The Legendary Ninja Manga Comes to Life in Live Spectacle Naruto!

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The official poster of Live Spectacle Naruto for the year 2016.

Hello! Welcome to another stage play blog post of Katsanslimites! Today, I am going to take you around to one of the mainstream anime stage plays—Live Spectacle Naruto. And since this stage play is about being a ninja, let's have a short background about ninjas.

Ninjas are real!

No, not because of the Live Spectacle Naruto stage play. Even before the fictional ninja stories we read these days, ninjas had been existing in Japan for a very long time. They are warriors just like the samurai and specializes in assassination, spy, stealth and poison. Ninjas are mercenaries, they get paid to kill. But today, did you know that there is only one real living ninja left? He is Kawakami Jinichi, and he refuses to pass down the secrets of being a ninja because he believes that ninjas no longer suited in this modern world. This is really sad because his death would mean the end of the existence of ninjas in our world. Their contributions to their country's culture and war strategies were very significant giving Japan a very rich and high-valued history. And it is good to see that some people are trying their best to remind people of ninjas in any possible way. An example of this is the famous shounen ninja manga(comics) Naruto.

Naruto is a story about the journey of  a boy named Uzumaki Naruto in achieving his long-time dream of becoming a Hokage.(Hokage is the title of the most superior person in the Hidden Leaf Village, Naruto's home village.) The villagers hated him for having a monster(the Nine-Tailed Fox) inside him and so Naruto vowed to work hard to change the villagers' look towards him.The story teaches the value of friendship, family and unwavering perseverance to reach one's dreams. The manga was created by Masashi Kishomoto which which was serialized from 1999 to 2014 with a total of 72 volumes and 700 chapters. This masterpiece of Masashi Kishimoto has sold over 220 million copies and is the fourth best-selling manga of all time.

(Trivia: Last September 29 of 2016, The last chapters of the manga were finally aired in the anime with a back-to-back episode. The final battle between Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke in the Valley of Death is the most-awaited battle by everyone. These two special episodes were made in its utmost and it indeed resulted so good. In fact, these episodes were advertised everywhere in for the past few weeks and has been the talk since it was released. Aside from that, Naruto trended in Twitter Japan and surprisingly in my country Philippines too! As a fan, simple things such as this makes me happy. Anyway, the anime won't be ending soon yet even though it has reached the end of its manga because they will be animating the Naruto Hiden stories next.)


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Teams 8 and 10 with Uzumaki Naruto on stage.

Going back, in relation to the success of Masashi Kishimoto's masterpiece, Uzumaki Naruto's tale continues to live as it gets adapted as a stage play going by the title—Live Spectacle Naruto. The stage play is categorized as a 2.5-Dimensional Musical even though it is not a musical. That's because the story was based from a manga. And any stage play or musical adapted from a manga, anime or video game falls under the category 2.5-D musical. There is also a theater dedicated for 2.5-D musicals and that is the AiiA 2.5 Theater Tokyo which opened last March 21, 2015 in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. It is a one of a kind theater in Japan as it offers the "subtitle glasses" which were meant for the foreign audiences. Actors won't speak English or Chinese for your sake, you know.

Live Spectacle Naruto focuses on the Land of Waves arc where they encounter and fight Hidden Mist ninjas, Momoki Zabuza and Haku. The stage play also goes around the story during their academy days and some pre-chunin scenes where Sasuke leaves the Hidden Leaf Village because some characters like Gaara, Lee, Jiraiya, Kabuto and Orochimaru are present. Live Spectacle Naruto didn't go away with the original story but there were also some short parts where the actors were seemingly doing a dance act. It was a good idea in my opinion because it is an added entertainment, plus, it lets the audiences breathe from the growing tension of the story.

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Live Spectacle Naruto 2016 teaser.

The Live Spectacle Naruto debuted last March 21, 2015 at the AiiA 2.5 Theater Tokyo and ran to different parts of Japan until May of 2015. As expected, the manga-turned-stage play was by no sweat a sure hit. They had also used several effects to turn the stage play visually appealing and to bring the characters' actions close to reality as much as possible. They also even used trampolines for some action and fight scenes. Last May 22 to June 07 of 2015, the stage play held a world tour right after their Japan tour. The locations included on their world tour were Macau, Malaysia and Singapore. Live Spectacle Naruto was also well-received internationally which only proves the global popularity of the Naruto manga.

