A Tokyohive exclusive report!
Having just taken its final bow earlier today (Saturday, January 27th local time) stage showcase extravaganza Act ONE was an electrifying production at the Tokyo Imperial Theatre led by four dynamic up-and-coming JPOP groups: HiHi Jets, Bishonen, 7 MEN Samurai, and Shonen Ninja. A testament to the spirit of jiko-keihatsu, or "self-development" so important to the training philosophy of their particular agency, each group takes the reins of the set list and its related production components to express their current progress and delight their fans under the supervision of KinKi Kids’ Koichi Domoto. From the moment the lights go down, Act ONE promised a dream stage filled with unique and unmissable performances, and it did not disappoint as a must-see for fans and enthusiasts alike.
The stage started with a warm welcome from the energetic young Juniors, who declared "Welcome to the Imperial Theater!" and kicked off the show with the captivating opening title song Act ONE. A group of younger Junior trainees, perhaps barely even children, gazed at the older groups in awe, marveling at their magnificent performance; and one could feel that their lines "How can I become like that?" were echoes of their true impressions.
The conceit of the show begins in earnest from here as the admiration of the children sparks a sense of discontent between the four main groups. In a misguided bid to impress the youngsters, each of the units descend into bickering and chaos as they declare themselves to be most worthy of being looked up to; spiraling into them commandeering the children as well as ACTOR team talent Kazutoshi Hayashi and Reo Teshima as judges in a competition battle to determine who is, in fact, the best. This frenetic rivalry is expertly displayed with a non-stop remix medley style of HiHi Jets' HiHi Jets, 7 MEN Samurai’s Siren, Shonen Ninja’s Taiyo no Egao, and Bishonen's Niji no Naka de. Following this entertaining declaration of war, the show courses along a series of four distinct acts interspersed with comically recapped thoughts and notes from the semi-willing judges.
First on the scene was HiHi Jets, a group whose momentum continues to surge year after year, their energy and ambitions driving them forward. Dressed in eye-catching bright green costumes, they made a grand entrance on a vibrant red classic car float, belting out the spirited anthem BOOOOOST UP!!!!! As if that weren't extravagant enough, they brought a whole universe to the stage and made sure to showcase every stage trick and prop they could, showing exactly what it means to be an idol of their caliber.
The overarching theme of their performance was "Freedom," a sentiment they embodied as they effortlessly glided across the stage on skates, as this unique skill is one of their weapons. In addition to their energetic musical performances, the group also gives us an MC corner, well-tailored for their love and skill for conversation and humor. Member Yuto Takahashi announced the start of the "Freedom Corner," where the young Juniors gathered for lively free talk and to showcase some of their own special skills. The banter, ranging from Yuto’s audacious antics to Ryuto Sakuma's playful responses, adds a delightful touch, eliciting laughter from both the audience and the members themselves, who acknowledged, "As expected, you're too free~."
Transitioning seamlessly from the MC corner, the atmosphere shifts as HiHi Jets presented a roller-skating and taiko drum performance with "INSTINCT," a familiar highlight from their live shows. Their powerful and harmonious execution captivated the audience and left us excited for what was next. The group reveals a new dimension in "COMPLETE" and "HiHi Jets," where Yuto, Ryo Hashimoto, and Soya Igari showcase softer, ballad-like vocals, much in contrast to their usual high-energy and chaotic performances. Mizuki Inoue and Ryuto maintained a perfect balance during their soaring moments in the air with the aerial silk, adding the perfect touch to the already emotional ballad performance. As they delve into the solo part of "HiHi Jets," the entire group took flight, not only running across the stage but also dynamically maneuvering through space through harnesses to take them up in the air. This embodiment of "delivering freedom and entertainment" reflected the cherished ideals of the five members, creating a performance that truly resonated with the audience.
Stepping into the spotlight next is 7 MEN Samurai, and they've embraced the theme of "Wild" with an electrifying performance that truly lives up to its name. While the group is often associated with laughter and variety chaos, witnessing them deliver a wilder, more raw, and unpolished show adds an exhilarating edge that gets the audience's blood pumping.
The decision to kick off with the lyrics version of "B4N4N4" is nothing short of spectacular, showcasing their unwavering determination and relentless pursuit until they are fully satisfied. Rinne Sugeta’s saxophone playing echoed through the theatre and it was marvelous to hear the clear notes being played. Originating from their summer live performance, their song “Hot Night”, produced by Fuma Kikuchi from Sexy Zone, gained considerable attention and the energy reached a fever pitch with the electrifying dance performance, and captivating chorus that makes you want to dance in your seat. Taiko Sasaki easily catches one’s eye with his sharp and detailed dancing, while Taiki Konno effortlessly captivates you with his mysterious charm.
Adding to the excitement is their new song Chaos Killers, a concept that introduced a side of 7 MEN Samurai we haven't seen before with their new costumes designed by Reia Nakamura. If you thought Shout was as intense as they could go, think again as Chaos Killers takes that spot and then some. Member Katsuki Motodaka took the reins on the overall production of the song, while Rinne helped out with the lyrics, and Rei Yabana handled the arrangement, pushing as a team the boundaries of their performance to new heights.
The synergy of the six members ignited the stage, raising the excitement within the theater with each song they performed. To show off their group dynamic and abilities, they sat together with the young Juniors, and member Rei ended up teaching one of them how to play the guitar. This kicked off the band arrangement of the theme song “ACT ONE” and acted as the bridge between their wild and intense songs.
