Takarazuka is a world that blows me away every time I get a glimpse of it. The sparkles. The glitter. The handsome otokoyaku. And did I mention the sparkles? The posters alone have a lot of sparkles and despite grabbing my attention each and every time, my only knowledge of Takarazuka is based on its relation to boys’ love1. Not that there’s a direct relation but the fanfare of women over the genderbending otokoyaku has often been cited as a cultural origin of girls’ fascination for the androgynous bishonen. There are texts who would refute that claim, of course, but either way, Takarazuka looks and sounds like an awesome thing, right? In Zucca x Zuca shows me what it’s like to be a fan of Takarazuka.
Zucca x Zuca is a webcomic that’s running in Morning’s MOAE website. Haruna Lemon captures the world of Takarazuka fans as they celebrate, obsesses, and maybe cry over their favourite actresses and their performances in colourful and delightful comic strips. Her art is so cute! She captures the bright and sparkly facade of the genre without burdening us with the excess of the real thing. Sometimes, Takarazuka’s excess can be crazy but as I learned in Zucca x Zuca, a lot of the props and makeup seen in Takarazuka are actually handmade by the takarasiennes themselves! Fans would also recreate this in their homes, pretty much like cosplay sans the parading bit.
One of the amusing things I read in the first volume was the continuous reference on a song with the lyrics “Solar Power wo Kanjite”. Seriously, a song about solar power? With matching dance moves for every syllable!? This can’t be real right? Well, I was wrong. It’s frakking real.
The most amusing part about Zucca x Zuca is discovering the references mentioned in the comic. Rather than overwhelming me with glitter and feathers, the manga showed the grandeur and splendor of Takarazuka in bite-sized pieces. I am still tickled pink thinking about “Solar Power wo Kanjite” and should I find a number of women waving their hands, I know what’s in their head.
Despite Zucca x Zuca’s immersion in the life of a Zukawota (so amused with this name!), it’s not an overwhelming read for Takarazuka newbies like myself. The comic does have a bit of a glossary to explain some things (and they’re closer to witty idiot’s guide for the Takarazuka dummy!). And the comic itself is really lighthearted and funny!
To a degree, I find myself relating to the Zukawota. While I may not know the exact references, I connect with their excitement, frustrations, and the quiet slips of their fandom in their normal lives. In many ways, the zukawota’s similar to the fujoshi. Day by day they struggle to live their lives both as a fan and as a woman. Like the teacher who named her groups based on Takarazuka groups. Or the girls who would sing Solar Power wo Kanjite on a really sunny day! Despite this attention to the unusual ways of the Zukawota, nothing of the series was condescending. It’s a lovely read and I’m so glad Amazon recommended it to me. If anything, it makes me want to catch a Takarazuka show the next time I’m in Japan.
Zucca x Zuca by Haruna Lemon
Serialized in MOAE Website (you can read this for free!)
Published by Kodansha
Available digitally via EbookJapan, LineManga, AmazonJP, and ITunes
Available in print via Amazon