After getting in a break for a year, Live Spectacle Naruto returned to stage this year last July 30 at the Umeda Arts Theater which lasted until August 7 and resumed to the AiiA 2.5 Theater Tokyo last August 13 to 28. Their return isn't really a surprise for me because their first show was really successful and it would be a waste not to have a sequel to it. This year they've added Rock Lee to the cast. Again, the sequel was still as popular as their first show last 2015. Actually, they had been into tight competition this year as the Rock Musical Bleach had its big time comeback. The two popular theater plays had almost the same schedule dates even simultaneously ending their final show on the same day.(I feel sorry for those who were both a fan of these shows for they can only choose one to watch during the final show.) But did you know that Live Spectacle Naruto had a live viewing on the last day of its Japan tour? Yup, people who can't go personally to the theater can still watch on their own screens! I'm not sure though if the live viewing was also available for foreign viewers. Anyway, I think that was a really good idea as we know that there is only a limited capacity of audience that a theater can accommodate. After their Japan tour, the Live Spectacle Naruto will land in China on October 22 to December 18 for their second world tour.(That's quite long!) If you are in China within these dates and interested in seeing it, you can visit the AiiA Theater Tokyo's website to see the schedules and how to purchase tickets or you can also visit the official website or official Twitter account of Live Spectacle Naruto for updates. I wonder if there are other countries to be included on their world tour?

Speaking of their China show, most of the cast were replaced and I am not sure of the reason behind it. But no worries because this is just a special set of cast for the world tour in China. I believe the Japan cast, the original ones, will still have their roles back in the future. And now that were talking about cast, I know that you know I don't miss listing the cast when I write about things like this. They are very essential and have very crucial roles because they are the ones responsible in delivering a successful quality show. So let's altogether meet the Japan cast of Live Spectacle Naruto!


松岡広大 Matsuoka Koudai as Uzumaki Naruto

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Matsuoka Koudai as Uzumaki Naruto.

Birthdate: August 09, 1997
Twitter: @koudai_official

Born in Tokyo Prefecture, Matsuoka Koudai is a star that has a career yet to bloom. He started his career in modeling in 2009 and acting in 2012. He played as Tooyama Kintarou in The Prince of Tennis Musical 2013 which was his big break. Came 2015 and Koudai got his biggest break so far and that is playing the lead role Uzumaki Naruto in Live Spectacle Naruto.

Koudai is an Amuse,Inc. talent, the talent company of some of the most popular artists and bands in Japan. He loves to dance and is a big fan of Korean groups EXO and Big Bang. Surprisingly, he is also a fan of Babymetal, a group of Amuse co-talents. In fact, he recently went to Babymetal's concert in Tokyo Dome and also bought some merchandise. Aside from that, he can speak basic English too and is kind to his fans. Before, he would post a blog containing his replies from all the fan comments on his blogs.(I guess he's too busy to do replies for now as he is not doing it recently.)

This year, Koudai is appearing on the drama series Baby Steps. He also endorses a product by Shiseido called "Sea Breeze" and will be attending the "Handsome Festival 2016" by his agency Amuse on December.(I wonder what do they celebrate on that festival. Lol.) Last 2015, he had also released a photobook entitled "Liberal." 

He will continue to have his role Uzumaki Naruto on the Live Spectacle Naruto world tour but only on their Shangai performance from October 22 to 30. After the Shanghai performances, Seiya Motoki will take the role as Uzumaki Naruto.

佐藤流司 Sato Ryuji as Uchiha Sasuke

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Sato Ryuji as Uchiha Sasuke.

Birthdate: January 17, 1995
Twitter: @ryuji7117

Sato Ryuji is from Miyagi Prefecture and is affiliated to Himawari Theater Group. Like Koudai, Ryuji also appeared in The Prince of Tennis Musical where he played as Zaizen Hikaru. One of the biggest roles that opened him to more people is his role as Uchiha Sasuke of team seven in Live Spectacle Naruto. Uchiha Sasuke is Uzumaki Naruto's friend/rival and is a popular character especially to the female fans so it is no doubt that Ryuji would gain a lot of attention from this role. His popularity shot high as fast as he changes his hairstyle and hair color.(That's a bit exaggerated though, but it's true that he often gives his hair a new look!) Another role that makes him famous is his role as Kashuu Kiyomitsu in the ongoing Touken Ranbu Musical. Before, his tweets would only reach around 200+ favorites but through his 2.5-D musical roles, he now gains as much as 30,000 favorites!

