• Kabuki / Noh / Rakugo

Arrest of Star Ennosuke Sends Shock Waves Through Entertainment World

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People stand in front of the Kabukiza theater in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

The arrest of Ichikawa Ennosuke has sent shock waves throughout the entertainment industry, especially in the world of kabuki.

Ennosuke made his first stage appearance at the age of 7 under the kabuki stage name Ichikawa Kamejiro II and attracted attention early on for his skilled acting and dancing. In 2012, he became Ennosuke IV, a major stage name under the Omodakaya guild, after his uncle, then Ennosuke III and now Ichikawa En-o, fell ill.

Ennosuke has also been a prolific stage director and producer, leading for example a new kabuki production of “One Piece” based on the popular manga. He has appeared in numerous TV dramas, movies and contemporary plays as well.

Following his arrest, Ennosuke has been forced to cancel all kabuki performances through October. The June 16 release of the movie “Emergency Interrogation Room: The Final,” in which he played the prime minister, has been postponed.

Shochiku Co., which produces kabuki plays, said Tuesday in a statement, “We take this situation very seriously.”

Theater critic Osamu Inumaru said: “Ennosuke was a clear-headed, forward-thinking person. I wonder why he abandoned his responsibility in such a way. This is truly a great loss to the art of kabuki, including the death of his father, Ichikawa Danshiro.”

Fans and others in front of the Kabukiza theater in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, were puzzled on Tuesday.

A 78-year-old doctor from Meguro Ward, Tokyo, said, “He was a very promising actor who performed in a wide range of genres, from classical to ‘Super Kabuki.’”

A woman, 57, from Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture, said: “I think he took on new challenges in kabuki to keep up with the times. I wonder what happened to him.”