I was called to the kitchen to translate the back of these “Cook Do” boxes one too many times. It gave me an idea. You there sitting in Japan. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You’ve been here for a bit but you keep buying those convenience store bentos and eating ramen like a college kid, right? Stop that. Have some real food. You don’t have to even be creative with this one. I’m talking about “Cook Do” and if I can translate it to get my own dinner, I can translate it to bully you into making it for yourself for dinner.
“Cook Do” is basically an empire built on sauce packets with recipes colorfully printed on their boxes. Most of the dishes they guide you to make are Chinese food based. Also, most of them use in-season vegetables and readily available cuts of meat. This means you can make a massive meal without searching high and low for the ingredients, or paying out the nose like you do for most prepared foods.
Today’s dinner is… was… Sweet and Sour Pork! Yeah, I took that photo and served it over rice and dug in. Try it. You’ll like it. Cook Do’s Sweet and Sour Pork (or Subuta) is pretty close to a Chinese take out place back in the states in flavor, but contains way more vegetables so you don’t drop dead from malnutrition. Try it. TRY IT! And bring the leftovers to work tomorrow for lunch. That’s what I’m doing.
Once again Ikebukuro held their now annual Ikebukuro Cosplay Fes on Halloween weekend. It was a riot! So many cosplayers… of Love Life and Idolmaster. How is that so dominate?! Sports anime came in second. And, lots of RPG characters I did not recognize. I personally took more photos of the retro things than the newer things. Enjoy!
Bonus! Shibuya Halloween. We passed through for drinks on the way home and it was a madhouse. But! There were some adorable Halloween costumes.
Bonus-bonus! I forgot to post these back when it happened, but I passed through the cosplay area of Summer Comiket 2015/Comiket 88 and took some ok pictures. Check out these gems.
For the second year running I was able to attend an opening weekend performance of the latest Sailor Moon Musical. This year, Un Nouveau Voyage; the Sailor Moon S musical. Where as in previous years the happenings on stage blew me away, this musical was a little… undercooked. The first act is strong, with good character dynamics and lots of shared stage time between diverse characters. But, the final battle is… dull. The pace of the entire second act is lackluster. Much time is devoted to battling the big baddie and on a simple, sparsely decorated stage this sort of battle sequence just doesn’t have the punch that the first few musical finales had.
The musical opens on Haruka giving a boy-band style idol pop concert at Mugen Academy. Apparently Mugen has combined Open School tour dates with Entrance Ceremony test sittings into one mega festival-like weekend. Haruka’s concert is supposed to lure new students into joining up. Didn’t realize before that Mugen Academy is supposed to go from Kindergarten through college. But, I digress. The Witches 5, students at the school, meet the senshi in civies and instantly recognize them as Not Human and lure them away with the promise of taking an entrance exam to get into the posh Mugen. Did I mention Mugen is posh? You know Mugen is posh because the Witches 5 keep dazzling everyone with their “perfect English”. I shook my head so many times at this.
Mamoru and ChibiUsa also end up showing up to the Open School/Entrance Exam festival because ChibiUsa’s new best friend, Hotaru, is there. Usagi ends up meeting Haruka post-concert and when they touch, Haruka identifies this powerful person as Sailor Moon. Usagi just feels Haruka’s power. Sexual tension. Rawr. After the senshi realize the Witches 5 are, uh, witches, they transform and everybody fights and deduces Mugen is not a good place. Hm.
In the following scenes we lay down that Haruka and Michiru are angsty teens who see everything as themselves against the world. Blah, blah, blah. Also, we get to see ChibiUsa and Hotaru being bestest buddies. ChibiUsa invites Hotaru over for Chinese takeout and gives her a present she made in art class: A replica of some weird chalice that her mother back in Crystal Tokyo was always on about. The girls also have a nice strategy session at Rei’s in which they actually remember to invite Mamoru over to strategize with. Revolutionary!
