Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You've Got to be Kidding: Phoenix Wright the Musical

Okay, I know firsthand that Japan and the US are different in a lot of ways, good and bad, but who knew we both had a penchant for bad ideas for musicals. But a musical, based on a video game, about law? That's right folks, we're talking Phoenix Wright: The Musical.

Now I thought Spiderman and Legally Blonde were bad ideas for musicals (Spiderman especially, Legally Blonde I really don't give a crap about), but the Japanese have once again managed to out do us in something. A musical is in the works based on the Nintendo DS game we know as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, a video game about a lawyer who defends his clients and solves murder mysteries. If you've never played the game, it's actually more of an interactive novel where you have to find clues, solve puzzles, and find the lies in witness testimony in order to find the truth and progress in the game. The stories are addictive, even challenging, and have always left me eagerly anticipating the next game in the series. It's kind of like a Japanese take on a young Matlock with some mysticism thrown in. The musical is supposed to be based on the first game.

The play is set to be performed by the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female acting group with a long an interesting history in Japan. I highly recommend reading up on them, the Wikipedia page on them alone is very interesting. In fact, it says that the god of manga Osamu Tezuka grew up in the city of Takarazuka, his mother was close friends with some of the actresses, and he grew up knowing them and watching their performances. This apparently influenced some of his work, especially Princess Knight (the first manga targeted/made specifically to/for girls). I never would have guessed, of course before this I didn't really know what Takarazuka plays were. I had heard of plays where women play the parts of men, but wasn't sure what they were or how they fit into Japanese culture. I have seen a Kabuki play though. I think in that all the actors are men.

Most interesting of all, about this story any way, is that they are choosing to go with the lead character's English name of Phoenix Wright instead of the original Japanese name of Ryuichi Naruhodo (which I think loosely translates as "No. 1 Dragon, I see"). I guess Phoenix Wright is catchier than Ryuichi Naruhodo.

From DarkDiamond, who got it from Kotaku.

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