My annual “ritual” of visiting the Imperial Theatre to watch Endless SHOCK is done on 9 February 2021. You can recap from my previous post on what I experienced in 2020 at the theatre as well just before they decided to cancel the rest of the shows in March. In the middle of this state of emergency announcement in Japan, there were concerns about holding such musicals, concerts, etc. But I’m glad I went to witness all these utmost efforts from Koichi and the SHOCK company/staff to make this show happen.
Originally, the show was scheduled to start at 18:00. But with the state of emergency in Japan which they are advising shops to close by 20:00, and people not to stay out after 20:00, they moved the show to start earlier at 17:30. There is also no 30-minute break in between Act 1 and Act 2. If there’s no shower time for Koichi, it means no way he can get himself “bloody” at the end of Act 1. They still managed to end Act 1 by 18:30, and Act 2 ended by 19:23.
Like what they did in Osaka last year and also the online show, this “Endless SHOCK Eternal” illustrates 3 years after Koichi has passed away. They did a lot of flashbacks to the old times, thus giving us some glimpses of the main SHOCK story. Initially, they were not adding this series to the total number of shows Koichi has been doing for the past 20 years, but it seems like they decided to add in, so it means he will be hitting his 1,800th show soon in February 2021.
Before I forget to mention, they went with digital tickets this year for SHOCK. The QR code was sent to my own fan club page, which I have to show in real-time, instead of a screenshot. I prepared my ID card and fan club card but there was no identity checking at the entrance. It was a very swift scan of the QR code and the paper ticket was printed out immediately.
Imagine my SHOCK (no pun intended) when I was shown 1st floor C row! A couple of years back, I got a C row seat as well, and it was just overwhelming. With the COVID-19 situation of no talking and mask, I could only scream inside. I actually forgot to bring my binoculars too, so I’m glad I don’t have a need to zoom in during the show.
The C row seat
I was on the side that’s more towards the right of the stage but still in the centre block. Due to “social distance” consideration, they block out A and B row at the first floor. So technically, C row is the first row. I was under the impression that maybe they will do alternate seating arrangements too but seems like not, so imagine my SHOCK again when I have neighbours coming to the seats just beside me.
My bubbly neighbours
I was stuck in between these 2 very enthusiastic fans who will react explicitly (i.e. clapping to the songs, or bouncing their heads) throughout the show. I guess they are probably very excited to be noticed by Koichi and the cast, but seriously, please don’t over-react. Let me enjoy the show in peace and coldness (The theatre was very well-ventilated, meaning super cold inside as well.)
Enough of my neighbours. The show started with the orchestra who were seated not in the usual orchestra pit but on stage near the back. The orchestra members were all wearing masks too. They started a credit roll with names of the producer and main cast. Everyone was clapping when Johnny Kitagawa’s name was shown under Eternal Producer, as well as when Koichi’s name was shown.
The show then proceeds to Koichi’s appearance on stage in his famous “Yoru no Umi” red costume, which is when his “soul” departs. Then Koichi did a narration of what usually Beverly Maeda will do, with a funny impersonation in her tone. They continued with the performances like “NEW HORIZON” and “Yes, My Dream”, along with “ONE DAY”.
Imperial Garden Theatre Scenes
My memory is a little faded but I believe they did the entire series of the shows they performed when they were “on broadway”. Familiar tunes such as “Dancing on Broadway”, “Memory of Skyscrapers”, “Solitary”, etc. were performed. They did some small adjustments during some performances to include more of the cast’s emotions and storytelling portion (since these are all flashbacks). I was obviously enjoying “Solitary” within close distance very much.
This is the part that was altered the most considering the COVID-19 situation. They did a clever mix of movie scene angle, slow-motion, etc. which still matched the story very well. Forgot to mention that, all the Japanese taiko drums and other percussions were placed in the fixed positions at both sides of the stages so there was no movement required for the drummers.
Dead or Alive
Since there was no rolling down the stairs or stabbing scene, Koichi could appear pretty fast for the next performance. Unfortunately, there were no torn pants for the show I went to. I heard he torn his pants during “Dead or Alive” performance in the first show. There was a dance move which he needs to squat down, and the lucky audience was able to witness the live tearing of his pants. (LOL!) I could see that they either repaired his pants fast or make a bigger pair. Seriously, they need to consider that Koichi is pretty buffed up now. I look at his shoulders and chest, they were big!
There were no Shakespeare scenes at all, and after some narration, they performed “Higher” and more narration before going to “MUGEN” where Koichi did the red ribbon flying around the stage, but he stayed within the stage area, instead of flying over the audience. There was another flying scene with the umbrella as well.
Yoru no Umi
The best part of the show as always for me is this performance – “Yoru no Umi”. It always gives me a lot of unexplainable emotions and I always feel sad and lonely knowing the show is coming to an end too.
It ended off with a beautiful finale of the cast singing this song coupled with the overlapping melodies of other tunes. Somehow the lyrics matches the mood of the reality really well, and people around me were sniffing as usual.
Koichi mentioned that while everyone worked really hard to open the shows, he thinks this could not have happened without the fans’ support and wishes for this show to be a success too. I have my fingers and toes crossed that they can clear all the shows for these 2 months with the full cast. It’s a pity that the foreigner cast and G-rockets couldn’t join this time, since they were trying to restrict the number of cast too.
Koichi also made a joke that some of the fans must have gone to watch the movie first before this evening show, like how many hours do we invest in SHOCK? Yeah, I’m glad he knows. The movie version is the main story, meaning it’s 3 hours straight on without any break. I’ll be watching the show on another day before the screening period ends. I hope I have enough popcorn to last 3 hours. (LOL!)
BIG THANK YOU!!!
I would like to extend a big thank you to the SHOCK company and staff for making this show happen. Last year has been a year of online shows, and it’s really different when we can be in the same space, same time, watching a show live. I wish I have more pairs of eyes, because the Johnny’s Juniors, IMPACTors and 4U. boys were really funny too, as well as Rika who’s getting more natural in her acting too.
Please keep safe and healthy. Wishing everyone all the luck for the rest of the shows!