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Vanna's Note: This is an interview with Ei Takatori for the March 1998 'Rose Apocalypse' analysis and meta book. (On pages 92-94.) This huge volume includes all kinds of goodies, and can be downloaded from Historia Arcana in full here. Ei Takatori's part of the 70's experimental theater realm that J.A. Seazer, the duel chorus writer, is also part of. But he would go on from this interview to also be the director of the mythic lost 1999 Utena musical that iris hahn notes at the end. Yeah, there was one. Most of what we know is from this little blurb. Anthy has a machine gun in it. There is no recording of it that we have been able to obtain, but we learn more about it every day, and this is part of the mission!

Thank you so so much to iris hahn for translating this interview!!!

Rose Apocalypse Ei Takatori Interview

(Leader of the Lunar Eclipse Opera Company)

Born January 1952. Head of the Midnight Sun Theatre during his time at Osaka University. Afterwards, he became an editor and a member of Terayama Shuji's staff, and from 1980 a playwright. Terayama Shuji urged him to form a theatre group, and in 1985 he founded the Lunar Eclipse Opera Company. His writings and plays include Lost Records of St Michael's Academy,* Undersea Voyage of the Valkyrie, Alice in Wonderland, and Dogra Magra: Lunar Eclipse Edition. His critical essays include "On Terayama Shuji" and "The Secret of Ashita no Joe."

*This English title adapted from an Anime News Network article, for recognizability.

— Were you watching the Utena anime from the beginning?

Takatori: No, I didn't know about it at first. But I heard Tenjo Sajiki* songs were being used in a TV anime, and when I asked Seazer he said "Yes, they are." [Laugh.]

Ei Takatori and Shuji Terayama in their youths
*"Upper Gallery", along the lines of 'peanut gallery'; Terayama Shuji's theatre group, of which J.A. Seazer was a member.

— What was your impression when you first saw it?

Takatori: At first…. I thought it was really Takarazuka-esque, like Rose of Versailles inside a school. But what really surprised me was the title. "Revolution" is a really frank, impactful kind of word for a title. It's extraordinary even in the long history of manga.

— Are you interested in the themes of Utena?

Takatori: Originally, Lunar Eclipse did stick very close to a policy of 'fighting girls.' So when Utena started airing a lot of people told us "Hey, there's an anime a lot like your plays!" [Laugh.] I saw a parody book* sold at Comiket. It was about Utena and Anthy's relationship, but the title was "Lunar Eclipse Opera Company", and all the text was from my books. It said "All lines taken from various Ei Takatori scripts" on it. [Laugh.]

*Vanna's note: He is talking about a doujinshi. He is very likely talking about this doujinshi, which I do not have but did find in my archive of the Doujinshi and Manga Lexicon. Its titled '月蝕領宣言' by circle 流薔園, authored by 江神奈穂, it came out December 28, 1997, days after the finale of the show. Lemme know if anyone finds it!

— So a lot of people did feel the tones of the works were similar.

Takatori: People familiar with Lost Records of St Michael's Academy felt the flavor of the stories was similar. And the second part of the animated adaptation was produced by the same J.C. Staff as Utena, so there was a close connection there. And the J.A. Seazer music; our Lunar Eclipse uses all J. A. Seazer songs as well, so I heard there was a trend among people who learned about his music from Utena: "Okay, let's go watch Lunar Eclipse." So, no wonder.

— Actually, a lot of people who watched Utena seem to feel that the staging for some scenes is very theatrical….

Takatori: Like the stopwatch scenes, timing the actors' lines.

— And Utena's careful positioning in all the fight scenes, is that the same as in theatre?

Takatori: Yes, that among other things. It's rare that you see an anime with such a close relationship to the stage. The awareness of it in the creative process is very clear.

— Lunar Eclipse casts women to play lead boy characters; is there a specific reason for that?

Takatori: It's a fairly ordinary practice in the theatre. But before Lunar Eclipse formed, I was writing Michael for a theatre company called Mantis, and I asked the lead actress "What kind of roles would you really want to play?" and she said "I want to do a boy's role, like Peter Pan." And I thought Oh, okay. So for that play I wrote the role of a boy, to be played by a young woman.

— So could I say that Lunar Eclipse does Terayama Shuji, but all girls?

Takatori: I'm from Osaka. For Osakans, theatre is either Takarazuka or Yoshimoto Shingeki,* really. [Laugh.] So when we started out we had to pick between Yoshimoto or Takarazuka. But gags were going out of fashion, so doing gags would lose us money, and of course we were thinking about it as Osakans. [Laugh.] So we had to do Takarazuka.

