Final Fantasy X Kabuki Stage Play in 2023 to celebrate franchise’s 35th anniversary

The Final Fantasy Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster cover. Pic credit: The Nintendo Official Site

A kabuki performance inspired by Final Fantasy X will premiere in the spring of 2023, according to a Square Enix/TBS announcement. The play will take place at IHI Stage Around Tokyo, an amphitheater with a rotating stage that seats the audience in the center.

This is the first kabuki adaptation of a video game ever and will be one of the activities aimed at celebrating the franchise’s 35th anniversary.

『新作歌舞伎 FINAL FANTASYX』 ティザーCM

Square Enix has announced a couple of additional upcoming Final Fantasy-inspired events as well, including Uniqlo t-shirts and the Distant Worlds world tour concert. As a matter of fact, the tour started on July 14, 2022, in Grand Rapids, MI, and will end in March 2023 in Japan (precise dates of the Japanese tour are yet to be announced).

The Final Fantasy X kabuki play: what we know so far

The Final Fantasy X kabuki play will take place on an undisclosed date in spring 2023. Kabuki actor Onoe Kikunosuke V — known for his previous participation in the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind stage play — is directing the play and will also star in it.  

Other cast members include Yonekichi Nakamura V, Nakamura Shikan VIII, Nakamura Shidō II, Onoe Matsuya II, Kamimura Kichitarō, Nakamura Shinobu, Baishi Nakamura IV, Mantarō Nakamura, Bandō Hikosaburō VIII, and Bandō Yajūrō.

About the Final Fantasy franchise

Final Fantasy is an SF media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi and developed by Square Enix (formerly known as Square). The first video game was released in 1987 (titled: Final Fantasy) and the latest to date, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, in March 2022.

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Originally a video game, Final Fantasy has since evolved into one of the most successful Japanese franchises, spanning tactical role-playing games, MMORPG, action role-playing games, third-person shooters, etc. In addition, Final Fantasy has branched into other media, including anime, manga, novels, radio dramas, CGI films, and companion books.

Final Fantasy X was released for PlayStation 2 in 2001 and its sequel Final Fantasy X-2 — in 2003. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita that includes both games was released in December 2013 (Japan) and in March 2014 (North America). The collection was released on PlayStation 4 in 2015, on PC in 2016, and on the Xbox One/Switch in 2019.

What is kabuki?

Kabuki (歌舞伎) is a classical form of Japanese drama characterized by stylized performances, intensely dramatic plots, glamorous costumes, and trademark kumadori make-up.

A clip from a publicity image from the Minamiza’s spring show. In the center is the actor Nakamura Kasho IV wearing his make-up for the role of Soga Goro. Pic credit: Michael Lambe/insidekyoto.com

The majority of plays were written in the 17th and 18th centuries, meaning they often use the archaic Japanese language. Because of that, kabuki theaters nowadays rent headsets, which explain the play in modern Japanese.

The precise origins of kabuki are not known, but it is speculated that it originates in the early Edo period (1603-1867) when Izumo no Okuni formed a female dance troupe in Kyoto. Since women were banned from performing in kabuki theatres (1629), kabuki has become an all-male theatrical form.

The statue of Izumo no Okuni by Shijo Bridge in Kyoto. Pic credit: Michael Lambe/insidekyoto.com

Knowing all this, it will be interesting to see how the Final Fantasy X kabuki performance will play out.

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