In celebration of Shige's birthday we are sharing both the pamphlet for Naka no Hito and an illustrated plot summary using magazine photos.
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Yoshimoto Nahoko 吉本菜穂子
Kato Ryo 加藤諒
Kato Shigeaki 加藤シゲアキ
Yamauchi Takaya 山内圭哉
Kawahara Masahiko 河原雅彦
Fujita Yoshihiro 藤田善宏
The setting is a small Japanese island town floating somewhere in the Sea of Japan. Every year, they have a festival called the Torishima Saru (monkey) festival. This year, the ultra-popular character "Yadamon" was scheduled to appear.
It is the day of the festival, in the dressing area and the tension at the venue is high as the crowd can hardly wait for Yadamon to appear. Tourism manager Fujikawa (Itō Masayuki) and his assistant Karin (Komatsu Ayaka) are also super excited. Sakazaki (Shige) is a photographer who moved to Tokyo but has returned because he didn't make it in the city (though he doesn't seem to have told anyone that).
Leading the MC is the local talent Rai Rai Kaminari (Kato Ryo his character's name means something like lightening and thunder). Behind-the-scenes are Fujikawa, the tourism manager and festival director, local volunteer Karin, and Sakazaki, the camera man. The Yadamon team consists of Gamou (Yamauchi Takaya) and his female partner Wakaonna (Yoshimoto Nahoko).
There is a problem with the Yadamon costume and superficially the play is about resolving that problem.
The play opens with a member of the cast coming into the audience through a side door with a spotlight focused on him. He is covered from head to toe in a gauzy white material that you can't see through. He contorts his way around the audience until he flips onto the stage where he is joined by the rest of the cast in similar white gauze ensembles. They do an interesting but at times slightly psychedelic dance after which the set comes on to the stage and the actors move the pieces into position then they move to their marks. Two of the casts rip the white costume from Sakazaki, then remove their own and do a few more moves before leaving the stage.
Then a short film starts. It's a rip-off of Fellini's movie 8 1/2 that Sakazaki made called 9 1/3. Sakazaki made it in high school. It's very surreal and it stars Sakazaki.
To give you an idea it has Sakazaki in a shower wearing a suit with water gushing into his mouth and on his head and there is another scene with him at a table with some curry holding a clear umbrella over it. When it finishes the scene returns to Sakazaki and the guide (Kawahara Masahiko) and Synapse (Fujita Yoshihiro). Sakazaki is arguing with the guide while Synapse contorts and dances around the room which annoys Sakazaki.
Fujikawa and Karin enter and Fujikawa talks to Sakazaki about how happy they are that he will be filming for them. Karin (who Shige's character is clearly attracted to) asks him if he remembers her. At first Sakazaki bluffs and says yes but eventually he admits he doesn't. She says they went to school together.
She was one of his under classmates and she goes on about how great his short film 9 1/3 is. Sakazaki says it was just a school project. The girl asks him about another movie that was similar to his and asks if they stole his idea but Sakazaki says no that it was the other way around.
Fujikawa and Karin then talk for a few minutes about how great Yadamon is until Gamou and Wakaonna arrive and after welcoming them Fujikawa leaves.
Gamou insists that Sakazaki introduces himself. When Fujikawa comes back Wakaonna asks if their box has arrives. When Karin hears her voice she realizes it is Yadamon's voice and goes on about how great Yadamon is and how she just wants to hug him. We find out Gamou is the person inside the Yadamon suit when he does his character dance for Karin. He calls it his 'big fan service' and reveals he is countless other characters including Mickey (Karin says that that's a lie because no one is inside Mickey) and that Wakaonna is Yadamon's voice. After Gamou lets Karin hug him Wakaonna asks again if their box has arrived.
Fujikawa goes to check and they talk about why Sakazaki is there. Karin is still a bit shocked about everything but convinces everyone that Sakazaki could film a Jounetsu Tairiku (Passionate Continent) documentary on the person inside Yadamon. Sakazaki argues about it with the guide while Synapse continues to contort around, then finally agrees to do it. He quickly gets into filming at weird angles while Synapse holds different parts of Sakazaki's body.
Next the festival MC Rai Rai and Fujikawa come in and he introduces everyone and Wakaonna asks again about their box. He says he forgot and goes to check but before he goes he gives them a box of the island dangos and everyone but the Gamou, the guide and Synapse go on about them. Then they sing the song and do the CM's dance that ends with them scratching their asses like monkeys and Sakazaki putting the eye mask that comes with the dango over his face.
Rai Rai says he was the monkey from the CM. Gamou asks Wakaonna how she knows the song and dance and she says she's from a nearby small island. The director comes back bringing the missing box and Wakaonna looks in it after he leaves and starts to freak out. The costume isn't inside. A mistake was made on the convenience store invoice and the Yadamon costume was sent to Wakaonna's home. They try to contact her mother (her dressed as an old lady on a screen) to see if she can send the box but it's no use. Sakazaki says that they will have to stop the event and they need to tell Fujikawa but when the Wakaonna sees how excited he is that it's almost time she can't say anything.
So Karin asks Sakazaki if he can help them think of some way Yadamon can perform since, having made such a wonderful movie in high school he must be creative. Sakazaki's first idea is to use shadows but everybody immediately dismisses it as amateur and bad. Gamou suggests that he go as himself but that is also rejected since that would only scare everyone. They suggest several other ideas but they are all rejected.
