Saturday, 1 November 2014

DVD review: Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013

This review has been a long time coming, but with Butai Sengoku Basara 4 starting its run in Japan I felt it was about time I finished watching the last event DVD in my collection!

Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013 (hereafter referred to by its official romanised title of Busho Matsuri) was a major fan event held on Saturday 13th July 2013 (with two performances at 12:30 and 18:00 respectively) and Sunday 14th July 2013 (with just one performance at 12:30).

The venue was the enormous Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, and the purpose of the event was to celebrate the Butai Sengoku Basara stage play series. By 2013, the regular Basara Matsuri events had become so crowded with fans of both the games and the stage plays that it was becoming tremendously difficult to cater for everyone properly, so the decision was made to split the next two events into a huge party for the stage play fans and a smaller, low-key Basara Matsuri for the original games six months later.

What nobody released at the time Busho Matsuri was first announced was that this would also be a farewell party, of sorts, for the stage play series' two iconic leads. Kubota Yuuki and Hosogai Kei had become enormously popular over the years and there was a great deal of shock when it was announced that they would be graduating from the series after Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage finished its run.

With this being a large-scale event, the guest list was amazing.

Stage play guests:

Kubota Yuuki (Date Masamune)
Hosogai Kei (Sanada Yukimura)
Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari)
Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou)
Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Sakimoto Hiromi (Takenaka Hanbee)
Odai Ryouhei (Toyotomi Hideyoshi)
Nakamura Kazuto (Takeda Shingen)
AKIRA (Uesugi Kenshin)
Chinen Sayaka (Kasuga)
Masao (Maeda Toshiie)
Beppu Ayumi (Matsu)
Shirakawa Yuujirou (Kuroda Kanbee)
Kotani Yoshikazu (Mouri Motonari)
Nitta Kenta (Ootani Yoshitsugu)
Katou Yasuhisa (Tachibana Muneshige)
Asakura Yuuta (Ootomo Sourin)
Kawamura Yukie (Tsuruhime)
Yashiro Minase (Saika Magoichi)
Taniguchi Masashi (Akechi Mitsuhide/Tenkai)
Imai Yasuhiko (Mogami Yoshiaki)
Takahashi Hikaru (Fuuma Kotarou)
Tsukamoto Takuya (Imagawa Yoshimoto)
Sakurada Kousei (Azai Nagamasa)
Kubodera Akira (Oda Nobunaga)
Tamaki Nami (Oichi)

Isaka Tatsuya (Maeda Keiji) was present too, but only for the Sunday show.

Seiyuu guests (Saturday 12:30 show):

Ikeda Shuuichi (Ashikaga Yoshiteru)

Seiyuu guests (Saturday 18:00 show):

Okiayu Ryoutarou (Toyotomi Hideyoshi)
Seki Tomokazu (Ishida Mitsunari)

Seiyuu guests (Sunday show):

Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie)

Other guests:

Nishida Daisuke (stage play producer)
Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki (Sengoku Basara series producer)

Ikeda Shuuichi's role in Sengoku Basara 4 still hadn't been announced when he was first confirmed as a guest, so everyone was excited to see what Yoshiteru was going to be like when he came on stage. Okamoto was a surprise guest and Hideyoshi still hadn't been confirmed for Sengoku Basara 4 at all back then, so the seiyuu presence stirred up quite a lot of excitement in spite of it being a stage play event.

--

The Busho Matsuri DVD set was barebones, containing two discs and nothing more. The first disc ran for 160 minutes and covered most of the content from the Sunday performance.

A short countdown video showed highlights from the original plays and then gave away to a sensational opening performance introducing all of the actors in costume with a hectic fight. The stage area was much larger than for a regular Basara Matsuri so there was plenty of room for everyone to run around and pose mid-battle for the thousands of screaming fans. The whole thing lasted around 40 minutes; it was almost as good as watching one of the actual stage plays! It felt so nostalgic to see Kubota and Hosogai giving their polished performances as Masamune and Yukimura to a thumping T.M.Revolution soundtrack.

Once the actors had all performed their introductions, KobaP and Nishida came on stage to greet the audience. KobaP was wearing a yukata while Nishida had donned a smart western-style suit; they both looked very dapper! Nishida explained that Kubota and Hosogai were appearing for the last time to make sure that everyone was suitably depressed, then the 'great banquet' kicked off with a set of four cute skits from the stage play actors. Hirose and Kawamura served as announcers.

