Making the world of anime, manga, and games reality: 2.5 dimensional musical
The new type of musicals and theatrical performances based on the stories of Japanese anime, manga, and games are collectively called “2.5 dimensional musicals.” The idea is to bring the world of fantasy (2D) into the real world (3D); therefore, it is called a “2.5D musical,” suggesting a world in between those of 2D and 3D. Before I watched a live performance of a “2.5D musical,” I couldn’t even imagine what a 2.5D musical would be like or understand how performers could “act” the world of anime, manga, or games.
Against my expectation, I wasn’t disappointed at all about the performance! I saw “Mobile Suit Gundam 00 on Stage: – Rebirth Through Destruction – Re: Build,” the first theatrical performance of the famous anime series “Gundam.” It combined the impressive performance by actors with various kinds of directorial techniques, including lights, visual effects, and special effects. The stage had depth with some screens, which were very effectively used to show various kinds of information necessary for you to understand and follow what was happening on the stage (for example, the names of characters, settings, relationships among the characters, and maps) in a timely manner.
I was especially impressed by the battle scene. For the re-enactment of a battle scene on Gundam in space, the actors sat on special seats which represented cockpits. Those seats were moved by ensemble casts, running through the stage. What teamwork!
The actors were perfectly embodying anime characters. In addition to their costumes, which were just like the ones in the anime, they really sounded like the real characters. I felt like they were not real people but “real” 2D characters. The sound and visual effects were precisely aligned with the performance. The story developed very smoothly, with no mistakes or pauses (at least I didn’t notice any). Everything was perfectly coordinated, giving me little time to breathe.
Various new ideas apart from regular theater performances and musicals are used in 2.5D musicals. I felt that everything, including the script, choreography, stage equipment, sound and visual effects, and performance by the actors, was fully utilized to recreate the world of the original anime, manga and games. This is why, I think, people are attracted to 2.5D musicals. At the theater, I saw many fans, mainly female. I think the boom of 2.5D musicals will continue, and it may be already established as one of the theatrical genres rather than being just a boom.
There is one point you should be aware of before going to see a show. If you don’t understand Japanese well, you may have a hard time understanding what is happening on the stage. However, there will be a new 2.5D-musical theater in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, where subtitle glasses will be available for foreign audience members (availability depending on the play). The name of this new theater is “AiiA 2.5 Theater Kobe,” which is scheduled to be opened in July, 2019.