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fan clubs (ファンクラブ):

Formal groups of fans who form clubs around a favorite star. A club is also sometimes called a kai (会). Each fan club has an individualistic name often based on input from the star, ranging from puns / an English translation of the star's name to something as simple as "(star's name)'s fan club".

A fan club usually begins as an informal "support club" of enthusiastic fans who write letters and express a desire to meet a star in person. They may arrange meetings through an acquaintance of the star or have direct contact with the star via e-mail. These groups are not "registered" with the formal clubs of a troupe (see kai-touroku) and hold small "tea-drinking parties", "social gatherings", or sometimes dinner parties instead of tea parties.

When an ouenkai has enough active members to represent a reasonable amount of fan support, the star chooses an official representative (daihyou) and the club is formally registered. Depending on the size of the club, staff members are also added. In cases where the club is extremely large, or staff members have differences of opinion or cannot travel, a club may be divided into "east" (Tokyo area and northern Japan) and "west" (Takarazuka area and southern Japan) clubs.

The politics of fan clubs are intricate and complicated. Many follow strict rules of conduct which are not always outlined to new members, but presumed to be known by those who seek to join. (On rare occasions, however, a club "guidebook" is provided.) They issue membership cards, don club wear, greet their star at irimachi and demachi, provide tickets to performances (see kaiseki), hold tea parties, produce and sell goods such as unofficial onstage and offstage photo sets, and often provide financial support to their star through these and other means (see sashi-ire).

Sometimes, especially in the cases of top stars who continue an entertainment career, a club continues (or is immediately replaced by a new club with many of the same members) after the star's retirement from Takarazuka. At these times the clubs usually change names, staff, rules, etc.


Related Links:

Fan Clubs: How-to, Privileges, and Responsibilities
Takarazuka Miscellany
Created by MerryShannon. Last Modification: Thursday 05 of June, 2014 05:41:19 PDT by zaraphena.

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