Since Princess Knight, recently released by Vertical Publishing (Volume 1 and Volume 2) is moving ever closer to the top of my to-read and review pile, I thought it might be nice to finally watch all of Ribon no Kishi The Musical (リボンの騎士 ザ・ミュージカル)
This production is Takarazuka-esque, but in fact was not a Takarazuka production. Instead it starred members of pop idol groups Morning Musume and v-u-den. The three-disk edition I have included multiple versions of the same musical, with different lead actresses and casts. As I am not the audience for which this was intended, and indeed know next to nothing about Morning Musume except that, when I saw them 5 times on TV on New Tear’s Eve, the 14 of them, dressed in kimono and geta, were barely able to jump rope 40 times in unison.
It has been years since I last read Ribon no Kishi (Knight of the Ribbon). I have the three-volume set put out in 1974, based on the redrawn Nakayoshi magazine release of the story. My memory of it is relatively clear and the story in the musical, although rewritten in places and full of random musical numbers, was relatively simple to follow. With the exception of the many month interval between me watching Volume 1 and Volume 2, and so I was quite confused by the jailers little song and dance number at the beginning of Volume 2. I got over that, though.
I chose, with completely randomness, the Takahashi Ai version, but there were at least two other cast versions on these disks. Again, I’m not a MM fan, so seeing specific members was low priority, but even I know Ogawa Makoto, so it was kind of nice to see her on stage. (I believe I know her from her participation on Kunoichi, so nothing to do with her time with MM.) I knew people who cared more than I did would insist I be precise here and they have, yay fandom – the main character that changes cast member is Ferdinand.
Okay, so, Takahashi Ai did a really good job at playing Safire, I thought. Even when the camera or spotlight wasn’t on her, she gave it her all. And I liked her costuming quite a bit. The evil duke wasn’t all that ominous and there were some backup singers and dancers that weren’t helping. In general the singing was…okay. Lots of only partially hit notes, but the group pieces were mostly all very fluid and nice. Not her fault, but the costume on Prince Ferdinand did not work. It was pink and frilly and had the opposite effect of making Ferdinand boyish.
I’m never going to love musical theater, no matter how many Takarazuka tapes (or related all-female musical theater troupes) I watch, but compared with, say, The Scarlet Pimpernel, I thought Ribon no Kishi The Musical was enjoyable. Perfect Sunday afternoon background noise while I worked. I’d look up and there’d be Takahashi Ai, dressed dashingly as Safire and then I’d go back to work smiling.
Ratings – Overall – 7
Not the best all-female musical theater I’ve seen, but definitely not the worst.