It’s been a week since I attended the 12th May show of Endless SHOCK Eternal 2022 at Imperial Theatre. This is like my annual ritual and I’m grateful to win the tickets this year. It’s exciting to learn about a cast renewal as well as some changes in the scenes.
However, it’s a pity to see the news about the shows having to be cancelled on 18th and 19th May due to the positive COVID-19 cases of some related personnel. I felt really fortunate that I could watch the show, and that it’s true that we still have to take extra care of the COVID-19 situation.
Online Broadcast of Main Story
The shows started late from 10th April to 31st May this year due to another play “Spirited Away” in the Imperial Theatre. It was incredible when they also decided to do an online broadcast of the main story on 9th April 2022, a day just before the first show.
This online show was pre-recorded, and you can also select another timeslot to rewatch the show later. For those interested, they still have one show left on 22nd May to broadcast this weekend! It’s only 4,000 JPY for any Johnny’s fanclub member and 4,500 JPY for non-fanclub members! I guarantee the performance is worth much more than this amount!
It was almost like “mission impossible”, given that Koichi and the cast have to rehearse for the main Endless SHOCK story and the Endless SHOCK Eternal 2022 version which obviously have different scenes and lines.
New Rival – Shori
It was surprising to hear that Shori Sato (Sexy Zone) will play the role of the rival and I was wondering how Koichi made the decision, or maybe he wasn’t the sole decision-maker. Anyway, it was eye candy galore looking at 2 very handsome main cast on the stage. Shori’s interpretation of this rival role is considered mild compared to the very aggressive Tatsuya last year. It was funny reading fan reports when Ueda went to watch one of the shows, and Shori tried to be more aggressive on that day.
There will be another run of the shows in Fukuoka in September. During those shows, Hiromitsu Kitayama (Kis-My-Ft2) will be playing the rival. Koichi has not confirmed if the Fukuoka shows will be the main story or Eternal version. I guess it depends on the COVID-19 situation by that time.
I was actually surprised to know that there was a 30-minute break between Act 1 (1 hour) and Act 2 (55 minutes) because last year, I noted there was no break in my report. They compressed the shows into a 2-hour musical, replacing some of the battle scenes with video scenes. I was so ready to expect something similar but they actually did more of the live battle scenes this year, with the dramatic ending in Act 1 with Koichi going bloody and rolling down the stairs. WOW! If Koichi gets bloody, it means he needs his shower break.
The shows issued digital tickets this year as well, so I didn’t know my seats until the scanning of the QR codes. I was prepared with my binoculars of course, and surprised to know that the theatre is now selling their logo-branded binoculars too!
There were a couple of scenes and lines changed from last year. Koichi made it even much easier to understand the story and the feelings of the cast. He also did some very detailed explanations via his Instagram stories on the reasons behind the scenes.
One of the big changes he did in early May was to get Shori to join the performance of Higher. I thought it was a brilliant move, and finally, we get a different perspective of how Shori tried to move on without Koichi.
Duet between Owner and Rika
There was a new duet performance from Owner (cast by Beverly Maeda) and Rika (cast by Airi Kisaki). The melody shows strangely familiar and Koichi revealed that it was another version of the performance they did close to the end of the Act 2 where Shori and Rika were doing their Japanese dances with lots of Japanese fans, and there were the choir singing those reverse lyrics. Apparently, the lyrics of this duet were sung in the non-reverse version. Again, something to do with reversing time, etc. Sometimes I wish we have a full documentary for Koichi to explain everything he’s thinking and doing for this musical. It’s really intriguing sometimes how his mind works.
We have Yusuke Matsuzaki and Yuki Koshioka (4U.) supporting Koichi this year as well, and also Sho Takada, one of the Johnny’s Juniors, who has joined the cast from 2020. I was most pleased when they announced Yoshitaka Hara. I have been hearing his name a lot from Ren Meguro. Both of them came from the disbanded group 宇宙Six (Uchuu Six, literally meaning Universe Six) before Meguro joined Snow Man, and Hara is now solo.
Hara is definitely a natural on stage, his performance gives this sense of security, similar to what I feel when watching 4U. or Yara on stage. He’s great at his dance and singing too! I felt really amused watching him dance in Solitary because there’s this one person who has very exaggerated moves (in a good manner!)
It’s a show I really enjoyed this year too, and it’s amazing how they can keep improving the story, the scenes, the portrayal of their feelings, etc. I really hope they get to return to the main story version in September. I kind of miss all those crazy flying scenes and other dramatic performances which are really the highlight of Endless SHOCK. Till then, fingers crossed that the affected personnel will recover and the shows will resume soon!