As part of the “Japonism 2018” cultural and diplomacy movement between France and Japan, the 2.5D musical adaptation of popular browser and mobile game “Touken Ranbi –Online–“ staged two special performances – the reprisal of their very first production of “Musical Touken Ranbu (AKA ‘TouMyu’ affectionately in short by fans): Strange Lore of Mount Atsukashi” in the French capital city of Paris on the afternoon and evening of 15 July 2018 (Sunday).
The six actors – Ryo Kitazono included – making up the main cast of characters for the musical production have actually arrived in Paris the week before for special appearances/meeting-the-fans sessions at Japan Expo 2018 which took place the prior weekend.
On 14 July 2018 – one day before the musical performances were to commence, however, the TouMyu Production Committee issued an official news release/statement via their official website in three languages (Japanese, French and English) that Ryo Kitazono, who was playing the role of ‘Kogitsunemaru’ in the musical, will be withdrawn from physically acting on-stage as he was diagnosed with retinal detachment and will be undergoing emergency surgery and treatment in France.
The statement further explained that although Kitazono-san was advised by specialist physicians against performing physically due to his condition, he had been granted approval to give an audial “voice-only performance” from backstage alongside his co-actors for the two special overseas shows. The Production Committee ended the statement with sincere apologies to fans for causing possible concern/alarm and disappointment so close to the shows’ commencement and humbly asked for their continuous support of the TouMyu franchise.
— 北園涼 (@ryyyyo_k) July 14, 2018
Ryo Kitazono himself also issued an official statement via his Twitter post for the sudden worsening of his condition leading to the diagnosis of retinal detachment, apologising sincerely to fans and fellow crew/staff and his management agent for causing them worries and alarm; as well as any possible inconveniences. He added that although he is unable to physically fulfil his role as Kogitsunemaru for the “Musical Touken Ranbu: Strange Lore of Mout Atsukashi – Paris Show –“, he humbly beseeched fans to nevertheless extend their continuous and utmost support to the entire production.
The TouMyu official Twitter posted on the evening of 15 July 2018 the two Parisian shows of the production completed to roaring success and standing ovations of their fans – both European and the many Japanese who flew in to the French city specifically for the performances.
According to the post-show report/review of a fan (who has requested to remain unnamed*) on their personal social media page, Ryo Kitazono-san appeared on-stage in plainclothes alongside his co-actors for the afternoon matinee to greet the audience and thank them for the support before the performance’s commencement. He was in tears when he mentioned that even if he cannot be with them physically as Kogitsunemaru, his heart and soul will always be with the production and he will give his utmost for the voice-only performance backstage.
We wish Ryo Kitazono-san a successful operation and a speedy recuperation and recovery so he may join his fellow actors back in action for future TouMyu productions.
* WJ has contacted this fan via private messaging and received approval to quote the lines from the report but the person wishes to remain unnamed for personal/privacy reasons.