If I cannot get passionate aces in my fiction, I can settle for non-sexual displays of passion – and this is where Takarazuka comes in.
Takarazuka makes a point about *not* being about sexuality, and from a certain angle, not even being about romance, yet being passionate most certainly is the point.
Takarazuka performers are required to be unmarried and not involved in any sexual/romantic relationships while they are working for Takarazuka. I do not know how strictly this rule is enforced, and there probably is somebody discreetly bending/breaking it. When I discuss this with fellow Americans, many assume that the performers must be involved in lots of lesbian activities/relationships (which must be true to some extent because, before we even get to the fact that theses are female performers who regularly act out romantic love with other female performers, when you have hundreds of women, quite a few of them are going to be pan/lesbian/bi based on sheer statistical chance). However, the Takarazuka Revue claims that this is not at all what it is about. And on top of that, being a Takarazuka performer requires a ton of time of energy, so I think that even if they were allowed to openly pursue sexual/romantic relationships, many would not because they need to pour so much of themselves into their work.
And pouring yourself into performing in the Takarazuka Revue because you love singing and dancing is a passionate act in itself.
So, we have here a) people doing something (singing and dancing and acting) with great passion b) people professing their passionate feelings for each other and sometimes other things (for example, singing passionately about how beautiful the flowers are) and c) none of it is intended to be sexual (unless it is required by the story) and d) when they declare romantic love, they do not *really* mean it romantically, because they are all women and not presenting as lesbians/queers.
To me, this feels like a burst non-sexual passion. It validates passion as I experience it.
That is not to say that Takarazuka is ace/aro-friendly. For example, the structure of the shows means that the stories often center around a heteronormative romantic relationship (even if the ‘heteronormative’ part is being subverted by the lack of male performers), and what they say often affirms heteronormativity (even if it is being subverted, again, by the lack of male performers).
Perhaps that is the true source of the appeal. In Takarazuka, the words say one thing (HETERONORMATIVY), yet the physical reality is saying something else (women expressing their SUPREME love for each other – and flowers too of course). This offers lots of room for interpretation, and everyone can find the interpretation they needs. Cis het women can get their fantasy ‘men’ (Takarazuka fans often claim that the Takarazuka’s otokoyaku are more appealing than men in real life), pan/lesbian/bi women can watch a woman dressed as a man have a passionate romance with a very femme woman, genderqueer people can watch people who are messing with the gender binary, and I, an ace, can watch people expressing passionate love, knowing that this is officially non-sexual and that the romance bit is not really romance. In short, people of different genders/sexualities can find themselves in the ambiguity of Takarazuka.