Browse Author: caitlin

I'm a 30 something English teacher in Japan. Each week I do my best to bring the benefits and frustrations of life in this country to this, my dear blog. ESL lesson plans, photo tours of the city, and all the nerdy glee I can muster, ahoy!

Everything Petite Etrangere

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.

Exclusive Goods and Flyers
Exclusive Goods and Flyers

Photo Set

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.

Pamphlet 

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.

 Hand Light

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.

Flyers

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.

Story

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.

Small Lady faces her bullies
Small Lady faces her bullies

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.

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Neo Queen Serenity tries to protect her daughter

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.

Usagi and Chibiusa fight over Mamoru
Usagi and Chibiusa fight over Mamoru

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.

Usagi Band performs "Eye Candy"
Usagi Band performs “Eye Candy”

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.

Tuxedo Kamen enters the battle with the droid dancers
Tuxedo Kamen enters the battle with the droid dancers

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.

Esmeraude attacks with the droids
Esmeraude attacks with the droids

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!

Mamoru tries to get more information out of ChibiUsa
Mamoru tries to get more information out of ChibiUsa

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.

Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter in Dark Moon jail
Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter in Dark Moon jail

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.

Sailor Pluto beyond the time door
Sailor Pluto beyond the time door

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.

King Endymion appears as a hologram
King Endymion appears as a hologram

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.

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Pluto and ChibiUsa, best friends

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.

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Usagi wakes on Diamond’s bed

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.

Saphir forces his comrades to attempt to kill Usagi
Saphir forces his comrades to attempt to kill Usagi, who then transforms into Sailor Moon

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.

Wiseman
Wiseman

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 and the silver crystal
Black Lady and the silver crystal

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.

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Sailor Pluto’s passing

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.

Earth Star Power
Earth Star Power

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.

Baby making time?
Baby making time?

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.

SeraMyu Ikebukuro Live Event

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!

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Can’t wait for the new musical!

Sailor Moon Merchandise in the Wild, July 2014

This weekend started the second fashion department store event in the new Sailor Moon Crystal promotional campaign at Shibuya’s 109. Honestly? The previous one in Shinjuku was better. Loads better. This one consisted of little more than a cosplay photoshoot area on the top floor set up basically in the elevator lobby and lots of small promotional things pasted around the place like paper cones/bull horns, posters, hand fans, and an occasional cosplayer or themed clothing display. Though Peach John and Spins were supposed to have Sailor Moon official merchandise for sale (lingerie and canvas bags respectively) I wasn’t able to find any. Below are photos of the decor around the mall and scans of the promotional hand fan. Pictures aren’t the best as the place was a zoo, shop keepers and customers alike crowded the place and were loud as metal. It was hard to get around, even.

Here are some scans of the hand fan that was “passed out” at the Shibuya 109 event.

I much prefer the Shibuya arcades. The crane game exclusives have started to pop up here and there. I have won precisely zero of them.

The Shibuya Animate also has it’s fair share of stuff. Though, the Free!, Haikyu, and Shingeki no Kyoujin merch beat the pants of this section.

But, it’s usually Kiddyland that has the best displays. This one in Yokohama had the gashapons and folder dispensers! Rare, yo.

Even the paper covers for the stickers and clear files are pretty!

Snoopy x Line x Pocky Collab

Too cute not to share! Pocky and Pretz boxes are currently adorned with scenes of Snoopy and friends and a Line collaboration. My dad is definitely getting some in the mail for father’s day.

Shit My Japanese Elementary School Students Are Into: Disney Tsum Tsum

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The Japanese branch of Disney is it’s own unique animal. More than one original character or product line has started here in Japan and moved back overseas after experiencing wild success. Duffy the Disney bear is one many will know. Duffy started off in the Tokyo Disney theme parks as a Japan-exclusive toy. His accompanying story book was also very Japanese. In his origin story, Duffy is made by Minnie to keep sailor/fisherman Mickey company at sea. Duffy was so effective at showing Minnie’s love for Mickey that, in the story, she ended up making one for everyone she loves. Hence, millions of Duffys in the park for sale to show Minnie’s love for you. And, while you’re at it, purchase some Disney costumes for him why don’t you! The anime spin off of Lilo and Stitch also brought us new siblings for Stitch in different cute colors. You couldn’t enter an arcade for years without seeing Stitch’s original Japanese companions.

Now, the progenitor is the Disney Store instead of Disneyland. Meet Disney Tsum Tsum: A series of plush toys with an accompanying smartphone game.

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The above trailer is also the opening sequence for the game. Notice how it takes place in the Disney Store itself.

The title likely comes from the two verbs “Tsumu”, one meaning to pile up and the other meaning to gather. The adorable little hamster like Disney characters pile up and you must gather them by drawing lines between like-character faces in a manner similar to games like Tetris/Jewels/Candy Crush.

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You start with Mickey as your hero character and can unlock other characters with earned game money as you play. Currently most of the main characters of the old Disney line up are available including Mickey, Minnie, Goofie, much of the cast of Bambi and most of Winnie the Pooh. Also, Perry the platypus. Because Perry has captured the hearts and minds of every little girl in my 6th grade class, somehow.

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Lines of five or more characters earn “bombs” that eliminate the characters around them for extra points.

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Get enough of your hero characters in a round and you can use their “skill”. Mickey’s skill is his hand. Anywhere the hand touches, points.

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After one minute, the game is over. Perfect time for a kid’s attention span.

The obscene cute and short time frame of each round would make one think this is the shit with elementary school kids. And it is. But weirdly enough I’ve seen equal numbers of junior high and high school kids on the bus and train playing this on their smartphones as well. The reason is likely due to the account creation process. While most games ask for an email or Facebook login stateside, here in Japan the smartphone based social networking app “Line” is where it’s at. You need a Line account to play. Teenagers all have Line accounts as if they didn’t it would be social suicide. The end. I’d been resisting Line for ages. The last thing I thought I needed was another social networking app that I wouldn’t use. But, the Tsum Tsum toys at the Disney store were too cute to pass up. I caved. Well played Disney.

Speaking of which, the toys.

There have been three waves of characters in the past six months or so, but there are still more characters in the game than on store shelves. Slowly but surely they’re taking over all the Disney stores in the Tokyo area. I can’t wait until Olaf gets added! My Pooh is the cutest cute that ever cuted. The small size toys are about $5 in yen and thy go up from there.

Watch out America. If this comes stateside, you will be lost to the cute.

Sailor Moon Merchandise in the Wild, May 2014

The gachas are out now for the outers figure set. My favorites weren’t in this set, but I had to get one.  For science.

And the overall display in the Kiddyland in the Odaiba Venus Fort mall. While I was deciding which strap to use for my work ID, the ladies next to me had a whole conversation about didn’t you hear they’re making a new one of this? Oh, yes. I loved this when I was in school. Which one was your favorite? Oh, look they even have Saturn! So sweet.

Sailor Moon Merchandise in the Wild, April 2014 Edition

As the lead in to the new anime comes closer, the merchandise has picked up steam. This week everyone was in a tizzy over the Isetan Sailor Moon boutique. Honestly, most of that they sold was a little too plain for the prices they were charging. The $1,000 princess dress was good, but not that good. I would have indulged in one of the custom patterned dresses if they hadn’t been so small.

On a separate outing (to buy my boyfriend businesswear no less!) I spotted not one, not two, but three gashapon machines selling the Tuxedo Kamen figures. Right, now they are well stocked! Where was this tenacity for either of the two compact gashas?

Even better, Kiddy Land has a whole swath of merch out on display. It’s real! It’s really real!

But even greater, the stationary is up in the local shops. I might just see these on my students’ desks this year!

And the Peach John Catalog with the Sailor Moon lingerie is in the convenience store.

How wild will it get when the show actually airs!