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20 October 2009 @ 02:00 pm
A Non-Soragumi Review OMG! -- Taiou Shijinki Ver. II  
If you look back, technically the votes for Taiou II and Fifty-Fifty are tied... But if I hadn't voted in my own poll, Hoshigumi would have come out ahead. ;) So my first review is of--

Taiou Shijinki Ver. II

With it having run twice in one year I'd think everyone knows the story by now, but here's the really short version anyway.


Two cousins are born on the night that a prophetic star shines, signifying that one of them is to be the true king of Jooshin (ancient Korea). Damduk is the son of the current king, but has no particular aspirations toward the throne and is best friends with his cousin Hogae. But the workings of fate bring them apart, as well as a woman -- the priestess Kiha. She herself is actually part of a secret clan and possesses an artifact that holds the power of one of the Four Gods. Damduk eventually has to find and collect the four artifacts, struggle with his love for Kiha and respond to his country's need for a true king under the threat of the evil wizard Beulgil.

My thoughts:

Unlike several other people, I don't really think "Version II" was such a vast improvement on the "original" Hanagumi version. The onslaught of too much plot in too little time, and the disappointment of characters that didn't live up to expectations... I never watched the *actual* original (the 24-episode drama), but just the fact that everyone talked up the female characters of Kiha and Sujini so much for them to just become yet more marginalized musumeyaku roles... Sigh.

That being said, the sets are great, the costumes are gorgeous -- it's a feast for the eyes if you don't care too much about the story. And, I mean, have you seen the finale?

The actresses:

Yuzuki Reon (Damduk): Chie, to me, is a powerhouse of charisma and talent who was made top too young. I guess it works for Damduk, who's supposed to be like 18 and makes stupid impulse decisions. He's attractive, I suppose. But he's very "pure" and (mostly) positive-thinking and wants justice for everyone. In other words, a typical hero and totally not as interesting / desirable as Hogae. XDD;;;

Ouki Kaname (Hogae): Kaname just keeps moving up in my estimation ♥ And Hogae is such a smexy role, all fiery and passionate and dark and I definitely think Kaname did well in it. That downward spiral from Super Best Friends with Damduk into Pretty Soulless and Evil was really fun to watch. :D

Yumesaki Nene (Kiha): I don't have anything against Nene, but she doesn't particularly interest me. Even if her singing has gotten better over time, she can't beat Ayane's Kiha in my opinion. Nene took a role that had mostly been stripped of its strengths anyway and portrayed it as just another weak heroine in pretty costumes.

Suzumi Shio (Beulgil): Toyokooooooo oh my GOD the first time I saw this show she arrested my attention like whoa. I think on Cafe Break she said she hadn't done a villain role since her shinko years, and man was it ever obvious that she was having a great time as Beulgil. So amazing and evil and hot. Then when it got to the finale, she went back to just being Toyoko and I lost interest.

Ayami Haya (General Ko): The general who is actually mostly Damduk's put-upon nursemaid XDD Haya showed an ability to be really cool and sexy even when just standing in the background. And I felt that... fatherly? uncle-y? love that Ko has for Damduk even when he appears aloof and unfazed by country bumpkins with ridiculous hair anything. Plus, Finale!Haya zomg ♥

Yumeno Seika (Saryang): Admittedly my Super Love for Mitsuru vs. my indifferent feeling on Tomomin probably comes into play here, but I was disappointed by her Saryang. I think the subtle love for Kiha was a little too subtle? There wasn't as much life / spirit as I would have liked to see.

