Thursday, 7 December 2017

[This Is Duu!] LILIUM ~The Falsehood of Duu~ (Stage Play Recap & Review)

[This Is Duu!], also known as [A Week with Duu], is a series of posts dedicated to Kudo Haruka and her impending graduation on December 11th 2017. It is a series that will look at the wonders of Duu, whether it is in the form of a music video, sketches, live performances or even her photo books!

To celebrate all that is Duu, let's take a look back at everything she has given us, and remember the joy that she has delivered since debuting in Morning Musume, all those years ago! Are you ready to celebrate all that is Duu?


hOLY SHIT, HOW HAVE I NOT WATCH THIS UNTIL NOW? HOW!?!?!?!?

Seriously, this shit would put Shakespeare to shame. What the heck, it took me well over three years to finally watch LILIUM -Lilium Shoujo Junketsu Kageki- in its entirety? I'm either lazy (check), or just ignorant of the great things in life (check again), because holy shit... Holy shit, this is amazing.

Good thing I decided to talk about a play that Duu had a key role in, because damn, if I didn't (and it hadn't been suggested to review Lilium) then I wouldn't have taken a look at this. In all honesty, the sole reason I did watch this one over Pharaoh no Haka, is because this one actually has a subtitled version, thanks to the dedicated fans.

And yes, I am wallowing in my own self loathing, because I dared to neglect this stage play for this long. Still, it's a damn good thing Duu is worth a whole day on this play, otherwise we wouldn't be here, and I would have continued to neglect Lilium for another three or more years. That's just the way this cinnamon rolls.

Oh, and once again, this Duu-related review comes at an oddly convenient time, as I am reviewing it just a day after the latest Magnolia Factory departure. Though no members of the group make an appearance here, I think that the heavy metaphor regarding flowers and how all flowers will eventually wilt, is quite significant to the current state of the group. It's horribly fitting, given the circumstance of these woeful times in HaroPromageddon.

That thought about Kobushi ran through my mind as the story of Lilium progressed, but it's also a truth that we acknowledge as human beings. Eventually, we will all die, for there is no eternity. Despite its fictional setting, Lilium hits home with the truth that death is an unstoppable act, and that loneliness comes with the loss of your loved ones, and that loneliness can even come with age . The symbolism of flowers only makes these things feel a tad bittersweet, if not a little romantic, in its weird and twisted way.

Because like flowers, even the most beautiful will eventually wither and die.

Today we are taking a look at LILIUM -Lilium Shoujo Junketsu Kageki-. Sometimes, we will cling to that moment of forever when the ones we love most disappear...

LILIUM -Lilium Shoujo Junketsu Kageki-
Stage Play Recap
(Spoilers Will Happen)




Now, I have only watched this the once, but I aim to return to it when I have some more time to check it out once again. So, for this review, my first impressions will take the lead. In a way, that's great - it gives you a chance to understand my initial thoughts, yet on the other hand, it means I can't give an in-depth review. Still, fresh reviews are some of my favourites to do, because I am a lot less strict on what I can and can't put, and also, it's a lot easier to go straight from the thing I am reviewing, right into a post. That is what we will be doing today.

I actually didn't know what I was going into with this - the synopsis is very bare-bones, allowing us to know that Sayashi Riho's character, Lily, is looking for her friend Sylvatica, played by Oda Sakura. Sylvatica has disappeared, and only Lily seems to remember her, which is a bit concerning, considering she lives in a Clan of only a few vampires.

From that synopsis, our story begins. We get a tid-bit in the beginning about how vampires were once eternal, however, things have changed, and even eternity can come to its end. This seems to be the case for The Clan, home to a variety of Vampires with flower names. The Clan itself is a form of refuge - a place where adolescent young vampires going through 'Chrysalis' can take refuge, as their form of adolescence is a lot more turbulent than that of a humans. Each day they take a special medicine, one which is supposed to help them through their Chrysalis. The life these girls lead, however, is dull, and a few of them would like to escape the monotony that their home provides, to find some excitement in their lives.



HA!

Ishida Ayumi as Cherry is by far one of the best casting choices for this play. She really made her role entertaining.


