The numbers of theatrical performances in Japan really amaze me. They have tons of titles, from Disney Musical (Lion King, Little Mermaid, etc.,) to numerous Japanese titles. Amongst all those titles, the 2.5D attract me the most.
So, what actually is 2.5D?
2.5D stands for 2.5-Dimensional Musicals. This is a term commonly used in the entertainment industry in Japan to describe a musical based on Japanese Manga. Manga and animations are in 2D, and live theatre is 3D. Therefore, we call performances based on manga and animations “2.5D”.
From top left to right: Bleach, Kuroshitsuji, Fushigi Yuugi, Psychic Detective Yakumo
These musicals are not something new. Sailor Moon musical was started on 1993, has more than 800 perfomances before it was put into hiatus on 2005. And since then numerous titles of famous anime have been turned into musicals; air-gear, bleach, hunter x hunter, saiyuki, black butler and the list goes on.
I grew up reading a lot of manga and watching a lot of anime. Of course, these 2.5Ds excite me. Who does not want to see your favorite characters turn into human; breathing, walking, and talking just like us?
Seriously, I never thought Yakumo will be this hot in real life.
Apart from that, I see 2.5D as an art. From stage setting, make-up, costume, props, dance, music, and so on. One of the things I like is they’re so detail about the make-up and props. It’s similar with cosplay, except there is a scenario for musical.
Could you spot the difference?
One of the longest 2.5D I’ve ever known is the Prince of Tennis Musical, or usually fans refer it as Tenimyu. This musical is known as one of the longest (from 2003 and now, it’s starting its 3rd season) and biggest (it involves more than 100 casts, and now it has its own fan base) manga-based musical.
You see, sometimes what happen in the manga or anime are so incredible that probably they could not be done in the real life. How the producer managed to tackle this problem is also what makes 2.5D more interesting. For example, in the Prince of Tennis musical, they use some spotlights to represent the tennis balls, and they match the sound with the movement of the rackets. For the casts to be able to do such things, a lot of practices are needed.
I asked my friend, what are actually the charms of these 2.5D? And I got several answers.
The most answer I got is to be able to see the growth of the casts. In Japan, some of the 2.5D musical stays for couples of months. I watched several 2.5Ds in Japan, and usually I bought ticket for first day (初日-shonichi) and for the last day (千秋楽- The concluding performance). Therefore, I could see that the improvement of the cast.
I got an answer that said the 2.5D is a starting point for the performance to begin their career in the entertainment industry in Japan. The 2.5D musical is their opportunity to grow from a raw performer to a mature one. From zero to hero.
One more thing is that usually these 2.5D musicals are conducted in Japanese (well yeah, they’re originated from Japan). However, it does not stop international fans to watch those musicals (live or through DVD). If you followed the manga or anime, usually the storyline is the same. Some of those musicals also try their best to go international. Tenimyu went to Korea and Taiwan in 2008, and they’re going for Taiwan again next month, and Naruto musical is scheduled for Singapore and Malaysia as well.
This 2.5D is a part of cool-japan project to deliver the Japan pop-culture worldwide. If you’re interested in 2.5D, you could find more info in their site here (don’t worry, it’s bilingual).
So, would you like to watch it?