Last summer I had a chance to listen to and review the first of the Grand Stage Drama CDs. Grand Stage is a series of monologues by otokoyaku (women who play males roles,) of a fictitious musical review troupe called Grand Stage. The first CD followed “Hiou Akito,” voiced by Ogata Megumi. Akito is teasing and playful, very much the way she voiced Tenoh Haruka in the original Sailor Moon anime.
So this year, we’re in Animate in Tokyo and it occurs to me to try and find the Grand Stage CDs, as I know there are a few new ones that were just coming out around then. No luck on my first try. Or my second, but on our last shopping day, as we mosied around the Animate in Ikebukuro (our home away from home when we’re in Tokyo) I looked up and there was Hiou Akito! I’m like, REALLY?!? So I start looking for the rest of the series.
Wait – let me digress here and discuss one of the many “issues with shopping for stuff in Japan.” Animate is 8 floors, and one floor is all CDs and DVDs, but when I say “floor” I mean the space is pretty damn small for a store. Maybe 1000 sq. ft./section in two sections on either side of the elevator? It’s hard to guesstimate with all that *stuff* in the way. I.e., there is only so much space on the shelves and they tend to favor the current and popular over anything else – and they do a lot of business as pre-orders. So often it’s easier for me to order media and have it shipped rather than try to find it on shelves. Point is, the chances of me seeing the newest Grand Stage Drama CD were astronomical.
And yet, there it was. My wife ran up and asked where the rest of them were (if the rest were…) and lo and behold, on my last day in Tokyo, when I had no intention of buying anything, I blew $150 on Drama CDs. (I wasn’t alone in this, my wife threw $100 at the Bandai Premium Spiral Heart Moon Rod and Bruce ended up buying a Hatsune Miku figurine so large and magnificent that he had to get new luggage to transport her. ^_^. ) So thank you Okazu Patrons for helping me support this awesome Yuri Drama CD series!
The real surprise here is that this series sold well enough for them to make a second series of CDs. I’m pretty happy about that.
Which brings me to Grand Stage, Vol. 2 “Subaru Ryoya” (グラン・ステージ 第2幕 「昴 涼夜」) which follows the Grand Stage’s “Phantom of the Opera”, voiced by Toyoguchi Megumi, whom you will know best as Sei in Maria-sama ga Miteru.
The first track is, as it was in the first volume, the Grand Stage theme, sung by all 5 of the voice actresses. It’s perfect and ridiculous and wonderful.
Subaru Ryoya is, as one might expect of a otokoyaku nicknamed “Phantom,,” haughty and aristocratic. “We” bump into her – literally – on the way to practice and she is extremely rude. When it turns out that we are her partner, she is…condescending, to say the least. She informs us that she is a member of a famous kabuki family and her father and brother are both well-known stars. We, uninterested in cultural relics, don’t apparently, care. That someone would be such a uncultured clod but still expect to be her Christine makes Ryoya laugh – for the first time, not unkindly. “What a strange girl” we are!
We spend time with her, make her something sweet to eat, and learn a bit about how she ended up on the Grand Stage. And all the while, Ryoya is softening towards us and our apparently clueless, but confident, personality. By the time we nail the audition, the “Phantom” has convinced herself we have potential to be her Christine, but warns us that the role has sent 13 other singers to the hospital trying to keep up with her.
Obviously, we are amazing and we and Ryoya head out to practice, knowing we will be amazing together.
The final track is Toyoguchi-san singing a solo, “CRIME OF LOVE” the very title of which has me giggling. You can hear it here on the Youtube clip for this CD:
Overall – 8
Although, I have to admit, I kept thinking, “Sheesh, Ryoya is kind of a jerk.” ^_^