In 2013, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to see the first production of the new Sailor Moon musicals, La Reconquista. Two years later, with the stars aligned, I was able to travel back to Japan to see the third musical, Un Nouveau Voyage, which is based on my favorite season, Sailor Moon S. This adventure was super special because I was able to come with my fiancé and brothers to Japan for the first time. It was amazing!
In 2013, I attended the performance through a ticket purchased by a friend. How times have changed! Now fans living overseas are able to purchase tickets directly online. Last time, I saw the musical right after I arrived in Japan and was very tired during the performance. I decided to give it a few days after our arrival this time and got tickets for the September 21st show at 5pm. This time I was fully awake!
The Day of the Show
For this day, the Mooniest day of all the days, I decided to wear my Hot Topic Sailor Moon dress. I was joggging people’s memories left and right because I heard several surprised whispers of “Sailor Moon!” throughout the day.
After visiting Tokyo Sky Tree, we headed to an area called Omotesando for lunch. Omotesando is just south of Harajuku, where you can find the AiiA 2.5 theater. This area is one of the most posh places in Tokyo–it’s a combination of 5th Avenue and SoHo for those familiar with New York City. Among all the beautiful and well dressed people, we managed to beat the herd and ate lunch at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant called Heiroku Sushi. This was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had!
After lunch, we wandered around a residential area to find Omotesando Koffee which is served out of the first floor of a house. We waited a half an hour for this coffee, and I’m happy to report, it was well worth the wait! I had the Iced Mochaccino and it was the most delicious mochaccino I’ve ever had! It was a party in my mouth!
Now, it was off to the AiiA 2.5 Theater! I wanted to get there an hour early so I could buy merch, hang out with friends and not be rushed. Unfortunately, my iphone chose that exact moment to crap out me and not load Google Maps! Anyone will tell you that Japanese streets are notoriously confusing and I absolutely did NOT want to get lost! Luckily, my brother’s phone came the rescue. He was able to navigate us up the main road to Harajuku station then down the street on the east side of the park and then making a right on a road straight to the theater. Yay! We were there!
This year there were a few changes from my previous visit. First, you didn’t need a ticket to purchase the merch. They opened the doors so the counter faced outside. Merch was my first stop! I was a little bummed they didn’t have any Endymion/Serenity merch (I looooooove this image!). I was a bit restrained in my purchases, probably because so much merch has come out since then.
Next, we got our tickets from a little kiosk outside the doors. There were also English speaking staff on hand who were eager to help! Once inside, I ran to the bathroom to change. I had decided that my outfit for this year would be Neptune themed. I donned a black dress, heels, and an aqua wig finished off with the Neptune Lip Rod necklace from Kumacrafts. In retrospect, I think I could have kept my Hot Topic Sailor Moon dress on, but whatever. Next, we headed to a small booth to pick up the swanky, new subtitle glasses–more on that below. Before the start of the show, I got to say hi to all my twitter buddies. Woohoo! How exciting!
Un Nouveau Voyage
Note: My memory is a bit fuzzy, so please correct me if I get something wrong!
The show opens with Michiru and Haruka—-Haruka is a pop idol, performing at her last show while Michiru is backstage. The sets are more elaborate than the first musical and during Last Dance, Haruka’s image is projected on a huge screen above the stage. The scene feels a bit ominous–Michiru affirms that they’ll “always be together”–so for a moment I thought they would go with the anime storyline (Spoiler: they stuck with the manga). Some of my friends have complained that making Haruka an idol (as well as race car driver) is an unnecessary change, but I didn’t mind it too much. I suspect this might come up again in future musicals, especially when the Three Lights make the scene.