And in his final years, Terayama-san actually wanted to direct Takarazuka plays.

* Yoshimoto Shingeki is a comedy theatre troupe, attached to the major entertainment company Yoshimoto Kougyou.

— So it's how Terayama-san would want it. [Laugh.]

Takatori: Oh, if he was still around I think he'd be happy. When he went to our first play Lost Records of St Michael's Academy he congratulated us: "The blood, sweat, and tears of the high school girls really come through." [Laugh.]

— Takatori-san, do you feel there is 'girl power' in theatre?

Takatori: Yes, there's a lot of girl power. The men tend to be exhausted from studying. Of course there are plenty of women who care about academics, but it tends to be more of a guy thing. And they say boys are always getting pushed by their parents to think about their future, you have to get into a good university, etc. [Laugh.] And boys tend to be weak, naive. Boys are the ones who get depressed over their broken hearts. Girls recover fast. [Laugh.] They're strong.

— Lunar Eclipse has this image of its audience being all girls, but what's it really like, currently?

Takatori: Lately there are a lot of 'otaku' men. [Laugh.] At the beginning it was definitely mostly women, about 70%. But slowly the otaku men increased, so now it's about 60% men.

— Did you expect that kind of turn?

Takatori: I thought it might happen. There's a lot of men now who read shoujo manga, and women who read Shonen Jump. And I'd have said that the increase of men would basically be to match the number of young women. But when the number of men kept gradually going up, I was like, "Oh no! A women audience is better!" [Laugh.] So then I decided to start casting handsome male leads. [Laugh.]

— Women playing male roles are popular with a lot of your female audience, aren't they?

Takatori: Yes, they are. In, oh, our first year as a theatre company, we had a part for the mathematician and revolutionary [Évariste] Galois,* who is well-known as a bishounen character. He died in a duel at age twenty-two. The actress who played him was great. The girls who came to see it were all huge fans, I was shocked. [Laugh.] And after that there was Saint-Juste,** et cetera.

*I believe this would have been in their Alice in Wonderland.
*I'm not entirely certain but I think this is a role in Lunar Eclipse's Rose of Versailles: Air on the G String — A Strange Tale of the French Revolution.

— What kind of production is Lunar Eclipse planning to do next?

Takatori: We're going to do something from shoujo manga. We've been planning to do the dramatization of a shoujo manga for a while, since last year. Lately, small theatre productions aren't very popular, so we want to draw in the manga fans.

— How about Revolutionary Girl Utena?

Takatori: Oh, if we could get the adaptation license, we'd jump on that right away. But the musical already has it.

— But I'm sure there are a lot of people who'd love to see a Lunar Eclipse production.

Takatori: If the license wasn't already taken, we'd love to do Revolutionary Girl Utena*. [Laugh.]

* Translator's note: Lunar Eclipse did indeed stage an Utena production, in a weeklong run from May to June 1999. It was adapted for the stage by Takatori Ei and produced by Ikuhara Kunihiko. The title was Revolutionary Girl Utena: Hell Rebirth Apocalypse ~Advent of the Nirvanic Beauty~. The sixth Utena soundtrack appears to be titled after it, though I don't know if it was used as the soundtrack for the theatrical production.

Takatori Ei passed away suddenly in 2018, at the age of 66. Lunar Eclipse Company, nicknamed 'The Dark Takarazuka,' is now run by his daughter, Shiranaga Ayumi. In 2021 she did a live reading from Kachiku-jin Yapuu, a book noted by J.A. Seazer elsewhere in The Rose Apocalypse as a recommendation of Terayama Shuji.

Lunar Eclipse Opera Company

Formed in November 1985, with the noted playright Takatori Ei as its center. It launched officially in February 1986, with Undersea Voyage of the Valkyrie. Since then, nearly all plays performed have been directed by Ei Takatori and scored by J.A. Seazer. Aside from the Lost Records of St Michael's Academy series, notable lauded performances include Terayama Shuji's Jashumon, Note to a Blind Man, and Throw Away Your Books, Rally In The Streets. The Lunar Eclipse Opera Company stands well-established in the theatre world. In 1996 they performed abroad in Russia. The company is well-known for its number of beautiful women.

Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena) is © Kunihiko Ikuhara, Chiho Saito, Shogakukan and bePapas/TV Tokyo and/or their respective copyright holders. The US release of the Revolutionary Girl Utena series and movie was © Central Park Media and now belongs to Right Stuf. The US release of the Utena manga is © VIZ. The various sources used in this site are noted where their content is presented. Don't sue us, seriously. Blood. Stone.