ZuCasino, Yuzuka Rei: October 2022
Long time no translations! It's been a busy year but I finally found the time to finish an interview that I really really love, I hope you are able to understand more about Rei with this sweet Q&A!
ZuCasino is a current segment in Takarazuka Graph magazine where prominent otokoyaku get interviewed via a series of casino-style games and questions. October was with Yuzuka Rei.
I've tried something a little different this time around where the first time an actress's name is mentioned I link her takawiki page. I've also done translation notes as I go rather than putting them all at the end. Let me know if you find this helpful or just too much. Without further ado, enjoy!
Part 1: Episode Roulette
We challenged Yuzuka Rei to play our Episode Roulette game!
(Rei has been given a roulette wheel, each section has a topic of conversation, whichever she lands on she has to answer)
A Joke That Went Wrong
Alright so, this is something that happened to me today. Earlier today I went to the quick-change-station* backstage to pick up some hair products for our photo shoot. But then suddenly, our flower troupe musumeyaku from the 100th class* (Oto Kurisu, Hoshikaze Madoka and Itotsuki Yukiha) popped out of nowhere wearing Japanese biker gang outfits!!! I think they had mistaken my footsteps for those of another classmate because they jumped out in sync pulling the same funny faces as if they had known I was coming! It was so hilarious I couldn’t stop myself from laughing at them! (laughs)
*The "quick-change-station" is an area in the wings at the Takarazuka theatres where the actresses can change between scenes, it has dressing tables and any costumes/props needed for quick changes but it's not part of the actual dressing rooms.
*100th class refers to the 100th class of actresses who graduated from the Takarazuka Music School, Takarazuka is based on hierarchy, not just hierarchy within the star system but also hierarchy based on years in the company, so what class people were in at TMS is quite significant, and actresses have a strong bond with those in their troupe who they were at TMS with. When Rei refers to “another classmate” she means another girl from the 100th class. Later on in this interview, Rei will refer to one of her own “classmates”, Rei’s class was the 95th class.
Something you've been thinking about
My baby nephew has been on my mind a lot! I often get sent videos of him, he’s over a year old now and has started walking and saying things that sound like words, I can’t get over how fast he’s growing. There’s quite a lot of us in the flower troupe who have nieces and nephews around the same age, so I like to know how they are doing too. Even though I haven’t met them in person, because me and the other flower troupe members are always sharing videos with each other, I feel like I’m watching over them.
You know how when you were little you would get those adults who would come up to you and say “Ahh look how big you’ve grown!”? Well, I’m pretty sure I’m becoming that person!
A Special (insert here)
When I’m performing, I like to try and use my eyes like a camera and take pictures of everyone's faces to save to my memory. Those of the flower troupe and those of the audience. There are lots of times when I see someone's lovely sparkling smiling face and I think “Ahhh I wish I could share this with someone”. So, I want to create my own “Special SSS Seat View!”* Like, you know how when you go to theme parks you can buy photos of yourselves on the rides? It could be like that, after seeing a show you could go to Quatre Reves* and get the photos straight from my brain.
*In Japanese theatres, seats are divided by B, A, S, and sometimes SS seats too. In the Takarazuka theatres the SS seats are the middle block of the first floor at the front, so what Rei means here is that what she sees standing on stage is an even closer view than that, therefore her view would be called SSS.
*Quatre Reves is the Takarazuka merchandise store, you can find them at the theatre as well as in major cities across Japan and online!
I want to praise everyone on this earth! I think none of us expected this fight (covid) to go on for so long, but even without an end in sight, we have all carried on, one day at a time. There are probably people out there who feel a loss in confidence, and aren’t able to fight on…So I feel like we and the audience are like “comrades” living through this era of great change together.
There is a lot of pain right now but the fact that everyone keeps going and doing there best is amazing!
Part 2: Card Game
(Rei has been given 2 decks of cards with words written on the back, deck 1 has an adjective, deck 2 has a type of person. She must take one from each deck, name a person that relates and give us an anecdote about them.)
Deck 1: Cute, Passionate, Must-See, Respected, Bizarre
Deck 2: Upperclassmen, Underclassman, Teacher, Classmate, Flower Troupe Member
The “Fashionable Empire” Rockettes
When I was watching the rehearsals for the Rockette number I found myself thinking “wow they really are the picture of youth!”. They are all just so energetic and have a high awareness of the space and each other, you can tell they are thinking about how to make the dance the most effective, they are such promising underclassmen. It was a Rockette dance delivered with so much confidence!
*Underclassmen generally refer to actresses who have been in the company 7 years or less.
(Fashionable Empire, 2022)
We were reunited for the first time in forever in the musical “Top Hat”, it was funny though because she’s a senka member now, so everyone was treating her incredibly politely which she seemed quite humbled by (laughs). On stage, she had an immense stage presence in her dandy-style costume, and her character had a high tolerance for people's behavior, but in the wings and in the rehearsal rooms she would bow more than anyone else! I found it very cute how she would suddenly get smaller and smaller and smaller*. Her embarrassment was in huge contrast to how much she helped us throughout the show, in the way she would speak to the underclassmen and the wonderful insight she gave us into her thoughts on the performing arts. It was just so adorable to me, I remember thinking “You don’t have to make yourself so small!!” (laughs).
