Vr Noh: Ghost in the Shell

Performances of the “Vr noh” Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊) will be held at Tokyo’s Setagaya Public Theatre on August 22 and 23, featuring young shite actors from the Kanze School, Sakaguchi Takanobu and Kawaguchi Kōhei. More info and tickets here (Japanese only – all performances seem to be already sold out, perhaps due to with-coronavirus restricted seating)

After various animation films, the 2017 Hollywood feature film (sparking controversy because of the almost-all Western casting), and a recent all-digital sequel on Netflix, Shirow’s manga is recast in nō form.

As I kid I used to collect Masamune Shirow’s manga. Appleseed, my favorite, has been one of the first available in Italy back in the early 90s, followed by Black Magic, Dominion, and Orion. His works, mixing cyberpunk with fantasy and Japanese spirituality, were extremely popular outside Japan (I think he was published by Dark Horse in the US).

Ghost in the Shell blew us readers away because of the amazing color rendition of some of its pages. How is it going to look like in “vr nō” style? I imagine the plot will play with the idea of the “ghost” or “soul” transmigrating from body to body, or from body to another material vessel, something familiar to the nō repertory, rooted in buddhist thought. From the poster we can see the female protagonist, apparently dancing wearing a purple chōken, typically used the the depiction of female spirits.

As I pointed out at the beginning of the article, all tickets are already sold out, so we can only hope for future re-runs, or for a video!

Hatsune Miku and Dojoji – Kyoto Soseiza

illustration by  七原しえ © Crypton Future Media, INC. www.piapro.net
illustration by 七原しえ © Crypton Future Media, INC. http://www.piapro.net

Sōseiza is a Kyoto-based group of performers belonging to different performance traditions, including members of the Kongō school of shitekata. Every year the group stages performances that cross genres, but are generally based on traditional arts such as Kabuki, Nihon-buyō, Noh, Nagauta, Shakuhachi, etc. This year Sōseiza is taking it one step further with the performance that brings together the story of Dōjō-ji and the vocaloid computer star Hatsune Miku.

Dōjō-ji tells the story of a young woman who, driven by her passionate love for a priest, transforms into a demonic snake and coils herself around the bell where he was hiding, melting the bell and burning him to death. The story is much more complex and interesting – check a synopsis with stage pictures from the Noh adaptation here.

This vocaloid version sounds like a rather bold experiment, fusing traditional Japanese performance with very contemporary (and equally local) technology, giving the classic tale a pop twist. I have my reservations, though one cannot tell before actually attending (which I won’t be able to do this time..). If you happen to go see this show, please let me know how it was! I’d be happy to post your review here.

Hatsune Miku X Dōjō-ji X Vocaloid

Time: 4 July 2014 from 18:30 (pre-talk opening)

Place: The Sodoh Higashiyama Kyoto