Drama CD: Maria-sama ga Miteru 1

May 6th, 2004

It is no secret that I am into voices. All my favorite actors and actresses are distinguishable as much by their voices as anything else. The same is true for anime – it is the fact that I can hear my favorite characters come to life, as opposed to seeing them do so, that appeals to me.

As a result, I absolutely love drama CDs. Not only can you hear your favorite voices, there are – as I wrote a few entries ago – many drama CDs of series that will never be made into an anime – or with other, sometimes better, actors and actresses in the roles.

So, while I was picking up the Koi Shimai CD, I also got myself a copy of the first Maria-sama ga Miteru drama CD.

All the characters are played by the same actresses that portray them in the anime – so Toyoguchi Megumi’s unusual voice is still Sei’s voice, Shinohara Emi’s sweet voice is stil Youko’s and Itou Miki’s polished Sachiko is the same. In a way, it’s already getting to be like listening to old friends.

The story follows the anime closely – so closely, in fact, that I wondered if they actually had to do any extra voice sessions for the CD at all. Yumi’s introduction of herself and the school – and its early twentieth century sensibility – are exact replicas of the anime opening.

One of the challenges of this particular drama CD is the language that the girls use while at school. Yumi is not, naturally, a formal speaker – her thoughts are couched in reasonably casual language. But if I wasn’t already familiar with the scenario, Sachiko’s sentences would be nigh on impenetrable, they are so formal. ^_^

This CD, which is the first of the series covers the first novel, wherein Sachiko and Yumi meet, Sachiko claims Yumi as her petite sour and Yumi refuses. The CD ends with the end of the second episode of the anime (or chapter of the manga) where Yumi breaks down in tears as she’s questioned by well-meaning friends about her refusal to take Sachiko’s rosary.

The scenes follow the anime progression not the manga, which is moderately closer to the original novel. I think that that is a shame, since the manga is a little gentler to Yumi in this arc. In the manga, when Yumi shows up for dance practice Youko takes her in hand and asks for a volunteer, rather than Sei stepping up, then abandoning her. On the other hand, since the scene is mostly for us to get to know all the Rosas, I guess it hardly matters….

In both the manga and the anime, the second chunk of the arc ends with Yumi crying from stress brought about by her feelings of inadequacy, the pressure she’s feeling from everyone at the school and the pressure of having to be in the presence of not only the Yamayurikai in general, but especially her idol Sachiko-sama. Although she tries to be cool like Sachiko, she can’t maintain the emotional distance and breaks down in front of her friends (who have the decency to feel awful about it.) Yumi thinks that the real problem is that she has real feelings for Sachiko and, so, it was alot easier to adore her from afar, where her feelings could be safe. Now, close to Sachiko as she is, she’s become vulnerable. In the anime and manga, Yumi leaves it at this, but the Drama CD takes it one step further.

Yumi admits to herself that she likes (suki) Sachiko, and that it was easier to admire her from afar. Because Yumi likes her, it’s too painful to be this close. At which point Yumi stops and admits that she *really* (daisuki) likes Sachiko. The CD ends with Yumi repeating, “Daisuki, Sachiko-sama, daisuki” over and over.

IMHO, that puts their relationship one clear step further away from akogare and closer to love. Since we know from the manga, if not the anime, that Sachiko no longer has any feelings for her cousin (who, along with her father’s and grandfather’s callous disregard for the feelings of the women in their lives, has soured her on men in general), I think we have confirmation that Yumi and Sachiko are as a classic “S” couple, in a platonic, but romantic, relationship.

The CD itself is very slickly produced, with background music reminiscent of the anime – without the Utenesque eyecatch theme. The sound quality is good and in general was totally worth the price. It even comes with little plastic Yumi and Sachiko stand-up dolls. (I love the fact that Japanese goods almost always come with an omake. It makes it ever so exciting to open a DVD or CD up to see what else you get!) The CD comes oddly packaged in a DVD-type case, not a jewel case, and the credits look like a personal journal in which Yumi has written – or more correctly, has her thoughts printed in it. There’s also a nice sketch of the Yamayurikai and Yumi in the middle, with the seiyuu and characters names listed by each character. All in all, a very nice addition to a growing CD drama collection.

Story – 8
Yuri – 10
Characters – 8
Voice Acting – 9
Music – 8

Overall – 8

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