Well, Ryuji isn't only an actor because he can sing and play drums too! He had actually recently released a single entitled "shinji" please which I believe is a song for the movie Please Please Please wherein he is also a cast. By the way, his eyebrows are to die for! I wish my eyebrows were as nice as his!

Sad to say, on the world tour in China, Sakurai Keito will play as Uchiha Sasuke instead of Ryuji.

伊藤 優衣 Ito Yui as Haruno Sakura

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Ito Yui as Haruno Sakura.

Birthdate: April 26, 1994
Twitter: @itoyui0426 

Ito Yui from the Gunma Prefecture is an actress, model and idol. She is known for her role as team seven's pink-haired Haruno Sakura in Live Spectacle Naruto. Before that, she also played as Black Lady in the Sailor Moon Musical "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon ~Petite Etrangere~."

She started her career in 2009 and had appeared on a lot of dramas, theater plays, commercials, and the like. Last year, she was a cast on a stage play called "Tenkousei"(Transfer Student.) And as of now, you can watch her on the television series "Tokusou Keisatsu JUMPolice"(Special Research Police JUMPolice) where she plays the role of a researcher. JUMPolice is an abbreviation for "Jump Under Mission Police."

Among the Live Spectacle Naruto cast, Yui is closest to Imamura Miho who plays Haku. Yui loves playing with the camera phone application Snow. She'll still play as Haruno Sakura for the Live Spectacle world tour.

君沢ユウキ Kimisawa Yuki as Hatake Kakashi

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Kimisawa Yuki as Hatake Kakashi.

Birthdate: January 31, 1985
Twitter: @yukikimisawa
Instagram: @yukikimisawa

Yuki from Kyoto Prefecture is an actor and model. Among his many projects were the Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Double Decade: Movie War where he played as Kirihiko Sonozaki and in Itazura na Kiss 2: Love in Tokyo as Doctor Nishigaki. He had also been a cast on The Prince of Tennis Musical as Watanabe Osamu.(Seems like most of the stage actors I know had been once a cast of this musical.) Last year, Yuki also got a role on the Tokyo Ghoul Stage Play as Amon Koutarou. And today, he is known as Team 7's teacher Hatake Kakashi in Live Spectacle Naruto.

Among Yuki's hobbies are weightlifting and sports, no wonder why he has a nice body. He also knows other languages like English, Portuguese and Spanish.(Cool!) He has a fan club that goes by the name DAVID'E Club. I read somewhere that his nickname is David, and I think that confirms to the question why his fan club was named that way. But I don't understand what the ('E) is for. Anyway, going back to Live Spectacle Naruto, he would sometimes refer Koudai, Ryuji and Yui as his children because of the large age gap between them. Yuki will remain as Hatake Kakashi for the world tour in China. 

須賀健太 Suga Kenta as Gaara

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Suga Kenta as Gaara.

Birthdate: October 19, 1994
Twitter: @suga_kenta1019
Instagram: @sugakenta1019

Suga Kenta, born in Tokyo Prefecture, is a child star. He started acting as early as the age of four and is affiliated to the talent agency Horipro. For several years, his face has been seen on films, dramas, commercials, stage plays, etc. Early this year, he appeared in the movie "Shimauma" as Aka and recently in the movie "Diaz Police - DIRTY YELLOW BOYS" as Joe. This October, he'll be in another movie entitled "Birthday Card" as Masao. Next year, Kenta will have the lead role in the movie "Kemono Michi" as Ryota.

For stage plays, he is currently a cast of the popular Hyper Projection Engeki Haikyuu!!. It is a volleyball stage play where he plays the lead role, Shouyou Hinata. In the Live Spectacle Naruto, he plays the role of the mysterious character Gaara from the Hidden Sand Village. On a backstage video of the stage play, he spoke as Gaara's character and pointed out that everyone else has their group while he has none and that made him lonely. Although you can see him hanging around from one group to another and I guess that's good because he'll get to socialize with all the cast even more.


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The rest of the cast of Live Spectacle Naruto.


