Before I start with the review, here are some items I left out from the synopsis I wrote. I left them, because I really don't remember where it happened.
1. Ichigo thanks Rukia for giving him the power of shinigami, and Rukia misunderstand that as Ichigo's will to train under her. Rukia proudly announces that now Ichigo is her disciple and walks away while Ichigo yelling at her to listen to him. (a comedic scene)
2. There is a scene where it was indicated that the white flower was for Haruka, placed by Iruma. After that scene, Iruma wears it on his chest till the last. (The first scene indicating that Iruma has something to do with the orphanage)
OK, let's start.
First, let me tell you that I really didn't feel it was leaning on too much IchiRuki, since so many IchiRuki fans seems to dying to know how far they went. The relationship stays at more than friends, less than lovers line. I believe Kida was careful not to do more development in the meaning of love for those two.
Also, it is because of the weakness of the writing. On the Act 1, Kida tries to describe friendship and trust between Ichigo and Rukia and break it (or at least made Ichigo thinks it did ) at the end of Act 1, when Ichigo could not nail Iruma down as Rukia hoped, costing Rukia's life. Then, he resolved Ichigo's conflict too fast on the Act 2, eager to move onto Iruma's conflict. Rukia is pretty much gone for the most of the Act 2 and everyone are damn busy fighting Iruma (saving for Ichigo, who is trying to save Iruma), it is hard to remember about Ichigo-Rukia bond theme until she shows up at the end. I am not sure if my memory is correct, I don't think any character mentioning about Rukia after Ichigo found her voice in his heart until she reappear at the very end.
I kind of understand why the writing leaned toward that way when I read the pamphlet. Kida, on his blog wrote he picked up two themes from the manga , which were "bond between Ichigo and Rukia" and "Another Ichigo". Then, on the pamphlet, he wrote that one of the biggest running theme throughout whole BLEACH is "salvation of the souls". I think what happened is that the "Another Ichigo" theme and "salvation of the souls" theme sort of fused together while Kida was writing, weakening "Ichigo-Rukia" theme. If Kida managed to better job on relate Ichigo's willingness to save Iruma to the fact that Ichigo thinks that Rukia has saved his soul, both theme could have conveyed better.
- The show was written for the audience who have never read or seen BLEACH before. Good way to get new fans.
- Bickering between Ichigo and Renji. Done in a rap. Since both of the actors looks much younger than their predecessor, they are just like a pair of high school kids. If they are going to make sequal, I would love to see them (and Rukia) in the high school uniform.
- Better costume. You can tell on the moment you see that the materials used for shinigami and hollows are better. Not only that, they are tailored much better. Only problem I can see is the insignia of number six Nii-sama's Taichou Baori, which was placed a bit too high, and most of it was covered by his hair and scarf.
- Taiin are already getting popularity.
- Direction. Kida is known to write and direct not only plays, but also Sentai and Kamen Rider shows. His sentai and rider shows are pretty popular with the adult fans and parents of the kids who came to watch the show. So, naturally, he is experienced with handling transformations and special effects on the live show, and he was the right choice. They have better Shikai and Bankai effect than past Burimyu. He use six narrow and tall movable walls to chance the scene and use as screen. Taiin move them around when they are not appearing on the stage. There is a plat form with stairway on the middle of the stage, and it was used effectively as well. Just guess Rukia appearing on the middle of the platform, as two papar slide doors slids open. (She was the first principal character to appear on the show.)
- Fighting choreography of Iruma v.s. Toushirou and Squad 10 taiin : It was tragic but reall well thought to the point that we can see the strong bond between the Captain and taiin. On one sequence, a taiin fall on his back and Iruma trys to stub him. Toushirou manages to stop Iruma's blade with his blade for a moment, but Iruma was stronger. Then Toushirou jumps back and trys to pull himself together, but Iruma moves in really fast. Another taiin, without any hesitation, throws himself in front of Toushirou and killed by Iruma. The second taiin didn't even try to use his zampakutou to block. I was stunned, but love the sequence because I can see the bonding within the squad and their will to complete their mission even if they die.
