Yu the Beautiful
Picture Credit: The Takarazuka: Star Troupe
English Title: Yu the Beautiful
Japanese Title: 虞美人
Romanized Title: Gu Bijin
Troupe: Flower & Star
Performances: Takarazuka Grand Theater, 4/26 - 5/23
Shinjin Kouen Performances: n/a
Based On: The Chinese legend of Xiang Yu and Yu Ji
Author/Director: Shirai Tetsuzou
Composer: Kawasaki Ichirou, Nakamoto Kiyozumi, Takai Yoshizumi, Yoshizaki Kenji
Choreographer: Kawakami Gorou, Kita Hiroshi, Suzuki Takeshi
Shinjin Kouen Director: n/a
Available on DVD: No
|Kou'u (aka Xiang Yu)||Anna Jun|
|Guki (aka Yu Ji)||Matsu Akira|
|Ryuuhou (aka Liu Bang)||Setouchi Miya|
|Ryohi (aka Lü Zhi)||Uehara Mari|
|Kanshin (aka Han Xin)|| Tajima Kumi (Star)|
|In Toujou (aka Tao Niang)|| Yashio Michiru|
|Ouryou (aka Wang Ling)||Takara Junko|
Other Cast: Mutsumi Chiga, Miyama Etsu, Utagawa Harumi, Mizuho Youko, Miyoshino Kazuya, Shirogane Akemi, Asazuki Mario, Fujisono Satomi, Kei Hanayo, Suzuka Teruko, Muromachi Akane, Mitsui Mako, Hananose Kasumi, Ritsu Tomomi, Tsukibue Mayumi, Hoshi Rimiko, Shinjou Mayumi, Shiomi Rika, Ichijou Hikaru, Kazami Kei, Hoshi Subaru, Shima Yuri, Izumi Mari, Uryuu Minako, Miki Hiromi, Shino Uyuki, Yuuki Kanae, Satomi Akira, Kijou Tomoka, Nanaumi Mihoko, Hayabusa Amiri, Yoshino Mana, Kitakouji Miho, Kurenai Hitomi, Kyou Misa, Takashou Megumi, Naka Iori, Mana Hiroka, Mitama Chiyo, Ashi Saori, Nishikino Hanayo, Chisato Hiromi, Sono Mayumi, Magiri Aya, Yashiro Haruna, Mashio Chinami, Katsura Miki, Mari Hikaru, Hatobue Maki, Yuubi Ai, Taka Mario, Matsukaze Satomi
WARNING!! MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!!
(original English summary, slightly edited for grammar)
~China about 2,200 years ago~
The First Emperor of Chin brought the whole country under his sway and the people were reduced to great misery by his tyranny. At that time, a number of rival chiefs all over the country were rising against Chin and among them, the most powerful were Xiang Yu (of Chu) and Liu Bang (of Han).
The story opens with a merry festival of a Niangniang-Miao (the shrine dedicated for a deity of girls) in a certain village. It is traditionally said that should anyone offer flowers before this deity on the day of the festival, his love will be realized.
A village youth, Wang Ling by name, who is somewhat weak in the head, visits the shrine with flowers for the success of his love toward Jin Hua, a beauty of a neighboring village. However, his prayers are not answered; he becomes the object of the wiles of Kou Rin, who loves him. In desperation and in fear of the passion of Kou Rin, he becomes a solder to Xiang Yu.
Meanwhile, Han Xin, a diligent youth studying strategy, has been leading a hard life. He fishes in a stream daily and sells his catch in the town to support himself. It happens one day that Han Xin, who is extremely hungry, is fishing in the stream as usual and is found and given food by a beautiful girl, Tao Niang, daughter of Yin Tong, Governor of Huichi. The girl falls in love with him, but he stops visiting the place as he is ashamed of his poverty and having been given food.
In order to overthrow Chin, Yin Tong attempts to win Xiang Yu and Xaing Yu's uncle Xiang Liang to his side. However, his scheme fails through the treachery of Zhong Li Mei, one of his vassals. Xiang Yu kills Yin Tong.