Mugen Academy is holding trials for new students as the Witches 5 explain during the song The Road to Mugen Academy which ended up being one of my favorite songs. Chibiusa’s new friend, Hotaru, goes to the school so Chibiusa drags Mamoru there because she wants to attend too. The Witches 5 appear dressed as students, declaring themselves representatives for each subject area: Cyprine (Professional Studies), Mimete (Performing Arts), Viluy (Science), Tellu (Physical Education) and Eudial (I can’t remember!). The guardians are asked to demonstrate a skill they do best and they beg to be admitted into the school. As you can imagine, each of the girls pass the test except for Usagi who volunteers herself for professional studies. “I am a professional!” Usagi declares in the most professional way possible, “I am a professional at sleeping and eating!” While the other guardians go off with their new friends, Usagi laments to herself that she doesn’t care if she doesn’t graduate from junior high. The theme of “graduation” would be noted throughout the musical.
Usagi then runs into Haruka. They touch and feel each other’s guardian powers. I know some fans have complained about the non-existent chemistry between Satomi and Yuuga, so I am happy to report that Satomi and Shuu have AWESOME chemistry! Truly, this moment between Usagi and Haruka is the hottest! Later, Chibiusa picks up the Usagi’s mind is elsewhere and scolds her relentlessly about “cheating” on Mamoru. This theme of cheating and jealous would also be a theme throughout the musical.
At this point in the musical, I have to say, I wasn’t quite feeling it yet. The guardians had yet to sing a song that was impressive, and in fact, the most impressive part were the Witches 5 themselves. They have lots of personality and their songs are really good. I was really pleased to see Cyprine get lots of stage time–she gets so little time in the anime and manga. Here, she’s the leader of the group and acts like it! Her actress, Maana, is PHENOMENAL. #CyprineForPresident! Unfortunately, the Witches 5 are actually dispatched quite early in the musical, although they make an appearance later on.
My feelings started to warm up once Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune make the scene. I really liked how Sailor Neptune did pirouettes around the stage while Sailor Uranus introduced her and vice versa. But the moment when I was all on board was when the three clairvoyants of the musical, Sailor Neptune, Kaorinite and Rei sang about their vision of Sailor Saturn. That’s right, you heard me, Neptune, Kaorinite and Rei sang together (The Time is Near) and it was AMAZING. This was definitely a major highlight for me! The song ends with Rei trying to concentrate on her vision, but all the guardians are all at the shrine being noisy and ready to eat their food. I always wonder what they’ll have Mamoru do in each musical and in this scene, he’s really cute and funny in this scene.
Another major highlight of the musical was the duet between Hotaru and Chibiusa (A Small Sparkle). Chibiusa forgets her bag in Hotaru’s room, but when she comes back to get it, she accidentally sees Hotaru’s disfigured body and runs away scared. A gut-wrenching duet ensues with Chibiusa regretting hurting Hotaru’s feelings and Hotaru lamenting why her life has to be this way.
Which leads me to my next point: If anyone stole the show, it was Hotaru’s actress, Karin Takahashi. She is amazing singer, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, since she part of the Jpop group, Prizmmy. Throughout the musical, Hotaru would sorrowfully play the piano. Now, Karin wasn’t actually playing the piano, the piano’s keys didn’t move-however, she moved her fingers exactly if she was playing a real piano. As a pianist, I was greatly impressed! In past musicals, Mistress Nine has been played by an older, different actress, but in Un Nouveau Voyage, Karin does all three roles. I would have liked to see an older actress tackle Mistress Nine, but Karin did a solid job as Mistress Nine. The only major disappointment with Mistress Nine was her costume. Her costume is one of the coolest costumes of the entire Sailor Moon universe and this version of it was completely lackluster. It looked like it was thrown together last minute.
But before Mistress Nine makes the scene, somehow the Witches 5 (or I should say the Witches 4, the rest of the witches are tired of Cyprine’s leadership) figure out that Usagi is Sailor Moon. They lay a trap for her and Chibiusa. Usagi tries to convince them she’s not Sailor Moon, even using her umbrella to beat them back while Chibiusa escapes. I was duly impressed by Satomi’s umbrella wielding moves! Anywho, so Usagi is denying that she’s Sailor Moon and guess who shows up? Why the Sailor Guardians of course! And who’s with them? Sailor Moon! Except it’s Venus dressed as Moon! Venus-Moon actually sings the first part of “Line Up! 5 Damsels of the White Moon” and it’s pretty awesome! Sailor Chibi Moon even shows up as Venus! But alas, it’s not meant to be because Venus-Moon’s odango falls off her head. O_o
Other badass moments include: Sailor Pluto finally revealing herself and being an utter BOSS at the same time. Every time she’s on stage, she’s completely badass!
