This CD that you see here in the picture to the left is one of my prize possessions. One of my very favorite series is Hana no Asuka-gumi (花のあすか組), which was exceptionally popular in the mid-to-late 80’s. I have never really reviewed the original manga series (which is available still in reprint from Amazon Japan. This is the link to the most recent reprint of Hana no Asuka-gumi Volume 1.
Lastly, I have also reviewed the Hana no Asuka-gumi live-action movie and the first volume of the New Hana no Asuka-gumi manga. And, in 2011, the new live-action movie, Hana no Asuka-gumi NEO. Once you’ve read all of those, you will still have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about – but you’ll understand how much I like this series. ^_^
The story of Kuraku Asuka takes place over a series of 27 manga volumes, with 6 “supplementary” volumes, 2 extras and a novel, and 8-volume “new” manga series, as well as several Drama CDs and a TV show that was only marginally related to the manga. The live action movie was even less related than the TV show, which at least kept the main characters in modern Tokyo. The second live action movie was much more satisfying.
Briefly, for those of you who do not want to do so much work, Asuka is a 14-year old who had a rough time at school with bullies and tried to kill herself. She is not saved by her love interest Yohko. Instead, Yokho uses and abuses her emotionally and Asuka has to pretty much save herself over and over from the many bad guys who want to defeat her, and from both the women who are in love with her – Yohko and the head of all the gangs in Tokyo, the bizarre and melodramatic Hibari-sama. As you can imagine with this set-up, there is a lot of fighting in this series.
Asuka manages to save a damsel in distress every story arc as she becomes the best fighter and the most prominent target among the girl gangs in town. Hibari-sama’s organization is complex and fasicinating and no matter how many times I write about it, you really won’t be able to follow it all unless you read every last volume of the original manga. Sorry. (I have written two fanfics for this series in which I explain a little about the world of the Zenchuu Ura. You can find those on my “Worldshaking” Fanfic, if you care to look. They still won’t explain it all.)
All of the above, and the *incredible* sexual tension between Yohko and Asuka and Hibari and Asuka are why I love this series in general. The reason I love this particular Drama CD however is that the main character of Kuraku Asuka is voiced by none other than my absolute favorite voice actress, Ogata Megumi. And oh my god, is she perfect as Asuka. Not just “I love her voice” perfect, she actually is perfect for the role.
This series and this Drama CD dates from back when female roles were drawn and voiced to appear older than their years, as opposed to today’s trend towards moeification.. I much prefer the old school on this. Hibari’s voice actress voices her as the perfect scheming queen, Kasuga is voiced like a domme, and Bara no Miya’s voice cuts right through me. But Yohko and Asuka…gawd. May you one day have the pleasure of hearing Yohko and Asuka talk to each other on this CD. This, my friends, is hot like “the CD player has started smoking” hot.
Did I mention that Yohko was played by Koyama Mami, the woman who voiced “Miya-sama”, Ichinomiya Fukiko in Oniisama E /Dear Brother? And that Soumi Yoko, who played BC in Vandread more brilliantly that the show deserved, here plays Hibari-sama…with a voice that could peel shrimp of their shells, as she asks Asuka to come closer so she can see her face better…
Sorry, I’m drooling again.
Let’s not overlook Orikasa Ai, who has been playing pretty blonde boys for*ever* and who here voices Kasuga like she’s going to swing out of Hibari’s sight and go slap a few cute girls around to relieve tension. ^_^ Ikura Kazue (who is currently working as Chopper in One Piece, but established her girl gang street cred as Asamiya Saki, the lead in Sukeban Deka plays a mean (and I meant that literally and figuratively) Bara no Miya.
Story – 9
Music – excruciating, yet earwormy – 6
Characters – 9
Yuri – 7
HnAG Fan Service – 100
Overall – 9
THIS is what Hana no Asuka-gumi should be.