These skits were performed in character, though the fourth wall was frequently broken. Unfortunately, the live acts contained a number of funny tributes to famous songs and all of this footage had to be cut, which absolutely destroyed some of the skits. Most of Masamune and Kojuurou's passionate musical was reduced to being a strange clip show with muted audio, making it difficult to understand what was going on - Yoshida was singing and Kubota was reacting hilariously, but even the stage play's trademark 'Kataku-rap' was reduced to silence.

The next 'act' featured the Takeda army's comical tribute to The Lion King, which was also heavily edited. It was followed by a ridiculous set of jokes from the Toyotomi army, then the Oda troops finished off with a bloodthirsty performance.

Once all four armies had finished, Hirose asked the audience to applaud for the act they liked the most and declared the Takeda army the victors. Hirose had to fend off silly attacks of jealousy from Kubota and Kubodera while the winners celebrated on stage.

I'm glad they included the video because watching Kubota fighting back tears as Yoshida serenades him is worth seeing. Still, it's a big shame that fans who couldn't attend the event will never get to enjoy the original songs. This segment would have been so much better with all of the footage intact.

Another cheeky skit which showed what Toshiie and Matsu get up to in their private time together ended the 'great banquet', then KobaP came on stage to announce the day's secret guest: Okamoto Nobuhiko.

Okamoto was shy and friendly, as always, and the audience was very interested in learning more about the character he was going to be playing in Sengoku Basara 4 - Katsuie was still a mysterious newcomer back when this event took place. Aside from Okamoto's live dialogue readings, the special guest chat isn't all that interesting to look back on as it was mostly reveals about Sengoku Basara 4 which are now common knowledge.

The segment ended with another mini-skit, this time showing an intimate conversation between Nagamasa and Oichi (which was soon interrupted by Nobunaga).

Next up was something called 'Hinadan Basara' where all of the stage play guests gathered on stage atop a giant hinadan platform. Isaka Tatsuya was present for this part so he had to quickly introduce himself before things could get started. The actors were prompted to answer various questions with funny anecdotes and kept slipping in and out of character. The best part was when Beppu ordered Hideyoshi and Nobunaga to strut up and down the stage in a fashion show, and both actors actually gave it their best shot after a few bashful objections. It was surreal (especially when Hanbee and Mitsuhide followed their lords up the catwalk, hand-in-hand).

After Hinadan Basara, there was another short skit with Hideyoshi and Hanbee going out on a walk to talk about important matters... such as Mitsunari's hairstyle. The conversation degenerated into a series of terrible puns before ending with a tease where Hideyoshi told Hanbee to remove his mask - just in time for the hall's lights to fade to black.

The final event was a selection of combat scenes which had been requested by the audience at the Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage play. The staff selected a few for each of the Busho Matsuri performances; obviously the match-ups which required actors who weren't present at the event weren't eligible, and the fight which came in fifth place would have been impossible unless Taniguchi Masashi cloned himself.

The first fight was - of course - a classic Masamune vs Yukimura duel. It felt so good to see Kubota and Hosogai fighting one another one last time! They both seemed to energise one another.

Next came the tenth place battle, Keiji vs Magoichi. Magoichi fought Keiji off furiously (but he didn't seem to mind at all).

A bonus match-up between the 'loving husbands' of the series came next. This was a funny duel with Nagamasa and Toshiie yelling about how much they loved their respective wives in between trading blows. It's funny how similar the two men are deep down, despite being very different on the surface.

The final duel was a special request from Kubota and Hosogai: Masamune and Yukimura vs Mitsunari and Ieyasu. The four of them battled furiously accompanied by the sound of Naked arms blasting out of the speakers, until Masamune and Yukimura eventually triumphed.

It may seem unfair that half of the fights involved Masamune and Yukimura for this performance, but since this was the very last time that Kubota and Hosogai would ever stand on stage together as their characters I think it's ok to let that slide.

I've posted it before but to keep everything in one place, the full list of nominations is below. The numbers in brackets are the total number of votes received for that combination.

