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Alethea & Athena
Out of Shadowland 
16th-Sep-2016 06:45 pm
yato
Our schedule is completely out of whack today and we have no one to blame for it but ourselves. I mean, we'd have to be pretty lacking in logic to not have realized that our schedule would be seriously messed up after what we did today. ...Although, come to think of it, there is a little bit of shared blame, because we had a chapter of Persona Q to translate today, and we weren't expecting that until next week at the soonest. And that makes me fear for what might come along next week, because simulpubs like to be translated ASAP and we have Plans next week.

Anyway, the point is, we took the morning off to go to Disneyland. There was something at the beginning of the week that had us going, "Yeah, we really want to go this week! Well, if we get enough work done by the end of Thursday, we will!" And then we did get enough work done, but last night we couldn't remember what it was that had us wanting to go to Disneyland so badly. Nevertheless, we went. We lost a pin back in our luggage in Japan and we wanted to buy some spares, and they had some new Halloween food offerings we wanted to check out--namely, butterscotch beignets and maple creme brulee. Both of them tasted good enough, but clearly someone was afraid to commit on the flavors. The beignets were barely butterscotchy and the creme brulee smelled like maple the first time I put it to my mouth and that was about as maple as it got. But the latter was served at the Jolly Holiday, which does have a reputation among our associates (read: us and Gaston) for generally being vaguely disappointing. In its defense, though, despite the lack of maple, the creme brulee was very good, so if it hadn't billed itself as being maple, we would not have been disappointed at all. Unless the attempt to make it taste like maple is what made them do whatever it was that made it taste good.

And then we came home and had a new book to add to our schedule! Tadah!

But we were in the middle of a Tokyo DisneySea report. And speaking of flavored foods. Before I get into the show at Hangar Stage, I wanted to mention something I forgot! After we went on Sindbad's Storybook Voyage, we headed over to our favorite churro stand in the world, Open Sesame (the first time we came across it, it sold sesame churros), where they were selling the seasonal churro offering, maple pumpkin churros. This was very exciting because of our love of maple.

We're not nearly as into the pumpkin craze as a lot of our Facebook friends are--in fact, when people start whispering excitedly about the upcoming pumpkin season, I mentally get this look on my face like Belle's when she sees that it's Gaston who came to visit her. What I'm saying is, we don't like pumpkin spice. But since this was Japan, we were optimistic that by pumpkin, they meant actual pumpkin and not nutmeg. Of course, I'm not sure how I feel about pumpkin as a squash, either, but we're willing to try any flavor as long as you make it bread. And besides, there was maple! So we each bought one and tadah! they really meant pumpkin! We tasted the pumpkin more than the maple, which was a bit of a bummer because of our love of maple and our indifference toward pumpkin, but it was still a neat churro experience.

Now back to the show: Out of Shadowland. Ooooohhh... Doesn't that title just sound dramatic? Doesn't it remind you of all those movies from the '90s like Ferngully? Except that we rewatched Ferngully recently and we didn't like it that much. But it had that nice "watching Saturday morning cartoons" feel to it that we mostly experienced in the '90s. So the set was a stage with a projection of jungle vegetation for a background, and there were arches over the stage, because we were "inside a hangar", but the important thing is that there were platforms attached to the arches at key places where it looked like actors could come out and stand on them to be Dramatic. Another interesting(?) thing to note is that the pre-show announcement asked us all to turn off any device that uses radio waves, like phones and iPads. And we were like, "...Whoa, okay." And wondered what it could mean...

Suddenly (or not suddenly, if you were constantly checking the time, which I was until they asked us to turn off our phones), the lights went down and it was time for the show to start! What was more sudden is that there were people standing in the aisles, with head-mics and spotlights on them. They were dressed like scouts, and they started reciting their scout motto. One of them appeared to be the leader (they called him "leader" later), and he led them in a kind of chant, but it was more melodic than that, which meant it was a musical! It was kind of "I don't know but I've been told!" thing, but way friendlier, because it was all about working together, being considerate, having the imagination to solve problems, and the courage to confront challenges.