Finally Gamou says they needed to tell Fujikawa the truth. Gamou tells him but he won't listen so he slaps him across the face. Fujikawa laughs it off as a joke then he tells them a sob story about why the festival is so important to him. That his 4 year old son had always wanted to come to the festival but that he had tragically died in an accident before that could happen. After hearing his story Wakaonna is so upset that she loses her voice and runs off.
While the others go to look for her, Sakazaki and Karin end up alone together. Karin flashes back on a conversation she had with RaiRai where he says bad things and seems to be hitting on her. When she comes back to the present she tell Sakazaki that she doesn’t like RaiRai. Karin and Sakazaki talk some more and the guide asks Sakazaki what he's doing? And isn't it better this way? Being a big fish in a small pond?
Sakazaki asks Karin if she likes it here and if she is ever planning to leave this island? Karin says she is following in her parents footsteps with a restaurant and a house above it living with her husband and her child who will be an elementary school student next year and that for now she's ... satisfied. Karin asks him if he's satisfied. Sakazaki is super shocked that she is married and already moving on her own path.
Gamou comes back after searching the audience and not finding Wakaonna.
Suddenly the sound of someone sobbing can be heard from somewhere. They search the room and when Sakazaki opens the big box the costume was supposed to be in he finds Wakaonna inside without her shirt on.
Gamou yells at her not to do stuff like that and Karin helps her into a small changing room and puts her shirt back on her. After she's redressed Gamou holds Wakaonna tightly and does this weird thing where he jiggles and pinches her ass over and over again while telling her that it's all going to be OK until she responds groping his ass too. Sakazaki and Karin look uncomfortably at each other but say nothing and Sakazaki starts filming. Then RaiRai comes back and looks uncomfortable too.
RaiRai suggests that they should just make a new character and he gives him a cheap plastic Kabuki mask. Gamou knocks the mask away but everyone likes the idea of a new character. They all quickly search the room for options and Wakaonna places a box over Gamou's head. Sakazaki gets an idea. He takes the eye mask from the dangos and sticks it on the box and takes a marker and draws a mouth. Then he sticks 2 of the signboards in the back corners of each side of the box for ears.
Everyone is amazed and they quickly come up with a back story. Sakazaki says he is Yadamon's friend Hakoyan who came from the Amazon (Sakazaki is inspired by Amazon being written on the side of the box) to deliver happiness.
The stage rotates and a box based on everyone’s characters come out. They put their boxes on and dance to Skeeter Davis' song 'The End of the World'. Suddenly the song ends and a yakuza looking guy comes in looking RaiRai. He looks under everyone's boxes but nobody says where he is then the yakuza says all but the last part of RaiRai's catch phrase but RaiRai can't help himself and he finishes it and the yakuza stabs him.
They carry RaiRai off stage while the lights simulate an ambulance.
Fujikawa tells them that RaiRai had gotten mixed up with the yakuza and was going to use the festival as cover to skip town. With RaiRai out Fujikawa decides it's time to give up. Everyone is shocked and asks him about his little boy. At first he doesn't remember but then it comes to him. Laughingly he admits he made the story up. Everyone is shocked. Wakaonna tries to hit Fujikawa but Gamou stops her and does it himself. Slapping him so hard he knocks out some of his teeth.
Karin begs Fujikawa not to call the festival off and to convince the other to stay. She gets him so fired up that he rips his shirt off saying let’s do it revealing the tattoos that cover his body and the hand gun tucked in the waistband of his pants. Gamou stops in his tracks and a retrospective of all the times he had hit Fujikawa play in slow motion on the screen. He and Wakaonna agree to debut Hakoyan and everyone but Sakazaki and Gamou leave to get ready. Gamou starts stretching to warm up his body and as he is working his ankle he twists it. He tries to stand up but he can't.
Gamou tells Sakazaki he'll have to do it. Sakazaki says he can't but Gamou won't hear it and tells him that it's time that he breaks through himself and stops sitting on the sidelines being a spectator and never participating. Sakazaki has a mini internal meltdown but finally agrees. He takes his shirt off and reveals a kind of black war paint smeared on his chest and back he runs his fingers through his hair causing it to stand up on the sides. Rhythmic music plays as he is lifted in the air by shrouded men and then released they leave the stage and he dances wildly to the music. At the last note he collapses up stage and the set reappears behind him.
Karin enters and Sakazaki zips up a staff jacket from the table. She tells him it was incredible and apologizes for not remembering to film it as she picks up the camera and starts filming him now. Sakazaki say it's fine. He asks her how it was to see him bare himself to see the person inside. She says that honestly she'd rather have not known. The camera zooms in on Sakazaki's shocked face and he cries out, something that sounds like "Ramon Chez Ma!"
(1) The guide and Synapse seem to be Sakazaki's internal thoughts.
(2) The guide is played by the play's director which is why he does not appear as a cast member in the pamphlet.
(3) Ramon Chez Ma might be a final nod to Fellini but I don't actually know. If somone has more info on this please let me know.
(4) The face of Hakoyan could change from performance to performance as Shige drew the mouth live on stage in each show.