Tales of the Stage - Those Who Inherit The Power of Lorelei - EMOTIONAL ACT is a stage play rendition of Tales of the Abyss, which finished running in Tokyo from August 22 to 26 at Odaiba's Zepp DiverCity. It will also be showing at Zepp Namba in Osaka from September 8 to 9. Below are some of my personal experiences, a stage play summary, and after talk show summaries for the days that I attended, written to the best of my memory.
I watched three out of the seven shows that took place in Tokyo. In a nutshell, this stage play was a lot more serious as promised (in contrast to how crazy the Yokohama stage play was). It definitely felt more like Asch's story this time around, and anyone who adores him is very much in for a treat. There were also a lot more scenes with the Six God-Generals and Noir, with the Abyss party members taking more of a backseat this time around. I think this might be the closest we'll ever get to an Asch side for Tales of the Abyss. Aschtalia shippers will also love it a lot.
After the stage play, there was a talk show with Chihiro Suzuki (Luke's voice actor) and the guest voice actor for the day, plus selected stage actors which change for each show. The only constant stage actor throughout all talk shows was Yuya Arai, the stage actor for Asch, who is essentially the star of the show.
Before the Stage Play (Thursday)
After hearing that Jade sold out pretty quickly on the first day, I took no chances for the merch line and arrived two hours early before they started selling stuff. It was a long wait under the sun as they had us line up outside the venue before letting us in 30 minutes before 4pm (the start of sales).
As I was the second in line, I managed to get everything I wanted! I lined up again a little later because I was curious about the items that sold out. The Dist bromide (Yokohama Arena version) and acrylic was the first to run out in about 20 minutes. Legretta's bromide (Yokohama Arena version) also sold out at around the same time. Not too long after, Jade's acrylic keychain also sold out. I'm so glad I came in early to get them, but man, they didn't really seem to stock too much of everything except Boy Asch, Luke, and Asch.
The wait for the theater opening itself (6pm) was made bearable by the fact that I managed to make a friend (aka the person who was as early as I was in lining up). Both of us are Jade and Dist fans (with matching Jade dolls too and what not), and it seems we both took the bait regarding the varied talk shows per day (today was Jade and Dist's turn).
Once the theater gates opened, we got the postcard (today was Jade and Dist) that changes for each showing. There were also a good bit of flowers. Jade, Dist, Tear, and Asch have the most.
Stage Play Summary
Note: I mostly worked off my memory of Day 2's show for this, and supplied it with my observations from the next two shows I watched.
Before the stage play, Noir and her lackey Dino (if I'm getting the name right) fooled around a bit onstage. Noir's bromide sold out and Dino was talking excitedly about it. He also opened a blind box can badge in front of Noir, hoping he'd get Noir. He got Ion instead, which Noir pinned to her uhh... chest wrap, or whatever it is you call her clothes. Dino started taking a lot of pictures of her and kind of got skeevy a little later and got bonked by Noir as a result.
Kazuki Yao (as Dist) narrated the story introduction, complete with Dist's trademark laugh. He made it a point to emphasize that Jade was his rival.
The story opens with boy Asch escaping, and Dist running after him. Dist got a clunked on the head for his trouble, Van reassured him that it's not a problem that Asch escaped. Asch got stopped at the gates and was laughed at, and everything more or less proceeds as the Abyss plot did.
The boy Asch actor didn't join in the Karma dance, but he did appear in several of Asch's dream/nightmare sequences/flashbacks. It was sprinkled throughout the play and was a nice touch, and definitely added to the overall Asch-feel of the stage play.
As with the Yokohama stageplay, the Karma dance was montage-y at some parts for the God-Generals. Also since I pay extra attention to Jade, he somersaults onto the stage, sights Dist, then walks away when the latter tries to chase him.
They had some pre-game scenes here that were never in the game or anime, aka an opportunity to showcase how stuff in Daath went. Like, Anise being busy with Ion. Dist presenting Tokunaga to her was also included here, as well as a bit of showcasing of how their awkward friendship works. I love it so much. There was also Arietta having some trouble with paperwork and trying to get Sync to help her. Legretta eventually ends up aiding her instead, and she kinda felt motherly here. Van also had a fatherly moment when the God-Generals met up with him and Arietta presented her paperwork to him proudly, but it did come off as a little creepy given what we know of Van.
But yeah, during that meeting, Van also poked fun at Asch's dislike of octopus as a joke. Also asked if he was eating his carrots, to which Asch responded by going close to Van and shaking his head. Basically it all felt like they were the dysfunctional family that the anime or game semi-implied but did not quite emphasize.
