“Osamu Tezuka’s original manga turned into a play with the first inter-group performance! Releasing a new phase in a rainbow of color”

“Osamu Tezuka’s original manga turned into a play with the first inter-group performance! Releasing a new phase in a rainbow of color”

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Junna Ito from Nogizaka 46 and Konoka Matsuda from Keyakizaka 46 cross the boundaries of their groups for their first inter-group performance, “Nanairo Inko (Rainbow Parakeet)”. They are garnering attention throughout Japan and beyond, for making a stage adaption one of Japan’s manga masters, Osamu Tezuka.


“Nanairo Inko (Rainbow Parakeet)” is a story about the genius stand in actor, Rainbow Parakeet, who can act any anyone’s place regardless of sex or age plays countless famous parts, while he also commits crime to fulfill a certain goal. Nogizaka 46’s Junna Ito will play the protagonist, Rainbow Parakeet, and Keyakizaka 46’s Konoka Matsuda will play the whimsical female detective who tracks him, Mariko Senri.

The play begins with the same scenario as the first volume of the manga: it begins within the unique rainbow frame of a stage, were the lead actor of “Hamlet”, a play within a play, suddenly cannot perform. Junna Ito gallantly appears as a man for the first time, a part she plays in elegant costume, with cool acting and lines.


Ito has widened her opportunities within Nogizaka 46 as an actor, and has acted in one of Checkov’s four great plays, “Three Sisters” this year. She succeeded in her portrayal of the second daughter, Masha, who is engaged in complicated love affairs. Regarding her role in “Rainbow Parakeet”, which is completely different in nature and is her first time as lead, she said during our on site reporting that she “really thought ‘Wow’, when I heard the words ‘Genius actor’ and ‘Male role’, but thanks to all the people around me who gave me advice, I’m acting without over thinking it.” She spoke of how she has grown with her acting, and her increase in confidence.



However, most notable on stage is Konoka Matsuda, whose representation of the detective is such that one would not believe it is only her second performance. She plays Mariko Senri as portrayed in the original—she moves with striding freedom around the stage, showing a cuteness and innocence, explosive emotion and slick fighting maneuvers even as she falls for Rainbow Parakeet; the charm of her performance rivals that of her co-star.



Matsuda entered Keyakizaka 46 (hiragana keyaki) last year as part of the second generation, and has shown off her several talents such as impressions of Mana Ashida and showing off her guitar skills on television and the stage, but she is still relatively unknown. However, this year in April with her great part in the famous “Ayumi”, a play that shows the life of a single woman through 10 actresses, and her part as heroin in this play, display beautiful and flexible movements, and breadth of expression only possible thanks to her experience in ballet, she brings Mariko Senri to life with even more charm than she had in the original.

During the on the spot interview just before her performance, she said “I don’t have much acting experience, so I went all out during readings of the script, and they told me that it seemed like Mariko Senri and that I was good as I was. Since then I stopped worrying too much about creating a character. Me desperately trying to act as her, was actually just like Mariko Senri, so I kept it up.” Her co-star Ito guaranteed it, saying, “Yes! She’s just like Mariko Senri. She’s so cute”. And Matsuda says back, “She (Ito) is slowly coming to look to me like Parakeet; lately I feel like she’s really a man.” The two, who are the same age, displayed their compatibility.


This performance is a precious one; it is the first time that members of Nogizaka 46 and Keyakizaka 46 (hiragana keyaki) have done a performance across groups. Regarding this, Ito said, “This was my first time working with someone from Keyakizaka 46, and it was really refreshing, and I think that chances for us (Nogizaka 46) to perform with Keyakizaka 46 and Keyakizaka 46 (hiragana keyaki) will pop up in the future, I hope this performance will result in more opportunities for us.” Matsuda said, “I had worked with people from Nogizaka 46 before, but working on-stage like this over a long period of time is a first. I really look up to those in Nogizaka 46 and Keyaki 46 (kanji), which is why I entered Keyakizaka 46 (hiragana keyaki), so I was really happy to work with someone I looked up to.”

The Sakamichi Group is also garnering interest for its activities abroad such as Nogizaka 46 performing in Hong Kong. But Nogizaka 46’s aces Nanase Nishino and Yumi Wakatsuki have announced their graduation. Keyakizaka 46’s Yui Imaizumi has done the same. It is the perfect time for change. Amidst these happenings, Ito and Matsuda performing Japan’s famous manga on the stage pushes the movement into a new phase, on a stage filled with rainbow light.



There are certain words repeated throughout the main theme music and dialogue of “Rainbow Parakeet” on-stage. They are the most famous of the four soliloquys from “Hamlet”, from the beginning of the first scene of the third act. They are as follows.

“To be, or not to be”

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“Nanairo Inko (Rainbow Parakeet)” on stage

Junna Ito (Nogizaka 46)

Konoka Matsuda (Keyakizaka 46)

*The first play which will feature members from all three groups (Nogizaka 46, Keyakizaka 46, Keyakizaka 46 (hiragana keyaki)), “Zanbi”, will be featured at the Tokyo Dome City Hall on November 16th, 2018.

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