GACKT’s Butai: Moon Saga ~ Yoshitsune Hiden ~: Tokyo, 16 July 2012

This is not actually a concert, but a butai, and you know what? It was so damn awesome it deserves to be here. Let’s proceed now. And beware of spoilers.

First Impressions: After Watching

Being guionised by CLAMP, I expected a high body count but I was surprised. The play is prepared as part of the whole Moon Saga project, so it does not focus in GACKT, who has surprisingly little stage time playing Yoshitsune. The play has all the elements of a CLAMP story – tragic love, honour debt, child with preternatural power, a few deaths, a character who randomly changes sides but in his heart he still belongs to the original side, main character forced to kill a friend, lots of angst… The butai tells the story of a group of fighters as they embark themselves in a war against the evil mononoke who are destroying Japan. Yoshitsune’s character himself is a half-oni or has an oni inside him, something along.

As I said, GACKT did not have much screen time, and to be completely honest, his spotlight was completely stolen by Saotome Taichi, a barely legal actor who plays Kage (Shadow), one of the good mononoke and who has a beautiful CLAMPian on-stage death.

Yoshinaga, one of the original companions, loses the love of his life, changes sides and tries to kill Yoshitsune, awakening the demon in him. GACKT flies through the stage during the fight and in the end Demon-Yoshitsune kills his old friend. The curtains fall soon after GACKT desperately cries over Yoshinaga’s body. Very sad. Very CLAMP.

The actors come back onstage, they are ovationed. The curtains fall again, the lights remain off. The curtains are drawn, and we are back to the beginning, the companions are alive and well, has it all been a dream? A foreshadow? Is this the companions’ destiny? But no, they are not companions… they are family…

It seems that when GACKT talks of the Moon Saga project, it means that you need to know all the pieces of the puzzle to understand the story. Each of the pieces seems to be part of a great jigsaw that will come together to form something absolutely amazing.

Well played, GACKT, well played. Now shut up and take my money, because this is going to be EPIC.

Revisiting Moon Saga ~Yoshitsune Hiden~

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Then it is a Clamp manga.

– Internet Wisdom

I’m a huge CLAMP-killing-all-their-characters-manga fan, so when I ran across this, I knew it was going to be something from another world:

Fair enough, that (↑) became this (↓) and I knew everything was lost XD

On the 16th of July, 2012, I attended one of Gackt’s Butai, Moon Saga ~Yoshitsune no hiden~ in the Asakasa ACT Theater in Tokyo. Woot.

People waiting in line were rather diverse, to say the least: from a bunch of Germans behind us to a lady in a beautiful yukata, passing several stages of fangirls and fanboys rooting for their favourite artists. After lining up for merch, I had a while to snoop the flowers sent to Gackt (okay, and other people. At least a bouquet or two adressed to non-Gackts). Three bouquets caught my attention:

Clamp. I am surprised there are not plastic sakura flowers in that anywhere. Must be the pink roses substituting or something.

You might remember Hyde from the VAMPS comment. Hyde worked with Gackt in another project, MoonChild (“Moon” again. Coincidence? Not XD) some 10 years ago. Gackt sent flowers to the Zepp Tokyo for VAMPS Tour kick off and Hyde reciprocated.

The Cute Trio! You and Chacha have been part of Gackt’s support band GacktJob since he debuted alone in 1999. As a matter of fact, You left his own band to follow Gackt. Takumi is a recent addition to the now-defunct YFC, but a total fanboy.

The theatre was rather full, as is to be expected on a third day’s play, and we had quite literally last-row ticket. Even then, it was worth it, and I don’t think the ¥13,000 more expensive tickets on the second floor would have made much difference from our glorious ¥8,000 ones. I had a 42 seat. That was a plus.

After reading a couple of reports, I am in a bit of a better position to say what happens in the play. Our main characters are a group of half mononoke friends: Yoshitsune (Gackt), Yoshinaka, Tomoe Gozen (Yoshinaka’s girlfriend/wife/lover), Benkei, Saburo, and the twins (?) Tsugunobu and Tadanobu. Their semi mononoke status give them powers and apparently Yoshitsune is not too comfortable with his – seems that his unleashed-power personality lacks certain self-restraint. Thus he prefers fooling around and play coward.

We on the other hand have Kage (Saotome Takumi) whose only role seems at first to be stand there and look pretty, and boy he does. He is a full-blown mononoke and is followed everywhere by a kid like being Hiyori. In the past, Yoshitsune saved Kage, so now he tags along to repay his debt – but officially because he wants to “eat” Yoshitsune and gain his powers.

Yoshinaka is about to be sent on a military mission, so the party has a bonding gathering in the river bank. Even if at first he is kicking ass, things go wrong in the end and Tomoe is killed in battle (because duh, they are an established couple, one of them had top die *eyeroll*). Yoshinaka was expecting reinforments from Yoshitsune, and when he does not come and the love of his life dies, he decides to change sides.

Kage shows up to astonish us with his prettiness once again talk to Yoshinaka, but he somehow is dragged into some kind of mystical shadow battle in which he uses his fan as weapon. The projected shadows kill him in the end but not before he defeats his opponent. Kage dies beautifully – as everything he does – claiming ownership over Yoshitsune.

Said Yoshitsune tries to make amends with Yoshinaka, who is taking none of it. In a rage, Yoshinaka attacks Yoshitsune wanting revenge, but what manages is to awake the demon in Gackt’s character. With a few ‘flying’ stunts and a beyond-the-grave voice to show us that this is not the cowardly Yoshitsune we’ve seen through the play, the battle is turned around.

For a brief moment we do have him back, as he fights the demon and tells Yoshinaka to flee, but the oni side is too strong and soon Yoshinaka is killed (body count: three MCs, countless nameless people). The rest of the surviving party arrive to find Yoshitsune hugging Yoshinaka’s body and begging Saburo to heal him with his powers. It’s too late, Yoshinaka is already dead.

The war is to be continued, and so is the play. No, really, at this point you get a ‘to be continued’ thing. The actors come out, greet, bow, and then… then we are back to the river bank before Yoshinaka’s mission and everybody is alive and well. Yoshinaka declares them not friends, family, and… we have no clue what is going on in the end. With this the play is indeed finished.

Then again, let’s consider this – there is a butai, a manga, a(n upcoming) movie and most probably a tour with the same topic. We had it before – Remember the MoonChild movie / Another World PV / Kagen no Tsuki Seiya no Shirabe con? Well, you probably don’t, but they were related. This is more intricate, there’s Clamp involved, there is The Cute Trio making music for it, and there’s way too much merchandishe out there. We have Moon Saga for a while to come.

Not that I am complaining, mind you.


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