Akatsuki: Sword Art Performance Review

In a recent arts performance at Portland’s Aladdin Theater, thrilling samurai fight choreography met with the ethereal vocals of up-and-coming singer song writer Kobayashi Mika, of Attack on Titan fame. Throughout the show, clashing swords and cool warrior bravado effortlessly intermingled with restrained beauty in true Japanese fashion.

Sounds of the performance set the stage for intrigue. Kobayashi Mika’s beguiling accompaniment on the piano brought tremendous feeling to each scene, and her powerful vocals soared beyond the stage as if commanding a venue far grander than what the small 600 seat Theater had to offer. In Kobayashi’s absence, the solemn, ceaseless drone of rain enshrouded a lover’s dance in doomed melancholy. Swordsmen let out cries of extraordinary anguish when met with the slash of an opponent’s blade. Such sounds compelled the audience’s full attention, and certainly maximized entertainment.

The movement of energy throughout the performance was akin to a traveler’s tremulous journey through the mountains. The shift in tonality of each short vignette revealed a new aspect of honored Japanese virtue as the audience was met with mystery, fatigue, excitement, and sorrow as if venturing through the wilds of the Edo period. In one such scene, unequivocal respect and filial duty were expressed in a fatal duel between master and student. In another, a stoic lone warrior, reminiscent of Koiki Kazuo’s wandering Ronin Ogami Ittō, fought with honor and showed unparalleled mastery of his craft. The cherry blossom robes of a dancer elegantly framed her form as her delicate hands swayed with a grace and ephemerality akin to that of trembling petals. Even the quiet intensity with which each swordsman grasped the hilt of his sword exhibited a mesmerizing Japanese quality.

© 2015 Devon Lois Duncan. All rights reserved.


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