Takarazuka is a unique form of Japanese theater over 95 years old; the original gimmick was to break the standard actor rules and have unmarried women perform all the roles. Yes, all the roles. The troupe is popular with female audiences, as the performances are usually very melodramatic and elaborately designed, with loads of gorgeous costumes. After the first year of being taught, actresses get placed into classes for their roles more or less exclusively: musumeyaku (woman's role) and otokoyaku (man's role). The latter are exclusively breeches roles, where actresses start to cut their hair short, wear pants rather than skirts, and speak with masculine pronouns, though some very versatile otokoyaku also play female roles. While the shoujo concept of Bifauxnen is more or less derived from this, it's interesting to note that both roles are extremely popular with younger fangirls (apart from the main audience of women in their 30s to 50s). The obvious implications are not lost on people; many shows will make an overt joke on the tastes of said fangirls, although offically the troupe tends to avoid commenting on the phenomenon. Because of the way homosexuality is seen in Japan (i.e. fine among young people, but inappropriate once eligible for marriage), it's commmonly accepted that a young girl's first crush will be on a Takarazuka actress. Also of note: Anime pioneer Osamu Tezuka's hometown is also the base of the Takarazuka theater troupe; Tezuka was a fan all his life, and wrote a clause into his will that left a small portion of his fortune to the company to help finance future productions. In turn, Takarazuka produced a musical based on his Black Jack in 1994.
Common tropes include:
- Actor Shipping
- Costume Porn
- Fluffy Fashion Feathers
- Ho Yay
- The Musical
- Peacock Girl
- Pimped-Out Dress
- Showgirl Skirt
Shows they have adapted:
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Anime & Manga
- One of the longest running shows in Takarazuka Revue (and probably the most popular) is the stage adaptation of The Rose of Versailles. Oscar Francois de Jarjayes is generally held as the highest role an actress in the Revue can achieve because it is simultaneously an otokoyaku and musumeyaku, a fine line that only the most talented and versatile actresses can expertly walk.
- Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack
- El Halcon (from the manga by Aoike Yasuko, better known as the creator of From Eroica with Love)
- Sailor Moon: The longstanding series of Sera Myu musicals has been revived with Takarazuka actresses in male roles.
- Mei-chan no Shitsuji
- Sengoku Basara
- The Barber of Seville/The Marriage of Figaro (Done as a single show, Figaro!)
- Their second most popular show is probably Elisabeth —they've staged seven different productions of it over the past fifteen years or so.
- Guys and Dolls
- Phantom, the Kopit/Yeston version of The Phantom of the Opera.
- Most of the works of William Shakespeare in original adaptations, though in 2010 they did the French musical phenomenon Roméo et Juliette, de la Haine à l'Amour.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel
- Ernest in Love
- Flower Drum Song
- Oklahoma!, the first Western musical they ever performed.
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
- West Side Story
- The Tales of Hoffmann
- The real-life Takarazuka Revue made two Ace Attorney shows.
References to them in fiction:
- One episode of Kimagure Orange Road opens with Kyosuke and Madoka watching a troupe that is clearly Takarazuka (or the in-universe equivalent) performing Gone with the Wind (last scene). Frankly, it's kind of bizarre.
- Ouran High School Host Club's rivals are the Zuka Club from Lobelia School. Tamaki's spiritual counterpart, the hilariously overdramatic Bifauxnen president Benibara is naturally Genre Savvy enough to immediately notice Haruhi is actually a girl and suggests she join their school instead. Naturally, Tamaki does not enjoy Benny's interest in Haruhi.
- Unlike the audience-surrogate Inner Senshi, Haruka and Michiru in Sailor Moon are essentially Takarazuka ports: Haruka is flirty, handsome, and extremely boyish while Michiru is mysterious, beautiful and willowy. Both look taller and older than the rest of the cast for no adequately explained reason.
- This origin is lampshaded during a conversation in the first anime where Rei points out that Makoto's recent interest in Haruka seems a little overenthusiastic. Usagi quickly pulls a magazine from under Rei's bed with a Takarazuka model on the cover, a nod to Rei's longstanding Mistaken for Gay meme.
- The heroines of Sakura Taisen perform as a Takarazuka troupe in their secret identities. The series contains several Shout Outs to the famous Takarazuka Revue which popularized this trope.
- For instance, in the second OAV, action hero Shounen Red's motto is said to be "purely, properly, beautifully" — not exactly fitting, but it is the motto of the Takarazuka Revue. A number of the shows the Teikoku Kagekidan girls put on are also serial-numbers-filed-off versions of Takarazuka shows — Ai Yue ni (Because of Love) is at least partly based on Rose of Versailles, for example.
- In the anime version of Lucky Star, Hiyori likes putting Minami and Yutaka in Takarazuka otokoyaku and musumeyaku roles.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena is heavily influenced by this cultural phenomenon. Especially interesting on the meta-level when you realize the world of Ohtori is a stage.
- In Only Yesterday, the narrator mentions that one of her older sisters was completely in love with a Takarazuka "actor".
- The first volume of the Wandering Son manga has a class put on a production of The Rose of Versailles with numerous references to the Takarazuka original — appropriate when you consider the series is all about gender issues.
- In the manga version of Oniisama e... minor members of the Sorority are based both name- and looks-wise on top Takarazuka actresses of the time.
- Anpanman has Shiratama-san. Despite being human-looking, she's actually a shiratama, a kind of rice cake used in fruit salad, which she has a tendency to give to new people. She's very dramatic, seeing the world as a stage. She always has a new idea for a show with her as the dashing lead, and has a tendency to try and rope other characters into performing with her. She's also one of the few people that doesn't see Baikinman as a villain. Instead, she thinks of him as a fellow actor, playing the villain role. She naturally wants him to be the villain in any of her new plays, but he wants nothing to do with her.