Otaku USA Magazine
Stage Plays of Anime Increase in Japan, Might Start Going Global

Readers of Otaku USA have probably noticed more articles about popular anime and manga getting turned into stage plays. It’s not your imagination that these plays are increasing. Adapting anime and manga to stage is becoming big business there, and there’s interest in expanding their plays abroad.

The Japanese news site The Asahi Shimbun did a whole article on this, noting that while these stage plays have in the past drawn in more women than men, quite a few males attended the sold-out Spirited Away stage play. The Spirited Away play was produced by Toho Co., and an executive there, Atsuo Ikeda, noted, “A challenge was how to reproduce the strong impressions of the characters on stage and use flexible imaging techniques.” But Ikeda thinks they found a way, adding, “I believe fans of the original anime found the play freshly realistic.”

And Ikeda thinks these plays can reach outside of Japan. “If our dramas are appreciated as highly as manga and anime, the total market scale of Japan’s entertainment business would increase.”

In 2023, Kingdom and SPY x FAMILY will debut as plays. Plays that have already been made include Death Note: The Musical, The Rose of Versailles, The Boy and the Beast, Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern, and Super Kabuki II: One Piece.

“Kabuki is, in essence, a form of entertainment art relying on deformation techniques that transcend reality. Even anime fans can enjoy our performances without feeling discomfort,” remarked Shigeyuki Yamane, who is a senior official of Kabuki organizer Shochiku Co.

Chiyoki Yoshida is the head of Shiki Theater, which does stage plays based on anime and manga. Yoshida said, “Developing new plays represents a kind of investment. If adaptations of certain titles are expected to be big draws, we would be determined to make huge investments to raise the possibility of success as much as possible.”

Source: The Asahi Shimbun
Photo Credit: Akihito Abe


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.