New trend: 5 recent Japanese manga that became musicals
With a new theater built specifically for manga/anime-turned-stage productions, the new genre of 2.5-dimensional plays is establishing itself in Japan as a completely new form of entertainment.
2.5 dimensional refers to manga/animation musicals, a cross between the 2-dimensional manga and anime with 3-dimensional theater.
AiiA Theater Tokyo, built solely for 2.5-dimensional productions
1. One Piece
First on the list is One Piece. This musical production is set to become a kabuki play, the first time ever for a manga/anime. Not much has been released regarding details of the production set to premiere in October at the Shibashi Enbujo in Tokyo, a Kabuki theater.
After the end of its 15-year run as a weekly manga in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, Naruto is now ready for the stage. With cast and crew recently introduced to the public, fans are eagerly waiting for this musical to inaugurate the Aiia Theater Tokyo, the new theater built specifically for 2.5-dimensional productions.
3. Death Note
Already remade into a feature film, Death Note is now going to be a musical. One of Japan's most popular young actors, Tatsuya Fujiwara, who played Light Yagami in the movie, was said to be upset when he found out he wasn't cast in the musical. It premieres on April 6.
When a prosecutor discovers he has months to live, can he turn his life around and tear down corruption? Find out in the gripping melodrama Punch:
4. The Prince of Tennis
This original manga-turned musical is also known as "Tenimyu," short for "TeniPuri Musical," and it premiered in May 2003. Success of this musical inspired other 2.5-dimensional plays to follow in its footsteps. The 3rd season of The Prince of Tennis musical is set to start on February 13.
5. Yowamushi Pedal
Entering its 4th production since the premiere of the musical Yowamushi Pedal in 2012, Yowamushi Pedal Interhigh Chapter: The Second Order is set to open on March 13. Giant posters of the production are currently up at Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo.
*The Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa's classic film The Seven Samurai was turned into an animation 10 years ago, and now a musical based on the anime is scheduled for production. The story is mostly the same, but set in the future. With the original being such a respected work of art by the master of Japanese cinema, this musical has some big shoes to fill.
Besides those listed here, more musicals are scheduled and being produced for the coming year. Fans seem to be enjoying the musicals, and with high revenue from merchandising and ticket sales, this new type of 2.5-dimensional entertainment looks like it's here to stay.