Tsurumi Mayuu (Il Soo): Being Hogae's Evil Lackey automatically makes you hot. Being Doi-chan also makes you mind-blowingly amazing. Il Soo, according to Doi-chan, is supposed to be "even more evil than Hogae" in the drama... Not that she got much of a chance to show it, but I did enjoy the faces she made inviting Hogae to go to the brothel (is it a brothel?) and such... And the glares at Damduk when he gets the glowing sword... And and, Finale!Doi-chan is death by sexiness ♥ ♥ ♥

Kurenai Yuzuru (Jumuchi): Loooooooooove. This is the kind of role that is perfect for Beni in every way. Trying to be cool but mostly just loud-mouthed and bumbling, ehehe. With enormous hair. XD Plus, total power to Beni for making inappropriate gestures with her sword at Seara... even if they made her stop doing after the first weekend. ;P

Miya Rurika (Sujini): In explaining this play to my less-Japanese-inclined friends, I realized how totally useless Takarazuka's Sujini is. Like, except for that bit where they dress her up all girly and try to push her on Damduk, and "omg ur my sister!?" with Kiha, she's not actually that important. MiyaRuri herself is super-cute and big-eyed... On the one hand, it's really hard to see her as an otokoyaku now; on the other hand, I feel bad that the company gave her Sujini only to not promote her much at all?

Aono Yuki (Gak Dan): Gak Dan doesn't actually get to do much besides run around being all "yes, sir!" and then have a critical fight and death scene near the end of first act. But that doesn't mean Marimo wasn't totally awesome. :D She very much deserves more "strong girl with a sword" roles. Only now she'll never get them.

Ichijou Azusa (Sueh Duru): Aka son of Team Black clan leader, I think? I just have to mention Shiiran because she has apparently become Huge Quantities of Awesome in a Small Package. She's short and baby-faced but was totally believable as the tough guy from the countryside with a big ego and an even bigger mouth XD ♥

Makaze Suzuho (Cheoro): Ahahahahahaha XDDDD

I could go on, but I think those are the ones I really need to mention? Shout-outs to Hanami Yuuka for being stellar in her short-lived last role, Kisaragi Ren for being really energetic and cute even when she fell off the bridge XD, Otohana Yuri of the amazing voice... And frowny faces at Koto Marie and Hisaki Seara for being marginalized characters that could have been so much more fun.

But, again, the root of the problem is introducing too many cool-seeming characters and then giving them no opportunity to be fleshed out. I like them for the actresses who portray them, all the eye candy and the costumes and the effects and such... But at the end of the day, the wrap-up is really silly and leaves a disappointing sense of "they could have done better with this".

I give it a B-?

That took me about an hour and a half. Not bad.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
ohtori_tsukiohtori_tsuki on October 20th, 2009 05:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, I mostly went through the entire play searching for Hinatan with opera glasses in scenes that she was in, and then sort of watching while waiting for her next scene. I think that it is unfortunate in general that they changed the love story from the drama (It's actually *supposed* to end up with Sujini and Damduk together), since it is a lot more interesting and makes for a better lead female character. Sigh. At least there was armor. And Teru dying in Chie's arms.
Julie: kazu thinkwao_wao on October 21st, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
I know how it was supposed to end... If only Hankyuu had the guts to portray such an ending. :P
ruderal_species: Musumeyaku with Swordsruderal_species on October 20th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC)
the disappointment of characters that didn't live up to expectations

This is why I never, ever, ever look at anything having to do with the source material for a show if I can avoid it. Not even summaries. I have been studiously looking away from Jen's "Hapsburg" posts.

Il Soo, according to Doi-chan, is supposed to be "even more evil than Hogae" in the drama...

Which is kind of hilarious, because Doi-chan sooooooooo can't do evil. As I think Secret Hunter shinko made clear. ;)

And the glares at Damduk when he gets the glowing sword

This was like my favorite part of the entire play (not counting finale). I loved her, "You are all such FOOLS," disgusted look. <3 <3

And frowny faces at Koto Marie and Hisaki Seara for being marginalized characters that could have been so much more fun

Hey, get your frowny face away from my musumeyaku! I won't have my musumeyaku frowned at for things that aren't their fault! (Also, I thought Kotokoto was awesome...)

I give it a B-?

That seems fair. I probably would have said "B" and maybe a little "+" just for the finale, the repeated viewing of for all eternity will I hope someday be my reward in heaven. ;)
Julie: wao sleepwao_wao on October 21st, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
This is why I never, ever, ever look at anything having to do with the source material for a show...

I'm really inconsistent, I guess? I didn't read anything about Coimbra beforehand, but I've been eating up Jen's Hapsburg posts... Anyway, in regards to Taiou, reading about things in advance or not still doesn't change the final product, aka musumeyaku roles that fail to be what they could.

