Whee! I am so happy to be able to review the first Hatsukoi Shimai Drama CD, Tenshi no Present!
There’s more positives than negatives, so let me get the negatives out of the way quickly. For one thing, it’s too short. I don’t know how long it is, exactly, because there’s no total on the disk, liner notes or product info, and I never bothered totaling up the tracks, but even it had been three hours long, it would have been too short. There wasn’t enough Touko/Akiho and Haruna *still* hasn’t said she loves Chika – at least to her face.
04/14/06 Note – upon relistening to the earlier Koi Shimai Drama CDs, I realize I have been a bit harsh on Haruna. She’s more expressive than I originally gave her credit for, calling Chika her “important person” in the first CD. And, in the second CD when Chika said it would be nice to be Haruna’s sister and be with her always, Haruna replied that she cared for Chika alot, but NOT like a sister – more than that. Chalk it up to my insufficient Japanese comprehension the first time. That having been said…Haruna still does not say she loves Chika directly to her face.)
That about covers the negatives.
Right from the beginning, the language used on this particular CD, like that of the original Koi Shimai CDs, is basic. If I were fluent, this would be a negative. As I am not – and am thrilled to be able to follow much more of the story than usual – this is a definite positive. If you’re learning Japanese and want a fun and Yuri-ful way to practice your listening skills – this is just what you are looking for!
Let’s start with the cast:
Matstusato Chika: Nakahara Mai (Mai from Mai Hime/Mai Otome)
Kanzaki Haruna: Chiba Saeko (Natsuki from Mai Hime/Mai Otome)
Hiiragi Touko: Park Romi (Maki from Air Master)
Kanzaki Akiho: Nonaka Ai (Konoka from Negima!)
Kirika: Satou Rina (Tsutako from Maria-sama ga Miteru)
Miyu: Ohara Sayaka (Alicia from Aria/Layla Hamilton from Kaleido Star/Ezra from Vandread)
Not too shoddy, huh?
Okay, so let me back up two steps. If you recall from my four million times explaining this, the characters all originated as character designs from the covers of Yuri Shimai, Volumes 1,2 and 3. The couples above are listed in order of their appearance. The character designs are by Hibiki Reine, the artist for the Maria-sama ga Miteru novels.
The stories of how Chika met Haruna and Akiho, and how Touko-sensei interfered with them and ultimately ended up with Akiho, are all told in the Koi Shimai Drama CDs, and the first bit will be Volume 1 of the upcoming Hatsukoi Shimai manga.
(I always feel a little breathless discussing this series, because of its fractured history.)
Miyu and Kirika, the third couple have only appeared on the cover of Yuri Shimai 3, and in the little story inside the cover. Until now.
So, here’s the story of this CD:
Haruna and Chika are living in blissful oblivion. We get a whole scene of them enjoying cookies together. Whee! We also get a really nice scene between Akiho and Touko, where they meet at a cafe, ostensibly so Touko can check Akiho’s English homework. Touko spends a little time flirting with the waitress, and getting Akiho jealous – and she is quite surprised when Akiho really *does* want her to check her homework!
Miyu asks Kirika to please, please come to her birthday party. Kirika agrees, but is mortified that she has no present for Miyu. Miyu insists that Kirika coming is all the present she wants.
One day, Chika, on her way to meet Haruna, accidentally runs into another student, who drops the doll she is holding. It’s a glass (probably porcelain?) angel and it smashes as it hits the ground. The student, Kirika, tells Chika to fix it – to put it back the way it was. This is, of course, impossible. So Chika decides to make a beaded kimono as a replacement. Haruna helps her – more bliss. But Kirika rejects that as well – Chika was the one to break the doll, she has to replace it by herself. Kirika insists that Chika find an actual replacement – and do it herself. And as a penalty, she can’t spend time with Haruna until she does.
After Chika says she’ll do it and leaves, Haruna asks Kirika if the angel had been a present. Kirika says yes, for the person she loves. And she asks Haruna if she loves Chika. Haruna says she does, totally.
Miyu finds Chika and asks what’s up. Chika has no clue who she is, but Miyu tells her about the birthday party, and how she and Kirika have been together forever – and she goes off more than a little annoyed at her lover’s behavior.
Chika heads out to the shops, but has no luck – which is not surprising, since Kirika bought it off the TV. As she wanders looking for the angel, Touko roars up on her bike and offers Chika a lift. Touko also says she has an idea where to find the angel.
Haruna comes home, depressed and missing Chika, and wanders into Akiho’s room, where she finds her little sister online. Akiho has hunted down the glass angel and sent Touko off to find Chika and get her to it.
Chika and Haruna go off to locate Kirika to give her the angel, and finds Miyu giving Kirika what for, because she (quite rightfully) feels that Kirika was a jackass about the whole thing. Chika is totally honest and tells her that Touko helped. Kirika accepts the doll – shocked that Chika was able to find it at all. Haruna prompts Kirika to give it to Miyu, who is quite overwhelmed. And to boot, Chika gives her the beaded thing she and Haruna made too.
Haruna and Chika, are making beaded phone straps for each other. (Haruna, btw, is a total maroon about this, and keeps dropping beads). Little by little, Chika tells us, like beads being added on to the strap, she and Haruna grow closer.
Akiho is on the phone with Touko, who tells her several times how much she likes Akiho. Akiho plays, to my dismay, hard to get, but does ask if they can talk a little more.
And we all live happily ever after.
There is a bonus track, in which the seiyuu all discuss gift failures, which was funny, as was to be expected.
Along with the original voice cast and art by Hibiki Reine, the other thing that migrated whole from the original CDs is the musical theme. It’s so silly a thing, but I was kind of glad when I turned on the new CD to hear the same piano theme in the background.
The cover of the CD is reversible – a new picture of Haruna and Chika, and the cover of Yuri Hime 2 with Chika and Miyu. And a postcard.
Story – 5
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Music – 7
Overall – 7
The *best* thing (other than Touko’s sexy voice) was how NOT stick-up-the-butt Haruna is in this new incarnation. I totally approve, even if it has made my fanfic for the series obsolete. ^_^