Much of the last half of the first act pertains to Usagi’s mixed emotions about how hot and powerful Haruka is and also ChibiUsa’s budding best-friendhood with Hotaru. On stage, we see much of Hotaru’s personal turmoil through her playing of piano. She plays piano constantly. When she’s alone and sad, piano. When ChibiUsa comes over to play, two-person piano. When Mistress 9 is slowly overwhelming her personality, angsty piano. One of the most emotionally resonant elements of the first act is when ChibiUsa forgets her bag at Hotaru’s house, barges into her friend’s room to retrieve it, and catches Hotaru in the process of changing her clothes. Half naked, we see why she wears that black dress and tights all the time: She’s chronically ill and covered in bruises. ChibiUsa runs away and is ashamed of her own reaction so they two sing out their emotions in a very, very well done song about their loneliness and such.
It must be said: The Witches 5 are awesome. Not only are the costumes amazing, their on stage banter is the best.
In the conclusion of the musical, we see how Hotaru came to be the host of Mistress 9 via her father’s bad judgement. We see Mistress 9’s awakening. And, then we have like half an hour of defeating various stages of bad guy. Mistress 9’s costume is one of the least impressive of the entirety of revival seramyu. Some of the pearls on the dress became unhooked during the performance I saw, even. But, Super Sailor Moon’s is amazing. The clear plastic, ribbon rimmed, giant pink bow on Super Sailor Moon is an engineering marvel. As a nerd who has been sewing various versions of the senshi fuku for years, I am in love with this design. The Witches 5, the Daimons, and Super Sailor Moon are my now top 3 cosplay desires.
One of the most emotional segments of this musical, for me, was actually the encore. There were three full songs during the encore. First was “Ai no Star Shine” performed now, finally, with all 10 senshi. It was awesome. The whole team! Finally together! Next was Tuxedo Kamen’s song with the Daimons as his backup dancers. So posh. Last, was a rendition of Moonlight Densetsu with, again, the whole cast of heroes. It brought a tear to my nerd eye.
Outside the performance itself, things were even more serious than before. For the first year since the revival began, merchandise was sold outside the ticket gate. You can just walk up to the theater and buy goods. Also, instead of roping off the cafe attached to AiiA Theater Tokyo, this year there was a themed menu offering. As this is the last musical for much of the original revival cast, there were memorial beverages for each girl’s character. I had the “Momoyo Mercury” drink and Tuxedo Kamen pancakes. I tweeted out a selfie with the Momoyo Mercury drink and Momoyo favorited the tweet! I love these girls. Please come back!!!
It was adorable. I chose to get my snacks in after the performance. Near me in the cafe were two sets of mothers and daughters sharing the ChibiUsa parfait. It was truly touching and sweet to see moms my age enjoying Sailor Moon with the next generation. We should all be so lucky. As an elementary school teacher here in Japan, I do get to talk about BSSM with my young students, but it’s not the same.
While I found the last part of the performance itself to be not quite as good as before, the planning outside the show was amazing this year. The official merchandise available doubled over year one. Not only was there a program book and photo set, there was also an additional Visual Book just for extra pictures. Three musical only t-shirts, blind box charms, and the usual phone cases were on sale. Hell, they even reissued the pamphlets for previous musicals!
There were also English-language signs, English translation of the show itself, the themed cafe, and a raffle to meet the cast members. None of that was around for La Reconquista!
Now, the scans:
The Program “Pamphlet”.
The Visual Book.
The September 19th postcard:
The collectible photo set.
Lastly, promotional flyers passed out at the musical venue including the fall Ichiban Kuji promo, the live simulcast, the DVD, and other anime musicals by Nelke including Prince of Tennis, Kuroshitsuji, and Princess Knight.
See the show for yourself on Nico Nico Douga’s “Live Viewing” the first week of October.
One of the newer characters in the Sanrio lineup is Gudetama. The Lazy Egg Yolk. He’s always a combination of bored, tired, sleepy, and lazy. Slowly over the past year he’s gained momentum, merchandise, and notoriety. Who can’t relate to feeling a little lazy on Monday morning? And, he has a Twitter account! So here are some lazy comics from the lazy egg himself, translated into English by yours truly.
Capsule toys, crane games, stationary, plushies, and actual egg food. Here’s just a taste of how popular this egg yoke has become.
