It's been 3 years since Stacy's came out, the first of the Girls' Drama Club productions (which later spawned Warera Jeanne and Lilium, the latter of which I have been avidly providing translations for). I never had the opportunity to post my thoughts on it -- of which I had many, especially since I was the translator on the jphip subs for it.
The following will be a part of my many thoughts regarding Stacy's, and I'll continue making posts as and when I find time to sit down and organize my musings about the musical. Needless to say, spoilers galore.
We have 3 acts in total -
Act 1: Eiko and Shibukawa
Act 2: Momo and Arita
Act 3: Drew and Yuusuke
I'm going to assume most people reading this have already watched the musical (if you haven't here's the link).
The first thing to understand is who your main characters are. The leading character is undoubtedly Eiko (played by Tanaka Reina), with Momo (Sayashi Riho) and Drew (Kudo Haruka) as supporting leads. I would also argue that Sayako (Ishida Ayumi) was a supoorting lead as well, even though her name didn't make it onto the act names.
The basic story is of course, the girls of this universe suddenly dying in fits of madness and reviving as flesh-eating zombies devoid of all reason. Before their deaths, they end up in a state called Near Death Happiness (or NDH), which leaves them in a state of perpetual euphoria and they seem to be quite unstable and prone to delusions.
To be perfectly honest, there are huge holes in the plot that we won't get into since the source material itself had issues. Yes, the musical was based on the book by the same name, written by Ohtsuki Kenji, and yes I've read the source novel to try and understand what was going on. Just be profoundly grateful that the musical adaptation is infinitely superior because you do not want to know what the novel involves. I mean it.
However I will be making occasional references to the differences between book and musical as I see fit (there is also a live action film that I have yet to watch in full, but the clips seem extremely b-movieish). Persistent themes are of an interest to me, so forgive me if I go off on tangents or make opaque references to Lilium (which I went to Japan to watch).
But let us proceed.
There is an ongoing theme going on in the Girls' Drama Club plays. Firstly 少女. That is, girls. Young girls. As this is the scriptwriter Suemitsu Kenichi's first collaboration with Hello!Project, there are some rough bits, but I felt that he did a brilliant job despite the flaws in the source material. He more than makes up for it in Lilium, I assure you. I have yet to watch Warera Jeanne, but I'll get to that soon once I find the time to sit down and appreciate it.
The theme for Stacy's is 再殺. To re-kill. Well, we have zombie girls, so re-killing as a theme makes sense. As a homage to the zombie genre, the all-male death squads are named the Romero Squads, after George Romero of Night of the Living Dead fame. The "commercial" we see in the beginning of Act 2 (the song "Riderman's Right Hand") is a cruel parody of capitalism and advertising, since they're basically selling portable chainsaws to make it easier for you to murder your daughters/sisters/friends when they become zombies. It's basically an encapsulation of a world gone mad.
As an interesting side note, the word "Riderman" is actually a homage to Kamen Rider V3, whose titular anti-hero is named Riderman and was the first Kamen Rider to wield personal weapons (one of his weapon attachments was a saw, of course).
Back to the overall theme of young girls though. The source of conflict and tension is literally a battle of the sexes, living against the walking dead. Why are only young girls between 14-16 affected? What is God's whim? We'll get to that in good time.
The irony of the source text is the fixation on youth. Young girls, in particular. The men in Stacy's are all half-mad and trapped in an impossible situation: the women are quite literally deadly and mankind is on the brink of collapse with half the population turning into ravening zombies when they reach a certain age.
In each act, we see 3 different major archetypes of men who cope differently with the situation.
Act 1 gives us Shibukawa, the grumpy anti-social and awkward young man who obviously seeks to shut out the world to avoid pain. He does not want to form attachments, for reasons that are not fully explored, but in a way he's justified in his fear, since the first real attachment we see him form with Eiko leads to him having to kill her with his own hands. That act mars his soul, and we got that fine quote from Macbeth out of it （洗っても洗っても、取れないんだ - no matter how hard I scrub, it won't come off). His guilt drives him to join the Romero squad, where he hopes to lose himself in killing more Stacies (how that helps anything, I don't understand tbh), but he only finds that the blood from Eiko's murder (technically, it's a mercy kill, but he takes it far harder) remains on his hands.
