The fourth Maria-sama ga Miteru Drama CD set, Ibara no Mori! Whee!
This two-CD set covers the third novel of the series, Ibara no Mori/Shiroki Hanabira, which correspond to Episodes 10 and 11 of the first season of the anime – in other words, Sei’s lesbian angst arc.
I now have a complete Yamayurikai set of dolls on my desk at work. I feel better about that. ^_^ (Youko has a really strange look on her face, like she’s about to say something…Sei just looks smug, like she’s gotten away with something and you’ll find out later – to your chagrin.)
The first CD in the set is Ibara no Mori, aka Forest of Thorns. There’s a fair bit of conversation that was left out of the anime and Yoshino is WAY over the top a few times, but the manga is closer to the drama CD than the anime was. There’s STILL stuff missing from the manga, but nothing important. Nonetheless, the Drama CD makes a nice addition to the level of detail, as always. The voice performances are, as expected, very good, but…
The second CD is Shiroki Hanabira, which means White Petals. This is almost exclusively voiced by Toyoguchi Megumi, as Sei narrates the story of how she fell in love with, and lost, Shiori. To say that she does a superlative job is a wild understatement. I was simply breathless during some of the scenes. In fact, I think I can say that this Drama CD may well be the best voice acting I have ever heard *ever* in any medium.
Shinohara Emi was simply amazing as Youko – much better than she was in the anime, and the Former Rosa Gigantea was voiced by one of the most skilled seiyuu in the business, Takayama Minami. She was superb. Nakagawa Akiko was much better in this CD as Shiori than she was in the anime – I expect it’s because she has a bigger part, and we get to know her better. My jaw was hanging open all through the second CD of this set. It was simply brilliant. This was 10’s all the way around.
The *only* complaint I can even find to have on this set was the Foley. The sound engineering was simply awful, especially in the second CD. I don’t know if they were so enamored of the voice acting that they forgot to do it until the last second or what, but I have honestly never heard such bad Foley outside an incredibly low budget kung-fu flick.
Character – 10
Story – 10 (to be fair, teen angst doesn’t *usually* appeal to me, but done this well…)
Voice Acting – 10
Yuri – 10
Overall – 10
If you can understand even a little Japanese, you should get this CD set. This is *the* must-have Marimite item so far.