I had the pleasure of seeing the Sailor Moon R musical, Petite Etrangre, on opening night this past week. It was even better than expected! Tuxedo Kamen has an expanded role. The Dark Moon is full of droids. Sailor Pluto’s relationship with ChibiUsa and Endymion takes center stage more than once. Beautiful costumes. Beautiful people. Seamless costume changes.
First, the goods. There were three items of exclusive merchandise for sale at the venue: A show pamphlet, a character photo set, and a hand light. All scans were originally done in 600dpi. Optimized images are below. Full size downloads will eventually be made available.
Sold for 3,000 yen, there were several photo sets in total. Fun fact: The group shot and the Tuxedo Kamen shots were the only “large” photos. Everything else was snapshot size.
The official program book or pamphlet cost 2,300 yen and featured full page glossy photos of all the primary cast, a letter from Takeuchi Naoko, behind the scenes photos, and ads for Sailor Moon merchandise.
The hand light was available for 1,800 yen and had batteries already in it. Everyone pulled theirs out for the three song encore and waved them around Japanese concert style. Very sweet.
Several flyers were handed out at the entrance to the theater. They included ads for future musicals for Kuroshitsuji and Prelude of the Rainbow, a flyer advertising that musical DVD preorders would get one a special ticket carrying folder, a flyer advertising the simulcast on September 9th (movie theaters/internet), a free postcard, and a survey about the performance.
This synopsis is a work in progress based on one initial viewing. I will be seeing it again soon and refining the description. There are a lot of holes and inevitably some mistakes. Most photos are from the dress rehearsal published at Genou News and Comic Natalie.
The lights come up upon Small Lady standing in the audience. It’s the future in Crystal Tokyo. Unseen bullies tease her for not having powers like her mother and father. They call her not a real princess because she can’t transform into a senshi. She decides to prove her bullies wrong by stealing the Silver Crystal. The moment she lays her hands on it, we see a giant black crystal the size of a building crash into the silhouette of the palace projected on the back of the stage. The Black Moon Clan has attacked.
Small Lady finds her mother, Neo Queen Serenity, in the palace. The Black Moon clan with their droids in their ship closes in on the Queen and identifies Small Lady, called “rabbit” in English by the bad guys. Diamond obsesses over the Queen. The missing silver crystal means no defense. Small Lady escapes to the past with her time key.
Cut to the past. Small Lady is asleep in Mamoru’s bed as Usagi explains that the reason she didn’t call the police when a little girl fell from the sky is that the silver crystal reacted to her and she just seemed not normal. When Small Lady awakes Mamoru takes an immediate liking to her and vice versa. Mamoru comforts her with a Tuxedo Kamen plush toy that he says he won from a crane game. Usagi is immediately jealous. Mamoru straight up asks Small Lady who she is, how old she is, who her parents are. She gives her age as nine figures plus two zeros, she points to Usagi and Mamoru as her parents. Her answers are misinterpreted. Mamoru dubs her ChibiUsa because she’s a small person with Usagi’s same hairdo.
The next day is the Azabu Juban festival and wouldn’t you know it our girls are performing as part of the “Usagi Band”. Yep, Usagi starts her own band. But, she’s nowhere to be found. They perform “Eye Candy”. Usagi shows up just after the performance. Turns out she stayed up all night worrying about ChibiUsa and Mamoru and then overslept. Oops. Rei took over as lead singer, though, so all is well. Makoto on bass. Minako on guitar. Ami on keytar.
Mamoru and ChibiUsa show up to. Usagi hassles ChibiUsa and the girls scold her for being so mean to a little kid. Makoto especially takes a liking to ChibiUsa and the two dance and play on stage during the song and talk. No one is quite sure if she’s an enemy or an ally and her answers to their questions don’t help.
The final act in the festival is a dance routine performed by Esmeraude and several droids disguised as young women. They seem to claim they’re from Makoto’s school or are otherwise associated with her, but they call her by the wrong name and she identifies them as enemies. Battle happens! Tuxedo Kamen and the senshi transform and defeat Esmeraude. Lots of La Smoking Bomber! Not just senshi attacks!
