As it turned out, it became even more of a risk because the bus was a little delayed and arrived at Shinjuku station at 12.15. I then didn't get on a train to Ikebukuro until 12.31, which got me there at 12.37. I walked so fast from the station and ended up entering 10 minutes before the play started. Luckily, the theater was well signposted and easy to find. I was glad that my seat was on an aisle (and on the back row, by the way) since it was easy to get to. Being at the back wasn't so bad. I was on the second floor so although I was far back on the back row, I could see everything perfectly and got a good view of the entire stage. I kind of wish I had been able to see it twice, once from further forward, but I was happy with my view.
The stage play was amazing from start to finish, as expected. It was an interesting experience for me because for the first time, I was seeing something where I love the original work but knew none of the actors. Recently I've been going to a lot of stage plays where I know nothing about the original work but like one or two of the actors in it already, so it was actually a nice change to go along knowing the whole plot and seeing how it played out on stage without being distracted by anyone in particular. Having said that, as I love the anime so much, I also had pretty high expectations for the play, which thankfully were met for me.
The stage set up reminded me a lot of the Tenimyu one, an abstract kind of basketball court on the ground and props they wheeled in and out (or dropped from the ceiling). The only difference was they had a backdrop with a platform behind where characters stood generally when they were watching a match. The back was also sloped a little so cast members could walk up a little to get height and jump off. The baskets weren't fixed in one place and moved around depending on what the focus was, and at one point they even had cast members holding four to show that Kagami was dunking one after another.
Plot-wise, they managed to basically do the whole first season (up to the end of the Seiron vs Too match) and including both other games as well. Obviously the matches went a lot more quickly than in the anime/manga but they got all of the important parts in there, and managed to keep the plot moving with all of the scenes in between. I was amazed by how much they were able to get in without really leaving out anything important. Although I would have liked more time spent on matches I really liked, it would have been hard for them to dedicate more time to things.
As my favourite character in the anime, I was of course paying a lot of attention to Kise. His match was over quite quickly, being the first one, but he hung around for the rest of the play as he does in the anime, watching matches from the sidelines. I was impressed that they also gave a little time in the second half to flashbacks of him in Junior High when he needed a new sport to play and found Aomine playing basketball. Although I know the main purpose of putting it in there was as an introduction to Aomine who hadn't been seen too much in the play up until that point, it was nice for Kise to get a bit of spotlight for a while. He spent most of the rest of the time watching the match with Midorima (who was holding Kise's hiyoko cushion as his lucky item for the entire second half). One of my favourite things about Kise was his fangirls who were played by the "Encounter" guys, and who spent most of the time screaming over him every time he was on the stage. At one point he threw his jacket in their direction and they all started fighting over it.
I was wondering how they would deal with Kagami's amazingly high jumps. They had a combination of having the person he was going up against crouching down a little, making him the only one on stage when he was dunking sometimes, and they also had him jump off people's backs while they crouched over, or once on someone's thigh as well, which was pretty amazing and looked tough on the guys he did it to. Speaking of Kagami... he's a close second favourite character for me, and I was really impressed with his actor. I liked how he looked before I saw the stage, and he really was the centre of the stage pretty much all the time. Watching him on stage made me like the character even more and was one of the main reasons I was disappointed that I could only see the stage once. I loved all the action he had on stage, and his more comedic moments (ordering the entire menu at a restaurant for example) and he was just perfect to me.
I really didn't think Ono Kensho had the right face for Kuroko, but everything else was spot on. Of course, his voice was perfect since he IS his voice, and his posture and movements worked. They also handled him being invisible very well. During a lot of the match time he wasn't on stage until he was actually going to do something, and he also spent a lot of time hiding behind people in the dark. Even I didn't know sometimes where he suddenly appeared from, which I guess was the whole point. His funniest moment for me was after Kagami is injured and Kuroko loses janken and has to carry him. Kagami's actor is not a small guy and Ono did not have to act like he was in pain at all, because it was obvious that carrying him across the stage was not easy for him especially with Kagami's arms and legs flailing all over the place and the fact that he was so much taller.
Midorima was also great. XD I don't particularly like him as a character (out of the seven mains, including Kagami, he's 5th) and I so I wasn't expecting to like him so much but somehow he was more ridiculous on stage than he was in the anime and so somehow I warmed to him a little more this way. In the anime, Takao rides him around in a trailer on his bike and they put this in the stage play, but clearly it was a lot harder in real life than it is in anime and the actor for Midorima was pretty big. I was amazed that the bike didn't topple over. Oh, and of course Midorima had his selection of lucky items and there was one point where he has the huge taniki and it just stood there on the platform at the top of the stage for a while, which was super creepy. He got a lot of laughs in the stage which I don't think he got so much in the anime.
Aomine... I don't him like much in the anime (he's sixth out of the mains for me) and I didn't really like him that much in the stage either. It's not that the actor didn't play him well, although I didn't think the actor fitted the role that well image-wise, but I just don't like his character's personality. Also, I was a little disappointed that the entire second half of the stage was basically dedicated to him. The other two matches were both played in the first half, and as I like those characters better, I wished they had gotten a little more time. The one saving grace about this is that the whole match is basically Aomine vs Kagami so I got to see Kagami a lot during that time.
However, I'm not all negative about this team! There is one member of Too that I like a lot (he features in my top ten list of favourite characters from the series), and that is Sakurai Ryo. I like how he develops later in the series but my favourite part of him is definitely how he is constantly apologizing, and we got plenty of that in the stage play. He even did his whole apologizing for living thing. XD Poor kid.
From now, I'm really hoping that they continue and make a second stage play, because I really want to see the other characters (especially Himuro and Murasakibara) on stage. Of course, I'm also looking forward to seeing the live viewing of the final show next weekend, and from then, the DVD... It never ends, does it? :D
After the show finished, I got in the goods line to get things for me and other people. The previews were so small and there wasn't actually a picture of them in front of the staff serving me, so I had to keep looking to one beside her and squinting to check I was getting the right ones. I ended up buying extra for myself than I had expected because my willpower is bad. I ended up with Kise, Kagami and Sakurai's sets, the pair set with Kuroko and Kagami, and one of the team sets.
I left the theater and had a wander round K Books, buying Ashikiba's trading card from the Yowamushi Pedal stage special popcorn, because it was one of only 2 I really wanted and now I can happily stop buying the popcorn which I don't like that much anyway. I also finally bought Kaneda's can badge so he can hang out with Akazawa on my bag.
When I left K Books and suddenly I had a bad thought... I pulled out the photos from the stage play, and sure enough, I had forgotten one. It was one of mine, and annoyingly it was one of the two I had been originally planning on buying: Kagami. K Books had them and I was initially thinking of just getting it there. It was a little more expensive than the regular cost, and I really wanted time to get food before my bus... But, I knew I couldn't do it. Buying them at the venue means supporting the actor after all, so off I went back to the theater. Luckily the line was really short by then and I even had time to get food after all, so I was glad I made that decision.
With that, I headed to get my bus back home! By the way, my bus ride home was the most relaxing I'd ever had, because I was sat in the window seat on the back row with no one beside me. I almost felt like I was the only person on the bus, I spread out, shoved all my stuff on the seat next to me... I wish I could do that more often.</lj-cut