After the story opens and the synopsis played out, I found myself enjoying certain characters pretty quickly. Ishida Ayumi as Cherry was a freakin' thrill, and Nakanishi Kana's Camellia provided a very emotional character arc, as well as a rather funny personality who played off of Ishida Ayumi's angry and powerful personality well. These two were definitely stand out characters for me, along with a few others.

Actually, my earlier thought regarding both those characters was that Camellia and Cherry would eventually fall in love, because they had that back-and-forth love-hate thing going on in the first act. Of course, these thoughts disappeared over the course of the play, because both Camellia and Cherry have a lot less interaction after the opening act. Still, I loved the chemistry and entertainment they both provided, and I suppose a part of me still wishes they might have gotten together, had things been a little different.

Of course, I wouldn't change the story one bit, because it's really beautiful, despite the tragedy it brings.


Duu is introduced as one of only two boys in this stage play (though at least one of the two let the audience know there are 'more boys' in The Clan), and of course, Duu plays False, an energetic young Vampire who suffers from anemia. Ha! I found that a little ironic, but, it proves to be a valid and necessary plot point in the long run, one I never caught onto. It all makes sense now, though!

Actually, from Camellia and False's exchanges, I convinced myself early on that Duu's character was in fact TRUMP, the one true vampire that a few of the members alluded to. Though TRUMP / The Master remained a faceless identity until the final arc (in my mind, I just think of Donald Trump. Urgh), he is ever present within the play and, of course, it does turn out to be Duu. Because, y'know. False = False Identity. Which makes sense now.

I was wondering why Duu was the only one without a flower name. Huh, the more you know.

The idea that False was actually the Master eventually left my mind though, because things developed in the play that actually lead me to believe both Lily and Snow were, somehow, The Master themselves. I just thought that Snow had made Lily forget, wanting her to live a more peaceful life.

Thinking back, though, a lot of things like personality traits and dialogue exchanges that went on in the play allude to False's true character, and it makes a lot more sense why those scenes were played in such a way.

Again, the more you know.



At this point in the play, Marigold tries to bit Lily in order to take hold of her Initiative. Another vampire's bite means that the biter can control you, essentially.

This plot point becomes hella important, in the long run.


Regarding the two leads, I really loved Riho and Dawa's characters, Lily and Snow, respectively. Both Riho and Dawa provided a delicate, emotional performance, one that was both heartbreaking and captivating. Riho herself is pretty damn incredible in this role - her portrayal of Lily is memorable and bittersweet, and she does well to showcase her sincerity towards all of the characters, proving that Lily herself is quite a gentle character. I like that about her, because whilst everyone has a distinct character throughout, Lily herself is one of the only members of The Clan who seems to get on with everyone. No one hates her, and she treats everyone equal. I can't really say the same for the others, because yeah, they get a bit dickish, especially towards Meimi's character, Marigold.

Meimi was actually a really great character in this. Born a Dhampir - daughter to a human mother and a vampire father - Marigold suffered the prejudice of the human village she and her mother were a part of. Then, when she and her mother were driven from the town completely, her mother made a point to reject her daughter completely, regretting the child's birth. Wow, that's dark.

Eventually, when Marigold was beginning to undergo her Chrysalis, she was taken to The Clan, only to realise she was once again experiencing the same prejudice that the humans had shown her. The vampires she lives with all fear her human blood, and reject her openly. Marigold has lived a really great life, hasn't she? /sarcasm.

Of course, Lily's the only one who actually treats Marigold kindly, and because she's been rejected all her life, Marigold gets a tad clingy. At first, I thought 'WTF?', but when Marigold's background comes to light, I understood it. She's had a pretty shit life, so yeah, she'll cling. Still, she's a tad obsessive when it comes to Lily.

Meimi creates a beautiful character here. Sullen and withdrawn, Meimi delivers a winning performance of a girl who doesn't know how to act around others, but still craves the love and attention from the one person who has ever shown her kindness. Meimi is emotive and powerful, and her solo song Mou Nakanai to Kimeta is freakin' beautiful, showcasing Meimi's talent and power as a singer and a performer. I don't think that anyone else could have delivered it as well as Meimi did, and I am so glad she was given such a deep, sorrowful character to portray in this tragic tale.



