Archive for the Grand Stage Category


Yuri Drama CD: Grand Stage Romance Review 2 Subaru Ryoya (グラン・ステージ ロマンスレビュー 第2幕「昴涼夜」)

November 25th, 2016

gsrrsrLesson learned. When one has a week-long migraine, one should not listen to Toyoguchi Megumi yelling at one for 40 minutes. 

Learned, because that is the bulk of the content of Grand Stage Romance Review 2, Subaru Ryoya (vラン・ステージ ロマンスレビュー 第2幕「昴涼夜」) – Ryoya yelling at you. ^_^;

You may recall from Ryoya’s original Grand Stage Drama CD, that she is imperious and demanding and that we, as the Christine to her Phantom, have a lot to live up to. As the second series Drama CD opens, we have failed to live up to her standard and she is furious with us.

One of the many things I like about the Romance Review series is that the behavior “we” engage in (as narrated by the otokoyaku) all seem really sensible. “Our” behavior makes perfect sense in the context of what’s going on. So, as Ryoya is ragging endlessly at us, at some point I thought, “Good god, Ryoya are you jealous?” And, all of a sudden, we hear the rustle of cloth, Ryoya reacts as if she’s been slapped and I thought, “we” just said that exact same thing to her face. Good.

Ryoya follows us to the park, where we meet up with Akabara-no-kimi, presumably for advice on how to deal with Ryoya.  Ryoya’s jealousy hits 4th gear. What follows was a series of intriguing conversations around this straightforward plot.

First thing of note was the excruciatingly adorable shift in Toyoguchi-san’s voice when Ryoya calls home. The imperious, demanding Phantom sounds, instantly like a daughter talking to her mom. I squeed and laughed out loud simultaneously. 

Also extremely enjoyable was Akabara-no-kimi’s gentle guidance. She said something that has had me thinking for days. When Ryoya reluctantly admits to being jealous of Akabara-no-kimi, Yui says, “So am I.” “Akabara-no-kimi” Yui points out, is a construct, a work of fiction, that she is always running after. I though that was a genuinely insightful line.

The final scene is our and Ryoya’s reconciliation. She admits to be having been a jealous ass and we agree that she has indeed been a jealous ass. ^_^ Our speaking parts are indicated by much movement of cloth, indicating expressive physical movement, and I had a momentary vision of us speaking in Japanese Sign Language with flamboyant, angry arm motions. It made for a great imagined visual.

The final track is Ryoya’s new image song, “Sleepless Night” in which her jealousy plays a part in keeping her up.

Ratings: 

Overall – 8

I very much enjoyed this CD, despite the shouting. In several ways it served to humanize Ryoya and also give us a backbone that we were not permitted in the original Phantom/Christine scenario. 

Here is Toyoguchi-san singing “Sleepless Night”. Enjoy.

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Yuri Drama CD: Grand Stage – Romance Review, Volume 1 [Hiou Akito] ( グラン・ステージ ロマンスレビュー 第1幕「陽央あきと」)

November 7th, 2016

61hburgghl-_sx425_Waaaaahhhhhh!!! You guysss!!!!!!! This is the greatest Drama CD ever made. EVER. I doesn’t matter if you don’t understand a single word of Japanese, just run out right now and buy this and listen to it!

Ahem.

It came as a pleasure and a surprise that the Grand Stage series of Drama CDs by étriere was given a second “season” as it were. So I began, as I did the first time, with Volume 1, Grand Stage -Romance Review  (Hiou Akito) ( グラン・ステージ ロマンスレビュー 第1幕「陽央あきと」), starring Ogata Megumi as the tease of Sora-gumi, Hiou Akito.

This is the gayest thing I have ever listened to in my life.

As I suspected it might, the opening theme for the series is now “Hisshou ~WE CAN FLY~” with all five of the otokoyaku voice actresses singing what would be a perfectly respectable boy band song.

The CD begins at an onsen, at which we and Akito share a room…and a bath, then dinner. Then we head into the bathroom for more bathing, and all the while Akito is teasing, sexy, playful and really annoying. She completely gets on our nerves when we say we like her and she jokes instead of taking us seriously. We storm off, angry.

Akito is distressed by her inability to be serious, but she just never really thought about how to be taken seriously before. She meets up with Kazamiya Eru, and the youngest otokoyaku turns out to be wise beyond her years. 

Akito takes us out, then brings us back to her place to wine and dine us. With some sincere effort, she confesses that she likes us too. And we live happily ever after! Yay us!

