I am about to collapse from jet lag and exhaustion after spending the whole day navigating Tokyo’s metro but before I do that, I want to post this first.
So today I watched Daito’s stage play, Smart Motery Man, and if it were possible, I’d buy another ticket and watch it again — yes, it is that fabulous. (I thought I was being early by buying my ticket more than a month in advance. Obviously, that wasn’t enough. All the seats on the ground floor were already gone by the time I started looking for tickets.)
Hand on heart, I could not recognise Daito at all when I first saw him on stage. The way he looked, moved and sounded was so different that for about 15 minutes, I was wondering when he was going to show up…until it dawned on me that the guy with the weird perm and funny accent was actually him.
Initially, I thought his character was going to be your average salaryman with zero game — that was the impression I got from all the promo materials — but him playing a loser yankii is obviously 10,000 times better. Oh god, and wait till you hear him rap. That definitely woke me up from my jet lag…XDD
This is Smart Motery Man’s third incarnation and as you can imagine, it’s a pretty popular play in Japan. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it began life as a comic in R25, a web magazine targeted at male job seekers. Yasuda Ken plays the titular character, an outlandish pick-up artist who gives male singletons equally outlandish advice on how to score with women. I haven’t seen the earlier versions with Mizubata Junpei and Kaku Kento but I love the synergy of the cast in this one. Yasuda’s been the one constant in all three editions and it’s clear from his charismatic performance why he’s such a favourite with the audience. But the one person who really surprised me was Takahata Mitsuki. I had no idea what to expect from her and while I knew she had acted in a number of musicals before, I wasn’t prepared for the sheer force of her stage presence. You wouldn’t guess it watching her interviews but she’s a genuine firecracker on stage. She was fierce and fabulous in her role and I hope to see more of her in future.
I’m going to wrap this up because I can feel myself starting to crash but suffice to say that I’m glad Daito got this role because it’s allowing him to do so many things that he never gets to do in his dramas. I always feel that he keeps playing the same TV characters over and over again — if he isn’t playing the über cool alpha male, he’s the dutiful son or kid brother. Case in point, his NHK drama with Aya Ueto that’s currently airing. It’s frustrating to watch him in these roles because let’s be honest, they aren’t going to bring him places. On the other hand, the work he’s done on stage is a lot stronger in terms of quality and more challenging for him as an actor. Especially after he acted in Minatomachi Junjo Othello and Kinkakuji, you can see him being more aware of the way he moves and carries himself when he’s in character. It’s definitely a marked improvement from when he was just starting out. Maybe this is the universe trying to tell him something. Anyway, I’m glad that he’s experimenting a lot more with his roles now that he’s joined Atlantis. I have no idea how Top Coat was managing his career but it’s baffling how little he has to show for the six years he spent with them.
After seeing Maido Ari’s scans, I’m now starting to regret not buying the programme booklet. Maybe I’ll go back to get it before I leave…
On another note, Fukuda Yuichi-san, please make Smart Motery Man available on DVD. The hilarity of this play (and of course, the magic of Daito doing his yankii rap XD) needs to be shared with more people.