This entire exchange is just hilarious. I freakin' love it.


Duu: "Kabe-DUU~"

By this point, I had convinced myself that False was just a playboy. The way Duu talks to the girls, the way she gazes at them and smiles and her actions just screamed a boy on a mission. False simply liked to play with his toys, so to speak, and Duu gave the character such a flare. I really loved how witty and boyish she seemed, and I was super convinced that this was the true False, by this point.

I really loved Riho here in this scene, too. The way she acts repelled by False, and how disgusted she feels by his invasion of her personal space is amazing. Riho's expression, the way she poses and the dialogue she gives are wonderful, and you can see the fear in her eyes when False tries to control her. There is something there that freaks Riho's character, Lily, out, but she's unsure about what it is, and so are you. She just wants to leave, and she wants False to leave her the fuck alone.

To be honest, if False is that freakin' persistent, and not taking no for an answer, I'd be concerned, too. That's the kind of person you don't wanna hang around, Lily-Riho.




Dawa, don't say things like that! That's such a risky thing to say, y'know!

The relationship between False and Snow is one I really enjoy, actually. You can see that there is a closeness there that none of the others realise, and at this point in the play, I was certain they were in love, and that False was simply playing around with other girls to hide his true relationship.

Yeah, it wasn't that, but damn, I was convinced.

Regarding Snow herself - who Dawa did so well as, just sayin' - she is such a tragic character, in her own way. Alone and a little aloof, the other Vampires in the clan really don't know what to think about her, so go about their days ignoring the girl. Even Lily is guilty of this at some point, though as the story progresses, it's revealed that Lily herself remembers little things about Snow that she herself can't understand, because she can't fully recall where she has seen these exchanges. So, because of Lily's own lost memories, Snow suffers in silence and sadness, and only really has False to run to when she needs someone most.

I feel like Snow herself is quite a selfless person, allowing one of her best friends in her life to be with other people, despite the fact that it can hurt her deeply. There is always a sad air around Snow, and shit, now I get it. Snow Drops droop, and all the way through, Snow is fucking drooping. Holy shit, these character traits match the meanings and structure of their flowers namesake, don't they? Holy shit.

Welp, now I get why Sylvatica's not around. The Myosotis Sylvatica is a short-lived plant, and Sylvatica's kinda dead.

So, yeah. Snow is a pretty powerful character here, despite her droopy demeanor. Throughout, she poses as someone who is linked to Lily, one way or another, but someone who also just wants Lily to be happy. Even though Lily tries to chase the illusion of Sylvatica, someone Snow remembers as well, she tries her hardest to get Lily to turn around and stop looking. It doesn't work, of course, but Snow's intentions are pure and, always, they are for Lily, never herself.

Actually, Dawa's character is epic. I really need to re-watch this and love her more.


Marigold - The flower symbolises cruelty, grief and jealousy. Oh, this explains so much!

(They are also associated with the sun, and as Marigold is a child of human and vampire, this also makes sense)




Marigold's arc - which I've already talked about - is a really sad point in the story, and it did make me understand her more. But, it's only the beginning of the sadness that is about to ensue. It's at this point that, during her trip down shitty memory lane, Marigold accidentally scares Lily away, even though she simply wants to protect the one person who showed her kindness. It's a heart-wrenching moment, and you can see that Meimi is delivering the lines and song of a girl whose heart is breaking.

I just wanted to reach into the screen and hug Marigold. I really felt for the poor girl. I also kinda wanted to punch every other Vampire around, because y'know, they're all dicks.

This play deals with some heavy topics.



Okay, so there are some minor sub-plots going on that filter into the main plot - the characters of Rose (Suzuki Kanon), Cattleya (Takeuchi Akari) and Nasturtium (Katsuta Rina) all go on adventure to find ghosts, lead by the excitable Cattleya, who is forever bored. Cherry follows them, because the three girls have gone into a restricted area, and Cherry herself is curious as to what they're up to. The girls, of course, stumble through a secret passage, and find a few secrets there, one being that the medicine they drink is... LE GASP! BLOOD!