1. Masamune vs Yukimura (838)
2. Masamune vs Kojuurou (746)
3. Ieyasu vs Mitsunari (652)
4. Yukimura vs Sasuke (565)
5. Tenkai vs Akechi Mitsuhide (512)
6. Kojuurou vs Sasuke (414)
7. Hanbee vs Motonari (371)
8. Masamune vs Mitsunari (366)
9. Mitsunari vs Hanbee (293)
10. Keiji vs Magoichi (276)
11. Mitsunari vs Hideyoshi (257)
12. Hanbee vs Kanbee (209)
13. Masamune vs Sasuke (191)
14. Ieyasu vs Hideyoshi (175)
15. Sasuke vs Kotarou (174)
16. Hideyoshi vs Nobunaga (148)
17. Motonari vs Sourin (147)
18. Mitsunari vs Yoshitsugu (144)
19. Yukimura vs Mitsunari (133)
20. Nobunaga vs Oichi (127)
21. Tsuruhime vs Kotarou (120)
22. Mitsunari vs Kotarou (103)

With the fights over, Yoshida, Murata and Nakamura summoned KobaP and Nishida to the stage to introduce the next stage play project planned for that autumn, Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage II: Kyouou Tanjou x Shinen No Utage. Nishida explained that the lead roles would be passed to the remaining veterans now that Kubota and Hosogai were leaving, and then it was time for everyone to come back on stage for the traditional farewell messages.

Still drained from the fight scenes, Hirose and Nakamura gave short speeches about taking on the roles of leaders now that Kubota and Hosogai were graduating, but an emotional Nakamura struggled to fight back his tears. Things became less depressing when it came to Murata's speech; he teased Kubota and Hosogai cheerfully to stop them from weeping. Taniguchi continued the silliness by calling out for Kingo, whose actor wasn't present at the event.

By the time the last few actors were giving their messages, however, the emotional atmosphere had come flooding back. The show finally ended after the excrutiating torture of watching poor Kubota and Hosogai trying not to break down in tears for the entire ending ceremony.

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The second disc in the Busho Matsuri set collects 70 minutes of bonus features, the first of which is a 17-minute collection of clips titled 'Backstage from Busho Matsuri 2013'. It's a jumble of behind-the-scenes footage showing shots of the venue mixed with greetings from the actors and scenes from rehearsals. The footage also shows the farewell that the other staff members gave Kubota and Hosogai backstage, turning what was originally a lighthearted clip show into another emotional roller coaster.

The second extra feature collects the remainder of the requested combat scenes from Saturday's performances so that that DVD viewers didn't miss out on any action scenes.
  • Kojuurou vs Sasuke. We've seen this match-up a few times in the plays, and here it ended in a draw. It doesn't matter that nothing was settled - we'll probably see the two of them cross weapons again soon!
  • Hanbee vs Motonari. This was a cool battle where it looked as though Motonari would win easily at first, then Hanbee disarmed him and took control of the battle. Even though it seemed hopeless, Motonari seized the opportunity to change the outcome when Hanbee was temporarily overcome by a coughing fit.
  • Special: Oichi vs Nobunaga. There was so much cheering when Oichi first appeared from beneath the stage, singing to herself! I felt myself shiver with excitement as Nobunaga charged towards his sister with a merciless expression on his face. It was awesome seeing Oichi going all out with her naginata and laughing in Nobunaga's face; she's usually quite meek in the stage play series!
  • YamamotoD's special request: Yukimura vs Hyottoko Kamen (Shingen) and Tenko Kamen (Sasuke) in the Takeda Dojo. An already-awesome fight became even more exciting when Ieyasu arrived partway through and joined in the fight armed with one of Yukimura's spears. This whole sequence was classic Sengoku Basara craziness.
  • Special: Ieyasu vs Masamune. A more serious duel between the two Eastern Army allies. Masamune seemed to have the edge with his swords, but Ieyasu's acrobatic punches made it very exciting.
  • Tsuruhime vs Kotarou. This was a comical fight where Kotarou's innate coolness was pitted against Tsuruhime's tireless attempts to charm him with an arrow.
  • Mitsunari vs Hideyoshi. This was clearly a very distressing match-up for one of the two combatants; what kind of wicked people voted for this?! I appreciated the chance to see Hideyoshi punching a horrified Mitsunari and hitting him with his own scabbard. It was a very strange spectacle.
  • KobaP's special request: Kenshin and Kasuga vs Oichi. Kasuga did most of the fighting at first, but a surprising interruption by Mitsuhide evened the odds until he turned on his own ally. Mitsuhide's weird movements made Kenshin looked even more graceful in comparison. Nice request, KobaP.
The next bonus feature gave a more in-depth look at the last three requested battles from Sunday's show, namely Keiji vs Magoichi, Nagamasa vs Toshiie, then Masamune and Yukimura vs Mitsunari and Ieyasu. The fights were shown from slightly different angles and there were also scenes of the actors preparing for them backstage - mostly in character. It was a fun watch.

