Takizawa Kabuki Zero 2020 The Movie review: Live kabuki show reformatted as film release

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Takizawa Kabuki Zero 2020 The Movie is essentially the theatrical format of Hideaki Takizawa’s kabuki production. (Screenshot: Netflix)
Takizawa Kabuki Zero 2020 The Movie is essentially the theatrical format of Hideaki Takizawa’s kabuki production. (Screenshot: Netflix)

Length: 139 minutes
Director: Hideaki Takizawa
Cast: Hikaru Iwamoto, Tatsuya Fukazawa, Raul, Shota Watanabe, Koji Mukai, Ryohei Abe, Ren Meguro, Ryota Miyadate, Daisuke Sakuma
Language: Japanese with various subtitles

Streaming on Netflix from 7 August

3 out of 5 stars

SINGAPORE — Takizawa Kabuki Zero 2020 The Movie is Hideaki Takizawa’s kabuki production that stars J-pop idol group Snow Man, but released as a film instead of as a live theatre show. Kabuki is Japan’s traditional drama with singing and dancing, featuring highly stylised performances and glamorous costumes. However, Takizawa Kabuki employs a more modern touch to it, adding more pop culture elements.

For those who have never seen Takizawa Kabuki — they performed in Singapore in 2015 for their 10th anniversary, also in conjunction with Singapore’s Golden Jubilee — you may find the flow of the performances strange. To put it simply, Takizawa Kabuki is like a book with various little stories in it; a stage with multiple mini shows. Although there seems to be no apparent link among the stories, each show is enticing in their own ways.

The most interesting is Fu-kkin Taiko, which literally means abs drums. (Screenshot: Netflix)
The most interesting is Fu-kkin Taiko, which literally means abs drums. (Screenshot: Netflix)

The most interesting is still the Fu-kkin Taiko (this was performed during the 2015 Takizawa Kabuki as well), which literally means abs drums. Baring their upper body to reveal their toned muscles, the nine-member Snow Man drums away while doing crunches. Suffice to say, it is a physically challenging performance, on top of keeping to the beat and staying in sync.

Furthermore, Snow Man is a group from Johnny & Associates, known for their acrobatics. Having been active in Takizawa Kabuki since 2010, and as back-up dancers for their senior groups like Tackey & Tsubasa, Kis-My-Ft2, and A.B.C-Z, Snow Man is more than experienced on the stage, despite only making their official debut last January. Their acrobatics are also something to look out for, carried out amazingly without any suspension wire.

That said, though, Takizawa Kabuki Zero 2020 The Movie would have been more impressive if watched live — this was performed without any live audience, although it was held at a theatre. Some of the performances that are more catered for a live show, that feature audience interaction and flying by wire towards the audience, could not be reproduced with the same effect and thus were removed from the cinematic release. But given the pandemic situation, this is perhaps the best solution for Takizawa to produce his annual kabuki show.

Besides, some of the scenes are filmed in one shot to simulate watching the whole action sequence live, which shows the high standard Takizawa holds for his productions. The only pity is that Takizawa has retired from the limelight, and did not even make a special appearance in the show. He is now busy working backstage, fulfilling his role as the president of Johnny's Island, a subdivision of Johnny & Associates, and the vice president of Johnny & Associates.

Takizawa Kabuki Zero 2020 The Movie is not your traditional kabuki and may have an awkward flow. But it certainly packs great music and performances, which can be appreciated by the international audience.

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