Snow Man happy to be back on stage

Up-and-coming boy band Snow Man is riding a wave of popularity. Its nine members, who made their CD debut together last year, are currently starring in the show “Takizawa Kabuki Zero 2021” at a theater in Tokyo. They sat down recently for an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun to talk about the show’s production and take a look back on the past year.

“It’s just us performing for the audience. There’s nothing better than the moment when our energy instantly syncs up with theirs,” said Hikaru Iwamoto, explaining the appeal of taking the stage for the first time in a while.

The show is the latest production of the annual “Takizawa Kabuki” series, a Japanese-style theatrical extravaganza that started back in 2006 with singer Hideaki Takizawa as its star. Snow Man, who are managed by the Johnny & Associates artist management company just as Takizawa was, took the reins in 2019.

The production was made into a film last year because of the coronavirus crisis, and, even though the show has returned to its home on a theatrical stage this year, the latest state of emergency declaration forced the cancellation of some of the performances. The show is scheduled to go on in Tokyo and Nagoya once the state of emergency ends. Official fan club members will be able to watch the show livestreamed on May 9 for a fee.

The members of Snow Man have a strong attachment to Takizawa Kabuki stemming from the fact that many of them have taken part in the show since Takizawa was its star. They had been longing to perform for an audience again.

“We want to let go of all of our pent-up emotions and put on the best show possible. We promise to make everyone who comes to the show happy,” Daisuke Sakuma said determinedly.

Filled to the brim with must-see scenes, the members have dubbed the show the “ultimate in Japanese entertainment.” It features not only singing and dancing but also a play featuring high-wire stage flying and other physically demanding routines. Also, just as the title suggests, elements from kabuki are used aplenty.

“The opening is terrific. The first impact is so big that it draws the audience right into the production,” Ryohei Abe said.

The opening scene is overwhelming indeed. Three million blue cherry blossom petals rain down on stage while the members perform a dance number.

In a special scene featuring an energetic drumming sequence, the group plays traditional Japanese taiko drums while in the sit-up position. Their powerful shouting and the sound of the drums flow through the audience like a wave.

“That’s what Takizawa Kabuki is all about,” Ren Meguro said. “We give our all in rehearsals because we want to put on a performance that surpasses the audience’s expectations.”

Another scene that can’t be missed is the “changing of the masks,” one of the show’s staples since the Takizawa era. Selected members perform a dance during which they change the masks they’re wearing so quickly that it looks as though it was done by magic.

“It’s cool to be able to carry on a tradition,” Shota Watanabe said. “We’d love it if our annual visitors will also look forward to it.”

Having to endure a long stretch of being unable to perform in theaters only served as motivation for the group to use this opportunity to show how much they’ve improved.

“The last time I took part in a Takizawa Kabuki production, I was 15 years old,” said Raul. “Naturally, I’ve gotten taller, and I’m ready to put on a show that is only possible for the current me. It’d be nice if I can pull off some dynamic moves.”

“Honestly, I believe that we’ll put on a good show no matter what. Don’t know why,” Tatsuya Fukazawa said confidently.

“Before, we were in a position to learn from others. Now we have to deliver. We’ll show what only we can do,” Ryota Miyadate said.

“This is a show that makes me nervous no matter how many times I get up on that stage. It makes it so that I never forget how I felt my very first time. I’ll treasure that feeling and hope that it will become a time of growth for both us and the audience,” said Koji Mukai, whose words won a nod from the eight other members, all smiling.

Sharing smiles and energy

It was big news when Snow Man made their CD debut on the same day as another popular boy band, SixTONES, also managed by Johnny & Associates, in January 2020. Snow Man’s single “Kissin’ My Lips/Stories,” released last October, has since sold over a million copies. The members also made great strides in various genres, from modeling to appearances in TV dramas and variety shows, both as a group and individually.

“We were able to land many recording gigs and photo sessions. It made me really happy that we were able to do more and more things,” Raul said, reflecting on the year.

“We spent a long time playing second fiddle, but I was surprised that there were still so many things we were doing for the first time,” Watanabe said.

Fukazawa said it was heartwarming to see the group’s first CD sold at shops. “It was so exciting because we had been looking forward to that moment for so long,” he said.

“Selling a million copies isn’t something we could have achieved on our own. I felt more grateful than ever for the people around us,” Iwamoto said.

“Not only were there a lot of firsts for us but there were also a lot of beginnings. Our very own TV show has kicked off, too, which has allowed us to meet many new people,” Abe said.

The impact of the novel coronavirus has not been negligible in the least. The members felt frustrated when they had to cancel live concerts and give up appearing on NHK’s “Red and White Year-end Song Festival.”

“We couldn’t even hold our debut concert for our fans. All of us were so disappointed. I hope that we can share our smiles and good spirits [with our fans] as soon as possible,” Mukai said.

Meguro is also looking toward the future.

“Last year, we had a buzz surrounding us and we were invited to take part in many projects. Things won’t be the same in the second year. We must keep up and go forward on our own,” he said.

Snow Man is determined to sprint through 2021 as well. There are many things the members want to achieve.

“The year 2020 was a time when many people congratulated us, but there are also things we left unfinished. We are still on our path toward achieving our dreams,” Miyadate said.

“We’ve had our share of frustrating moments. Our fans always helped us in such times. My No. 1 goal is to provide [our fans with] something and deliver results,” Sakuma said.