The CD comes with a printed short-story insert which continues our tale. Akito invites us to meet her family. They are lovely, of course, and so excited to meet us. As we and Akito walk the shore of her hometown, Yokohama, she reminisces about her childhood and her best friend. Miraculously, the best friend shows up and we get to meet Hazuki, who knew Asahi when. (Asahi, the we of the Drama CD knows, is Akito’s real name.) Hazuki and Asahi joke around, talking about the old days. We learn Hazuki was also an otokoyaku for a while. As the day ends, we are very glad to have been allowed into Akito’s life a little bit more. And we walk off into the sunset as a happy Romeo and Juliet.

I know I’m super biased, but holy crap is Ogata-san sexy in this CD. And did I mention how gay it is? 

The final track is Akito singing “Always on my Mind.”which you can enjoy via the official Grand Stage channel on YouTube.

The recent stage show definitely went for the fakey-BL aspect, based on pictures of the production, as I suspected it might. But this CD is pure Yuri. In the short story, Akito is referred to as “kanoujo”, ie., “her,” throughout. Ogata-san uses her voice to smooth-talk and tease through the whole opening scene, leaving this listener with no doubt at all, that this series is meant for us.

Ratings: 

Overall – 9

I am hoping like heck that we get a third series. These are just sooo good. ^_^ And to say that Grand Stage scratches all my itches, is an understatement. It’s got some of my fave voice actresses playing otokoyaku of of a musical revue troupe, romancing their female partners, on a Drama CD. It’s perfect!

 

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Yuri Drama CD – Grand Stage Daiundokai (グラン・ステージ 大運動会 ドラマCD)

September 25th, 2016

gsutk Welcome back to a joyful, squeeful look at one of Japan’s Yuri-est exports, The Grand Stage series of Drama CDs. Today we’re looking at the final CD of the first “season” Grand Stage Daiundokai (グラン・ステージ 大運動会), in which the otokoyaku of the Grand Stage Sora-gumi compete in a sports festival against the other groups. (Groups that, until just now, we didn’t know existed.)

There any number of goofy contests, including the bun-eating race, which poses a huge problem for Ryoya, who is disgusted by such low-class food. The otokoyaku are required to read romantic lines into a microphone for the service of the female fans and, of course, there is a relay race in which dramatic things happen and despite injuries and because of sacrifices…they win. Phew! It’s even okay that they don’t win the contest, because they gave it their all and two of them won special achievement awards and they bonded as a team, as nakama. Niji-gumi can have the trophy.

As promised, we meet Kohaku Minami’s older sister Kurea (Claire) who is voiced by Kitamura Eri, who also does Kohaku Minami. In fact, every time we heard the female fans cheering I giggled, knowing the the otokoyaku VAs were voicing the fans, as well.

In between the events, the “boys” performed a song. And as we are at the last  CD of this series I really wanted to take a moment and tall about the music and the singers.

Every other CD has begun with a song called “Yume on Stage”  (夢 on Stage) which I have repeatedly described as the most musically predictable song ever. I’ve found a link to it on what admittedly is some really shady site. Scroll down to click the green “play” button to smile at a song so musically predictable, you’ll know every note that is coming, right down the flourish in the final line. ^_^ It’s not hard at all to imagine a Takarazuka-like revue troupe singing it.

In this drama CD, they take a completely different tack. Last spring when I was in Japan, we spent a day walking around Sunshine 60, because we had nothing else to do particularly and randomly ran into a boy idol group performance. It was surprisingly pleasant. Well, the song from this Drama CD, called “Hisshou ~WE CAN FLY~” (飛翔~WE CAN FLY~) was something you can totally imagine a boy band singing. And you know what? They sing it *really* well!  So I found you a link on a shady site, so you can enjoy at least part of the song. And I want to apologize to Toyoguchi Megumi. Because in Maria-sama ga Miteru, as Sei sits at her graduation ceremony, she murders Aogeba Toutoshi, the song always sung at high school graduations in Japan, I assumed she couldn’t sing. She can. I offer my sincere apologies for not remembering actresses act.

Physical extras with the CD this time is a card with all five of the characters in street clothes (as opposed to costume.)

Before I wrap up, I want to mention the gags built around Akabara-no-kimi, Suoh Yui. She is positioned as the senior otokoyaku of the group, to whom everyone defers. And she is also presumed to be the most cultured and elite of them, even more than the aristocratic Ryouya. So when she asks to join her teammates for lunch, you can imagine the scene as the ranks of waiters carrying trays and  trays of French cuisine across the field. ^_^

After the relay, in which Hiou Akito has been hurt, among other calamities, Akabara-no-kimi offers to help Akito get to her personal physician, I had to laugh again, as Ryoya commented that if the fans saw Yui holding Akito like that, it would be mayhem. ^_^

Overall, this was an extremely enjoyable CD and great way to end the series.

