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The (Wo)Man of our dreams: Gender-bending in Takarazuka

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  1. Introduction.
    1. the magical world of Takarazuka.
    2. The myth of a purely innocent, asexual performance.
  2. The original intention behind the Takarazuka Revue.
  3. Critics Karen Nakamura and Hisaka Matsuo's agreement with Kobayashi's assessment of Takarazuka
  4. The otokoyaku's embodyment of the two genders.
  5. The otokoyaku in Takarazuka.
  6. The Rose of Versailles - suggestions of homoeroticism.
  7. Another fascinating example of the otokoyaku's ryosei Takarazuka's Elisabeth.
  8. It is not just the idea of Death that is arousing.
  9. Conclusion.

An extraordinarily attractive actor, with large, dark eyes fringed by long lashes and chiseled features, suddenly appears on an audience walkway (?silver bridge?), much to the delight of adoring fans (Brau 88). With arms extended widely, the actor begins serenading the enraptured crowd in a rich baritone: ?At night I long to hold you. My heart cries out for you in pain? (Dream Girls). The star, garbed in dazzlingly white, sings directly to the audience, gifting several fans with a piercingly longing gaze. A young girl materializes onstage and, as the two lovers embrace cheek-to-cheek and sing of their mutual desire, they both look dreamily out upon the spellbound audience members. At the song's crescendo, a silver disco ball floats from the rafters and casts a starry glow over the entire auditorium, capturing the sea of enchanted, uplifted faces.

[...] In fact, I would argue that the character of Death is perhaps one of the most erotically-charged and blatantly sexual roles in the Takarazuka repertoire. Perhaps it is because the character lacks a specific sexual orientation that such outright eroticism is deemed permissible, but, regardless, the sparks created between Death and Elisabeth are electrifying. Consider one of the earliest scenes where Elisabeth, as a young, naïve teenager on her sickbed, has her first brush with Death?an encounter which thereafter haunts her, literally. [...]


[...] In both the manga version and one of the two Takarazuka versions, the plot centers around the androgynously beautiful Oscar Francois de Jarjayes; raised by a father who despairs ever having a son, the hero/ine is well-practiced in the art of fencing, horsemanship, and combat. General Jarjayes, with the help of Oscar's servant and companion Andre Grandier, thoroughly prepares his daughter to succeed him as commander of the Royal Guard. Crucial to the story are: Marie Antoinette, whom Oscar must vigilantly protect, Swedish count Alex von Fersen, secret lover of the French queen, and Rosalie Lamorliere, Oscar's protégé who harbors romantic feelings for her mentor. [...]


[...] In one clip on youtube.com, a talented Takarazuka fan has layered all five current top stars performances of the song ?Saigo no dansu? into a montage. All of the actors playing Death share a similar interpretation of the character, forcefully but passionately grabbing Elisabeth at some points and thrusting away from her at others. In an especially sensual moment, Death (in this case, Asaji Saki) pulls Elisabeth to her chest and suddenly clutches a chunk of her hair possessively. At this point, Elisabeth is still a teenage girl and, knowing only chusei in her life thus far, is terrified of Death's overwhelming ryosei. [...]

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