Luke and Tear end up in what I suspect to be Cheagle Woods, but the area wasn't named. The main party also had their entrances at around this point (including Guy and Natalia, who aren't slated to join until way later, game-wise). Guy's introduction ("Enter the amazing Guy") kept on getting interrupted by Natalia, which was hilarious.
Later on, we get to see a similar scene as the Yokohama Arena showing, where Asch visits Nam Cobanda Isle to make a deal with Noir. Noir's backstory also comes out here. A random kid gives Asch his most treasured possession, which is a doll but had a sad/suffering face. Dino mentioned that ever since his parents died, all he did was make those kinds of dolls.
I think this was around this time that Asch had another one of his dreams about the past again. As I've mentioned earlier, this is a recurring thing throughout the stage play. They also got the Natalia actor (I think) to dress up as child Natalia for these flashbacks.
There was a huge skip to what I assume to be Deo Pass (prior to Akzeriuth), where the party battles it out with the Six God-Generals. Natalia sees Asch's face and they end up having a long moment staring at each other, and she seems to realize something, but does not have much time to dwell on it. Guy and Sync get some curse slot action going here as well.
Akzeriuth more or less proceeds as it does, including the Abyss classic "ore wa warukunee". However, at Ortion Cavern, there was an added scene where Jade talks about his past with Dist, and there's an enacted flashback for it. For this adaptation, younger Jade and Dist (in lab coats) were in Hod when it was collapsing, and that's how Jade came to know about Van's real name. Note that in the game, Jade had never actually stepped a foot inside Hod. Even if this wasn't canon compliant, it was still interesting to see because, yay, more Jade and Dist scenes. Action scenes, that is. Though Dist (Saphir then), wasn't really any good with them battles and just kept on trying to dodge things. During the weekend shows, Dist was using a sword (I don't think he was using one for the Thursday show, but I could be wrong). In all shows I watched, Jade was using a sword in the ND 2002 flashback sequence. He was pretty good at it.
It was around this time (or a little earlier), that Mohs was talking to Largo about something interesting that he heard (aka the circumstances of Natalia's birth), and was heavily hinting that he knew something about Largo too. Largo just brushes it off.
Speaking of Largo, earlier he also had a moment with Asch, something like acknowledging that they have the same feelings regarding a certain issue. I think it was Natalia-related, but my memory is a little fuzzy at this point in time.
There was a part where Asch was more apparently in pain, and Dist, like in the Yokohama Arena showing, ends up mocking-slash-word-vomiting at Asch regarding his state (the Big Bang). While Dist was going on his spiel, Noir and Dino were nearby, poorly hiding as they overheard everything. Once Asch chases off Dist, Noir voices some concern over his well-being, but also ends up reporting that Natalia is in trouble (Mohs was going up with his reveal regarding Meryl and Natalia being a "fake" princess). Asch ignores his extreme pain and runs off.
As with the Yokohama Arena show, we got to do the Natalia chant with the penlights along with Noir and the Dark Wings. Asch got injured while protecting Natalia from Largo's scythe. Jade offered a hand to help him up but Asch nudged it away.
Asch and Van also have their battle here, which Asch has the upper hand in until he gets a seizure, which Van takes advantage of by stabbing his arm and literally twisting a knife (err, sword) into it. Same as the Yokohama Arena show, and just as "oww" to watch.
Absorption Gate was also another opportunity to showcase some of the party's talents. I was only expecting somersaults and stunts from Jade (who delivered!), but Tear also had her own cartwheels and it was pretty impressive. Van still had his dance numbers but they were very much shortened. Also Jade featured quite prominently in the Absorption Gate battles, I feel. And there even was a part where he seemed to be dancing it off with Van. Like, I suppose that wasn't the intention, but it's how it looked like to me.
Sync was in the Absorption Gate battle and once his mask broke and he got on this diatribe, he committed suicide with a sword. Later on, he gets revived along with Van.
Luke and Asch receive their parts of the Key of Lorelei. Asch has a scene with Noir at around this time too, where he asks Noir to return the doll he received from the child earlier on in the stage play. Dino was shocked to note that the doll's face was now smiling. Earlier, Asch had changed the face into that using a chisel. He more or less thanked the Dark Wings for their work, and set off for Eldrant. Noir and Dino were sobbing by the time he left.