By the end of the chant they were all on stage, and the leader cracked me up, because he had this walking stick with a giant antler on the end of it, so I couldn't help singing to myself, "I use antlers in all of my DEEEE-cor-aaaat-ing!" But he was also very good-looking, which oddly enough didn't make me think of Gaston more, but did make me like him a lot. He said some leaderly things, and then he was like, "Wait, aren't we missing somebody?" And the girls in the group were all, "Yeah, there was this really quiet, fade-into-the-background kind of girl... What was her name again?" And from the aisle, a voice timidly replies, "...Mei, desu." Her name was Mei, which was extra amusing to the three of us, because we had so recently been reminded of Say I Love You. And in fact, lyschan had even brought her little Say I Love You. hand towel so that Mei could enjoy Land (and Sea) with us.

So Mei joins the rest of the group, and then they start talking about who wants to take the next shift being in charge. I got the feeling Mr. Leader was always in charge, but mostly in a supervisory position, as in, "I'm going to let you be in charge, but if something goes wrong, I'm here to step in and fix it." And he says, "Mei, why don't you be the leader?" and she replies, "Eh heh, I don't think so." And he's all like no you totally should, and points out that, "If you don't do anything, you'll never fail. But you'll never succeed, either." And I was like, "♥♥♥!" but Mei was like, "Thanks, but no thanks... I just...I just can't." And Mr. Leader was like, "Ooooookaaaay. You be the leader, guy who raised your hand earlier." So they start talking about their next course of action, while Mei, who is staunchly avoiding being a part of the group, sees a mysterious creepy bird projected onto the stage-screens. It gets her attention and she goes, "What? You want me to follow you? Okay. What could possibly go wrong?" And she runs offstage just as Mr. Leader is reminding the group what he told them to do if they get separated--stay where you are, we will come to get you.

The rest of the scouts leave, and we're all not shocked to see that Mei is lost and alone. The creepy bird is shocked least of all, and it laughs at her and flies away. Fortunately, Mei didn't need the reminder; she did remember what to do if she got separated. And it was getting dark, so she set up her tent, which was pentagonal for some reason. Maybe pentagonal tents are a thing outside the US? Athena points out that we do have a fairly common pentagonal tent model, but they have two vertical sides, while Mei's tent was more of an equilateral pentagon. Anyway, she wasn't all doom and gloom--after she sang her (very pretty) song about being alone and scared, she entertained herself in her tent by making shadow puppets. First she made a bunny, and then put her hands together to make a bird--you know, like the shadow puppet birds you make. And when she made it flap its wings, a light appeared! And it was all sparkly and pretty, and as she continued to move her hands, it danced!

She thought that was pretty cool, so she went outside her tent to try it some more, and there was a little dance number where she played with the light. And the stage kind of lifted a little so that it was at an angle instead of completely horizontal, which made it so the audience could see the light dance on it better, so it was really cool. And as the finale for the dance, she did some thing and the light danced over the stage arch and rested on the platform to the audience's right, and took the shape of a deer. My first thought was, "Expecto Patronum!", which would have been cool, too, except that I'm so sick of branding everything, but they didn't brand it, so that was good. Instead, suddenly a guy appeared in a deer costume! And I gotta say, Japan is really great at designing costumes that are right on the edge of awesome and ridiculous. The difference is in the attitude of the wearer, and this wearer pulled it off, so it was mostly just awesome.

Mei asked, "Who are you?" and he replied, "I am Yuu," and we were like, "Wait, what? Like yuu Yuu, or like you Yuu?" Sorry, just a little bilingual humor there. Anyway, he thanked her for bringing him back to life, and explained that this place, now known as Shadowland, was once full of life and light, but then the evil shadowbirds came and took it all away! But you--you--can restore it!" And we were like, "Wait, you you, or Yuu you?" (Actually we weren't like that at all, because he was speaking Japanese and the word he used was kimi, which doesn't sound like Yuu at all, so it wasn't nearly that confusing, but we notice these things when retelling the story in English. The first "which you" question was a genuine reaction we had, though.)

