TokyoGirls'Update

Yumi Wakatsuki’s “heart screw” delivery in her final performance with Nogizaka 46 is a glimpse into her future

若月佑美 乃木坂46として最後の舞台で贈る“心のネジ”未来がみえた
Yumi Wakatsuki’s “heart screw” delivery in her final performance with Nogizaka 46 is a glimpse into her future

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Taiyō Matsumoto’s popular manga “Tekkonkinkreet” has been adapted to the stage for the first time, with leading roles played by Yumi Wakatsuki as Shiro and Natsume Mito as Kuro. It was performed at The Galaxy Theatre until the 25th of this month. For Yumi Wakatsuki, who will be graduating from Nogizaka 46 at the end of this month, this was her last stage appearance as a member of the group.

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“Tekkonkinkreet” is a popular manga considered by some to be the magnum opus of manga artist Taiyō Matsumoto. Originally serialized within the weekly Big Comic Spirits in 1993, it was later adapted as an animation. It tells the story of Kuro (Black) and Shiro (White), two boys together known as the Cats, who live on the streets of the fictional town of Takaramachi (Treasure Town). While finding themselves in trouble with the police and the Yakuza, they attempt to protect each other as they survive their violent everyday lives. The boys’ unique personalities and the complicated, yet somehow nostalgic, human relationships depicted within the story proved to be popular even abroad.

In an on-the-spot interview given at the play’s premiere, Wakatsuki enthusiastically said, “I’ve re-read the manga countless times; that’s how much I love the original. As the last stage performance I’ll be giving while part of Nogizaka 46, I thought I’d bet on this one.” Mito also spoke confidently about the play, “I’m looking forward to it so much I can’t stop grinning. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’ve created.”

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About the highlights of the play, Wakatsuki said, “I tried performing action scenes for the first time. Kuro fights desperately to defend Shiro, so I hope you’ll appreciate how he does it.” Mito said, “Shiro’s facial expressions change a lot. He spends a lot of time making silly faces, and his personality shines the most when he’s singing.” In fact, their comments do not do enough justice to the overwhelming impact of the action and sense of speed throughout the play.

One of the highlights of the play is the set production of Takaramachi, which is the backdrop of Taiyō Matsumoto’s internationally highly acclaimed work. It’s not only the design of the uniquely deformed Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddy Kastle), which plays a thematic role in the story, but the kanji characters and slang words strewn across the stage makes the set truly feel like a world created by Taiyō Matsumoto himself. Most likely, fans of the original manga will be satisfied by the quality of featured characters such as Yakuzas like Snake and Tiger, or the loveable duo Choco and Vanilla. Additionally, the costumes also capture the atmosphere of the original manga. Wakatsuki herself said approvingly, “Wearing my costume, I realized for the first time what kind of life Kuro must have been living. Both Shiro and Kuro are the types who would put on anything they took a liking to. So you really get a feel for their personalities from various aspects of their outfits.”

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As for the play itself, not only is Mito’s dizzying range of expressions, voices, and moods versatile to say the least, but Wakatsuki, already well-reputed for her acting abilities, rampages around the towering stage with a sense of speed that is deployed to evoke the perfect amount of impact. Her jeering and snarling are enough to make you forget the polite and pristine image she cultivated within Nogizaka 46, and her overwhelmingly nonchalant appearance displays a new dimension to her. Ultimately, this play can be called a masterpiece that gives us a raw portrayal of Kuro and Shiro’s life as they look after each other.

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Once again, “Tekkonkinkreet” is a story about Kuro and Shiro’s life as they take care of one another. Their individual missing “heart screws” is the theme that underlines this work. In the play as well, Shiro screams the pivotal words “heart screws” at the climax.

Wakatsuki has announced her decision to graduate from Nogizaka 46 on November 30. This will be her final performance as a member of Nogizaka 46.

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A seven-time consecutive entrant in the Nikaten contest and having designed the official T-shirt for the first time at this year’s Daidogei (Street Performance) World Cup in her hometown of Shizuoka, Wakatsuki has displayed a diversity of talent. However, after graduating, she says she will continue to focus on theatre acting. She has received much support from her juniors. Not only her fellow first-generation member Mai Shiraishi came to see first-day rehearsals, but also present was Mizuki Yamashita, Wakatsuki’s junior third-generation member. Yamashita has currently been selected as the front for the Nogizaka 48 unit Wakasama Corps, which was formed by Wakatsuki. Yamashita was there despite the fact that she is currently busy with her own stage performance.

Nogizaka 46 has become a national idol group. However, it is on the verge of entering an entirely new era. This year brought about the graduation of Rina Ikoma, who was the symbol of Nogizaka 46. Nanase Nishino, who is said to be the undisputed center star, is nearing her graduation as well. Amongst all of this, Wakatsuki may be attempting to give out as many “heart screws” as she can in her final stage performance as part of Nogizaka 46.

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Wakatsuki ended the interview, saying, “There are only five days from the closing of the show to my graduation, so it still really hasn’t sunk in. But, since I want to continue as a stage actor after my graduation, being able to perform on stage until the very end of my time as a member of Nogizaka 46 gives me a small glimpse into the future of which I am happy about.”

“Tekkonkinkreet”
http://www.st-tekkon.net/

Written by Yama Junta

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TokyoGirls'Update
TokyoGirls'Update

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