Over the weekend, The Legend of Mythica concluded its long run at Tokyo DisneySea. Having been shown for 8 years, it far outlasted just about any other show at Tokyo Disney Resort, which typically swaps out its entertainment after a few years at most. It lasted this long for good reason: it was one of the best pieces of live entertainment ever produced by Disney. Well, at least that’s my opinion. The Legend of Mythica is slightly divisive, at its abstract storyline leads many guests, especially non-Japanese speakers, to say “HUH?!” after viewing it. (By the way, while you read this post and look at these photos, I encourage you to listen to the Legend of Mythica soundtrack on YouTube.)
For me, the greatness of the Legend of Mythica has little to do with my understanding of its plot, and everything to do with its beauty and pageantry. I don’t even begin to understand the story, although what I’ve read makes it sound fairly interesting. Per that page, and what I’ve managed to cobble together based on my viewings of the show in person, the premise involves the relation of the human and mythical worlds, and how we now live in harmony after years of conflict.
The Disney characters are essentially shoe-horned into the show, but in a very workable way, as they represent the spirit of various things (laughter, adventure, etc.) and help bridge the gap between mythical and human worlds. There are also four spirits that are portrayed as humans, and a lot of dancers and other performers. This water show probably had more performers than most Disney parades.
There are few experiences at Tokyo Disney Resort that are impacted by the language barrier, but this was definitely one of them. Or maybe it wasn’t at all. When I read the plot after having seen the show, I find myself saying, “oh yeah, that makes some sense, I guess,” but I wonder if the Japanese struggled with the premise of the show just as much, and by not understanding the language, I was free to ignore any semblance of a story and just focus on the beauty of the show.
It may seem like I’m really reaching here, but the story is the type of abstraction that reminds me a lot of Illuminations at Epcot. Both are spectaculars that are simply stunning, and feature deeper messages than the general “magic and happiness” found elsewhere in Disney productions. The overarching message of harmony found in Legend of Mythica works regardless of Disney characters or even the mythical element. Yet, both shows can be difficult to fully grasp unless you’re paying careful attention or have some background knowledge. I find that Illuminations is best enjoyed with knowledge of the high-level message to help inform as to why it’s so beautiful, but not going so far as to try to parse every little detail.
What’s truly special about the Legend of Mythica is the lavish fanfare, insane amount of detail, and high production values. The Legend of Mythica is essentially a parade (with show stops) on the water, yet the level of detail in it puts to shame any other parade or production of this sort (I’m not even sure what would qualify as “of this sort”) that I’ve ever seen.
Rather than trying to “explain” the Legend of Mythica (after conceding that I don’t really understand it!), I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves. (more…)