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"One Piece" in Kabuki Theater

By October 12, 2015 at 7:20 pm
Super Kabuki Second One Piece
Super Kabuki Second One Piece(Photo : Kabuki-Bito)

Kabuki is Japan's traditional theatrical art staging pure classics handed down through the ages. That's a fair definition of Kabuki and roughly correct. But roughly, though. As the climate shifts so does this traditional stage art.

You know Eiichiro Oda's "One Piece"? The manga on the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, that funny young man who eats a Devil Fruit to gain the properties of rubber? Oh, well, if you don't, never mind. Just remember it's the story of a pirate Luffy on his journey in search for a treasure called One Piece. Data say this manga has sold 320 million copies and enjoys thunderous popularity worldwide.

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The point is: this manga has found its way into the world of Kabuki. At the press interview in July, Kabuki actor Ennosuke Ichikawa said:

"We are embarking on an ambitious tour to the unknown. It's a tour of no return".

Why One Piece?

Vice President of Shochiku Tadashi Abiko said:

"Classics alone can draw only a limited number Kabuki fans. We need to produce works that match the day. If we could attract those who have never seen Kabuki before, One Piece would do fine".

Ennosuke added:

"You see, the hero Luffy's body stretches like rubber, that's the most peculiar thing about him. And my mission is to demonstrate it on stage. First, we thought of adopting a traditional method in Kabuki - the performers joining hand in hand to show as if Luffy's hands stretching. Visual effects might be an idea."

Ennosuke's uncle, Ennosuke Sr., was a revolutionary Kabuki actor. He stretched a wire midair and flew in the air. Ennosuke is thankful to his predecessors for their innovative styles of New Kabuki. "They made it easier for us juniors to challenge in our own way," adds he.