Kiyoku, takashiku, utsukushiku: Takarazuka Revue and the Project of Identity (Re-)Solidification
Throughout Japan’s ambitions to redefine superpower as cultural issue, the popular all-female musical theater Takarazuka Revue has been a faithful companion. Concurrently anachronistic in its gender exhibition and progressive in its performance practice, Takarazuka Revue has been typically reconstructing, since 1913, asymmetric interactions between identity and alterity, model and copy, as well as male and female – all wrapped up in spectacular tunes, magnificent costumes and luxurious scenery. While focusing on the postwar period, that is since the re-opening of the Grand Theater in Takarazuka in 1946, and on the tension between the androgynously charismatic otokoyaku figures [i.e., female interpreters of male roles in the Takarazuka Revue] and the apparently conformist and submissive musumeyaku figures [i.e., female interpreters of female roles in the Takarazuka Revue], it is this paper’s goal to underline some of Takarazuka Revue’s strategies to construct, develop, propagate and eventually implement its – and by extension: the Japanese – historical worldview by means of a new form of cultural imperialism, namely love as ideological base and an aesthetic superstructure of latemodern identity. This article quests to reveal the core element within the project of identity (re-)solidification proposed by the Takarazuka Revue: an emerging form of cultural awareness based on tenderness as existential attitude.