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Theatre / Takarazuka Revue
aka: Takarazuka

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The Takarazuka Revue is an all-women Japanese musical theatre troupe operating out of Takarazuka, in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. Established in 1913 and based upon the original casting format of Kabuki theatre, Takarazuka productions stand out for having highly-trained female actresses play all of the roles.

The troupe is popular with female audiences, as the performances are usually very melodramatic and elaborately designed, with loads of gorgeous costumes, and handsome male characters who are masculine without its worst traits (such as coarseness or possessiveness). Actresses are required to be trained for two years at a special (and very prestigious) in-house school. After their first year of training, the class is split up into two specialisations: musumeyaku (woman's role) and otokoyaku (man's role). The latter are groomed to play the Cross Cast Roles: during this time the actresses cut their hair short, wear pants rather than skirts, and speak with masculine pronouns. Musumeyaku and otokoyaku are almost exclusively cast in their designated roles, though some very versatile otokoyaku can 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 commonly 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.


For more information, including an extensive list of actresses and shows, see TakaWiki.

Common tropes include:

Shows they have adapted:

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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.
    • Benibara's own name is also a pun on the nickname of the most popular Takarazuka show, BeruBara.
      • Keep in mind who the seiyuu voicing Benibara is.
  • Unlike the audience-surrogate Inner Senshi, Haruka and Michiru in Sailor Moon are essentially Takarazuka ports: Haruka is flirty, handsome, and extremely boyish note  while Michiru is mysterious, beautiful and willowy. 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.
    • Becomes a borderline Hilarious in Hindsight: Haruka is played by former otokoyaku Shuu Shiotsuki, and Michiru by former musumeyaku Sayaka Fujioka in the 20th-anniversary staging of Sera Myu. Former Takarasiennes are also prevalent in the casts note , including Mamoru played by Yuuga Yamato/Tani, formerly of Cosmos and Moon troupe. note .
    • Tiger's Eye in Amour Eternal complains that they do not know their gender, they just play the part of a man (using the exact word otokoyaku). Their actress is actually a retired otokoyaku.
    • In what may very well be an homage to Neptune and Uranus, Cure Chocolat and Cure Macaron from Kirakira★PreCure a la Mode are based on a Takarazuka otokoyaku and musumeyaku, respectively.
  • The heroines of Sakura Wars 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.
    • Mawaru-Penguindrum, from the same creator, features a character named Yuri who's part of an acting troupe that's similar to but legally distinct from the Takarazuka. Their signature play is a Rose of Versailles expy, and her co-lead is very similar design-wise to Lady Oscar.
  • 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.
  • Bifauxnen Lesbian Jock Jun Ōtori from Stop Hibari Kun is the daughter of an otokoyaku from a prominent Takarazuka-like theater troupe.
  • One of the main characters in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is Yuu Kashima, a tall, short-haired teenage girl who is known as the "prince" of her school's drama club. She pretty much exclusively plays male roles, and has a huge group of female admirers as a result.
  • Grand Stage is a series of Otome audio dramas revolving around a fictional all-female acting troupe that is very obviously based on the Takarazuka Revue. The Audience Surrogate is a new musumeyaku who has just joined the group, while the potential love interests are all otokoyaku. Said love interests are mostly voiced by actresses best known for voicing male characters, like Megumi Ogata or the above-mentioned Mitsuki Saiga.
  • One chapter of Pop Team Epic has a joke about the Takarazuka Revue doing an adaptation of the manga. An adult actress with tons of makeup on is shown portraying Popuko while singing dramatic renditions of the manga's jokes.
  • The premise of Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight is heavily based on the Takarazuka Revue, or more specifically, the Takarazuka Music School (down to the gray uniforms). The military-esque uniforms the girls wear during stage combat are also typical of the kinds of costumes common in Takarazuka productions, and the dramatic direction of the "auditions" calls to mind the melodrama that characterizes Takarazuka productions. It's worth noting that Kodama Akiko, who currently directs the Revue Starlight stage musicals, was part of the Takarazuka Revue for almost a decade.

Alternative Title(s): Takarazuka


Example of: