As the fourth time of the “READING MUSEUM,” a fresh reading performance project directed by a voice actor Namikawa Daisuke, the first daytime performance of “Ikebukuro Night Owl Tales 2,” featuring Namikawa, Shimono Hiro, and Okamoto Nobuhiko, was held at a venue in Tokyo on July 24.

This work is a sequel to the first in the series, and takes place at the “Night Owl,” a bar located in a corner of Ikebukuro. When the seedy piano music started and the “Master” played by Namikawa appeared on stage, the audience was filled with anticipation and joy, and warmly applauded.
The master explained to the first-time visitors that this was an unusual bar where they could enjoy scary and mysterious stories about Ikebukuro along with drinks, and the performance began.

The main story begins!

The first story was about a “gaze” that made people see things they couldn’t see. The master’s pauses and inflected tone of voice seemed to bring the scene directly to life. The customer, played by Okamoto, who was sitting at the counter, seemed to enjoy listening to the master’s story with great interest.

The two seemed to be on the same page, and there was a scene where they talked about the electronic piano in the Night Owl. The master then talked about the second story “Performance” related to the electronic piano, and the third story “Taste of Honey” that he experienced when he was in high school. The live piano performance and the subdued lighting added to the unique atmosphere of the Night Owl.

The customer who liked the mysterious and cozy atmosphere of Night Owl asked the master, “Aren’t you hiring staff?” The master replied, “I’d like a bartender who likes ghost stories and alcohol, who can talk well, and who has a good voice… I won’t ask that much, but I would like someone who loves this bar……” He came forward with a smile and said, “How about me?”

The scene transitions to another day at the “Night Owl” bar. The customer sitting at the counter, played by Shimono, seems to be uncomfortable with scary stories. The master begins to tell him the fourth episode “Incoming Call”, but the ending is scarier than he expected, and he screams out loud. The master can’t help but laugh at the shout and the startled expression on his face. However, the customer praises the “narrator’s voice,” saying that it is good.

Getting carried away by the praise, the master uses his mature voice to tell the story of the fifth episode, “Lingering Affection,” which is about a manhole in Higashi-Ikebukuro Central Park. The customer then begins to tell the master about his experience of having a recurring dream. “I feel like I was waiting for someone in my dream,” said the customer, who was curious about the “someone.” The master replied and left some meaningful words, “Dreams are a sign of things to come.”

“I hope the ‘someone’ is a nice woman,” the customer says, his heart burning for the woman he is waiting to meet. The master was told that the woman had started working as a bartender at the Night Owl, but the master had no idea who she was.

Then, Narumi, a new bartender played by Okamoto, appears. When he listens carefully, he finds that the customer mistook Narumi for his first name. Although they have never met before, Narumi and the customer who calls himself “Machidori” feel as if they have met each other somewhere before. This encounter might be some “destiny” in a certain world line. As if to welcome their encounter, the atmosphere of the live piano performance changed and a cheerful tone filled the air.

Narumi, played by Okamoto, seems aloof and unsure of his true feelings, while Machidori, played by Shimono, is pure, innocent and straightforward. In addition to the relationship that can be glimpsed in the interactions between the two, expectations grow for the future of the master, played by Namikawa, who is calm and seems to be able to see everything.

Post-Performance Talks

In the post-performance talk, Namikawa, Okamoto and Shimono appeared again. The content of the sequel was unexpectedly a “prequel”, so they talked about the differences from the first sequel. While Shimono smiled as Okamoto said, “A scaredy-cat played by Shimono saves the world,” Namikawa talked about “how difficult it was to read the story” this time, as he was in charge of the narration unlike the last time.

Namikawa also said, “I felt the connection between the sequel and the previous one because of the story of the first one.” Besides that, it was also revealed that they had competed to see how many times they bit their tongue before the show started, and Namikawa praised “Okamoto’s skill in recovering from his bites.”

The story of “Ikebukuro Night Owls” has a lingering appeal, but this time some parts were added based on the opinions of the actors. They emphasized especially the last scene where Narumi and Machidori interact.

The talk continued in a friendly manner, and in no time, the final speech was given. Shimono expressed his happiness at playing as Machidori and commented that he was looking forward to seeing how the relationship between Machidori and Narumi would develop. Okamoto was excited about the second part where he and Shimono would switch roles, but he surprised the audience by revealing that the ghost story Machidori told was actually an episode he had experienced himself.

Finally, Namikawa expressed his heartfelt gratitude, saying, “I was able to deliver the sequel and feel a happy space to perform it. He concluded by saying, “I hope you will enjoy the rest of the show, including tomorrow,” and closed the bar “Night Owl” where you can enjoy the mysterious space.

(C) Ikebukuro Night Owl Tales 2/ READING MUSEUM