Oh, and there's a book. And a picture from 800 years ago. And Cherry and co. realise things they shouldn't, so Silane (Fukuda Kanon) comes in all trigger happy, because shit's about to go down. Lindou (Fukumura Mizuki) does try to calm things down, but because a few of the girls have found things out, Silane is having none of it, and decides to take Cherry down, because she really doesn't like Cherry.

At this point in the play, I was surprised that the revelation of some things were found by Rose, Cattleya, Nasturtium and Cherry. They were strong comedic characters throughout the first half of the play, and whilst they did deliver some fun goofs, at least three of them were not core characters to the story itself. So it was quite delightful to see that they were the ones who actually found something important out, though it was Cherry who eventually delivered the message to the audience and the characters involved.

Oh, and Sylvatica was real! But, she's dead. Oops. Good thing the others are beginning to remember, though, or at least, the book helped them to realise that she was once a part of their Clan. Once.



So, background stuff: It turns out that, un-beknown to the characters until now, both Lily and Snow have been a part of The Clan for well over 800 years. Lily herself doesn't actually understand this, having forgotten everything up until this point. Snow, however, remembers, but allows Lily to live a life away from her, despite the two being the best of friends. Well, shit, Snow. You really hurt yourself by doing that, and I feel for you. That stings.

It also turns out that, after all this time, Camellia finally remembers why he is always forgetting something... He forgot Sylvatica. The two were actually in love, cementing a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend, and before Sylvatica died, she asked Camellia to promise never to forget her. And yeah, this part is painful. Yet another sad part of the story, that only gets sadder.

Sylvatica is a very consistent character throughout this entire play, providing information to the story, whilst acting as a background character as well. Though it's hinted throughout that she might simply be an illusion of Lily's, the character feels whole and developed, and of course, we learn that she was real, the memory of her life erased by The Master so that the rest of The Clan could live on in peace.

Though Sylvatica herself doesn't appear that much, she is an integral character to the plot of Lilium, and a link to quite a few characters. Even though each scene she appears in is short, we get a good idea of the sort of person Sylvatica was; sweet, endearing and loving. She was adored by both Lily and Camellia, and you can actually see that the friendship Lily and Sylvatica had was probably what hurt Snow in the past. But, you also become aware that Snow wants Lily to stop chasing a memory, because she knows the hurt it will bring her dearest friend.

Okay, the more I write about this play, the more I love Snow. Go figure, because the Snow Drop is also one of my favoured flowers.


I internally screamed. DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

This got barbaric, and yeah, at this point was sure that the One True Vampire Overlord was either Lily or Snow. Ch'yeah, no.



Realisations happen. Lily and Snow are reunited, finally, and it's a bittersweet moment, because shit goes down. Turns out... YEAH, FALSE DIDN'T DIE! Because False is actually the One True Vampire, their master, and he's been using his initiative on all of The Clan. Their medicine was his blood, after all, and he's been alive for over 3000 years.

Holy shit, eternity must suck.



Turns out, False made The Clan because he was lonely, and over the years, he has been feeding all of the members his blood, allowing them an eternal life. But, he never truly found a way to keep them immortal - turns out, if he did kill them by usual methods (knives, fire, etc.) they would still die, and stay that way. He'd been using some of his Clan as test subjects, feeding them his blood for years on end before killing them off, in the hopes that one or two would live and prove to be just like him.

He's basically the Gardener from the prologue of the story that Sylvatica told Lily - A Gardener who wanted to create a flower that could live forever. This has never happened, however, so False eventually stopped killing his Clan members, content with keeping them alive by feeding them his blood. Two clan members, Lindou and Silane, were aware of this, and kept up the pretense of the medicine and False's true identity for the sake of living eternally, because False's blood provides eternal youth.

However, when a vampire stops drinking False's blood, time catches up with the body, and you eventually die. This is what happened to Sylvatica, who caught onto False's true intentions and chose death over eternity.

