I can say goodbye to my exam preparations. After Gundam docks on Thursday and 28th SEA Games Opening Ceremony yesterday, I spent today watching Live Spectacle NARUTO. I was not aware of this even until yesterday when I was so bored and surfing the internet. Truth to be told, I am not a fan or Naruto. I know Naruto is a popular manga and anime series but I never watch the anime or read the manga. My interest is not exactly on the series but with the fact that this is a live action production in a theatre! I know there are plenty of animes being turned into musical and performed on stage in Japan but what is the chance for me to experience those? Now with this one present in Singapore (complete with English subtitle too!), I shall not miss the chance.
Usually I will prepare myself before watching anything with reading some spoilers first. I did not have the luxury this time so I really went to watch this with a blank mind, completely clue-less about Naruto, except perhaps for names of few characters. Surprisingly, I did not find myself lost while watching. Thus I think the story is presented well and smoothly. You don't even need to be familiar with the original material to follow this.
Acting-wise, just from looking at the elaborate make-up in the promotional pictures, I know I can expect top class acting. From the laughter of approval from the audience (which I believe are mostly fans), I am pretty sure that they successfully copy the funny scenes from the anime or manga without being lame. There are plenty of touching moments which actually made me shed tears. I guess I am officially fall into the 'old' category now that I can understand how loneliness can drive people crazy or evil. Without anybody to love or care, you simply lose your purpose in life and very easily live as you wish for yourself. In the past, I can never understand such theme but now I understand and can empathise with the characters a bit better.
My biggest curiosity is to see how they do the effects for the flashy fight moves and again they do this very well without making things lame. In addition, they do not only project animation on screen to show the flashy fight moves. For example, for Rasengan and Chidori, the actors hold something with a light on their arms to show the focal point of the power. Naruto's shadow clone jutsu is depicted by having multiple people wearing black attire with orange lights outlining Naruto's body. Gaara waves a huge white cloth (on which sand animation is projected) for his sand wall. For the jutsus that involve various hand/finger movements, they project the animations of the actors' close-ups while doing those hand/finger movements. I really give them the credit for going to such extent to depict the fights.
While the effects are fantastic, I am pretty disappointed with the physical fight scenes. Although they are well choreographed, there is minimal body contact. Of course I do not expect the actors to be literally punching and kicking one another but I expect some realism to depict the fight. At least they can come closer (although still no contact) to maintain the realism. Many of the punches and kicks are very far apart that I cannot tell the difference between the punches/kicks which are EVADED and those that actually HIT. It is minor but I think it is quite a waste as the actors are already spending that much effort with all the acrobatics.
Since this is a live action theater, it is another hit when they bother to put in some INTERACTIVE segments with the audience. This is especially evident in the second act which makes the whole second act more enjoyable. In the first half, it was only Jiraiya asking the audience to clap their hands (and to clap louder) for his appearance. But at the beginning of second half, Naruto went down from the stage and made one round through the audience. When Choji turns giant, a giant balloon of his shape was thrown from the stage to the audience. Yes, this was in the middle of the massive battle but it was done rather well without being corny. A section of Gaara vs Naruto battle was also done at center aisle on the audience side. Oh and after turning giant, Choji is hungry and wants to eat some chili crab. Lol.. Nice try to engage with the audience. I wish they do some of these things at the first act too.
As a surprise, at the end of the whole thing, the cast sings the image song of the show LIVE. So yeah, it feels like watching a live concert even just for a few minutes. I am not sure if the person playing Orochimaru is famous because everyone went gaga when she (yes it was played by a lady) started to sing. Unfortunately my seat is not strategic enough for me to shake hands with the casts when they are running around. Sigh.. Sad.. Well lesson-learnt, the best seats will be at the center aisle. Too bad I knew about this and bought the ticket at the very last minute. All the good seats had been taken. But at the end of the day, I still think it was $138 (+$4 booking fee) well-spent. Sadly, the hall was only 60-70% filled. Does it mean that the show is not very popular? Hmm... That will be quite sad. In fact, I enjoyed this better than Wicked (although this is like comparing apple to orange as they are different genre altogether).
There are a few things that I think can improve the watching experience. Firstly, they should project the show to the screens. The screens were used to only show the subtitles and it felt rather awkward to be looking at the screens for the subtitles while missing all the great actions and details on the stage. Luckily I am used to watching Japanese anime and drama so there are commonly used words that I roughly can tell without looking at the subtitles the whole time. Secondly, they should project the close-up of the actors as animations more frequently, That much effort is spent for the make-up for the actors and I think it is kinda wasted that these cannot be seen clearly and appreciated by the audience.
Of course, I am a sucker for this kind of thing and I got myself readily scalped for getting the overpriced merchandises. Haha.. I bought the $30 programme booklet. Hmm.. I shall just consider it like buying an artbook la.. However, I kinda regret spending $90 for the photo sets. Yes.. call me crazy for spending that much for 18 pieces of photos. My regret came after I realised that there was nothing 'exclusive' about the photos. They are readily available on the websites as the promotional pictures T_T To add to my disappointment, some of photos are not that well-cropped. Some close-ups of the action poses have the actors' hair or weapons cropped away -_- Some of the full body shots have the actors' shoes or weapons cropped away. Aww... Anyway my main reason for buying the photos are to appreciate the make-up lo. Since I could not really see the faces during the show. I am not a poster person so I did not buy the $10 poster.
|The special 'gift' for buying the whole picture set. This picture is also available online lo.. Sian..|
That's all that I have to say about Live Spectacle NARUTO. Just to hijack this a bit, I managed to sell another item yesterday. Yay!! Haha.. I think it is almost 1 year since the last time I sold something leh. I sold The Art of Marvel The Avengers. I bought it in 2012 because I enjoyed the movie so much. I was expecting a good read of the movie making (like those Harry Potter behind-the-scenes books) but this book has very little of that and mostly concept arts. Bleah.. I bought it from Amazon for about $35 and I sold it for $75 which is the original price. The buyer asked if the price was negotiable. Only then I went online to realise that this is SOLD OUT everywhere. Darn!! If I knew that was the case, I would double the price. Grr.. Okay.. don't be greedy and be glad that it has been sold.
|Not going to buy the Age of Ultron book though|
Anyway the buyer is a great guy. I think I have never came across such a friendly buyer who offered me a handshake. We also made a little conversation about the Age of Ultron movie and we both think it is not as good as its prequel. He asked if I had the Age of Ultron book. Haha.. Nope.. did not enjoy the movie to actually buy the book. And the current Amazon price is also not that cheap either. Lol.