Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~. There are no screenshots in this review, however, a few photographs from the event have been posted on other websites (details here).
The Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~ stage play took place last year with twelve performances in Tokyo Dome City Hall from the 2nd to the 11th of November 2012. There were also five performances in Osaka's Ion Cosmetics Theatre Brava! from the 16th to the 18th November 2012. A 'live viewing' broadcast was arranged for the final performance to give fans who couldn't attend a chance to watch the show in selected cinemas across Japan.
The DVD recording was released earlier than planned on 28th February 2013. The single-disc standard edition costs ¥6,000 and has a run time of 160 minutes. The limited edition comes with a separate bonus disc containing 70 minutes of extra footage and cost ¥6,500. The limited edition has been sold out for a while now; there has actually been quite a lot of ill feeling online since there were a large number of copies being resold for a vastly inflated price immediately after release date.
The cast for Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~ was as follows:
Hamao Kyousuke (Chousokabe Motochika)
Kotani Yoshikazu (Mouri Motonari)
Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari)
Kubota Yuuki (Date Masamune)
Hosogai Kei (Sanada Yukimura)
Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou)
Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Yashiro Minase (Saika Magoichi)
Kawamura Yukie (Tsuruhime)
Taniguchi Masashi (Tenkai)
Miyashita Yuuya (Kobayakawa Hideaki)
Nitta Kenta (Ootani Yoshitsugu)
Katou Yasuhisa (Tachibana Muneshige)
Asakura Yuuta (Ootomo Sourin)
The 'Setouchi Kyouran' in the name of the play would usually mean 'Frenzy in the Setouchi Region', except it uses characters meaning a thunderous storm. With a title like that, the action is obviously centred around the eternal clash between the rivals Motonari and Motochika.
The overall storyline chronicles the buildup to Sekigahara as it's portrayed in Sengoku Basara 3 and Utage with a heavy bias towards Mitsunari's western army. It's delightful how many scenes from the game made it through almost completely unchanged into this live action adaptation; it's extremely faithful to the source material.
The main difference, then, is the focus, as Motonari is the major antagonist this time around. That's not to say that anything's been rewritten; the main clash between the leads was already covered in the original Butai Sengoku Basara 3. With no need to retell the story of how Mitsunari and Ieyasu came to blows proper attention is finally given to what happened elsewhere. Kotani reprises his role as a wild-eyed Motonari, less composed than he appears in the game but just as unreadable. His new battle scenes are incredible: he flings the ring blade in the air, catches it, rolls it, wraps it around people and splits it into two swords the way it can be in-game, demonstrating enormous variety in his techniques. It's obvious that the staff has put a lot of effort into choreographing his fighting style and then rehearsed it until everything works perfectly. Impressively, Kotani can swing the weapon around as though it weighs nothing despite it being solid enough to withstand all of the punishment it receives.
Opposite him is a new face. Hamao is exactly as I'd expect the Basara version of Motochika to look in real life. He's even managed to perfect Aniki's rowdy mannerisms when speaking. Hamao's physique is also worth mentioning; it takes a brave man to swagger around in a costume like that, and he's worked hard to look the part. When Motochika appeared in the previous Butai Sengoku Basara 3 he was played by a different actor, yet Hamao's new version is so convincing that I've completely forgotten the previous incarnation. Hamao has become Motochika in the flesh, as far as I'm concerned.
The six 'main' characters of Butai Sengoku Basara (Masamune, Yukimura, Ieyasu, Mitsunari, Kojuurou and Sasuke) have much smaller roles this time to accommodate the huge cast and shift to events in the Setouchi region. Most of them only appear for some fights, though Ieyasu and Mitsunari have a few important clashes in the main story as well. Hirose seems to have been improving; obviously not satisfied with merely looking exactly the same as Ieyasu he's now starting to sound more and more like him too. I almost thought that Ookawa was providing the voice behind the scenes during one scene because he was doing such an accurate imitation. Poor Mitsunari spends most of the play wailing in torment this time. Nakamura performs the part of the tragic victim so well that I felt terribly sorry for him.
Masamune and Kojuurou were mostly limited to battle scenes, and one amazing skit with their troops during the preparations for the final confrontations. The song that the old man in the Date army performed this time was very funny. Yukimura and Sasuke had a particularly entertaining scene where they encounter Magoichi and her gunners, which was directly taken from the game with some visual gags to keep it fresh. I think that Hosogai's Yukimura gets better and better with every performance. He throws himself into the role so well.
