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Within the troupes, each actress has a grade (like in school), signifying how many years it has been since her debut. (see kenkyuuka.) The Takarazuka continues to place heavy emphasis on the sempai / kouhai relationships between the actresses, and older actresses are treated with great respect while the younger ones are expected to behave with humility and reverence for their seniors. The troupe leader, or kumicho, is the actress in each troupe who debuted first, and she is assumed to be in charge of all of the younger actresses.

Along with rank by debut year, there are also those who are on the "star track" — these are promising members who are going to get leads in the shinjin kouen, small-theater shows, and prominent roles in regular performances. They also get more publicity than other members. However, within the star-tracked otokoyaku members, seniority is still somewhat observed. Musumeyaku stars, because they tend to be promoted more quickly, often leap-frog over each other.

Within the same grade, those actresses who received the highest marks in their debut class get ranked first. Also, after graduation, there is a test in the spring for ken-2, ken-3, ken-5, and ken-7 members, and their rank with their classmates in their troupe changes accordingly. This change in class rank can be observed in the order they are listed in Otome, performance programs, etc.

Each troupe has a top star, who receives the lead role in all main-stage productions until she retires. The average "reign" of a top star is about three years. The top star is always an otokoyaku. There is also a musumeyaku top star, though she is always billed second.

To become a top star, an actress must work her way up through the troupe. Just because she is popular with fans doesn't necessarily mean she'll make it to the top (though having a strong fan base certainly doesn't hurt). She must demonstrate greater-than-average skill in all the main areas of being a Takarasienne: dancing, singing, and acting, as well as overall likability and attractiveness to fans. The Takarasiennes have a saying: otokoyaku juunen, "the 10 years of a male role," which implies that it takes at least 10 years to perfect the otokoyaku craft. Almost all otokoyaku tops become top stars after the 10-year mark. Once established at the top, a star must maintain her popularity among her fans, as it is often the top star who draws most of the crowd to a particular show and bears the heaviest responsibility for the show's success. Chemistry with their top musumeyaku partner also helps a lot; a pair who have electric chemistry while on stage seem to inspire a lot of additional fan adoration. A top star pairing like this is often referred to as a Golden Combination.

Created by caithion. Last Modification: Thursday 10 of August, 2017 10:52:42 PDT by lokai.

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