- 西洋比較演劇研究 (ISSN:13472720)
- vol.17, no.1, pp.19-34, 2018 (Released:2018-04-01)
Since the debut of Musical The Prince of Tennis in 2003, stage musicals adapted from two-dimensional media such as manga and anime have gained remarkable popularity in Japan. These “2.5 dimensional musicals” are unique in many ways: they require a comparatively low budget, inexperienced actors, a remarkably simple stage set and demonstrate loyalty to the original material. In these ways, they are distinct from the more conventional and imported musical productions performed at major Japanese commercial theaters.
Among the unique characteristics of 2.5 dimensional musicals, one of the most distinct is its principle of the adaptation. To adapt the original material from page to stage, musicals can either remain faithful to or deviate from the original material. In conventional musicals, faithfulness to the original material is not their main purpose. Writers cut, change and adapt the original material to serve their purpose and create “original” shows. Conversely, in 2.5 dimensional musicals, faithfulness to the original material is of great importance. The name of the genre itself suggests the importance and uniqueness of the ideals of the adaptation; 2.5 dimensional musicals strive to remain faithful to the original manga/anime image and create an effect that allows the audience to perceive what they see as two-dimensional even though the performance itself is undeniably happening in three-dimensional theater space. The latter characteristic prompted the emergence of the name “2.5 dimensional” musicals.
Although its two-dimensionality has attracted notice, the fact that the performances have also been set to music and dance has been overlooked - in some cases, both musical and non-musical shows have been classified as “2.5 dimensional musicals.” To analyze the characteristics of the 2.5 dimensional musical, this study will compare Musical The Prince of Tennis with mainstream musicals such as Beauty and the Beast (1994) More than ten productions have been made of Musical The Prince of Tennis series; this paper focuses on the opening numbers of those productions. In conventional musicals, opening numbers are expected to function as an important part of the show. Opening numbers set the context, introduce characters, direct the story, present the theme, and essentially, open the show. This study aims to reveal the characteristics of Musical The Prince of Tennis and investigate how musical numbers work in those shows through comparison of the elements that characterize opening numbers.