It's a damn heartbreaking flashback, this one, because both Lily and Camellia have to watch someone they love die. And then False reveals that every so often, he wipes the clan members' memories, which is why Lily can't remember a lot of things, like her relationship with Snow. Thing is, because Lily and Snow have both been around so long and had so much of False's blood, they've pretty much become False.

Yeah, we got into the screwy side of things. Yaaaay.


SUBTLE.


Yeah, that's not what you were saying a second ago, False.

So, False sees both Lily and Snow as his ultimate creations, despite not knowing whether they can live eternally like he can, without his blood. He's not tried to kill them - but damn, he wanted to - and instead was content with them being by his side. They're both precious to him, as they have survived the longest by his side, and yeah, he's screwy as heck.

This is actually one of my favourite parts from Duu - she is hysterical as the bad guy, but so convincing, too. I was laughing so much from this side to her character, because False is quite eccentric. He has visions of grandeur, for sure, and he wants something that he has found hard to keep hold of; a partner for eternity. With Snow, he has her by his side because she remembers the past well, encompassing similar memories to him. Lily, who is the same age, is only recently showing similar signs, revealing that False's blood - because it is so potent within the two of them - is making a difference, and allowing them take on similar traits to him.

GEE, I wonder where this is going?


NOPE, NOPE, NOPE, I WAS NOT PREPARED!

So, clarification: After False wiped everyone's memories again - returning them to their typical characters who are bored, Camellia forgetting why he enters the girls' dorm (CAMELLIA ; A;) and everything in-between, Lily and Snow are the only two who can't forget, because False's blood runs through their veins pretty damn strong.

So, Snow does what she has to do: She uses her Initiative - the same as False's - on Marigold, who happily stabs Snow, because Snow is the one who stands in the way of Marigold's darling Lily. And Snow fuckin' dies.

FOR FUCK SAKE, I LIKED SNOW ; A;

Because of this turn of events, False decides to burn Marigold for her deeds, which is fucking horrible. Marigold didn't deserve that! And so, poor Lily has to watch another friend of hers die, but seriously, does False care? Nope. He's already lost his 'Ultimate Creation', though he doesn't feel like that after a moment, because this happens:


And you're a bag of dicks, False.


hOLY SHIT, I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!

Okaaaay, so yeah. Because Lily's not happy with what False has been doing - making them drink his blood, him using them as puppets, keeping them alive for all eternity and erasing their memories and killing them off when he feels like it - she basically uses her Initiative (False's blood is super pigmented in her veins, yo) to get everyone to kill themselves. And False begs.

And then I get all confused and teary eyed, because holy shit, I don't know what to think, at this point.

This scene below was especially confusing for me as a viewer, because who the fuck do I root for? Lily, or False?


I'm so fucking confused, because both characters are awesome.

Honestly, though, that's great character development. You understand both Lily and False by this point. Lily, you get because she's been held in a Clan against her will, living eternally and constantly forgetting those who are dear to her. She's going to be young forever, because of a douche bag who wants someone to be by his side. But, on the other hand, you understand False's plight. After being alone for three thousand years, he did something about it, and tried to find a way to create an eternal flower. He wanted to capture the youth of the Vampire's so that someone could finally be by his side, and he wouldn't have to face eternity alone. He just wanted someone to be there, and he wanted to share that moment in forever with someone who could be just like him.

I get why both of them are doing what they do. I get that Lily is pissed - I would be. Heck, choice is one of the things I want to fight about most, because the freedom of choice to do anything - to live, to say what we want to do, to keep our memories, to be who we are - is powerful, and it's ours. It was what False took away from them, however, and the only way someone got out of his power was by making the choice to never drink the medicine, and to choose death over coming back to The Clan. And because Lily's own realisation has awakened in just who she is, the power she carries, she makes the choice to finally give False what he deserves, essentially, because he never gave anyone else that choice.

But, of course, she took away everyone else's choice in the end, and killed them all off with her own Initiative. GDI, Lily, you're a hypocrite.

Oh, and Lily does kill herself as well. And then this happens, and I feel for False all over again:


That's actually real fuckin' sad.

I thought this part would be the ending, with False walking off to create a new Clan.