植田慎一郎 Ueda Shinichiroh as Aburame Shino 
飯山裕太 Iiyama Yuta as Inuzuka Kiba 
高橋紗妃 Takahashi Saki as Hyuga Hinata
小林辰也 Kobayashi Tatsuya as Nara Shikamaru
加藤 諒 Kato Ryo as Akimichi Choji
藤木かおる Fujiki Kaoru as Yamanaka Ino
梅垣義明 Umegaki Yoshiaki as Jiraiya
佐藤 祐吾 Sato Yugo as Rock Lee
平川和宏 Hirakawa Kazuhiro as Sarutobi Hiruzen(Third Hokage)
内田朝陽 Uchida Asahi as Momochi Zabuza
今村美歩 Imamura Miho as Haku
市瀬秀和 Ichinose Hidekazu as Umino Iruka
悠未ひろ Yumi Hiro as Orochimaru
木村達成 Kimura Tatsunari as Yakushi Kabuto

The Live Spectacle Naruto Ensemble last 2015 had seven members, five males and two females. This year, they were only six as 平山ひかる Hirayama Hikaru left the group leaving 知念紗耶 Chinen Saya the only female on the ensemble.(I'm not sure if all the male ensemble from 2015 had retained their roles this 2016 because information about them is a bit difficult to find.)


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Team 7 also known as Team Kakashi.

۞ On their world tour in China, Ueda Shinichiroh who plays as Aburame Shino will take the role as Gaara. Meanwhile, Imamura Miho who plays as Haku will be Hyuga Hinata.

۞ The role Nara Shikamaru was first played by 服部武雄 Hattori Tsubasa in 2015 then Kobayashi Tatsuya this 2016. Additionally, Yamanaka Ino was originally played by 伊波 杏樹 Inami Anju then by Fujiki Kaoru this year.

۞ Kato Ryo, and first cast members Hattori Tsubasa and Inami Anju became close friends because of this stage play. Their portrayal of the team Ino-Shika-Cho transpired even in real life. They were the group that had the most group photos too.

۞ Hattori Tsubasa, the first actor of Nara Shikamaru, did some funny backstage photos with some of the male cast using his character's shadow technique. He even flooded some camera rolls of the cast with his selfies!

۞ There was never a photo of Hinata(Saki) and Naruto(Koudai) together although there was a backstage video where you’ll see Saki taking a selfie with Koudai(in their costumes of course.) I guess Saki forgot to upload it. Lol.(The characters Naruto and Hinata were a love pair in the story.)

۞ Meanwhile, Sakura(Yui) and Sasuke(Ryuji) had a few photos together aside from their common team 7 group photo people often see.(Their characters were also a love pair in the story and people went crazy over their photos.)

۞ Suga Kenta who plays Gaara and Kimura Tatsunari who plays Yakushi Kabuto are both cast of the Hyper Projection Engeki Haikyuu!! and will be playing the two main characters.

۞ Some Rock Musical Bleach 2016 cast went to see the Live Spectacle Naruto. Some of the Bleach cast were also a part of the Haikyuu!! stage play, so basically they went out to support not only the Naruto stage play but Kenta and Tatsunari as well!

۞ On the last day of their Japan show this year, Imamura Miho posted a photo of her and Asahi Uchida hugging each other while on their character costumes. A lot of fans were delighted.

۞ Orochimaru and Haku were played by female actors.


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A promotional video for Live Spectacle Naruto DVD last 2015.

Well, I can say that Live Spectacle Naruto was really amazing and modern because they made used of several effects to make the play more visually appealing. The projection mapping was perfect to produce Naruto's clones, the characters' powers and to change the setting. The scene where Team 7 was climbing a tree for their chakra control training was creative and ridiculously entertaining. The trampolines, props and aerial silk scene of Sasuke and Itachi was wonderful. However, I think it would be best to be seated a bit far from the stage to see the entire video projection and other effects. Although sitting on the front rows would give you a closer view to the performing cast too. Maybe it's up to the audience's preference whether they like to get a better view of the actors or a better view of the video projections and effects. Anyway, the staff did a really great job.

Live Spectacle Naruto is directed by Akiko Kodama, choreographed by Shigeki Yamada and produced by Nelke Planning. Costumes were by Rie Nishihara.(Speaking of the costumes, they were beautiful!)

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Official poster of the cast for 2016.

I have only seen a preview of their 2016 performances and only saw their 2015 performance on videos, but I say everything was excellent. I know this 2016 is more fun to watch now that Rock Lee was added to the cast. Next time, I wish to see Rock Lee's team members or maybe Gaara's siblings. Perhaps Tsunade too! It will definitely be loaded with actions and hilarious skits!

The stunts were cool and entertaining. Of course, this was attained through their rigorous training. And I praise the staff for getting actors that looks exactly like the characters. I am sure that this stage play will go on for years because it's really fantastic—and spectacular. Just like Rock Musical Bleach, this is another stage act I want to see live. I pray that they perform here in my country. I surely won't miss it when it happens!

Thanks for reading!

✧ Katsanslimites

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