Anyway, we were like, "Hey, that's convenient! But I love this show anyway, so carry on." Mei said that she just wanted to go home, and Yuu said okay, just remember how you got here. And Mei said, well, I was playing shadow puppets... and that was odd, because she got there by chasing a creepy bird, but she was disoriented and stuff, so okay. Athena points out that she only got lost by following the bird; she might have been transported to Shadowland by doing shadow puppets. But the point is, Yuu was like, "That's it! Do it again!" So she did her bird thing, and the whole stage lit up! And all these dancers came out dressed as plants and they did a really cool dance number, and you guys, dance and music when put together so that they're working together and not just, like, next to each other, are really powerful. I got sunscreen in my eyes. And at one point during the dance, Mei brought another flower to life, and either she was a clown flower or she was supposed to be a little girl who hadn't developed her fine motor skills yet, because she was a little clumsy, but she was cute, and she and Mei became friends and it was very sweet.

But then! they heard a sound in the distance. It was the shadowbird! Oh no! Come on, Mei, we have to fight it! Are you kidding me, I'm going the other way! Far, far away! So Mei ran away, and Yuu followed her because hello, she is the last hope this place has of not dying forever and there's no way he's going to give it up without a fight. Incidentally, there's no explanation about how she's the chosen one, but that's really not the point, and we'd rather watch sparkly dance numbers and hear pretty songs anyway. Anyway, as Mei's running along, the projection on the background turns into a waterfall, which flows onto the stage, which tilts up a little again so we can see that it's become a lake. And the lake is singing about being sad and alone, just like Mei was singing earlier. Mei's heart goes out to this kindred spirit, so she forgets her fears and uses her powers to bring life back to the lake. The lake is so happy to be full of life again, and Mei is so happy to help, that she uses her powers to give the lake an extra special gift! Another beautiful dance number!

But not just any dance number! A man and a woman came out on stage dressed as fish (we later learned that they were specifically jellyfish), and they started dancing. They were on harnesses, so they were able to do some extra fancy jumps. And then! oh my goodness, you guys! The stage, which was already tilted so we could see it was water, tilted more and more and more until it was vertical! You guys! It was straight up! And they kept dancing on it! It was so amazing! And I got more sunscreen in my eyes! (I really did, though. When I tear up, all the oil and whatever else is on my face gets attracted to the tears or something. It really hurts unless I can really get the waterworks going.)

When the jellies were done dancing, the shadowbird screamed again. He was getting pretty ticked off that there was life in his barren wasteland, that his work of death was not quite so dead. So Mei's like, "Oh yeah, gotta go!" And Yuu was like, "No, wait! We really have to fight it this time!" "No! I can't! I just can't!" "Mei. If you never do anything, you'll never fail. But you'll never succeed, either." "I've heard that before. You remind me of someone I know... But seriously, gotta go." And then Yuu started singing to her! Aaaaaaahhhh♥♥♥♥! And she started singing, too, using counterpoint and harmony and oh man it was so good. And at one point it almost looks like she's going to say yeah, really, I'm just gonna go... but instead! she takes Yuu's hand and decides to fight!

I should probably point out that what Yuu sang to her was that she needed to find out who she really is. I think this is a great message (I'm writing a book report!), because she thought she couldn't do anything, but her true self was somebody who could do these amazing things and more. So ultimately the theme of the show is to find out who you really are so you can do the amazing things you have the potential to do. And it was beautiful and brilliant and I adore it so much.