A short excerpt from Saturday's special guest corner with Ikeda Shuuichi is the next feature in the list. Since the Sengoku Basara 4 news would have been identical to the content from Sunday's show, most of Ikeda's appearance has been removed except for some live dialogue readings and a short interview. He seemed very relaxed and happy to be joining the series!

Some footage from the Saturday evening guest corner with Okiayu Ryoutarou and Seki Tomokazu was also included. The two seiyuu were both in a very silly mood, with Okiayu joking about Hideyoshi and Hanbee nonstop. One of the features of this segment had the two seiyuu performing lines from Hideyoshi and Mitsunari live on stage while the stage play cast members acted them out. It was fun, but way too short!

A collection of clips from Saturday's 'Hinadan Basara' were edited together to form another extra feature. There seemed to be a lot of casual violence (Tsuruhime pushing Sourin, Motonari bashing Mitsuhide with his helmet) and the actors kept making fun of one another. With less than ten minutes of clips, it was sad that most of the content was missing.

The last of the extra features was a selection of monologues by some of the characters who rarely get many lines in the actual stage plays. Back to the matter at hand ~Monologues from the Warriors~ put Muneshige, Kotarou, Tsuruhime and Kasuga on stage alone to perform amusing skits for the audience. The stage play's original 'old soldier' character had a chance to talk about his excitement at being announced for Sengoku Basara 4, too.

All in all, I was satisfied with the diverse selection of extras in this set. The actors put so much energy into their performances that even watching them swinging their weapons around backstage never fails to be entertaining.

--

Having been unable to attend the event in person this time, I had nothing but this DVD compilation to rely on. Perhaps this is why it seems especially regrettable this time that so much content has been cut or trimmed to fit the 'digest' format rather than being included in full. I'm sure the producers were doing their best to make it manageable and the run time of almost four hours isn't exactly stingy, but I'd rather have had the whole event than a clip show.

Still, there's no getting away from the fact that this is the only glimpse into what happened at Busho Matsuri that non-attendees are likely to have, so setting aside the disappointment of the missing footage I'm happy that I got to see this much. It looks as though it would have been a fantastic event to attend live and the finale left me feeling very emotional all over again. In a way, I'm glad I wasn't there in person as I'd have been crying all the way through the farewell messages along with the actors.

The ¥6,000 Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013 DVD set is still in print and available from online stores such as Amazon Japan, CD Japan, Yesasia and the Dais Shop.

3 comments:

  1. U-uh... a Kotaro monologue? Does he speak in the stage play? Or was it just him doing some flips? Or was it a dual scene with Tsuru and Kotaro? People desire to know! @_@ And I'm sure Muneshige and Kasuga's scenes were amusing.

    And, the Tiger of Kai King? Oh dear lord my favorite musical/Disney film put together with my favorite Japanese franchise... too bad it was edited out. :< Thought parody law was laxer in Japan. Ah well!

    All those bonus fights seem amazing. Ugh ugh guh guhg uhhhh... ;_;

    Side note, the only "Akira" actor I can seem to find any information on is a dude. Is Kenshin actually played by a dude in the stage plays? O: Looking at the pic of them, could see him being a visual kei sort of person.

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    Replies
    1. For the Kotarou monologue, he kept moving as though he was about to speak then he'd assume a pose and the big screen overhead would show "..." instead. It was sort of frustrating to watch it (lol).

      The AKIRA who plays Kenshin is a gorgeous young lady who often dresses as a guy outside of the series too. She's really dashing, you can easily imagine her protecting Kasuga and the two have great chemistry. You can read a little more about her here:

      http://www.tokyorebel.com/pages/interview-akira
      http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2014-05-09/disacode-akira-sings-new-black-butler-tv-anime-ending
      http://visualioner.com/2013/07/19/crossdressing-girl-akira/
      http://ameblo.jp/akiriot/ (her Japanese blog)

      I might have a crush on her, haha. I'm glad they managed to get someone so pretty, androgynous and perfect to play Kenshin.

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    2. Snrk, how silly! Ah well should have expected as much!

      And wow she's... she's beautiful! Aaaaahhhh goodness she's pretty perfect alright! @_@ That's so cool.

      Delete

I'm really sorry that I had to switch on authentication for comments. The blog had started to receive dozens of spam comments each week. I hope that this new setting will help!