so I could see it from further back.

Rating: 7/10

SPOILERS:

Entering spoiler and all details territory so you’ve been warned.


PART ONE


The first part covers the murder, Naoki being told (at age 17/18, in his last year of high school) what his brother has done and then we see the repercussions of what his brother did affecting him in daily life up to his early 20s.

The first affects of his brother’s crime is; he loses his apartment, he gets sacked from his part time job, his school want him to graduate quietly and not go to the ceremony, and universities don't want him, so in the end he has to go to work any random job he can get. There he meets a girl (played by Okonogi) who tells him he can still go to school and should do it part time and it gives him the strength to do it the year after. He ends up in the same uni as his best friend (Yuusuke played by Fujita Rei) who had stayed by his side even when everyone at school was abandoning him. Yuusuke is super happy to see him again and invites him to his live. Naoki goes and falls in love with the singer who performs before Yuusuke as well as her voice. After the band’s gig, Yuusuke asks him to join. Naoki is hesitant at first but he opens up to the two other band members about his past but they accept him anyway.


Half a year passes and he's in his final year of uni and dating the girl he fell for, and living happily, so much so that there's months apart before he writes letters to Kouji who waits patiently and excitedly that one day every month. The band finally has a chance to debut as a group, but just before they do the scouts announce they looked into the boy's history; the other two band members ask Naoki to leave the band to give the other three a chance to debut, as well as ask him to not to tell Yuusuke the cause of his leaving, naturally Yuusuke has turned up and overheard the conversation, as well as Naoki’s girlfriend, and while Yuusuke protects Naoki to the end, his girlfriend is shocked to hear about his past and can’t accept him. Yuusuke begs Naoki to stay but he leaves the band.

Naoki is left to his thoughts and decides to cut his brother off and never send another letter.

END of part one.

Did I write too much of the plot? Maybe I shouldn’t write so much because you can just read the book and the movie but... oh well it’s written! So now to the non-story sides of the stage:

There were so many tears from everyone in this. The girl next to me and the girl two rows over were wiping their tears more than me which is surprisingly because the amount I cry is ridiculous so I can’t imagine how quickly their tears were flowing. We were all wrecks. During the break all you could here were sniffles of people trying to pull themselves back together, which was all in vain because the tears just kept rolling in part two.

I really enjoyed how when Naoki is first told over the phone about his brother’s crime and arrest of how all the other actors come out and in a circle they start to surround him as they’re singing and Naoki does this manic dance as they enclose him and are singing ‘brother of a murderer! From a murder family!’ and stuff like that. It’s very disorientating and strange, but it works. OH! During this scene actually Tomo breaks out of the circle and runs to the right in a manic frenzy before being pulled back into the circle but at that moment of him breaking away and looking out manically, his eyes and mine met 10000% cos I was first row, first seat, right next to one of the lights too and I got so nervous! Although a little embarrassed because the tears had already begun to fall xD

I enjoyed watching Naoki’s life crumble (not in a sadistic way) and then seeing him take control again and getting chances to live again and enjoy life. The short and small happy moments are so worth watching and heartwarming.

When Naoki sees the girl sing for the first time, the smile on his face is freaking adorable!! I couldn’t not smile! It’s really a contagious smile - or maybe it’s because I’m Tomo’s fan). The next part when Yuusuke plays and Naoki is clapping and being happy and THEN he realises the lyrics of the song ‘Are you happy as you are now? Is this who you are?’ and just seeing him realise what the lyrics are saying and seeing his face and body language go from happy and full of life to this dark, gloomy, almost existential crisis-like Naoki. It’s an amazing transition; kudos to Tomo on that switch!

I also really, really loved Naoki and Yuusuke relationship; the way they have each others back and how they look out for each other and even small things like patting each other on the back and especially Yuusuke being like ‘I don’t care about what your brother did, I know you. I want you to stay in my life. You’re my friend no mater what’ and the support he gives Naoki is amazing. I really, really do love their dynamic and relationship. Yuusuke never gives up on Naoki and constantly cheers him up and throws him so many opportunities to become happy and stuff and ooooooh it’s beautiful!