Then there's a huge skip to Eldrant, where the party have their final showdown with the Six God-Generals. Natalia and Asch have a moment too over here. So we have the following:
- Anise vs Arietta: Poor Arietta, she had that scene where she hallucinates her mother and Ion before she dies.
- Jade vs Dist: Jade makes quick work of Dist's robots after going "Sayonara, Saphir". Which did not feel as heartfelt as the game or anime, but I'm glad they included that. The battle ends when Jade steals Dist's flowery wheels and Dist chases after him.
- Tear vs Legretta: Legretta has more or less the same death scene lines, with Tear being equally devastated.
- Natalia vs Largo: Quite similar to the game as well, with Largo being proud of his daughter before dying, and Natalia calling him father
- Guy (and later on Anise) vs Sync: Similar to the anime, and Sync has a moment where he impersonates Ion in the heat of battle, which throws off Anise
- Luke vs Asch: Similar to how it goes in the game, with a few twists. Luke sees Asch getting turned into a pincushion and was definitely very hesitant to leave him like that.
All of the God-Generals except Dist dies. There is a scene after Asch dies where the Natalia in his dream finally finds him (prior to that, it was always him just chasing after Dream!Natalia), and gets the flower crown, plus a realization of the place he belongs in. We also get to see (briefly) the God-Generals that have died in the said sequence. A good number of people were in tears at this point.
In the final battle against Van, Asch from the beyond gives Luke a pep talk. After which, Luke uses Lost Fon Drive to defeat Van. And I guess it's time for a small random note--everyone in the party (plus Asch) got to use their Mystic Artes throughout the stage play, except for Jade. But that aside, the post-Eldrant scene was cut a little short, with only Tear saying her piece about wanting Luke to come back. But Luke and Jade do share a nod before it cuts to Luke fulfilling his promise to Lorelei.
They tried to recreate the whole Luke-falling-to-the-core scene as faithfully as they can. I think that they could not have the Luke stage actor carry Asch the whole time, so they substituted for a projection. Still was nice.
"The Look of that Day" starts playing, and we get the epilogue scene, which proceeds more or less as it did in the game and the previous stage plays (with the Luke stage actor in the Mr. Ending costume), BUT. Besides using a more Lorelei-ish voice for him (it's the Mr. Ending voice, overlapped with some other voice once they got to the part where they say "also, I made a promise"), we get a silhouette of Asch too (in a similar costume) after Mr. Ending exits the stage. Also, Natalia finds a flower crown nearby and holds it up, which was the symbol of her promise with Asch. Definitely more ambiguous this time around.
Jade, along with the audience, raised their penlights to Asch, signaling the end as he announced the title of the stage play.
When I looked around and the lights went on, it seemed that more people were in tears by the time the after talk show was to start.
Differences Among Shows + Other Notes (And a Bonus Personal Experience)
There weren't much differences among the shows. There were some variations to the pre-stage play act between Noir and Dino, but it was mostly along the lines of who they got from the can badge blind packs (it was Sync on Saturday afternoon, then Asch on Sunday evening). The narration for the stage play introduction and world explanation was also done by each guest voice actor IC-ly (i.e. Dist spent a good bit dwelling on Jade, Natalia with regard to Asch), except for Sunday evening, which was done by Chihiro Suzuki.
The audience gesture during the Black Dream show was also different for each day. Also, we only got to shout the character names for their introductions during the weekend shows. The most different thing for each show would probably be the talk show, which features different guests.
The last show on Sunday evening also featured a grander curtain call, where everyone lingered for longer onstage and the Asch stage actor took the opportunity to thank everyone who came to see the show. It was also a very good opportunity for a standing ovation… which no one took. Or well, the girls next to me and my friend did try for it and we both tried to join in, but it was over pretty quickly and we all sat down again.
That's when I did something I never thought I would ever have the courage for in my life. Which was, after a few seconds of contemplation, stand right back up, clapping hard as I hoped everyone would join me in that standing ovation.
For quite a while, it was only my friend and the three girls next to her that joined me in my attempt. It was a terrifying experience and easily one of the most daring things I've ever done in my life, but I do not regret it one bit.
For the stage actors noticed. They noticed us standing, and clapping it out. And perhaps what I'm about to say is all perception, but I've tried my best to imprint the memory in my mind, as there were no video recordings for that particular show (the cameras only showed up on Saturday).
Luke and Asch were the ones left onstage. They noticed me standing and clapping, then bowed towards me. I could not forget the effort Asch took in order to bow towards my direction, as they usually bow facing forward rather than towards their far right, which was where I was seated.