Yeah, fuck no. This play has more to come. Okay, how are you going to break my heart now, Lilium?



... Yeah, Lily is dreaming, and GDI, I did not anticipate this. WTF are you doing, play?




It turns out, Lily is immortal. Where Snow regained and retained her memories from False, even gaining the same memory-wiping Initiative as him, Lily became the flower that would never die. No matter how many times she tries to stab herself in the heart, she realises that she can't die, and that she is now alone in the world.

And my heart fucking breaks, because Lily has done this to herself, even though her intentions were, at the end of the day, for the best. She wanted to free everyone from False, and to free herself, but it completely backfired. And False is nowhere to be seen, meaning that Lily will have to live alone, enduring the same pain and loneliness that False felt for the thousands of years before her.

Oh, Lily.

LILY!!!! ;______________________________________________________;

</3


And here lies a flower that never dies...

-sobs hysterically-


And now, I demand a sequel, wherein Lily makes her own Clan and history repeats itself, because honestly, there is nothing better than the torture and tragedy of eternity and a Vampire who wants nothing more than someone like them to be there, by their side, following their path of forever...

Yes, I like to torture myself >o> Why do you think I liked this play so damn much!?

☆Conclusion

Oh, gosh, that was heavy, and I've only watched it once. You can bet I'll return to it, though, because I do like to see a tragedy unfold, and open endings that are as open as this delight me. Plus, it'd be great if there was a sequel to this... I mean, who wouldn't want it? The return of False would be especially wonderful.

Okay, so... to Conclude:

This was a great play, and I can see why this one was suggested to me to review from a Duu-rific friend of mine. Even though I wanted to attempt Pharaoh no Haka, I now understand why this stage play stands as one of MoMusu's and S/mileage's (ANGERME's) best in recent years. It is dark, emotional, moving and powerful. The story is beautiful and tragic, and the ending is satisfying in the oddest of ways.

As I watched this, I was always doing reacting in a variety of ways: Laughter, anger, sadness, yelling at the screen, gasping, crying... There was never a dull moment, and that's because this is a quality piece of acting and script. All the way through, it is incredible, and I applaud the tremendous performance from both Morning Musume and S/mileage. Everyone was incredible, and each Idol fit their character beautifully. I really enjoyed it.

Though some moments could feel clunky (Masaki's appearance for one, the comedic elements, too) I didn't mind all that much, because the rest of it was incredible. I especially enjoyed the performances from Ishida Ayumi, Sayashi Riho, Tamura Meimi, Wada Ayaka, Nakanishi and, of course, Kudo Haruka.

This is a stand-out performance from Duu, who allowed me to both sympathize with and loathe the character she portrayed. False was despicable, but he was understandable, too, and you could see why he turned out the way he did. But, you also want to slap him, because he's done things he shouldn't have, and took away the freedom of choice from so many vampires who came to live in his Clan. Duu was truly captivating here, making me laugh and cry, scream at the screen and shake my head in disbelief. I felt so strongly for her character, and adored the performance she put on.

I can see why people think this is one of Duu's breakthrough performances, because she's awesome as False. She does eccentric well, but draws out your emotions when she needs to. She can allow you to feel various things for one character, which can be hard to do for even the most seasoned of actors. Now I can see why she wants to be an actress, and yes, it's the right path for her. Duu will definitely do well in this career track, because she is made for a stage like this.

I loved a great many things about this play, from it's costume choices to the way the lighting looks, to the characters themselves. Snow is someone I truly adore, a character I sympathize with greatly. Camellia is someone I wish to hold and return to Sylvetica, whilst Cherry is a girl I want to be friends with. There are many strong, distinctive characters here, and they are all played incredibly.

LILIUM -Lilium Shoujo Junketsu Kageki- is everything I never expected it to be, and it amazes me. How I have lived these past three years without watching it, I don't know, but I'm glad I saw it now, for my Week with Duu. It is incredible, in all its painful glory.

And now this woeful tale of a flower who will bloom forever has come to its end, as has this recap and review. In this moment, a Lily in the dark captures a glimpse of forever. Alone...






Until next time, everyone. Thank you.

Chiima~

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