For more than a century, Japan’s Takarazuka Revue has put on lavish stage musicals with all-female casts. From historical dramas to romances to anime-inspired stories in recent years, they’re always stunning. And, just as their shows sometimes include anime-inspired titles, anime tips its hat to the Revue as well.
Here are a few titles — be they dramatic or aesthetic — that wear their ‘zuka love on their sleeve.
Initially launched as a video game, multimedia series Sakura Wars combines Takarazuka with giant robots. Then it combines those with a dating sim vibe, just so we have all our bases covered. The result is a Taisho-era musical mecha blast, and it’s still going to this day.
Sakura Wars stars the actresses of the Imperial Theater Revue’s Flower Division. They put on gorgeous shows by day, and pilot steam-powered mecha when duty calls. The Revue has branches in New York and Paris, and a recent game takes the story into the 1940s with a whole new set of starlets.
Right on the nose with its Takarazuka love is Kageki Shoujo!!, the upcoming anime adaptation of Kumiko Saiki’s manga series. The acclaimed manga features a large ensemble cast, all with their own experiences in the ‘zuka-like academy.
Leading the cast are jaded former idol Ai and tall country girl Sarasa. The two specialize in female and male roles, respectively. And around them is a solid ensemble cast, each with their own stories and skills and interests. The series premieres this year, so keep an eye out for it!
This Osamu Tezuka classic may not have a theatrical theme, but it’s a love letter to Takarazuka nonetheless. Its heroine, Sapphire, is a princess living her life as a prince. But it’s not just an undercover job — she’s got the heart (literally!) of a hero, and swashbuckles her way through her encounters like the stage’s great actresses.
Princess Knight went on to inspire both The Rose of Versailles and Revolutionary Girl Utena. And those, in turn, got Takarazuka stagings of their own. Even if you’re not familiar with the series itself, you can likely see Sapphire’s fingerprints all over some of your favorite shows.
The women of Japan’s Takarazuka Revue are still staging gorgeous performances to this day. And some of your favorite anime have probably either inspired one of their shows, or gotten a staging in the style of the Revue. Have you seen their influence anywhere else?