Act 2 gives us Arita, the mad scientist who has his own fair share of baggage weighing him down. His first introductory scene has him making the girls sing (Riruka wa Jigoku - Riruka is Hell). He seeks to "understand" the Stacy phenomenon, but the way he conducts his "research" seems senseless and mad, as if he himself has lost sight of his goal and is just muddling along with his sanity in shreds. His work is the only thing keeping him sane (and I use the term "sane" only reluctantly), and he himself is devoid of hope. The work distracts him from thinking too hard (ironic, since he's supposed to be thinking about the situation as a scientist), and when confronted with the image of his dead sister Momo, his composure cracks and the guilt and regret seeps through until he goes utterly mad and he submits to death by zombie!Momo.
Act 3 has Yuusuke, the boy who was in love with a Stacy, the boy who would defy all odds to be with his lover. He is young and naive, a shounen hero if I ever saw one. He might actually be the most well-adjusted out of the 3 since his relative age suggests that he may have been too young to remember anything before the whole Stacies phenomenon, which means he grew up with girls turning into zombies and probably finding it as normal as rainstorms? The older men (Shibukawa and Arita) are clearly shaken and disturbed since their sense of normal was shattered. That and the fact that they had to kill the girls they loved probably didn't help.
It's telling that Shibukawa and Arita end up committing suicide (although Shibukawa's fate is left up to speculation -- I'll talk about this in another post, when I dissect the poem they quote in the musical), but Yuusuke survives. Yuusuke's attitude is "the future", as implied in the final act where he and Sayako are implied to be the Adam and Eve of the new world.
Regarding the religious imagery, there's constant reference to an unseen God, though we never get it properly defined other than knowing that God is somewhere in Reticulum (a constellation, in case you were wondering). Tbh, the songs in Stacy's were positively blasphemous, especially in "Slaughter! Zombie River", where they sing about how God better be watching the results of his ghastly experiment in turning them all to flesh-eating zombies. Then of course, in "Kimagure Zetsubou Arigatou" Momo sings of their condition as a whim of God, that it's no one's fault...and then of course, Momo herself is compared to the Virgin Mary right after. That is ironic in itself, since in the book, Momo isn't actually Arita's sister, she was his girlfriend. But obviously we can't have that since Riho is like 13 at the time of Stacies, so it got retconned into sister. Taken in context with the book though, it makes eerie sense since book!Arita actually survives and marries Momo. Actually, my theory is that they split off this part of his role and placed it with Yuusuke (in the book, Yuusuke and Sayako didn't survive the Romero squad).
The bit with Yuusuke and Sayako becoming the herald of a new world order with their relationship is basically what Arita and Momo do in the book. But it's an acceptable change since the musical pursued a slightly different route thematically. The book's events were way more disturbing by a whole order of magnitude, if I were to be perfectly honest, so be glad you got the changes you had in the musical. XD
The main thing I wanted to discuss though, was the role of the main female protagonists. And thematically, what those roles meant. This part is pure speculation though, since it's purely a theory I came up with that may or may not make sense, but I like the symmetry of it.
So we have Eiko, Momo and Drew. Sayako can nominally be considered part of the pantheon, but we'll leave her aside for the moment.
In my mind, thematically, since the musical is divided into 3 acts, and with Momo being linked to the Virgin Mary, it opened the door to me linking each of the girls to an aspect of the Triple Goddess: the Maiden, Mother, and the Crone.
It even works in order.
Eiko is the Maiden, which represents beginnings ("Even if we were to part, if we were to meet again, we can start over") and youthful exuberance and innocence.
Momo is the Mother, what with her being referenced as the Virgin Mary, and she represents power and redemption over the weeping men who become as children in her presence, seeking forgiveness (which she grants in the form of death...).
Drew's role is a bit iffy, but she can tentatively fit the role of Crone, though I would argue that she shares the role of Crone with Sayako, with Sayako representing the cold winter of judgement and retribution on the sins of man, while Drew herself is power and death (her abilities to rekill without tools, and she wiped out most of the Romero squad unarmed). Drew and Sayako cannot realistically be separated in their role of Crone, though arguably you can say that they embody the entire cycle, since Drew also embodies the innocence of the Maiden, Sayako is the Eve to Yuuuke's Adam, making her the Mother, and together they bring an end to things as the Crone.
It may be a bit of a stretch, but I enjoy the symmetry of the symbolism. They are all victims and perpetrators, the men and women, and there are many feminist issues with the plot, but problematic as it is, it's still very fascinating in the way it deals with sin and death and forgiveness. Love and hope exist in this world at least though, and even amidst the despair there is still hope that things would work out (Yuusuke and Sayako). There's more I can talk about this musical, but it's getting late and I'll cover the topic of 春日狂想 on another day.
I don't know if anyone has any interest in this, but I do enjoy talking about this, and I hope people can engage me in discussions on the topic. :) Thanks for reading, if anyone made it this far!