A few weeks ago I experienced the most amazing dancing show, that is PLAYZONE. This year, like the previous two years, Imai Tsubasa led the show – with Nakayama Yuma by his side. I went to see the show on August 2, and it was buckets of luck more than anything else that finally let me see it against all odds! And you can probably guess how happy I am about that! Now PLAYZONE is over for this time, but I hope for a new show next year, and all I can say is: if you have the possibility, go and watch it! It’s so worth it!
Okay, so here's my report. I went to the evening show on a very normal Thursday. At 5:10 pm I sat in my seat in the second row, far to the left on the balcony. Before I got there I was a little worried about sitting on the balcony, but as soon as I got there I realized that the theatre was so small and rounded that I would see most things that were going on kind of perfect. A good view of the stage vs. being close to the dancers like the audience on the first floor? Hm, since I was so close to not getting to see PLAYZONE at all, I was very happy with my seat!
So, there I sat, kind of bursting with feelings and expectations when only a few minutes remained until the show would start. Suddenly people on the first floor started screaming, standing up and turning around, facing the back of the room. I saw a small group of people walking along the isle just beneath the edge of the balcony, one of them held a big camera, so I realized there was someone special watching the show that evening. I couldn't see who it was, but later during the show I got to know – and see – him: it was Takki! Both of my favourites were there, I couldn't have been luckier than that!
The show started with a beautiful space travel in 3D on the movie screen, at the same time as parts of the stage were raised to different levels, and when the movie ended ROAD TO PLAYZONE started and all the dancers were lowered onto the stage from the ceiling. They were dressed in something that reminded of spacetravel suits – white clothes with different coloured straps. They started dancing on the raised part of the stage but later went down to the floor. And this opening dance, wow! I can't wait to see it again on the DVD when it is released later! To get to see Tsubasa and Yuma dance together on the same stage was enough for me as it was, but ROAD TO PLAYZONE is seriously one of the best songs they could have chosen to open the show with!
They continued with 真夏の夜の花 when about half the group (They!Budou, MAD and 4U) placed themselves in a kind of stair they had created of the stage, and during this beautiful song the lighting was just as beautiful! They had white spotlights on the guys, and they were moved between them, this way and that way in different patterns. And it was just so beautiful, I almost got teary-eyed! Especially when Yara Tomoyuki appeared on top of the stairs towards the end of the song and walked down the middle of it.
Then there was a short MC part when two guys (I don't remember who they were) welcomed us, and at the same time the first cartoon movie was shown behind them. It was about Yara and They!Budou who were going to take a shower… It was time for 夢の続きで and a fantastic shower act with Yara and They!Budou. They stood in separate shower cabins – but they were very low, they only reached up to the hips of the guys. All they were wearing was flesh-coloured underwear… They sang a little while "showering", then they put on jeans and went to the front of the stage. They did some dancing, then they put on more and more clothes. They started with the shoes that were placed right at the edge of the stage, then white shirts they had in their pockets – but they didn't button them up of course. Finally they went to the back of the stage where sparkly jackets had been lowered down, and put them on for the end of the song. The whole act was so well put together that I just sat there with my jaw dropped!
After these incredibly hot acts it was time for something that was a little more funny - ハンター. I think almost the whole cast was on the stage at some point or another during this song. On the movie screen in the background, a cartoon landscape was rolling and the seasons were changing while small groups of the cast took turns in walking/dancing from the left to the right. It started out being spring, and the first group (including Tsubasa) were dressed in yellow shirts, and then the seasons passed and eventually it became winter, and then everyone was wearing winter jackets. At the end of the song there was apparently some kind of strong snow storm so that everyone (all now dressed in the spring outfit) were blown onto the stage in the middle of winter… Then they danced a little more before disappearing from the stage.
Left alone on the stage was Matsuzaki Yusuke from 4U. It was time for a 4U skit, yay! They are just too funny, those four guys! Matsu curled up in the middle of the stage, so Yuma went out and asked him to leave since Yuma would soon be singing. But Matsu refused. Yuma called on Travis Japan, but they didn't manage to make Matsu move either. So Yuma called on the rest of 4U – but even they didn't manage to get Matsu away from there. So they had an idea – to let Yuma join the group instead, and they would call themselves 4Yuma instead of 4U… Yuma agreed, but not even the threat of being excluded from 4U made Matsu get up. Now Yuma and Travis Japan had to leave the stage to prepare, so 4U had to manage on their own. They told Matsu that PLAYZONE is everyone's show, not just 4U's show, and then they sang a short piece a capella – and that made Matsu get up from the floor and walk off the stage, finally…
The next song became one of my favourite songs of the entire show! ハッピーデイズ with Yuma and Travis Japan! In the middle of the stage was a big box that Yuma came out of, and surrounding it were many smaller boxes for Travis Japan. They were dressed in grey, white and black clothes, and Yuma wore this small-checked jacket that I actually thought looked horrible! But the song, oh! The song is so amazing, and they were all so cute, and the boxes changed colour depending on who was standing/dancing on them. As I said, one of my favourite songs!
Then things slowed down a little when Yara and four other guys performed 運命のひと standing in a row of spotlights at the front of the stage. It was really beautiful! And it led to a mic stand act in the stairs further back on the stage. But this time it was a more upbeat song, LPガール. Yara was in this song too, but the other guys were exchanged. This song was also very fun! The guys changed places all the time while they were singing, and the mic stands were glowing in different colours, and when the guys left the mic stands they glowed less until someone else reached the mic stands. It was a feast for the eye! At the end everyone left the mic stands and went to the front of the stage, where they involved the audience in the "Be my baby!" part of the song.
When they had left the stage, Sato Atsuhiro walked in through one of the doors, and on his way towards the stage he complained that he had missed the song. When he reached the stage he noticed a pair of rollerskates standing in a spotlight to the left on the stage. He put them on and skated around the stage. Then he noticed the mic stands and asked for help to light up the one at the front. One of the other guys went out and put it on, and then he took Sato's shoes with him on his way off the stage… Sato touched his mic stand – and it went out. He asked it to light up again, but all the other mic stands except his lit up. So he went down on his knees, begging mic stand-sama to please light up again! And it did! Sato skated around the stage for a while, and then he also went off the stage.
Finally it was time for a Tsubasa act - 光! He was standing all alone on a platform, high above the rest of the guys who were dancing around him (I think they were They!Budou and Travis Japan, perhaps?) Anyway, he was dressed in white and gold, sooo nice! And he had this spotlight on him of course, and his moves were incredibly perfect and amazing, as always! After maybe half of the song the platform was lowered to floor level, and he danced together with the others in different formations. One of the best parts of the song was when they put out all the lights on the stage, and then they had really quick spotlights on one small group at a time, and during the few seconds they had they did backflips and stuff. It looked really good!
Then it was time for another MC part. First they showed a video of Yara and… Travis Japan? 4U? (I don't remember any more, and of course I didn't write it down…) who were looking for a lost rollerskate. Then Yara and 4U came onto the stage dressed in bathrobes and said they would look for the rollerskate in the audience. I think it was Yara who got the mission to search for it in the audience. He asked some person if she had it, but she didn't. So he walked on towards the back of the room and disappeared under the balcony, and suddenly I heard them mention Takki! THEN I understood who the special guest was, the one that everyone had screamed at before the show started! Me and the girl beside me (who was also a Takitsuba fan) looked at each other with huge eyes, gasped "Takizawa-san?!" at the same time, stretched our necks as far as we could to try and see what happened beneath us, then looked at each other again – and I felt like laughing because we must have looked hilarious! Anyway, Yara (if it was him) walked over to Takki but I couldn't see them. When he re-appeared he was holding a shoe/boot in his hand – Takki's. He walked some meters away while talking, but then he apparently realized it wasn't a rollerskate, so he went back and returned the boot to Takki, haha! Then another guy came onto the stage, calling for the others, and they all disappeared.
The next song was 終わらない時を. Sato was skating around the stage, alone at first, but then 4U joined him – also on rollerskates. It was so funny to see! Travis Japan also joined them towards the end. They skated around the stage for a while, and then it was time for Tsubasa's solo! Mi Amor -あなたという光-. One guy was sitting alone to the left on the stage, playing a Spanish tune on the guitar. Then the curtain lifted and revealed a set with different levels and an armchair in the middle. Tsubasa appeared in soooo beautiful gold-sparkling clothes! Finally we got some flamenco! Even though there were only a few slow steps now and then. But oh, how beautiful it was! There was also this spotlight that was moving around on the stage, and he was kind of trying to walk into it all the time. But the best part was the ending, when he stood behind the armchair, slowly stroking the back of the chair with his hand!
Once again we were left alone with the movie screen, and we got to see a rather long but very beautiful video with beautiful music. At first everything in the video was in greyscale, but then it got more and more colours. Then it was time for マーチ! which is another of my favourites. It's just so awesome! There's something special about the army, right? Hm, obviously… Anyway, everyone was on stage for this song, dressed in black and orange. Tsubasa and Yuma led the troups, wearing different-looking uniforms, since they of course were to appear as higher ranked… What fascinated me was how they all seemed to just float across the stage while marching! It looked awesome. And there were two people carrying flags as well, with the words LOVE and PEACE on them. In the end they all lined up on top of the stage (they had created a stair that decended in both directions) with their backs towards the audience. The letters on the backs of the jackets formed the words UNITY LOVE PEACE, and between the words stood Yuma (between UNITY and LOVE) and then Tsubasa (between LOVE and PEACE), and they were facing the audience and had spotlights on them, to divide the words clearly. Then everyone marched off the stage on the back side of the stairs.
It was time for the 30 minute break, and as soon as the curtain fell I hurried to the edge of the balcony and looked down. And there was Takki and his crew leaving the room! He looked so handsome! He was dressed in a black t-shirt and those gray pants with a black stripe on the sides (those pants that I love). On his way out he shook hands with several lucky people. At that moment I felt that I would have liked to have a seat on the first floor instead…
The second act started very sudden, with a BANG! Yeah, I jumped… Even though I was kind of prepared for it? XD It was Yuma's sushi song! スシ食いねェ! So funny! He and some of the others came in dressed as kitchen staff in white and blue clothes, and in the background was this machine that kind of looked like a one-armed bandit or something? But with pictures of different kinds of food that were spinning round and round. Then Yara also came onto the stage with a group of guys, and Yuma and Yara had their own little dance in the middle of the stage, they were so funny!
Then there was another cartoon movie, this one was longer. 4U were out in the desert, it looked like the Wild West, and found some bikes. And then they appeared on stage singing 気まぐれOne Way Boy - on bikes! Okay, they were stuck on the floor, but it was still cool! And the movie screen behind them showed a desert landscape that looked like they were out on a road. What can I say… It's never boring when 4U are on the stage!
The next part of the show is definitely in the top spot on my list of favourite events! Tsuba-nyan! Tsubasa came onto the stage on a small tricycle, wearing a black and white cat costume! From the other direction came another guy (Eda?), also dressed as a cat. Tsuba-nyan and the other cat started fighting, but Tsuba-nyan stopped and asked for strength from TAKIranger. And while he stood there waiting for some kind of response, Takki shouted "TSUBASA!!!" – so loudly that it echoed through the theatre! It was so awesome! Then Tsuba-nyan and the other cat started fighting again, and Tsuba-nyan pulled the tail off the other cat! But then it became sad, so Tsuba-nyan put the tail back with a "plop!", and they left the stage.
Then it was time for 情熱☆熱風せれなーで. The bedroom scene, haha. Tsubasa was sitting on the edge of the bed, singing while looking at a photo that he was holding. On the wall behind the bed were three posters of Tackey & Tsubasa! To the right and to the left were posters from when they were younger, and in the middle was the anniversary poster – the same as those that are found here and there in Tokyo right now. After a while he stood up and the set shifted while he was walking into the next "room", which was a closet. There he looked through a bunch of clothes (all of them were black or white) and chose an outfit. Then he continued to the third "room" which was a lounge, and he sat down on a couch and sang for a while. But then he went "outside" and met a few other people, and together they walked around the stage while a city landscape was rolling behind them, and there was this girl that Tsubasa flirted with – and eventually was invited to come along with when the song ended…
The next act was a complete disco! It was the 恋＝Do!〜君に薔薇薔薇・・・という感じ〜原宿キッス medley. Almost everyone was on the stage, dancing to a DJ (some of the guys took turns). There was so much cool dancing going on! They were divided into smaller groups that took turns dancing at the front of the stage.
And, finally - DIAMOND! 4U came into the room through the doors on the sides and walked slowly towards the stage, and here and there they stopped to stare at people in the audience. Even I who was only looking from the balcony thought it felt kind of scary when they were staring like that! When they reached the stage, the spinning diamond appeared on the movie screen behind them – at the same time as Tsubasa appeared in his black and red clothes. I can't describe how awesome I think this song is. It's just so unbelievable awesome. So perfect for Tsubasa. So sharp. At the end Tsubasa stood right at the edge of the stage, and there was some smoke machine beneath him that let out lots and lots of smoke.
The next song was ヨイショッ! It was a happy song that I don't really remember much from, unfortunately. But I remember that the guys – even Tsubasa – jumped down from the stage and walked around among the audience while they were singing, and there was some furi that I didn't know, but I tried to do it as best as I could!
And then there was another Yuma song. And I, who don't know enough kanji yet, hadn't understood that it was 青春アミーゴ when I read the song list! I'm afraid I cheered a little too loud when I heard what song it was! Especially when I saw that it was Yuma singing it! I love this song so much, it's the ending theme song for the drama Nobuta wo Produce that I watched with my family before I moved to Japan. It's an amazing drama, and it means a lot more to me than it just being a great story. ._. Sorry, I was side-tracked! Back to PLAYZONE! Yuma and another guy appeared dressed in some kind of futuristic red and blue clothes. The other guy did a backflip down to the stage floor at one point – wow! A group of camouflage-dressed guys attacked them, and there was a short fight on the stage. But Yuma and this other guy won, since they had their glowing armbands which apparently were some kind of super weapons, haha!
Sato, Yara and a few other appeared on the stage, apparently Sato would teach them how to surf. But he mostly told them to do funny stuff on the stage, and then he took off when they didn't notice… But some other guys came and asked them what they were doing, and then they realized that Sato had gone off – so they also went to the beach.
うわさのキッス was the next song! The guys danced around the stage with beach balls, beach swimming rings, surfing boards and lots of stuff, it seemed to be so much fun! After a while some guys brought out blue cloths that they held up so that it looked like water, and it looked as if the guys behind the cloths were swimming among the waves. Suddenly a shark appeared! A big shark fin came swimming towards the guys in the middle of the stage! But it turned out to be Sato who had put on not only one but three shark fins…
After this song, Sato stayed on the stage and talked a little, but shortly after 4U returned and asked why he was still there, because he needed to change clothes. They brought his clothes onto the stage and told him to get changed there. Two of them held up a cloth between him and the audience – and they held it so perfectly that no one, no matter what seat you had, managed to see anothing more than Sato's upper body… ;) They were joking around a lot, sadly I didn't understand much of it, but I did understand that they were being funny… At one point, Matsu took the shark fins, put them in a row on the stage, and started talking about this special offer where you could get not only one but a set of three fins!
Eventually Sato managed to get fully changed into his black suit, all of them disappeared from the stage, and the beautiful three-part staircase was rolled onto the stage. It was time for Liar when everyone went to the front of the stage in turns to get their names announced and they bowed to the audience. Then the movie screen wass put down again and we got to see the complete cast list, along with photos from the repetitions and music clips from parts of the show.
Finally it was time for the final song, Guys PLAYZONE, which is just an awesome act of awesomeness! They wore such nice gray clothes, and at first they climbed around in the steel cage, but then all of them got out on the floor instead to dance. I both love and hate this song, because it is soooo amazing and wonderful, but at the same time it’s the final song of the show, and it’s so sad when a show ends! Anyway, I enjoyed every second of it!
Some time here at the end, in connection to the final bow, Tsubasa told Tackey to join him on the stage – yay! They talked a little, I don't really remember what they talked about, but I think they mentioned their new album and perhaps the anniversary events as well.
I'm not sure how I should sum up PLAYZONE '12. I have already used all the words in my report: fantastic, amazing, wonderful, funny, sexy, etc etc. I thought this year's show was soooo amazing, there were so many songs that I loved, so many acts that were incredibly beautiful, so many songs that I laughed at because they were so entertaining… And there were so many moments when I just sat there thinking "this is actually happening for real, I am actually watching Tsubasa and Nakayama and Yara dancing, down there, for real", and then I felt my heart racing while I tried to see everything that was going on on the stage at the same time… This emotional rollercoaster that I've been going through – from "oh, I will be in Tokyo during PLAYZONE!" to "oh no, I can't get a ticket in time!" to "maybe I will still get some chance to go?" to "I HAVE SEEN PLAYZONE!!" – I really hope that I won't have to endure something similar again!
01. ROAD TO PLAYZONE
Rollerskates (Sato Atsuhiro)
10. Mi Amor -あなたという光-
13. 気まぐれOne Way Boy
15. Medley: 恋＝Do!〜君に薔薇薔薇・・・という感じ〜原宿キッス
Sato & 4U skit
21. Guys PLAYZONE