There is a difference between people who read manga or watch anime and “fans” of anime and manga. Fans want more than just to read or watch – we want to interact with the work, to spend more time with the characters, to be more *involved.* In part, this is why fans create parody art, fiction, comics, games, etc., of their favorite series and characters.
In fact, Umberto Eco defines literature as works that have escaped the bounds of their original text and have taken on new lives and iterations. Think of a few of your favorite series, not just anime, but books, movies, any media. Sherlock Holmes comes to mind for me – a character that has been reborn and re-envisioned every generation since his actual conception. Or how about Jane Austen, a writer who not only has spawned any number of reinterpretations of her own work, but has inspired legions of Regency romance writers as well, and who has now been reimagined as a detective.
As a fan, I know that when I encounter characters I find appealing, I want to spend more time with them. This is why I write fanfic and it is why I listen to Drama CDs. The Drama CDs I enjoy most are not only a chance to spend more time with the characters, they are a chance to get more information, enjoy new adventures, get more detail about those characters. My favorite Drama CDs contain original stories that are not in manga or anime, like the Kotonoha no Miko to Kotodama no Majyo to and the El Cazador DCDs. There are also Drama CDs that add a layer of complexity and life to material that is already in the original text, like the second Hayate x Blade DCD. In the case of the Marimite DCDs, we get more of the text from the novels than is covered in either manga or anime and we get to enjoy the 3-dimensionalizing effect of the voice actors, giving actual life to mere words on a page.
All of this is to explain why I found the Drama CD of Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu: Gyakushuu no Akazukin-chan (Red Riding Hood’s Counterattack) to be a disappointment.
It’s true that the characters are brought to life by the seiyuu, but…. The mini-DCD that came with the manga covered the first chapters of the story in which Akiho and Haruka and Fuyuka and Natsuki meet and develop their relationships. As I have mentioned in my reviews of that mini DCD (which also lists the voice actresses involved) and the manga, these were the weakest and least pleasant chapters of the story, making the DCD of those chapters something I have no intention of listening to again.
I had hoped that the full DCD would include the “First Kiss” arc that dealt with the teachers Reiko and Ayano, but no luck. This DCD also does not include the final chapter where the four girls take an overnight trip to the beach. What we do get is a retelling of the chapters where the four meet, Fuyuka pursues Natsuki and is rebuffed, the crisis that Akiho engenders when she declares that she is in love with Fuyuka and Fuyuka and Natsuki’s reconciliation.
None of this is particularly awful, it’s just – we’ve been there already. It’s nothing new, no extra information, no extra detail. In fact, the DCD is pretty much word for word from the manga. Not even an extra non-manga scene to fill any of the characters out. Since I was not enamored of the story in the manga, I found it no more enchanting this time around. And I still maintain that, as much as I like her, Noto Mamiko was not the right choice for Fuyuka’s voice.
Given that the other Yuri Hime Drama CDs were different than the original texts (and especially as the MikoMajyo DCDs were *so* fabulous,) I had hoped for more than this. However. If you LOVED the original manga and can’t wait to hear it performed by well-known and talented actresses, then you will not be disappointed. In that aspect, it was very good.
There was one random thing that completely puzzled me. In the cast comments at the end, Kawakami Tomoko, who played Reiko-sensei, comments that this was her first time playing a Girls Love role. Really??? Has she looked at her credits recently? In case you don’t remember, like she apparently doesn’t, she played Utena in Shoujo Kakumei Utena and Kris Kristopher in Battle Athletes and Battle Athletes Victory. I know all the arguments for Utena not being a Yuri character, but you will never ever convince me that Kris is not. (Or Sayuri, from Kanon, or Satsuki from Uta-Kata, etc….) Or maybe I was half listening and it was someone else who said that, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.
Story – 5
Characters – 5, except for Akiho, who is a 7
Yuri – 9
Service – 7
Overall – 5
Better than the mini DCD, because we’ve left the heavy-duty sexual harrassment behind, but without the “First Kiss” arc and the final manga chapter, kind of weak. If you love the story and the seiyuu, then go for it. Otherwise stick to the manga and save your money for a better DCD.