Igiari! - The Takarazuka Revue's Phoenix Wright Musicals
You may have heard me talk about the Takarazuka Revue and their amazing Phoenix Wright musicals on episode #3 of The Luchacast, but I wanted to delve more into on just what these magnificent shows really are.
Founded by the president of Hankyu Railways in 1913, the Takarazuka Revue is an all-female theater troupe based out of Japan. Often performing musical adaptations of Western works, the Takarazuka Revue has performed shows based on movies like Casablanca and JFK, novels such as The Great Gatsby and Zorro, various plays by Shakespeare, manga, and even video games.
The Cosmos troupe—the newer, more experimental of the five troupes that make up the Revue and the one that did the Phoenix Wright musicals—were performing their rendition of Trafalgar, and I was fortunate enough to attend a showing in July. Though I barely understood any of it, I was enthralled throughout the entire two-hour showing. With a live orchestra located in the lower front, revolving stages, seamless background and scene transitions, crazy lighting effects, beautiful and detailed clothing designs, along with great acting and singing performances, it was quite a show indeed. Now, apply everything I just said to the Phoenix Wright universe and you have something of ridiculously awesome proportions.
The first musical, "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Truth Resurrected", focuses on Phoenix Wright as he tries to prove the innocence of his former lover, Leona Clyde, who has been accused of murdering a senator. Of course, Miles Edgeworth is there to get in his way, and the results are awesome song and dance sequences featuring some of your favorite characters from the franchise. In fact, the big opening sequence features Phoenix Wright, Miles Edgeworth, Larry Butz, Lotta Hart, Detective Gumshoe, Maya Fey, and Ema Skye all dancing in tandem. My favorite sequence, however, would have to be the Phoenix Wright/Miles Edgeworth dance-off that seamlessly turns into them facing against each other in the court room. The combination of the music, lighting, and general mood due to their history makes it truly special.
Premiering just six months later due to the popularity of the first Phoenix Wright, Phoenix Wright 2 focuses on a young woman whose mother is a suspect in a crime she didn't commit. Well, that's all the official description will give you, anyway; the story actually goes much deeper, but I won't spoil anything for potential viewers. It does do a good job of capturing the twists and turns the games are so known for, however, and even introduces Franziska von Karma herself—carrying her signature whip, of course! The best part of the show comes at the end, when the main characters dress in extra fancy versions of their outfits and do a song/dance number that lasts for a good ten minutes.
It's really all the little touches that help make these musicals so great, though. Working alongside Capcom, the musicals feature a close attention to detail that doesn't go unnoticed and is much appreciated. Using actual songs (particularly from the court room), art assets and sound effects from the game just oozes fanservice, and it totally works. They even go so far as to mimic character mannerisms you're familiar with, such as the way Miles shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders, or the way that Franziska waves her finger back and forth at Phoenix whenever he has screwed up. They also do a great job with the character design, making changes when needed; for example, Ranju Tomu (Phoenix Wright) was originally going to have the same hairstyle as the character does in the game, but they changed it due to it actually looking pretty terrible. Some purists may complain about this, but the changes they make are for the better. It's just like when a movie changes a superhero's costume from the comics—some things just don't translate properly to real life.
I could write an entire Luchazine about these wonderful works of art, but I'll stop here. Words and screens can only express so much, so I highly recommend that you look up these musicals on your own; there are plenty of fansubs just waiting to be watched.
All images are screencaps I took from the DVDs I got at the Takarazuka Revue gift shop. (The 'u' is silent in Takarazuka, by the way.)
Here are a bunch of images that weren't included in the article!: