Review of Canary (Flower 2001)
â€œKanariaâ€ was a Theater Drama City show and the first top show for Takumi Hibiki, who had such a sad, short period as star of Flower Troupe. The story is rather unusual for Takarazuka and has a bit of a dark sense of humor:
Itâ€™s the turn of the millennium, and Vim (Takumi Hibiki), a young demon, has to complete a â€œFinal Examâ€ before he can graduate from demon school. As he is the principalâ€™s (Yashirou Kou) favorite student, she sends him off to the human world with his own assistant â€“ a younger demon named Uka (Sena Jun). Vimâ€™s task: He must take the very first human he meets and make their life completely miserable. This would seem fairly straightforward: the area where he alights contains a well-intentioned priest (Haruno Sumire) and nun (Toono Asuka), a homeless man with a pet bird (Misa Noeru) and a stern detective (Ayabuki Mao). Unfortunately, he first runs into a bag-lady named Ajani (Ootori Rei), which makes his task impossible - for she is *already* completely miserable. Undaunted, Vim comes up with what seems the perfect solution: first, he will make Ajani *happy*, and then he will pass his exam by making her *unhappy*. Of course, as a demon, he has some rather unusual ideas about how best to go about thisâ€¦
This show was dark (for Takarazuka), sweet, sad, and funny at times. There was a bit of the regular Takarazuka too-many-characters syndrome, with everyone being forced into a part *somewhere* in the show, but as a Drama City Show they didnâ€™t push *too* hard. There were some pretty cute young demons gallivanting in the background here, and definitely a bit of that â€œWTF??â€ feeling that *I* at least have every time Takarazuka tries to represent Christian theology (you know youâ€™ve been watching too many â€˜zuka shows when you keep waiting for the priest and the nun to get togetherâ€¦) I particularly enjoyed that the main characters werenâ€™t your typical Takarazuka male and female lead, with Vim behaving mostly indifferent and Ajani having been around-the-block a time or two. I get very tired of earnest heros and sweet, perky heroines.
Takumi Hibiki: Looked *gorgeous*, acted elegantly, and showed not a hint of her upcoming illness. Vim was maybe a stretch for her, because heâ€™s very restrained overall, and Charlie-san has such expressive eyes, that I think it might have been hard for her not to over-play him. I never felt like she did.
Ootori Rei: This was a great role for her, as she always had a â€œgrown-upâ€ style about her. And there wasnâ€™t too much singing. *cough* I think I liked her best when she was in her bag-woman outfit being rude to everyone.
Haruno Sumire: Hmmmâ€¦ I felt like she was kind of wasted in this. The priest was a pretty boring role, IMHO. I wouldnâ€™t buy this if what I wanted was an Osa showâ€¦
Sena Jun: Her demon was kind ofâ€¦ cute. I guess he was sort of a demon-lackey. She looked very good in her demon outfit and seemed to be having much more fun than Osa.
Toono Asuka: Also had a throw-away role, IMHO. But at least she *had* a role, which is more than most secondary musumeyaku could really say. I thought she and Osa managed to force themselves into having chemistry a little better than usual (thank god Hankyu never paired them permanently! Theyâ€™re both better off with their â€œrealâ€ partners!)
Yashiro Kou: Yes, please; Iâ€™ll take six. Her part was pretty small, but â€“ evil demon principal? That lusts after Charlie? You canâ€™t go wrong. She should have sung more, though.
Misa Noeru: Plays great grumpy old men. Very nice.
Ayabuki Mao: Tried so *so* hard to be a good Tough Detective. It was cute. I love watching the younger performers when they try to do â€œgrown-upâ€ roles. Yumiko doing a â€œsternâ€ â€œseriousâ€ role always feels like sheâ€™s tryingâ€¦ soâ€¦ hard. Give it up, Yumiko. We all want to see the dimples. :)
Ranju Tomu: Had a small role as a money collector who harasses Ajani and gets ensorcelled by Vim. He was mean at first and then heâ€¦ had some problems. Tomu was very good.
Overall, I think this was a very good play to watch if you want to see Takarazuka doing something a bit different than the usual â€œfluffâ€. Or if you want to see Charlie in black leather. Both are very good reasons to buy the upcoming DVD release. :)