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Posts Tagged ‘Takarazuka’

While in Tokyo, I decided to have a look inside the bookstore by the Takarazuka-An in Yurakucho and I stumbled upon vol. 2 of Haruna Lemon’s Zucca x Zuca on the “new manga” shelf with a staff recommendation. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to see a manga created by an self-professed “Zuka-Ota” (ヅカヲタ, Takarazuka otaku) about the fandom. Of course manga-ka have written otokoyaku-like characters into their manga before: Oscar de Jarjeyes in Berubara, Haruka/Sailor Uranus in Sailor Moon, the Zuka Club in Ouran High School Host Club (jokingly)–but a manga about fan-life was something I’d never seen, so I bought volume 1 and was not disappointed!

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You know you’re a BeruBara fan when you read the following exchange on Not Always Right:

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Inspired by my tour of Matsumoto Castle in Nagano, I decided to go to Himeji Castle at the end of my spring vacation. While touring the castle, which is under renovation till 2015, was quite interesting, I actually had more fun going to the Takarazuka exhibit at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History nearby. I wouldn’t have even known about the exhibit if I hadn’t seen fliers for it in the train station, so it must have been fate!

Photography was allowed at the exhibit, so I’ve included some of the highlights here.

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Photo from the Asahi Shimbun.

I’ve been a Hanagumi and Tsukigumi fan from the start of my experiences with Takarazuka, but this year it seems like I keep ending up at Soragumi shows. I started this year with Soragumi (Casablanca, 『カサブランカ』) and I ended it with Soragumi (For Whom the Bell Tolls,『誰がために鐘は鳴る』). Even though I didn’t have feelings one way or the other about the group when I rang in the new year, I did remember how much I had liked the top star, Oozora Yuuhi (大空祐飛), in Tsukigumi’s Rome at Dawn (『暁のローマ』). Rome at Dawn is a rock opera based on Julius Caesar, and, despite being a strange (but loveable) show, it was a showcase of rising stars. I don’t know why, but most of the named roles ended up doing well for themselves in the theatre. Hiromu Kiriya (霧矢大夢), who played Antonius, became the top star of Tsukigumi after Sena Jun left, and I came to really like her. The other person who had really impressed me in that show was Yuuhi in the role of Cassius.

Photo from Sumire Style. Antonius (Hiromu Kiriya), left, vs. Cassius (Oozora Yuuhi) and Brutus (Sena Jun), right.

Yuuhi’s charm point, as I learned, is that her stage personality is the definition of 渋い. There’s not really a single good word for this in English—it can mean cold, astringent, or aloof—but, in the case of acting, one could sum it up as “Humphrey Bogart.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but Yuuhi is almost always cast in these kind of roles, probably because she’s so good at it. She was the perfect choice for Rick in Casablanca; she played a perfectly stoic Horatio Nelson in Trafalgar (『トラファルガー』); and, in the last play I went to see, she played Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls with the same kind of 渋さ I’ve come to expect. (more…)

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Part 6: An English Tea House in Takarazuka

The "Cream Tea Set"

The Takarazuka matinee of For Whom the Bell Tolls that I went to see happened to be an early matinee—while most start at 1 or 3 pm, the day I went, the show started at 11 am, which is just early enough to make getting lunch awkward. It turns out, of course, that at the Grand Theater, there are restaurants inside and plenty of bento sellers and snack stands that open in time for people to eat before and after the shows. Not knowing this, I had decided to get brunch outside the theater, and as I was passing from Hankyuu Takarazuka Station (阪急宝塚駅) to Hana no Michi(花の道), I noticed a cute coffee shop with a big bilingual sign advertising scones and morning service (モーニング・サービス).

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Elisabeth the Musical
帝国劇団 (Imperial Theatre, Tokyo)
Sept. 23, 5:30 pm

Starring Sena Jun (瀬奈じゅん) as Elisabeth, Yamaguchi Yuichiro (山口祐一郎) as der Tod, Ishikawa Zen (石川 禅) as Franz Joseph, Irei Kanata (伊礼彼方) as Rudolph, Takashima Mashiro (髙嶋政宏) as Luigi Lucheni, and Kotobuki Hizuru (寿 ひずる) as Sophie.*

The Story
The musical begins in the land of the dead, in which Luigi Lucheni, an Italian anarchist, has been resurrected to explain why he murdered the Empress Elisabeth of Austro-Hungary. He replies that he’s explained over and over—un grand amore! She was in love with Death, he claims. She wanted to die! And so, to give his testimony, Lucheni resurrects the Hapsburgs to illustrate his story: Elisabeth, her husband Franz-Joseph, her son Rudolph, her mother-in-law Sophie—and the key witness: der Tod, the king of the dead. The musical follows Elisabeth’s life from the fall that sent her to the land of the dead, where der Tod falls in love with her, to her troubled marriage with Franz, to Rudolph’s revolutionary activities, and eventually, to the fall of the Hapsburg empire and Elisabeth’s assassination.

Although Elisabeth has been performed for over 20 years, those not wanting spoilers about the details of the show should stop reading here.

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Part 3: Hamburgers near Hibiya

Despite all the lovely tofu, Japan certainly doesn’t lack for meat. As I’ve written before, you can get all the McDonalds and “hamburg steaks” (ハムバーグ) you want here, but finding a hamburger on a bun with toppings and vegetables is somewhat of a trick. (And no, they don’t sell hamburger buns at the store.)

The avocado burger.

I first read about the Beat Diner in The Japan Times when it ran a special on gourmet hamburgers in Tokyo. (more…)

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