*In Japanese culture it's common to lower yourself when speaking in order to show respect for someone higher in age or status than you. So what Rei means here by Kizuki getting smaller and smaller is that she was probably bowing her head and bowing with her whole body so often to everyone that she was getting smaller and smaller, which is quite a funny image when you consider how she usually towers above every other actress. Kizuki recently transferred from the Moon Troupe to Senka (a troupe made up of superior members who guest star in different troupes) so there's no need for her to be lowering herself when she is actually higher ranked than everyone else, but she's not quite used to all the politeness and respectful language the actresses are giving to her yet, so she still feels a little embarrassed and finds herself doing it back to them.
(Top Hat, 2022) (from left to right: Minami Maito, Kizuki Yuuma, Yuzuka Rei)
Must-See Flower Troupe Member
She's been Kumicho (Troupe Leader) * for half a year now and she looks after us all by giving us positive encouragement and strengthening the troupe morale. I think she makes it easy for us to all unite and move towards the same goal together by guiding us, not only in the arts but in our emotions as well. Please pay attention to our Kumicho who is full of charm and positivity!
*The Kumicho (Troupe Leader) is the oldest member of the troupe, it is her duty to support the troupe and basically make sure everyone is okay, she is usually the first port of call when an actress is struggling with things like stage fright or other worries. Mikaze transferred to Flower Troupe from the Cosmos Troupe with current Flower Troupe Top Musumeyaku Hoshikaze Madoka in 2021, and took over from Takashou Mizuki as Kumicho in 2022
(The Fascination, 2022)
Part 3: Dice Game
(Rei has been given a white dice and a black dice, similar to the last game, whatever number she lands on has an assigned word, white dice adjectives, black dice nouns, the difference this time is whatever she gets she has to perform!)
2. Flying kiss
5. Back pose
Part 4: Big wins at the Zucasino
1. If you are already doing well would you place another bet?
I think I usually stop myself when I start thinking about going all in on something. So rather than taking another big bet, I’m the type of person who quits while they are ahead.
2. Are you daring? Or cautious?
Tenma Michiru once surprised me by saying “I used to think you were a cautious person, but actually you don’t care at all!”, her idea of the difference between daring and cautious people sounded quite black and white to me. It’s true though that I do just go for it when making decisions. For example, after deciding to move house I moved the next week, and the time between me discovering Takarazuka and enrolling at the Music School was very short. Timing and chance of course had a lot to do with it, but I do think that when it comes down to those life-changing decisions I get this feeling of intuition to just go with my gut, maybe that's when I become daring.
3. How do you spend big money?
For the last 3 years, we haven’t been able to do any trips or go out for any meals together as a troupe, so I’d like to hold a big event where the current troupe members and those who have left the troupe from 2020 onwards all go on a gorgeous trip to Hawaii together! There are so many places I want to go explore so maybe it could be a 3-4 day long trip where we can do our own thing, and then we could plan some kind of special event to do all together during our stay! The girls who have only been in Takarazuka for 1 to 3 years and those who have joined the flower troupe from other troupes like Hitoko-chan (Towaki Sea) have not experienced our dinner entertainment tradition yet, and many of the upperclassmen are itching to perform again so, I think we should put on a banquet and have a good time! Other things I’d like to spend big money on would be buying a holiday home for my parents and maybe starting my own business. Maybe something to do with children's education, something that mothers would appreciate….But I need to know how to spend money wisely first, time to study up!
4. Are you lucky? Or unlucky?
I think I’m a lucky person, I’m very happy! Every now and again there are moments where I look at my life and think how happy I am that I am able to make art with the people I love. I may not be lucky enough to win in raffles or lotteries (laughs), but I’m overwhelmingly blessed to live a life surrounded by the many things that I love.
5. What is the luckiest moment you’ve experienced in your life?
Entering Takarazuka was a big moment for me, both a lucky and a happy moment (laughs). Not only did I get to be a part of something I love but I met so many lovely people and learnt all sorts of things! Takarazuka has taught me so much, not just about the performing arts, but about being a person as well, I think if I hadn’t joined Takarazuka I would be completely different to who I am today.
6. A moment you’ve betted on
In the early stages of joining the Takarazuka Music School you have to make the decision of whether to become an otokoyaku or a musumeyaku. But at the time I was still getting used to it all, I was kind of drowning, overwhelmed by everything, and so I completely forgot that I needed to decide…And before I knew it, we were all lined up about to make our decision! Everyone in turn saying “musumeyaku!” or “otokoyaku!” down the line! My height at the time meant that I was on the threshold between musumeyaku and otokoyaku, and so I was worrying and worrying like “Ahh which do I choose?!”. But then I heard the person before me say “Otokoyaku!” and in a spur of the moment decision I went “Yeah!” and said I wanted to be an otokoyaku. I guess you could say that was a bet? I wonder what would have happened if I had chosen to be a musumeyaku instead. I would have had to use completely different muscles, so my shoulders probably wouldn’t have broadened like they have now…Choosing to be an otokoyaku was a big turning point in my life.
7. A moment that was a close shave!
The time when I was still a junior in the company and decided to climb Mt.Rokko by myself on my day off. It was a nice day despite it being winter, and so after enjoying the mountain to my heart's content I strolled back to the bus stop, only to discover the buses had already finished for the day! Looking around frantically I realised there was not a single soul to be seen, I was all alone, it was getting cold and windy and the sun was starting to set… After standing around in the cold for about 20 minutes, just as I started to worry for my life, a cyclist came speeding down the road towards me. But he passed by so fast there was nothing I could do to get his attention, but then he came back and gave me a ride to the cable car! I was one step away from ending up being a news story. I hope that man is doing well…
8. Something you want to protect with all your life
The number one thing i want to protect is everyone's smiles. Maybe it's unrealistic to ask for, but I don’t want anyone's smiles to be clouded by anything, not those of the troupe, not those of the audience, or anyone I meet. Everyone is working so hard every day, the people who look after the company so that we are able to perform, the people who come to the theatre, the doctors and nurses who continue to fight to save lives, everyone, so their smiles must be protected. We are forced to endure a lot which can make our hearts feel heavy, but it's for that very reason that I want to be able to capture the smiles of the audience with my “Yuzuka Camera Lense”! No matter your birth, upbringing, age, or gender, people from all walks of life come to the theatre, lose themselves in the story being told and laugh and cry together in that shared space. How amazing is that? I’m so grateful to get to have that experience and so I want to continue to protect it.
Part 5: My Treasure
Illustrations from manga artists
I have been fortunate enough to get to be a part of several plays based on famous manga, and have been gifted original illustrations from their creators. Yamato Waki who made “Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern”, Hagio Moto who made “The Poe Clan” and Kamio Yoko who made “Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flowers” . Even now whenever I look at the pictures they drew for me I have a deep feeling of amazement of just how great their work is.
My beloved dog, Noir
He’s so intelligent that it’s like he’s a human trapped inside a dogs body and at any moment he’s going to start talking to me. He is in tune to so many things and keeps at juuuust the right distance from me, all traits that would make me want to marry him if I could, he’s so cute!
Letters I’ve received from flower troupe members
There is a custom in Takarazuka where you give “Pre-Raku Cards”* to those who have looked after you during the performance. I’ve kept all the ones I have received so far. It just makes me so happy that in these letters the actresses get to share with me thoughts and feelings that they don’t normally get to say to me.
*Senshuuraku is japanese theatre speak for the final performance of a show, it is usually shortened to “Raku” by both fans and actors. “Pre-Raku Cards” or “Maeraku Cards” is a short hand for “Mae Senshuuraku cards” or “The night before closing night cards”.
Celebratory messages from fans
My album full of birthday cards, top star anniversary messages and other milestones is my number one most precious treasure.
“No matter how far the distance may be, my heart will be your side…”
This is a line from the song “An oath made on the wind” from “Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern”. During the initial period of the pandemic, these words would often come to mind and they became a phrase which is now very close to my heart. The underclassmen who couldn’t perform the show quoted this line in a video they made during the theatre shutdown, it really cheered me up at that time.
Videos and photos from the flower troupe
During the last performance cancellations, I was sent many videos of things like funny little updates, and people singing whilst playing the ukulele. Performance cancellations are so hard, but if we hadn’t of had them then these exchanges would never have happened..
Video title: “I will become the wind” Misora Maru Ukulele Version
Picture: Flower Troupe Love
Picture Caption: “Flower Troupe Love” Will never end!
Behind the Scenes!
Thank you for reading!
For more Takarazuka translations click here
‘Tsuki no Hokage’ (The Light of the Moon) subs
Download here: wtheckzukasubs.tumblr.com/shows
Timed to the footage broadcasted on the Jidaigeki channel, but it should fit the VHS and the DVD versions with little effort. Let me know if you need any help!
This is a nihonmono, so get ready for some sad story. But the content warning I think of is how Yumiko’s character’s sister has been sold by their own father. I’m almost sure there is mention of suicide, some people die, there is some fighting too, but I can’t remember exactly. I’ve been sitting on this project for way too long... As always, if you can add anything, leave a note here. I’ll be very grateful.
And ugh, was this hard to translate! I’m very thankful to who shared the closed captions with me, without them it wouldn’t have been possible. It wasn’t that possible even with them, that’s the honest truth. Ouka ni Mae is still the hardest show I’ve ever done, but this has entered the list. It’s beautiful, the language, the care the writer had with the use of the words, I wish my capability were high enough to translate how beautiful the script is. Even so, it is beautiful. I’d love to see this redone and I can’t think of a duo strong enough to translate the feelings the way Yumiko and Tomu did.
I’m not sure how much of this is queerbaiting (there is a straight couple and all, so it probably is) and how much it is closeted homossexual feelings, but the bonds between the two main characters... it’s all so beautiful!
The story may drag a little, it is a two-act and they tend to do that. But Stick to the end, it’s worth it.
The beauty of Bow Hall presentations!
(There’s a tiny Ichika in there btw)