All the other actors came back on stage for another bow, and were looking at our direction before they bowed. They also waved towards us and made eye contact. As the cast exited the stage, Jade gave me a two-finger salute.
And then everyone came back for another bow, THEN FINALLY everyone else started standing up and clapping. That's when the actors got more emotional, with Luke and Asch hugging (my memory is fuzzy and I can't remember if this happened first, or everyone following my lead finally happened). Dist also tried to hug Jade and succeeded for about a few seconds before he got nudged off his wheels.
After Talk Show Summary (Thursday)
- Chihiro Suzuki (Luke's voice actor) - Host
- Kazuki Yao (Dists voice actor)
- Yuya Arai (Asch)
- Shunichi Takahashi (Jade)
- Orito Kasahara (Dist)
Kazuki Yao was dressed up in a flowery print Hawaiian shirt and shorts combo, with a t-shirt that had a glittery skull on it. It was a highly unexpected turn of events and earned many laughs.
Chi-chan made sure to emphasize we're getting Double Dist today. And kept calling Jade's corkscrew a dragon screw.
Some of the questions and answers I can remember (paraphrased):
(1) What thing did you have to be careful about when portraying your character?
Yao: Apparently he thought Dist was an "okama" (roughly "drag queen"), but in the middle of recording, he was told that Dist is not an okama and it was difficult to adjust.
Kasahara: He did a lot of research, and tried his best to imitate Yao's voice for Dist. (he's playing through Abyss and I think got Shiro no Ashita and the Tsuioku no Jade manga)
Takahashi: Jade's spectacularly long hair. (which I imagine got in the way in a lot of stunts... he needed to keep flipping it away lol)
I can't remember what Arai said for Asch, unfortunately.
(2) Since we have Double Dist today, name something good about Dist.
Suzuki: Very forward-looking and positive.
Arai: He has a beautiful color. (said after facing Dist and looking at him for a long time)
Takahashi: Let me just describe what happened when it was the Jade stage actor's turn.
> Dist and Jade face each other and are sitting way close.
> Jade: (after a long stare) Nothing.
> Dist: (looking affronted) Ehh??! There must be something!!
If I recall correctly, Jade reaffirms the no, but definitely, shortly after this, Dist starts playfully grabbing Jade's knees and goes all "JEIDOOOO". Kasahara-san and Takahashi-san were so cute together...
Anyway, the winners for the picture-taking lottery were announced at the end of the talk show. Didn't win, but I did have a lot of nice memories to take home, which I feel was very much precious in itself.
After Talk Show Summary (Saturday Afternoon)
- Chihiro Suzuki (Luke's voice actor) - Host
- Michiko Neya (Natalia's voice actor)
- Yuya Arai (Asch)
- Fuyuna Asakura (Natalia)
- Hikaru Tashiro (Boy Asch)
Neya was surprised by dancing Van. She also thought that the part where people raised their penlights and shouted "Natalia!" was pretty cool. She and Asakura thanked everyone for that.
Suzuki mentioned we had triple Asch that day and double Natalia. And he kept calling Boy Asch "Little Asch", which was pretty cute.
Asakura mentioned that Little Asch was pretty nervous about things, and admittedly it kind of showed in the talk show, but it was more cute than a hindrance. Something's got to be said about him trying his best...
The three stage actors kind of looked like a family to be honest, and if I recall correctly, Suzuki even called them out on that. It's pretty much true, for the most part, and feels like Asch finally got his happy ending.
It was mentioned in the talk show that adult Natalia also had to double time as kid Natalia, and that she had to modulate her voice for those parts where she had to act as a kid. I think it was pretty amazing. In addition to that, Asakura also mentioned that she studied Neya's voice, who she praises.
Two questions that I remember:
(1) What is your favorite scene in TOA?
Little Asch: When they defeated Van and Luke stabbed him. (Pardon my side comment, but this was the most shonen answer I've ever heard of in my life and it was super cute)
Asch: Sheridan scene with Asch and Natalia.
Natalia: Also the Sheridan scene, and she also found the promise scene pretty nice.
Neya: Natalia vs Largo, also the part where the townspeople were shouting "NATALIA!" back when she was being accused of being a false princess.
Suzuki: "Ore wa warukunee" and that part in Eldrant where Asch goes and uses his original name ("Luke fon Fabre da!")
(2) For the Natalias, who would you go on a date with, Luke or Asch?