Yoshitsugu's role was quite small in this play, though not insignificant. He didn't have his signature platform to ride around on most of the time, so he'd just appear on stage from nowhere then roll off when the spotlight was on someone else. Once I'd spotted Gyoubu's neat little sideways roll for the first time, I couldn't help but look out for it in the corner of my eye whenever he had to disappear.
Tsuruhime looked older than the game version, naturally. Her special moves were staged well, especially when she'd charm enemy soldiers, and I loved how she confronted Motonari early on without a trace of fear. Magoichi had a new actress this time, which took a little getting used to at first. Yashiro's outfit seems much sexier than her predecessor's in Butai Sengoku Basara 3 - not that I'm complaining. It seemed a lot more convincing than before, even if it's still not quite accurate to the game to ensure the top stays in place during her rolls and special moves. Magoichi's gunplay always looks much better on stage than the ranged attacks from the archers.
I like Taniguchi's Tenkai a lot more than his earlier Mitsuhide. A large part of that is that his flowing hair doesn't give him nearly as much trouble. Thanks to the mask, much of Tenkai's expressiveness on stage is down to his body language and menacing scythes, so the actor can concentrate on that instead of constantly battling his unruly wig. Tenkai seemed softer this time around, even making some creepy jokes himself to play along with Kingo. Speaking of Kingo, he was just as brilliant here as in his previous outing. The stage play version of the character has made me appreciate the game version more! Miyashita is appropriately whiny and pathetic as he scurries around accidentally slaying enemy soldiers, yet he also brings out a very human side to the character which doesn't come across so well in the game cutscenes alone, interacting with the audience a few times as well as just with the enemy warriors. He's a lot more confident around the audience members and regular soldiers than the other main characters, and unlike in the game when he yells across his stage, people respond to him. I like seeing this hidden side to his personality.
The last pair of newcomers are Sourin and Muneshige. It's because of them that the first half of the play felt dangerously like a full blown musical at points, with soldiers dancing around and Sourin bursting into song at the slightest provocation. I felt that both of the actors were very good; they looked the part and provided plenty of comic relief when things became intense. It was interesting to see that Sourin wasn't limited to fighting on his usual platform when on stage. His more mobile fighting style felt completely natural and still incorporated his usual dancing, skipping, worshipping and converting. Perhaps we can see him fight like this in the game series one day too, since the stage plays are directly overseen by Capcom..?
Muneshige didn't get very many lines that weren't (presumably) prerecorded as internal monologues and played over the speakers. His raikiri battles were exhilarating to watch. He dutifully allowed his lord to humiliate him by standing on his back and riding him like a horse. Poor Gallop.
I watched the whole stage play in one go because it was so charming, only taking advantage of the luxury of being able to pause the action a few times when I was laughing too hard and didn't want to miss any lines. Most of the scenes had a wonderful, light feeling to them even if Mitsunari and Motochika were in the pits of despair for much of the performance. The decision to use the darker storylines they've chosen for the upcoming Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage play now makes much more sense. Most of the lighter side of Utage has already been covered here; what remains is to explore the four 'serious' characters from the game, and that's exactly what they're going to do along with introducing the Sengoku Basara 2 characters who were passed over before.
There is no bonus material at all on the main disc; fans had to get the second disc in the special edition to see any of the backstage footage. It was difficult to find a picture showing the first press edition packaging, so a crop of the previous photograph of my own copy will have to suffice. The series is so popular that its special edition sold out completely even with no official packaging images available...
The bonus footage on the first press disc is split into three parts. First comes a 'making of' documentary showing the actors rehearsing the script around a huge table, observed by big names including series producer KobaP, director Yamamoto and stage play creator Nishida Daisuke. The camera then shadows the actors for some messages and backstage footage to give a closer look at the costumes and props. Hamao looks really pretty up close. I can believe that his Motochika was once called himewako.
The other two extras are both from the grand finale in Osaka. The first is the usual 'curtain call' segment, where the upcoming Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage was originally revealed in a surprise announcement. Nishida also treats the audience to an exciting medley of battle scenes, 'Air Basara'. This involves the extras leaping around without the main actors being present, reacting to and taking damage from invisible opponents. The curtain call is followed up by a collection of ad-libs made during the preceding performance. These hilarious skits are presented with picture-in-picture to show how they deviate from the properly choreographed versions. Some of the most memorable are Kingo treating the audience to a sexy dance, Mouri chomping on a daikon radish and dancing with Sourin as though he'd been converted, Ieyasu deliberately falling down a staircase laughing at Tsuruhime for her breezy introduction and Kojuurou performing a 'Kojuu-rap' (Masamune asked for an encore!).
The next stage play isn't going to come to DVD for a while - especially since the performances have yet to commence. The feelings of elation after watching Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~ are going to have to last me until then.