They make Naoki do a solo before he joins the band but it sucks that they don’t let the audience hear it, instead we had him playing (in silence) in the background (with a low light on him) and then in the foreground we have Kouji doing some solo-monologue thing - I wasn’t paying attention to him obviously! - and I was annoyed because I wanted to here Tomo really sing and have a solo. I don’t think he has a solo at all in this *checks pamphlet* he has one. ONE!

Speaking of singing:

Pretty much everyone’s singing is very, very good. I didn’t seen Mokkun’s version so I can’t tell you how he is (although I’m sure upcoming TouMyu videos and reports will tell me if he can sing or not xD) Especially, Yoshihara, his singing very much surprised me and he even had big long note holds and stuff; clearly he’s the star of the show even though Tomo and Mokkun have been the ones promoting it and are the ones in the center and the main characters... not that I doubt his acting; wait til part two to see my praise for Yoshihara.

Like I said right at the beginning I was nervous about hearing Tomo sing (and live!)  but I was pleasantly surprised that he could actually hold a note. He was definitely the weakest singer BUT he has the soft, light singing voice that's easy to listen to ^_^ it was cute and I was happy and impressed by his singing. Just me being biased xD

And one mean thing on my part: I couldn’t stand Kato Ryousuke, especially when he was singing. I guess its just one of those cases where you see/meet someone and you know straight away you two would never get on in a million years and I felt that from him. Sorry bro but you annoyed me and so did your singing.

I think we’re ready for part two!

PART TWO

In part two we're suddenly thrown into like 3/4 years later once he's graduated and when he's a salary man which is where I unfortunately immediately lost interest; I preferred the uni setting and it was more hopeful and light and nice and just... Japanese salaryman and the Japanese salaryman job is just the personification of DEPRESSION and MONOTONY. I hate salarymen and I want the breed to die. << I don’t want the men to die, let me make that clear, but I want the whole ‘Japanese salaryman’ job to die. If you don’t know about it just.. I’m gunna go on a rant so do your own research into it.

So yes I lost interest once we got to this stage of Naoki’s life because it was just... repetitive, in more than one way (you’ll see). It opens up with a song of them trying to shove this week's supermarket sales in our faces and you can tell Naoki's trying but it's not what he wants to do. Then the manager gets wind of his past and his brother so they transfer him to (I wanna say) Saitama. We switch back to Kouji who watches all his cell mates get letters and he's not had one for years but is still hopeful every month. The day Naoki is told he'll be transferred he ends up drinking with Yuusuke, who's now made it as a small, indie artist, and Okunogi’s character who's now doing well as a hair dresser (which was her dream). Yuusuke invites Naoki to come sing with him again, as he has an upcoming gig at the prison Kouji is in; Naoki brushes it off. The night, Naoki gets drunk and Okunogi has to take him home. There she finds that he's thrown his brother's letter in the bin. She takes it, reads it and while Naoki moves to Saitama and starts a new job, she poses as him and begins to send letters to Kouji as Naoki.

A few months pass and Naoki's just settling into his new place when his boss turns up and (unfortunately my memory is fuzzy here) in the end he goes to Okunogi’s house and apologises to her and then he finds one of his brother’s letters on her desk so she explains how she threw her father away because of what he did but she feels Naoki and Kouji can still make amends.

Another 5/6 years pass and they're married (which was totally predictable! From the moment Naoki meets her in part one I knew they’d end up together in the end, ugh I hate being right) and have a little girl. While they thought they were living in paradise, the town finally finds out about his brother and they start to ingore them and distant themselves from them and (again predictable and repetitive) work finds out too and once again he’s given a transfer. This is the final straw for Naoki who tells his wife to stop messaging his brother as him and he'll send one final letter finally cutting ties.