Still, I should've said "frowny face at the concept of Kotokoto and Seara not getting enough to do", because it clearly isn't their fault. ♥
ruderal_speciesruderal_species on October 23rd, 2009 04:56 am (UTC)
musumeyaku roles that fail to be what they could.

Everyone else I know who thought the musumeyaku roles were weak had preconceptions. Having not paid any attention, I, OTOH, was all, "OMG POWERFUL SORCERESS! OMG AWESOME PALACE GUARD! OMG WEAPONSMITH! MUSUMEYAKU ROLES IN THIS SHOW ***ROCK**!"

...So I still hold that it really depends on your initial perspective on the show.
Julie: ayane gazewao_wao on October 23rd, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
One more argument, and then I'll stop. ;)

I don't think Kiha can be called a "powerful sorceress" when she didn't use her powers for like, anything besides showing off to Damduk. Takarazuka's Kiha had the potential, but was mostly just used the whole show.
ruderal_speciesruderal_species on October 23rd, 2009 07:14 am (UTC)

I count the part at the end where they threaten her newly born baby and she sets the world on fire, despite having just given birth like 30 seconds before. ;)

Julie: alice reimei generalwao_wao on October 23rd, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
*fails at resolution*

But but! That's the powers taking over, not her choice! ...And it doesn't matter anyway because Damduk fixes everything in five minutes. I mean, potentially good musumeyaku characters or not, you *can't* say the ending is good. >.>;;;
ruderal_species: Shuu-kun Shyruderal_species on October 24th, 2009 08:04 am (UTC)
That's the powers taking over, not her choice!

I like to pretend that's not true. ;) *sticks fingers in ears*

I mean, potentially good musumeyaku characters or not, you *can't* say the ending is good.

Er... I kinda sort of like it? *hangs head* At least, I like that it's all, "Fighting isn't the answer and if I can't even make one woman happy, what right do I have to be king?" For a Takarazuka play, it's not a bad ending.

...I mean, it's TAKARAZUKA for heaven's sake. Did anyone *honestly* expect them to keep the original ending?
Julie: ayane gazewao_wao on October 24th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)
No, I didn't. ^^;; You're right about preconceptions, but I still wouldn't have expected them to keep to the drama in the end. (I seem to remember a discussion along this vein in Jen's journal, about when does the hero ever end up with another woman by choice and live happily ever after, etc.)

I just found it really rushed because it's all "uhh-- crap-- she's going to set the world on fire-- er-- O Gods, I'll give you the artifacts, just save my girl!"-- the end.

Seeeeeeeriously going to stop now. XDDD;;;
Es ist Zeit zu Leben.: Kaname // in your finaleviolet_tango on October 20th, 2009 05:57 am (UTC)
I read this pretty fast because I am about to run off to work, but: <333333333333333

My dvd came yesterday, but I haven't watched it yet.
Thank you so much for the review and all your thoughts on everyone. <3

What amused me before, by just looking at the different pictures and clips (I haven't seen the Hanagumi version either), is the fact that compared, the Hoshigumi version looks like the teenager version next to the adults featuring version of Hanagumi, on the account of Damduk, Hogae and Kiha.
Julie: chie gravitational pullwao_wao on October 21st, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
I agree, it is the teenager version XDDDD;;;
happy_riceball on October 20th, 2009 12:34 pm (UTC)
Is Version 2 exactly like Version 1 plot wise? All the stage photos I saw in Graph made me think it was, but I didn't know anyone who'd seen the first and second both to compare.

Thank you for the review! :D
Julie: chie gravitational pullwao_wao on October 21st, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)
The plotlines are exactly the same; only the pacing and the focus on certain details are slightly different.
Ms. Britt: [hoshigumi]ladybretagne on October 20th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
Shii~ran!!! ♥ ♥

She is totally amazing quantities of awesome in a tiny baby faced package of adorableness. I may love her more than is appropriate.

I have a feeling I will love this show for the secondary characters but that I'm glad I didn't plunk down a bunch of money on it. Although finale...