After the battle, back at Mamoru’s place, they try to look a little more into this who the hell is ChibiUsa and why are the bad guys after her thing. She wears Mamoru’s clothes. Usagi’s jealousy ensues. Mamoru and Chibiusa have a heart to heart on the balcony of his apartment, and at her own home Usagi sings about her uneasy heart since Chbiusa came into their lives. My memory’s a bit fuzzy. Need to see it again.
Fast forward a little plot. Esmeraude has been defeated so it’s Rubeus’s turn. In this version, Saphir is a technical genius and he has managed to make robot copies of each of the senshi. Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Mars have near perfect copies with only black gloves and small changes in costume embellishments to tell them apart. Each girl faces off against her copy robot and criticizes how their copies behave, look, and attack. Sailor Moon shows up to the battle last and demands to know where her robot copy is. Oops. Her robot copy didn’t turn out quite right. Enter a short copy of Sailor Moon with short black gloves and short curly hair. All the senshi remark they like the robot Sailor Moon better. She’s so cute!
Battle. Bad guys. Yadda yadda. It’s in Act 1 that we see an upgraded version of La Smoking Bomber. Ace, there Tuxedo Kamen.
Diamond has identified Sailor Moon/Usagi as Serenity. He’d know that face anywhere, anytime! As things heat up, the baddies try to abduct Usagi and ChibiUsa into their space ship. Tuxedo Kamen manages to shield Sailor Venus, ChibiUsa, and Sailor Moon from the ship’s beam. Sailor Mercury, Sailor Jupiter, Sailor Mars are abducted to the future. Eventually, Tuxedo Kamen also gets separated from the group.
ChibiUsa says they need to go to the future, where this all started. She pulls out her time key and summons the door of time. The three enter and quickly get separated. Sailor Pluto appears and nearly attacks Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus before ChibiUsa stops them. Pluto then recognizes Moon and Venus. Pluto and ChibiUsa are obviously bestest friends and have been for ages, both of them being so lonely with their lot in life. Pluto agrees to bring them to the fallen Crystal Tokyo.
ChibiUsa leads them through the palace to her mother’s comatose body encased in crystal. King Endymion (as a “hologram”) appears and begins to explain the conflict. He tells them that ChibiUsa is the princess there and though she is 900 years old has not aged since early childhood and cannot use the magical powers her parents can. She’s totally normal and they don’t know why. Oh, and by the way Sailor Moon. She’s your daughter with Tuxedo Mask. Naturally, teenage Sailor Moon has an aneurysm when she realizes this little girl is physical proof she gets to have sex with her boyfriend one day. They ask about the silver crystal and ChibiUsa’s guilt causes her to run off.
Everyone chases after her. In the process, she talks to Pluto and they sing their feelings. Alone with his wife, Endymion sings his love to the comatose Neo Queen Serenity. A mournful Pluto joins in his song. She’s obviously a little in love. Returning to the palace, ChibiUsa sees Pluto smiling wistfully at her father and becomes jealous all over again. Pluto is her only friend and she’s supposed to be Pluto’s only friend. Why is Pluto smiling at her father? And, so ChibiUsa determines she really is all alone in the world and turns herself into the bad guys, despite Sailor Moon’s protest.
Sailor Moon gets captured by the Black Moon Clan. The dark energy reverses her transformation and she wakes up on a bed in a white dress. Prince Diamond explains that he is “in love” with her and wants to make her his. He’s gotten his brother Saphir, the technical genius, he’s gained control of Usagi’s body. He can make her dance or do whatever he pleases. He sings his evil manifesto to her and goes so far as to lay atop her on the bed and force a kiss on her. Usagi is devastated.
Meanwhile, Black Lady has been born. She uses mind/body control to force Tuxedo Kamen to dance with and then kiss her. Haunting stuff.