Despite the wild energy infused into their show, 7 MEN Samurai ensures a powerful conclusion by performing "Shout," solidifying its place as their most impactful song with Reia on the front with an aggressive stage presence, only backed up with an equally impressive vocal performance. “Shout” leaves an indelible impression, reinforcing the group's versatility and ability to captivate their audience with every surprising twist they bring to the stage. 7 MEN Samurai not only showcased their unique band style but also created a space that fully highlights the singing prowess and expressive abilities they have honed over the years. The performance becomes a testament to the passion and dedication these artists bring to the forefront, leaving a lasting mark on the audience.
Bishonen takes the stage as the third act, surrounded by a set adorned with stunning stained glass, harmoniously singing "Beautiful Love." The stained glass panels serve as portraits of the six members, positioned prominently in the center, creating a visually captivating backdrop for their performance. As they navigate the Western-style set, reminiscent of a blend between a library and chapel, the members effortlessly engage with the unique atmosphere, enhancing the “Beauty” they chose as their theme to represent.
Up next, the group transformed into dazzling Japanese-style costumes, each tailored to the members' distinctive colors. Naoki Fujii exhibited graceful dance moves, Issei Kanasashi contributed his rhythmic rapping, Ryuga Sato showcased dynamic aerial maneuvers with his natural flair, Taisho Iwasaki and Yuto Nasu charmed the audience with stunning, impressive vocals, and Hidaka Ukisho delivered an exquisite flying dance, adorned with flowing fabric.
Bishonen continues to captivate the audience with carefree singing voices and harmonious choreography in a medley of songs like "Nee Motto," "Kiseki ga Okiru Toki," and "Sing It." The visually spectacular performance, exploring the themes of beauty and splendor, unfolded as a combined effort that only these six individuals could create.
The final showcase introduced Shonen Ninja, weaving a narrative around the theme of "Passion." Embracing the ethos of having more passion than anyone else and facing one's passion without fear, the members share their dreams and thoughts before the performance. Rising from the back of the stage in Napoleonic costumes with dignified expressions, Nao Oriyama declared, "This is our dreams and hopes. This is an emotional stage that gives shape to those dreams. This is our passion." With the ocean metaphorically on their backs, the members roared with enthusiasm, expressing their unwavering determination in the new song "Dreamers," choreographed by Nao himself.
The 21-member ensemble delivered a dynamic and mind-blowing performance, utilizing their large group size, engaging in parkour and aerial feats with iron bars and ropes, and showcasing acrobatics in every inch of the theater's stage space. The members danced in all directions, creating a whirlwind of changing scenes, and you could feel everyone’s passion and dedication on stage.
They radiantly performed the group's first original song, "Taiyou no Egao," with smiles and passion, offering glimpses of the transition between boyishness and adulthood. Familiar tunes like "Oretachi no BANG!!!" echoed through the theater as each member of the group got a chance to present themselves, while "Ready to Rise" and "The Shining Star," beloved by fans over the years, were presented in their entirety. With a blend of tradition and innovation, Shonen Ninja poured their collective passion into the performance, shaking the theater with the unique individualities of the 21 members. Throughout their performance, it truly felt that Shonen Ninja is shouldering the current and future generations of what idols can achieve and do.
Despite the initial rivalry among the four groups, a transformative journey developed throughout their performances. As they showcased their talents, mutual admiration blossomed, fostering a newfound sense of camaraderie. Together, they walked towards the realization of a shared big dream instead of stubbornly facing the future alone.
The remix song at the beginning of the show represented how the groups will always have rivalry with each other, and fight for the spotlight and fame. Despite always being pitted against each other, they do share a common dream - to share their entertainment with the world. That’s ultimately the conclusion of the battle and the stage came alive with that in mind with a breathtaking display as all the groups, now bonded by respect and unity, took center stage for the iconic song "Not Enough." Dressed in striking red suits and white gloves, they delivered a performance that resonated with both skill and style. Additionally, the rendition of "Yami wo Tsukinukete," a song inherited from their seniors, further enriched the show. The sight of these groups filling the stage, united by a common purpose, was truly magical and a sight to remember.
The smiles of everyone on stage transformed into a radiant energy, filling the theater with a deep sense of achievement, and everyone in the audience couldn’t help but smile back at the bright talents on stage. A wave of euphoria surged through the atmosphere as the show came to an end, embracing everyone in the theatre in its uplifting last showcase act. We get to experience various shuffled groups performing, with members from each group coming together to give the audience something unique and new.
Their dynamic performance, characterized by steadfast postures, resolute gazes, and beads of sweat representing unwavering dedication, conveyed a powerful message about the extraordinary effort and passion poured into their craft. The optimism for a bright future echoed profoundly, capturing the audience's attention and leaving them enthralled by the anticipated growth and evolution of groups like HiHi Jets, Bishonen, 7 MEN Samurai, and Shonen Ninja but also the upcoming, young boys who just started their journey as Juniors. These shared moments and experiences, forged collaboratively from a shared beginning, planted the seeds of confidence for the journeys that lie ahead for everyone - audience and artists alike. There’s no doubt that the future is bright for these groups with how they captivate the audience.
“Act ONE” is truly a show that represents what the current generation of talents can achieve and produce. It not only shows proof of all the hard work the groups have committed to their years in the industry but also solidifies in the minds of audiences and fans the determination and passion they have for their craft. Whether you’re a veteran fan or a newcomer, this show by the up-and-coming talent of STARTO ENTERTAINMENT will give you a taste of everything that the talents of the agency have to offer, proving that even if the road ahead is unknown, the future is bright and they are just getting started on their own Act ONE.
Editor's note: An earlier draft of this article incorrectly stated that Ryusei Fukada had been in charge of the costumes for Shonen Ninja's Dreamers performance. We sincerely apologize for the error and misunderstanding.