In the meantime, Han Xin, who has been still leading a hard life, has a chance at last to launch his ambition. One day, Han, on his way from a river, meets three hooligans in the street who pick a fight with him However, being submissive, he craws between the legs of each of the hooligan in line, as requested. All the passers-by and other people scorn him , but his forbearance draws the keen attention of Han Zou, the aged tactician of Xiang Yu. He then becomes the subordinate of Xiang Yu through the good offices of Han Zou.
Less than two months later, Xiang Yu has a 200,000-men strong force and becomes the most powerful leader in the country. Upon his departure, he marries Yu Ji, a lady of matchless beauty.
Liu Bang had been cooperating with Xiang Yu, but his wife Lü Zhi has been secretly devising a scheme to assassinate Xiang Yu in order to make her husband ruler over the whole of China.
Having been searching for Tao Niag, Yin Tung's surviving daughter, Lü Zhi finds that the girl, now a travelling entertainer, has been working at a village tavern. She suggests and encourages her to take her revenge as a boy, changing her name to Chin Hsiang Feng. Tao Niang then serves as a page at Xiang Yu's mansion.
However, her attempt fails and she is arrested by Xiang Liang, Xiang Yu's uncle. At that time, Xiang Liang had been plotting to make an attempt on Xiang Yu's life and thus rule over the country. Accordingly, he attempts to make use of Tao Niang to kill his nephew, then become his mistress. However, she kills Xiang Liang and escapes the danger.
Owing to his extremely violent temper, Xiang gradually loses his popularity while Liu Bang, on the other hand, steadily wins public confidence on account of his natural virtue.
When Xiang Yu marches on Hsienyang, he hears that Liu Bang had already advanced into the capital of Qin and had released 3,000 beauties from the Chin's palace called Afangkung.
Xiang Yu, in anger, invites Liu Bang to his camp at Hungmen in an attempt to kill him. However, his attmpt fails due to the intervention of Chin Hsiang-feng, as well as Chang Liang and Fan Kuai, both faithful subordinates of Liu Bang. Liu Bang escapes from the jaws of death.
After two years, Liu Bang, who has been in the mountains, succeeds in gaining many more troops and a strong reputation. One of his most trustful officers is Han Xin, who once was a subordinate of Xiang Yu.
Tao Niang, who had escaped from Xiang Yu's camp just after the Hungmen Incident, is now the wife of Han Xin.
Taking his tactician Han Zou's advice, Xiang Yu captures Liu Bang's family members, who were living in their native country. Having heard of this, Liu Bang decides to attack Xiang Yu. Liu Bang and his men, including Xin as a chief of staff, start for the front.
A decisive battle is fought between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang at Chiulishan. The fighting goes against Xiang Yu. Han Zou is killed during the fight. Liu Bang succeeds in rescuing his wife from Xiang Yu's captivity. Unfortunately, his mother had already died of illness while on the way to the enemy's camp and his son was murdered by Xiang Yu's men.
For Xiang Yu, things go from bad to worse. His men begin to desert the camp. His fortress is besieged by Liu Bang's forces - now totaling 500,000 - while his own men number 1,000.
Wounded and returning from his sortie, he hears the besieging troops singing the song of his native country -which makes him jump to the hasty conclusion that his native land has already been taken by the forces of Liu Bang.
He is now determined to make the last attack on which he ventures his entire fate. He suggests to his wife, Yu Ji, to return to her native village to live the rest of her life in peace. However, she refuses.
Yu Ji encourages her husband to break through the besieging army and plan a second uprising. She dances in celebration of his pending attack, and then suddenly commits suicide. Her intention was to make him fight without any restraint.
Xiang Yu makes a last sortie and, although he can escape the Wuchiang, he kills himself as he has lost all his troops.
At the very place where Yu Ji ends her life, red poppies bloom as if in grief over the ill-fated life of the beauty.
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