The second half of the musical focuses on the discord between the sailor guardians, with Kaorinite using her magic to pit the original five against the outer guardians. Discord was a major theme throughout the musical and I thought they did a really good job highlighting this tension. I asked my brothers and fiance which side they were on in regards to the question of Hotaru and they all replied Team Outer Guardians. LOL.
All and all, I really enjoyed this musical. I would rank it second behind La Reconquista. I enjoyed Petite Etrangere, but I felt a lot of unnecessary songs were stuffed into it. Un Nouveau Voyage didn’t have that problem and the songs were solid. Plot-wise, the only problem I had was that the final battle against Pharaoh 90 was changed slightly. In the manga, Sailor Saturn appears before Super Sailor Moon throws herself at Pharaoh 90 and finishes him. Then, Sailor Moon releases the Silver Crystal which restores everything back to normal. In musical, Super Sailor Moon battles him first, then Saturn finishes him and it’s not addressed as to why Super Sailor Moon doesn’t/can’t destroy Pharaoh 90. Moreover, I think the staging could have been improved here as well. The Silver Crystal is basically a flashlight that Satomi is holding. I would have preferred if they would have been able to attach a light up Silver Crystal to her brooch, then Satomi’s hands would have been freed up. However, other than that small quibble, I was very satisfied with this musical.
The Subtitle Glasses
In 2013, I watched with the musical without any aid and even though I knew the storyline and enjoyed the music, I still became confused at times. So, I was very eager to try the new subtitle glasses. I’m happy to report the subtitle glasses were a complete success! They worked well and improved my enjoyment of the musical times a million! They also allowed me to convince my brothers and finance to come along; I doubt they would have come without them.
When we arrived at AiiA 2.5 theater, we went to a small booth to rent the glasses for 1,000 yen each. The glasses came in round, black cases that sort of looked like old CD cases. We were given instructions and told that there would be a test five minutes before the show. If you saw stars scrolling across your screen, you were good. If not, you had to run back to the booth to get a new one.
The glasses fit comfortably–they weren’t tight or too loose, although, I did find myself fidgeting with them during the show. I ended up taking them off during the curtain call songs. My brother wears glasses and he was able to wear the subtitle glasses over his regular glasses, but he told me it was quite uncomfortable. I thought they glasses might make me feel sick, but they did not.
That being said, I thought there was some room for some improvement in regards to the subtitles themselves:
- The subtitle font was white so at times when the stage was really bright, I found myself looking at a dark spot on stage.
- I noticed that not every word was translated–which I realize was probably necessary–but I did notice that several sentences were not translated during the dinner scene.
- I was surprised that some of the English translations didn’t follow the official Kodansha USA English translation. For example, the “Legendary Silver Crystal” was called the “Moon Crystal.”
- While translations like “Moon Crystal” were at least understandable, Saturn’s weapon was translated as “Silence Brave” instead of “Silence Glaive.” One foreign fan even stifled a laugh during this serious moment. Errors like this annoy me because it’s not like there’s a lack of reference material available at our fingertips. :/
Like I said before, overall, the subtitles glasses were a great and increased my enjoyment of the musical immensely. If I still lived in Japan, I would be going to all the musicals! Can someone go see the Princess Knight musical for me?
Anyways, I’m so happy I was able to see the Un Nouveau Voyage this year. It was made even more special since I was able to see it with friends and family. I was thinking that perhaps this would be my last musical, but now I don’t know–can I make it to see Sailor Stars? We shall see!