So Mei uses her powers (I'm guessing) to conjure two light swords that change color! for her and Yuu to use to fight the Shadowbird, and then...oh my gosh, you guys. There was a giant shadowbird! It was SO COOL! And it had light-up eyes that changed color! It was actually a big puppet that was manned by three guys--one for the head and body, and one for each wing. And it could open and close its mouth, and they had a pretty cool fight scene, where it was, like, dragging Mei by her hair and stuff. I think it was around then that Yuu really stepped in to fight (because, y'know, she was a little incapacitated), but then! oh no! it got him! Noooooooooooooooo!!! And Mei was like, "Yuu!!" and he was like, "Mei...you can do this... *dies*" Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

At this point I kind of pressed pause on my love of this show, because I was like, "Oh, come on. You killed him? Why does everybody think they gotta kill off characters? To be edgy? That's so stupid." But I pressed pause on that thought process, because sometimes they make a mistake but the rest of the show is still good, so we let it go.

And then Mei beat the shadowbird! Yay! It was kind of cool what they did, too, because they projected this swirly vortex onto the background, and they choreographed it so it looked like the shadowbird was getting sucked into it. And then everything fades to black, and when the light come back on, we see her scout group looking for Mei. They came back to find her! Her gloomy song at the beginning had her wondering if anyone would even notice if she was missing. They did notice! And they came back to find her, just like Mr. Leader said they would! And speaking of Mr. Leader! I saw him and thought, "Oh, he needed time for a costume change. That's a fair enough reason to kill him off." So since it was a logistical issue, I realized it wasn't just to be edgy or whatever, so it was all good. (My other thought was, "So that's why he has an antler on his walking stick...")

Mei saw him and said, "Yuu! You're alive!" and I thought, "Oh, Mr. Leader's name was Yuu all along..." And Yuu said, "Of course I'm alive!" like, "Why wouldn't I be? Did you hit your head?" And one of the girls was like, "If I had gotten lost in here, I would have given up and died (she didn't say that died part, but what else is that going to mean?)! How did you manage?" And Mei said, "This is going to sound really weird, but I went to this place called Shadowland! And Yuu were there! And you! And you!" Okay, so only Yuu was there, but it did have a very Wizard of Oz vibe like that. But she learned that she did have concern for others, and imagination, and most of all, courage! And Mr. Leader was like, "So do you want to take the next turn being leader?" and Mei was like, "YES!" and they were all excited and sang a finale number, and all the plants from Shadowland came back, and especially the little flower girl, whom we wondered about until we were discussing it just now (by which I mean, when we started reporting on this show about an hour ago), and we realized that she was the character who was meant to represent Mei's friendships and connection with Shadowland, since they couldn't use Yuu for that, him being onstage in the wrong costume, and we were like, "Oh. Well done, show people."

And then it was over, and we had lots and lots of sunscreen in our eyes, and I just wanted to tell the whole cast that it was amazing and they were wonderful and we loved it and loved it and loved it. The best I could do was tell one of the usher-type cast members as we left. He said thank you. I think he was the same one who advised us to wait in the shade, so at least maybe our repeated encounter with him would have made an impression.

And I did not expect to be talking about that one show for this long. Oh man, but it was so good. We made sure to buy the soundtrack before we left. I was really glad we found the store that sold CDs, because we totally missed it last time we went, and I was afraid they'd stopped selling CDs at the parks.

But I think there's just a little bit too much left in the DisneySea report to include it all in this one, so instead, we're going to go have dinner. I would definitely recommend seeing this show if you ever find yourself at DisneySea, especially because there was no photography allowed in the theater, so I'll never be able to take pictures to show people (although I guess I could take pictures of the CD booklet, but there's a different Yuu in the CD than in the show we saw; I imagine they have several actors who take turns playing the parts). The dance numbers and music should be good even if you don't know Japanese.


Today I'm thankful for stumbling on Hangar Stage, getting to see a super amazing show, getting to try maple pumpkin churros, having the soundtrack for the show (it even has all the dialogue! but none of the visuals, so it can't ruin the effect of seeing it live), and getting to try the new seasonal food offering at Disneyland today.
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