Naturally, Kouji is excited to receive the letter and even exclaims 'it's been a long time since I got a handwritten one!' (his wife had been writing the text on the pc and printing it off ). In it Naoki explains how it was his wife and how this is the last time he'll ever send a letter to him. His brother naturally breaks. To make matters worse, their little girl ends up in a traffic accident. That night at the hospital, the mother of the son who had hit their daughter turns up to apologise and Naoki gets mad saying he'll never forgive him and asks her why she bothered turning up when he's still mad etc. Once the mother has left, Okunogi’s explains 'just like this incident, there are victims that never forget.' This influences Naoki to see Kouji's victim's son. He let's Naoki in and is very calm about it all even though Naoki never came once in the ten years to apologise. The son pulls out a bag and says 'they're all from your brother. Every month I would get them. But last month was the last' and so Naoki reads the final letter his brother has sent to the victim. Unfortunately my memory is fuzzy here too! But essentially, Naoki feels bad for avoiding the victim all this time and is touched that his brother never gave up on his brother and has never forgiven himself and is so hopeful about Naoki.

Finally Naoki agrees to go with Yuusuke to the concert, and Yuusuke introduces himself normally and all the cellmates are excited and then there's this beautiful moment Naoki is introduced and comes on stage (jesus I'm gunna start crying in the middle of freaking restaurant writing this) and comes to the mic and spotlight and Kouji immediately recognises him and there's like (not shitting you) 5 minutes where they both find each other in the crowd and Kouji goes from slowly standing up in shock, to collapsing on his knees crying and he just cries harder and harder and Naoki ends up breaking down too and then starts smiling while crying and this massive reconciliation between them even though there's a crowd and everything between them but shiiiit you can feel the connection instantaneously and it just gets stronger. This ending and this scene is absolutely phenominal and the acting is amazing during this scene. Absolutely phenomenal. And then it ends. (I'm pretty sure it ends there).

Sorry I wrote so much of the plot again =/

You know what I’m going to say: everyone was crying so hard!! I could ever hear WHIMPERS during this final silence part in the crowd a few rows back. As you can see I disliked the second part because of the repetition of the finding out and people abandoning him and him being transferred again and also the songs in the second half we almost ALL repeated songs from the first part and seriously one song is sung like 3 times in part two and it’s not even a good song(!) so yes the repetition irked me a little. But damn the finale is amazingly powerful.

I liked how supportive Okunogi’s character was of Naoki and, like Yuusuke, never left his side even when he was being ridiculous about cutting ties with his brother and even though he was getting very angry during the hospital scene. Seriously, all one person needs is just someone, that one person, to stay by their side to make the world better. And Naoki had two of them and I really liked the relationships he had with Yuusuke and Okunogi. Although like I said, total predictable that people would find out about his past again and that he would end up with Okunogi’s character.

The staging scared me sometimes. At one point Rei was moving back but didn’t realise just how close to the edge he was and he almost put him foot down on air rather than the stage and he was stood right next to me so I was shitting myself. Also the way they SWUNG those stairs around towards the side of the stage and so close to the edge was super scary too! My poor anxiety xD

BUT there is one part where Tomo was stood on the stairs and he’s lift his hand with the letter in and his hoodie and shirt had lifted up a little so I got a lovely sneaky, quick view of his stomach <3 hehehehe I’m a perv, I’m sorry... Also Tomo hair is SO adorable in this!! I hope he keeps the style for a while! <3

Oh man that ending... I can’t.. words cannot describe it. I hope it shows up as amazingly on DVD...

---

I DID promised Tomo I'd come and see it again this week but unfortunately I'm way too broke to spend 8000 yen on a ticket I don't necessarily need although I'd love to see it again but I financially can't. I'm defo preordering the DVD though!! Damn...

---

And I’m done! I hope you enjoyed that review and apologies if it’s long!