However, it played more with the maleness of the otokoyaku more than was “Yuri.” There’s never any sense of irony as the otokoyaku read romantic lines to “girls” or speak of their partners. They are largely playing the part as boys, rather than as women who play boys.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

I’m more bummed than ever at the thought of losing Saiga Mitsuki as Akabara-no-kimi if they continue, since that is the plot of the live action stage event.  Oh well, I’ve got a bunch more of these to go, and I can always go back and enjoy them all over again.

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Grand Stage…on Stage!

August 29th, 2016

GSLToday’s post is via YNN Correspondent Brendan B, who wrote in with some amazing news! The Grand Stage series of Drama CDs are going live…on stage.

It’s such extraordinary news, in fact, that I didn’t want to lump it in with the rest of the news report.

First things first, Grand Stage Live will be held October 26, through October 30, at the Akasaka Red Theater in Tokyo. The cast has been announced and although it does not cast any of the voice actresses of the CDs, at least some of the cast has played male roles, included Ryuuto, who is playing Kohaku Minami. Ryuuto, Brendan pointed out, was one of the male villians in a Sailor Moon Musical.

The rest of the cast is as follows. Hiou Akito is being played by Nakayama Satsuki; Komori Misae plays Subaru Ryouya, Tanigawa Airi (a NMB48 member) plays Kazamiya Eru and Yuuto Irya plays Suoh Yui.

The story synopsis tells us that Grand Stage does a special Halloween performance every year and this year, Akabara-no-kimi, Suoh Yui is stepping down. A new surprising person is about to be named Top Star!

I’d guess that indicates a third series of Drama CDs (or at least a new one with a new seiyuu.) I’m okay with that, although I will be sad to lose Saiga Mitsuki. She was so wonderful as Suoh Yui in that 5th drama CD.

A recent article in ModelPress (in Japanese) actually talks about the Live event of the series and about women models playing “Ikemen” (attractive men.) Of course, the actresses are not playing attractive men…they are playing women who play attractive men, which is an interesting layer of mindfuckery.

Grand Stage Live has a Facebook page, and Twitter account, if you want to keep up on news.

I’m going to have to say, this is pretty big news. It’s a level of meta that is both appealing and really strange if you take a moment to think about it. ^_^

Thanks Brendan and if anyone is going to be in Japan in late October, and can see this, do let me know! I will demand a review.

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Yuri Drama CD – Grand Stage, Volume 5 Akabara-no-Kimi, Suoh Yui ( グラン・ステージ 第5幕「赤薔薇の君 蘇皇唯」)

August 12th, 2016

GS5SMHave I mentioned how much I love this series? I mean, yes, I have, but I really love this series! Every time the opening theme plays, I grin like a fool, because it’s just the greatest, most musically predictable piece ever written…and I love it. ^_^

Here we are at the fifth Grand Stage Drama CDAkabara-no-Kimi, Suoh Yui ( グラン・ステージ 第5幕「赤薔薇の君 蘇皇唯」) who will (also rather predictably) be playing Hikaru Genji in the Tale of Genji, the production for which we are auditioning.

Immediately, Yui pushes our boundaries, asking for our real name as well as our stage name. And this behavior continues throughout the CD. She never goes too far, but there are a few moments when it got dicey. Yui is, she tells us, looking for her new Shirayuri-hime, the partner she formerly had, to her Genji. Will we, a mere Murasaki, ever live up to her princess?

Having decided we seem suitable, Yui takes us out for a drive where we impress her and she, slowly, impresses us. She feeds us delicious baked goods and, finally, in front of a fountain, she kisses us. After which we fall into the water. She takes us home and tells us that we’re more than capable of being her Shirayuri-hime to her Akabara-no-kimi.

Saiga Mitsuki (Chie Hallard from Mai HiME and Mai Otome) is incredibly sexy as Yui. It’s Chie’s Yuri power-up x 100. And also quite versatile, as her deepest voice range is used for her recitation as “Genji,” while as Yui she is still fully otokoyaku-like. One, of course, imagines that her kiss is on the forehead, but still, she gets a kiss, even as she obsesses about the difference between being our lover or our partner. She declares that we’ll make a great partner, (but that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of the other.)

Included with the CD are a character card and a “signed” image and another short story. In the short story, we have a fever, and Yui was able to take of us, insisting that we are a princess as she feeds us. We say we’re well enough to go through with the audition. After the audition, we collapse in Yui’s arms, with a renewed fever, but Yui swears she’ll take care of us. She ends with a suggestive line about us slowly blossoming into becoming her Shirayuri-hime and we are happy about that.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

As always, I’m fascinated by the pure Yuri-ness of this series. The voice actresses are the dead give away. If this was meant to be merely a Takarazuka-esque look at fandom, then any voice actress who voiced male roles would do. Instead, Grand Stage lines up five actresses with unimpeachable Yuri cred, then has them embracing, stroking, snuggling and kissing “us.” Yeah. This series is totally for us. ^_^

Enjoy Yui’s moody image song:

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