Asakura: Asch, but… with Little Asch (laughs)
Neya: Both are fun but she'll take Asch… Adult Asch, that is. Why? To carry her bags (cue more laughter)
After Talk Show Summary (Sunday Evening)
- Chihiro Suzuki (Luke's voice actor) - Host
- Haruko Momoi (Anise's voice actor)
- Yuya Arai (Asch)
- Chihiro Kai (Anise)
- Asami Okamoto (Arietta)
I unfortunately do not remember much about the after talk show as I was reeling a lot from the emotion of starting a standing ovation and having that tender moment of being noticed by senpai in some sense, but yes, for this particular talk show, Asch, Anise, and Arietta entered the stage pinching each other (in the same manner Anise and Arietta were back in the stage play). But Asch tripped over the stairs and Suzuki asked them to go back for a "Take 2".
One of the questions they were asked is what they like most about the character their playing. Arai said that he liked how Asch turned his weakness into strength (many thanks to LadyUsada for clarifying this!). Kai mentioned something about Anise being cute and lively (among many other things, there were too many). I didn't catch what Okamoto said about Arietta, unfortunately. Another question was "whose story do you want to see", and Momoi made mention of "Tales of the Anise" in agreement to something Suzuki said as an example, I think.
As with the previous stage plays, I feel it's best to watch this while being well aware of TOA's story. They skip around a lot and omit a lot of things, and I feel it's easier to appreciate the additions with that said background in hand.
I really loved the stage play as an Asch side type of deal. It's a refreshing way of looking at the story, and as I've mentioned, they really made good in making this feel like it's Asch's story. The party members taking the sidelines (including Luke) was a consequence of this, but it all felt natural. I liked seeing more of the Six God-Generals too.
That said, the stage play focused on a completely different angle regarding Asch. While the game and anime shows us an Asch who is wrapped around his hatred, the stage play focuses on a very much lost Asch, struggling to find a place he belongs after what he thought to be his own place was wrenched away from him. He's portrayed as a lot more sympathetic in the stage play, compared to the angry person who often calls Luke "dreck" every so often in the game. Which, by the way, does not make an appearance in the stage play. I couldn't quite recall a time Asch ever called Luke "kuzu" (the Japanese equivalent of "dreck"), only "replica". I think this alternate interpretation may not be everyone's cup of tea since Asch's hatred of Luke was a huge thing back in the game, but I think toning that down offered more insight into Asch's character that we would otherwise have difficulty getting outside reading between the lines, and I don't really mind it so much myself.
Accounting for my Jade bias, I'm satisfied with regard to his level of presence in an Asch-centric story. I think he had even more stunts here than the last one he was in, but that could be my wishful imagination at work. I also feel his character was a lot more interesting with Dist around, rather than a standalone.
Asch was definitely the star of the show, but I still love Kasahara's Dist. He's such a great Dist and I'm glad they got him on board. His research certainly looks like it paid off--he looks the part and acts the part. I think a lot of people are charmed by his performance too, which also may factor in to Dist running out today (besides today being Jade and Dist talk show day), and during the last TalesFes. I also noticed that people in the trade search on Twitter have been searching for his karaoke trading card too (Jade, of course, is still the crowning king of rare).
I still feel that Reo Kawamura's Guy is a bit lacking, but he had a lot more to do this stage play, so it wasn't as bad as the previous stage play in Yokohama Arena. As far as successors to Kou Hosokawa's Guy was, I think he's fine--it's just that Hosokawa's performance feels difficult to top, in my opinion.
It's been more than a week since I watched the stage play, and honestly, I do want to watch it again. While a BD release is likely, it's still different watching it live, in my opinion. Like TalesFes, nothing ever compares to the feeling of being surrounded by people who love Abyss, and the sense of camaraderie you get when you see everyone enjoying (or crying) over the show. It's one thing that recorded versions aren't quite able to catch, and while I'm all for the BDs, it's just so hard to capture the feelings I had back when I watched the shows live.
Which is to say, unlikely as it might be, I really am hoping for more Abyss stage plays or renditions in the future. Specifically, a Jade-side, especially with Kasahara's spectacular Dist. It's my personal bias speaking for the most part, but if not, I guess other Tales of stage plays would be interesting to see. It's the cheaper alternative to making movies here, and happens to be a great way to revisit the series. I hope to see this trend continue, in any case!
- Stage Actors: Tales of the Stage Twitter
- Others: DimensionSlip (Me)