Soon-to-retire rock star Shin (comically Romanized as Sin) is losing his voice, thanks to vocal cord doping. A regular Marilyn Manson, his bad boy rep and obnoxious stage persona nearly disappear when he is out of hair and makeup. With an exploded (and explosive) larynx, he tries to help a mousey busker, Fuka, find her own voice. Fuka (played by Riho Yoshioka) never raises her voice. Not even when she is angry or scared. Shin (Sadao Abe) coaches her to speak up, both for herself, and in her music.
Satoshi Miki’s Louder! Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp! is a musical dramedy caricaturizing rock n’ roll musicians and the arty Kichijoji district of Tokyo. Fuka lives in a housing compound owned by her ex-rockstar aunt and her boyfriend/bandmate nicknamed Zappa, where characters drop song titles as part of their everyday speech patterns (Gimme Shelter, Welcome to My Nightmare, Blowin’ in the Wind).
Louder! is well put together, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Bordering on camp, the oftentimes-exaggerated physical comedy is quickly halted by self-aware dialogue (‘Can you be any more slapstick?’). Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer)’s small role gives things an extra kick in the pants. But the real star here is Sadao Abe, who shows nuances between raucous drug-addict and ‘sensitive artist’. The fun-filled party atmosphere gives way to a more humanistic turning point, and even throws in a bit of romance without being overly saccharine.
Anyone who saw Kankuro Kudo’s Too Young To Die! at Fantasia 2016, will recognize some of the writer-director’s influence, if nowhere else but in the music he wrote for Louder!’s soundtrack. L’Arc-en-Ciel’s Hyde, and even Sadao Abe himself also contributed.
Louder! Can’t Hear What You’re Singin’, Wimp! – Saturday, July 21st 7:15 PM – Hall Theatre