- Iruma and Haruka's duet. They are just gorgeous.
- Songs! The show sounds more like musical than some of the past Burimyu.
- Pamphlet. It worth 1500yen price tag. Not only they have a lot of pictures, but you can also tell the respect toward the manga from its article.
-Could've done better-
- Writing. The writing was very good up to the beginning of the act 2. I've already wrote about it, but would like to add some more. At the early part of Act 2, Ichigo's conflict was resolved with advise from Byakuya. Then, the story loose the balance, putting too much emphasis on Iruma's story. At one point, you will start feeling like that Iruma is the protagonist of the musical, not Ichigo. The script manage to bring Ichigo back to the center of the stage at the end, and that's good. Still, having leaning toward too much on Iruma's story costed the focus of the story.
- Use of songs. Kida Tsuyoshi is an experienced writer/director, but not with straight play. He is trying to blend in many songs in most effective way, but there are some awkwardness. Also, he could've use more duet or terzetto. Toho could've provided some good adviser who is experienced with making of musical. (I heard that Niiro, an experienced musical actor, suggested that one of his solo song should be rewritten to duet of Ichigo and Iruma. His advise turned out to be right, since the duet turned out to be really moving song. So, there is a good proof that good advise do help.)
- Save poor Abarai. He is the only character who got his butt kicked twice during the show. And don't tell me that what he is! OK, lets's stop joking. Kujirai-Renji seems to has such a potential, so I was so shocked to see his appearance was so short. He was so different from Moriyama-Renji, but he was great Abarai Renji. I really wish he has more appearance if there is a sequel.
-Compared to the past casts-
- New casts are doing just fine. Nii-sama is a bit too young, but it won't matter. Some of them can sing better, too.
-I'm not sure how to describe, but I think I loved it-
- Ukitake Taichou. Yap, he is a great ballet dancer. Yes, we know he may be the worst singer, but so many people, including me, have totally forgotten something more important until the day 1 of Shinsei Burimyu. There are no lines spoken on ballet!! The way he speak like was sooooooo funny, I had such a hard time not to laugh at laud when we are not supposed to be. As the story progress, and as he get used to acting with lines, then, he starts speak like a kindergarten teacher reading book to kids. As for his singing, we got pretty much what we have expected, since he had already made it clear that this is his first experience to sing on a stage. Well, his voice is really strong and good, but he missed keys here and there. But this is his fast musical, and remembering how Isaka-kun was, we can take that. It does not mean he sucks. He is great. He is Ukitake and not Ukitake. He is graceful every single moment, and his dance is great. You have to adore his mischievous smile. I think I love Myu-Ukitake.
-Some extra facts-
- On Shinsei Burimyu, they are not using real Tabi (Japanese socks) and Waraji (straw sandals). Instead, they are using split toe sneaker or 地下足袋(Japanese socks with soles, made to wear without waraji) with straw strings attached, so it would looks like Tabi and Waraji. You can see it here, on the official website's photo. I think it is for the safety reason. Kyouraku also wear the same shoes on the stage, but his was dyed with the color close to his skin's. (However, he does not wear the shoes but barefooted on the photo.)
- Kyouraku's costume comes with chest hair. HONEST! I saw it from Low 5!! The hair does not looks like his actual hair!!!
- So far, Kyouraku is the character who tweeted most on the RM_BLEACH twitter account.
-Some detail I could not remember when I was writing synopsis, and I don't know why I could not.-
At the finale, when each character sings a short version of their songs. Kyouraku sings while Ukitake dances, and Ukitake is about to sing and Kyouraku is about to dance.
Ukitake: cough, cough!
Kyouraku: Are you OK?
Ukitake: I think I've danced too much today.
Kyouraku: You better be careful. Your health is not that good.