Back in the bedroom, Usagi is trying to get her shit together. The girls all hear each other’s cries psychically and gain strength from each other, trying to find a way out and to each other. Usagi wanders into the engine room of the ship with Saphir. Diamond might love her, but to Saphir she’s just a distraction. He wants her dead. Though Saphir wants to kill Usagi and even goes so far as to use mind control on his own brother and comrades to force them to get rid of her when they appear to stop him. Usagi summons the strength to transform into Sailor Moon once again. The fight with the Black Moon Clan begins with Sailor Moon and the senshi, but soon ends with the entrance of Wiseman. Bye bye Black Moon Clan.
Enter Black Lady with brainwashed Tuxedo Kamen in tow. She beats down the senshi with her new Black Lady powers and introduces herself as the grown up ChibiUsa. She talks about how she has almost everything she wants now, thanks to Wiseman and his evil magic. She’s a beautiful grown up woman. She can use magic. She has Tuxedo Kamen as her slave. Now, she just needs the silver crystal. Hand it over Sailor Moon! Of course, Sailor Moon tries to plead with her. You’re not really alone. We’re here. We love you.
Black lady will have none of that garbage. She goes full emo teenager and tells the senshi that they don’t understand a damn thing about her loneliness and sadness. They have no idea how she’s suffered. She smashes two more giant black crystals into the city of Crystal Tokyo to prove just how few fucks she gives. She commands Tuxedo Kamen to rip the silver crystal from Sailor Moon’s chest, which he does. As he reaches to hand it over to Black Lady, Saphir runs up and snatches it from his grasp.
Just when the situation can’t get any worse, time suddenly stops. Sailor Pluto has halted everyone and everything in their tracks. Sailor Pluto unfreezes Tuxedo Kamen, who isolated in time is now free of Black Lady’s mind control. He realizes where he is and what’s happened and retrieves the silver crystal from Saphir. The senshi are unfrozen in turn. Sailor Moon gets back her crystal. Sailor Pluto unfreezes all of time and Black Lady is furious at what has been taken from her.
Sailor Pluto has used all of her power to manipulate time like that. She has nothing left. She is dying. As she expires in Tuxedo Kamen’s arms, she laments that she is able to be so close to the face of her beloved king. When she passes, nothing is left of her but her staff.
Black Lady breaks down. Seeing her only friend die, she begins to cry genuine tears of loss. Her tear becomes the silver crystal that she’d stolen and lost. Black Lady is redeemed. In a flash of light she is transforms into Sailor ChibiMoon.
Newly transformed Sailor ChibiMoon grieves for her lost friend and takes her staff. But, the battle’s not over! In order to defeat Wiseman, all of the senshi band their power together to help Sailor Moon and the new Sailor ChibiMoon with their two silver crystals. I mean all of the senshi. “Sailor Mercury Star Power”. “Sailor Mars Star Power”. “Sailor Venus Star Power”. “Sailor Jupiter Star Power”. And the brand new “EARTH STAR POWER!” Yes, Tuxedo Kamen joins right in. They defeat the bad guy. The day is saved.
Later on in the past, it’s time to say good bye to ChibiUsa. Usagi does her best to pretend she doesn’t care, but goodness does she love that little shithead. Mamoru consoles her with a pretty lecherous grin that as ChibiUsa’s their daughter, it’s only goodbye for now. The curtain falls. Good night.
After the cast has taken their bows, ChibiUsa runs on stage to Usagi and presents her with a nearly indecipherable letter saying the little one is back and won’t you please look after in the past for a bit? See you next time.
The Encore consisted of “We are the Pretty Guardians”, the new battle song from this musical, and Moonlight Densetsu. I cried.
On Marine Day here in Japan the main cast from the Sailor Moon musical revival performed at Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City mall to promote the DVD release of the first musical and the ticket sales of the new one. Those who pre-ordered the DVDs got special tickets to receive a free poster and meet the cast on stage. Photography was banned, but I snuck a few shots.
The girls introduced themselves, performed the opening song from the musical, performed Moonlight Densetsu, and whored out the DVD before posing for photos in front of the crowd and greeting those who showed up with tickets redeemable for posters. Fans gave Venus and Jupiter the most presents, but Tuxedo Kamen got the most fanfare. At least three fans attended in full cosplay. My inspiration!