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Japan Foundation’s Takarazuka Virtual Panel

Last year, the Japan Foundation sponsored a virtual panel on Sailor Moon. Naturally, you can’t talk about Sailor Moon without talking about Takarazuka. The host and panelists promised there would be talk about Takarazuka in the future. Well, that future has arrived! Last month, Takarazuka: The Interplay Between All-Female Musicals and Girls’ Culture in Japan streamed virtually on Youtube. The panel featured the following academics:

Leonie Stickland, a lecturer in Japanese language and Japanese studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. She is also the author of Gender Gymnastics: Performing and Consuming Japan’s Takarazuka Revue. I have read this book and I highly recommend it if you want to learn more about Takarazuka. Her presentation focused on the history of Takarazuka.

Nobuko Anan is Professor in the Department of Foreign Language Studies at Kansai University, Japan. She has a book in English on this subject called Contemporary Japanese Women’s Theatre and Visual Arts: Performing Girls’ Aesthetics. Her presentation focuses on how Takarazuka fit within “resistant” girls’ culture in Japan. She really hits home the point that Takarazuka rose out of era of all-girls schools. She notes that the Japanese feminist group the Bluestockings was born at the same time as Takarazuka. Fast forward to the 70s, she also points out that the popularity of Rose of Versailles, both as a manga and as a Takazuka musical, occurred during the women’s liberation movement. She explains that manga artist Riyoko Ikeda was a leftist, and hoped that Rose of Versailles would inspire a revolution in Japanese women’s lives.

Dana Mageanu received her M.A in Japanese Studies from University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Her Master’s thesis, “The aesthetics of Takarazuka: a case study on Erizabēto – ai to shi no rondo,” examined the performance aesthetic of the theatre through the case study of Elisabeth. While Sailor Moon is mentioned throughout the panel, Dana specifically mentions Haruka and Michiru in her presentation as well as noting that the current Sailor Moon musicals feature an all-female cast with former Takarazuka stars.

Zuzanna Baraniak-Hirata is a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at Ochanomizu University, Japan, and Adjunct Instructor at the Saitama University and the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo. Her presentation explores how Takarazuka influences Japan’s wider pop culture. For example, we have to thank the current idol culture to Takarazuka’s process for creating its top stars. Ever wondered why the Nogizaka46 Sailor Moon musical or the Sailor Moon Super Live had different teams of actresses? Look no further than Takarazuka!

I have always been meaning to create a similar presentation on Takarazuka and its influences, so I’m absolutely thrilled this panel exists. Enjoy!

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