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SMAC! Web Magazine

The Artists Village Insider #05 – From Manga To The Stage: The 096k Kumamoto Drama Company

Have you ever wondered why our Artists Village isn’t called the “Manga Village”? After all, the company behind it, COAMIX Inc., is primarily a manga publishing company…Although its main business is manga, COAMIX wanted to take a step further and create a space for many young artists from various genres. This is how the “Artists Village Aso 096k” was created.

Today we’ll be taking a closer look behind the creation and concept of the “096k Kumamoto Drama Company,” an all-female theater group based in Kumamoto Prefecture that works together alongside young manga creators in the Artists Village 096k, giving their all to achieve their dreams! Before you get confused – no, you didn’t click on the wrong link. The 096k Kumamoto Drama Company indeed belongs to the same company that runs the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®. What links the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company and us is, of course, manga! The theater group’s stage plays are based on manga works from COAMIX.

The ideas are brought to life by creating manga, but one of the ways to bring your manga characters to life is theater. You know how it goes…life’s a stage! 

The future’s on stage!

In the current digital era, entertainment content is literally at the tip of our fingertips, available for us to consume with unimaginable speed, and in unimaginable quantities. However, it seems that more than ever it’s important to preserve the forms of live entertainment. Nowadays, the adaptation of manga to a stage play or a musical is not exactly a novelty – to give just a brief example of manga works turned into stage play that are related to COAMIX, in the last year only, we’ve had the pleasure to see the stage adaptations of “Fist of the North Star,” “Record of Ragnarok,” and “City Hunter,” which was, by the way, performed by the world acclaimed all-female theater troupe, the “Takarazuka Revue.”

The 096k Kumamoto Drama Company

In the case of the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company, there’s another meaning to the theater – it’s tied directly to the main theme of our article series, the Artists Village Aso 096k. The Village is the actresses’ training ground, the space for practicing, learning, connecting, and growing! After successfully passing the auditions that were held in several places at a national level in Japan, the young actresses of different ages, professional background, and experiences came from all over the country to train and pursue their dreams in Takamori Town, Kumamoto Prefecture.

The unique characteristics of 096k

The first unique feature of the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company is of course that it consists of actresses only! The second part is that after they passed the audition, they moved to Kumamoto where they work and even live together. Here, everything is catered to their professional needs. The facility offers them plenty of space to practice for their stage play and even explore new talents. Moreover, they have professionals taking care of their meals, basic practice, and even coaches that help bring the best out of them.

But it takes time, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears to reach your desired goal. They debuted on stage only after about a year of intensive practice. But no worries, the village offers the actresses the necessary space and instructors to learn specifics about performance, action, sword-fighting, singing, dancing, playing instruments…And of course, another important thing: learning how to play male roles as well! In case you’re wondering what living together looks like, take a peek inside Yorifuji-senseii’s short but heartwarming manga series about working alongside the 096k actresses in the Artists Village. The title of the manga tells you everything you need to know: “I don’t know why but I now live together with 25 girls in Minami Aso – My radical and yet happy life with the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company”  

Going beyond the stage

As a group of over 20 actresses coming from different parts of Japan, it is only natural that their personal goals and passions are also unique. They’re passionate about different things: tap dancing, action scenes, taiko performance…The Artists Village Aso 096k is the village of “Artists” for a reason – although COAMIX’s roots are in manga production, the company aims to support artists of various genres and this also stands for the case of the 096k Kumamoto Drama Company. 

In what way their talents come to life and complement each other on stage is best experienced live – if you ever plan a trip to Kumamoto, be sure to check out their performance in person! They’re held just a notch away from Kumamoto’s largest attraction: the beautiful Kumamoto Castle overlooking downtown Kumamoto City. If your way to Japan is still a long-distance goal in the future, stay with me until the next article, in which we’ll cover some interesting facts about their debut work “Keiji’s Kabuki Adventure The Stage Play – Chapter of Kiyomasa Katō: The Tiger of Kumamoto.”

In the meantime, check out Kumamoto Reporter’s latest article, in which he’s talking about some of the most notable Kyushu anime and manga spots. Put on your protection gear, and jump right into the action!