By Mishio Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior SpecialistFun and heartwarming. If I had to use two words to describe the show “Hikoboshi no Hoko” (Hikoboshi’s roars) in Osaka, which I’ve been invited to appear onstage in for the past three years, those are the words I would choose.
Hikoboshi is the name of the folkloric cowherd immortalized in the Tanabata star festival, a Japanese tradition of Chinese origin, together with his love Orihime, a weaving princess.
The “Hikoboshi no Hoko” event is held every year around July 7, the day of the festival, and features three anison (anime song) singers led by Takayuki Miyauchi. The other two are Shinichi Ishihara and Hideaki Takatori. They’re all supposed to be Hikoboshi in this event, and they told me they needed an Orihime as well. That’s why I’ve had the repeated honor of joining them at the event — even though I have to admit this Orihime is not very young and it feels a bit embarrassing to be called that.
The highlight of the event is an original play performed by the four of us. Each year, Ishihara writes a new script with Tanabata as the subject.
The story for this year also featured that megahit animated film “Kimi no Na wa” (your name.). The drama unfolded in a bar, where I played the lady of the establishment. Ishihara and Takatori were customers and Miyauchi was my fellow proprietor. The show has everything. Somehow I sang a song and danced with Ishihara, who’s appeared in many musicals. As in “Kimi no Na wa,” a meteor threatens to hit Osaka, but Miyauchi shatters it, yelling his signature phrase: “Bucchigiruze!” (I’ll tear you apart!). His shouts of the phrase are very popular with fans of anison and tokusatsu sci-fi action shows.
Based on what I’ve written so far, I fear the play may sound like just a slapstick comedy. But it’s a lot of work to learn the script in an approximately 20-minute play by heart. You have to prepare yourself by living like a high school student on the eve of a cultural festival — studying the lines, remembering the movements and rehearsing in a studio before the show.
In the early days, we all thought it was just an entertaining sideshow. We’ve grown more and more serious since, and now the whole thing is becoming something we work on as we moan things like, “I wish I had more acting skill” or “I want to act better.”
Of course, acting is outside the usual domain of myself or the three men. By working hard on it together, we’ve developed a certain sense of solidarity. I feel like this separates this show from other events and creates a heartwarming atmosphere.
There’s more to the event than the play. The singers sang many of their songs, and the audience applauded Takatori when he sang one from the tokusatsu drama “Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger.” The song had played during the broadcast of the show that very morning. Other participants in the show included students at a school for aspiring anison singers and voice actors, whose performances excited the crowd.
Miyauchi’s commentary also gave the show spice. He can be quite sharp-tongued.
I’d like to continue doing what little I can for this unique show, because I really want it to continue in the future.