When you need your fix: Kanon Drama CD

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As is common, or so it seems, for most anime (and by most I'm using two or three popular anime as a benchmark) Kanon has a series of drama CDs out in Japan. Drama CDs, as you would expect, are audio-only stories, typically side stories (i.e. not relevant to the plot) which are more for light entertainment than anything else - I bring this up considering the often heavy plot matters of Kanon.

Recently, the Kanon audio CDs have been getting fansubbed by OTL, which I think is a first for this sort of stuff. They've done a good job of it as well, presenting it in the visual novel format, with character portraits and backgrounds to match up the text. It might be a simple task, but it really adds a lot to the experience.

But what of the stories themselves? The question one really has to ask when going into this is,

Can you get too much Kanon?

Do the drama CDs fall into the cash-in category or are they worth your time? There are 10 stories and they run about 40 minutes in total. The download size for all of them is roughly equivalent to that of a normal episode of anime (170 MB) and since, well, it's Kanon, the seed speed shouldn't be too bad.

And with that, I can give it a solid recommendation, although it does get a bit awkward at times. Hit the jump for full details.

The good thing about this drama is that the side characters really get a lot of airtime compared to their normal plots. People like Kaori and Mishio in Kanon 2006, and especially 2002, really didn't have a whole lot of purpose other than plot devices. But now, in the drama, we get to see their lighter side, as they spend some friendly time with Yuuichi.

What bugs me a bit about it is Yuuichi's extension of his harem, as such, to these characters as well as Kaori and Mishio exhibit some...questionable...behavior around him, which is a bit disturbing even if it is refreshing to see them break their 'look at me, I'm Yuki' quiet exterior.

Incidentally I have no idea as to the exact release date of this, but I'd imagine between the 2002 and 2006 versions of Kanon as Yuuichi sounds a lot like his 2002 counterpart.

Morning at the Minase's is the first short segment to open up the drama, and clocking in at less than a minute it's not too much to watch. To be honest I don't think it was intended to be, given that it's lacking on the 'funny' per se, as it's just a snapshot of the morning life at...uh...the Minase's. Shocking, isn't it.

Akiko's Shopping List deals with Akiko's scary prowess with food, whether it be having Yuuichi buy another couple hundred bags of rice, or Akiko's ability to cook about everything...especially some things she shouldn't be cooking *cough*jam*hack*.

Shiori's Portrait deals with pretty much exactly what you'd imagine, Shiori and her spectacularly bad art skills. Amusingly enough though Akiko and Ayu both manage to correctly identify Shiori's drawing of Yuuichi - even though he himself cannot do so. The question is, does Shiori really draw that bad or is Yuuichi just a jerk? Perhaps Akiko and Ayu are in on the joke?

Kaori's Crisis is the first of the better ones on the CD, so to speak, and deals with Yuuichi getting into his usual awkwardly haremtastic situations. Nayuki, Yuuichi, and Kaori were all supposed to meet up at the Hyakka cafe as always to study together for a test or something, but when Nayuki gets sidetracked without being able to contact the others, it turns into a surprise 'date' between Kaori and Yuuichi...or so she believes. I can't tell if she's really that dense (and/or into Yuuichi) or just messing with him, but either way, hilarity ensues.

Makoto's Revenge deals, like Shiori's story, with her incredible lack of talent, this time in physical strength - remember the punching scene at the end of 2006 episode 2? Yeah, like that. And so, Yuuichi brings Makoto up through an epic training sequence to help her defeat him. Such training involves, cleaning the bathtub, and buying Yuuichi stuff. See, Yuuichi's clever! And also a jerk, but that's irrelevant, because this is a good skit.

Mai's Valentine deals with pretty much exactly what you think it is, and in exactly the manner you think it is, in that your first guess is wrong but your second is probably right. Sayuri and Yuuichi catch Mai taking cooking lessons from Akiko (I think this might be the only time ever in vaguely canon storyline that the two cross paths) in order to help her learn how to cook chocolates. So of course they put two and two together and come up with five in predicting that Mai's making chocolates for Yuuichi. That'd be meltingly adorable...but no. Sayuri, on the other hand...you see it coming, but it's still entertaining to watch, for sure. Not Mai bias at all here. Nope. Nuh-uh.

Mishio and Fate approximately doubles the amount of time she's existed in the Kanon universe (hello, short end of stick). Yuuichi is out to go buy Makoto stuff, as always, and he runs into Mishio in the manga section of a bookstore. Of course, Makoto's into girly stuff and so it's a bit awkward what Yuuichi's looking at (incidentally, those with sharp eyes can spot a volume of Lucky Star). As such, Yuuichi the still-sort-of-jerkish-guy commandeers Mishio to make the purchases for him, in return for, uh, taking her out to eat. Harem plus plus? Harem++. He also manages to pull the same move he did with Kaori in doing something innocuous looking that completely flusters the girl. Come on. I would put money that either Kaori or Mishio would be the obligatory one person (and only one, somehow) that wasn't completely head over heels for Yuuichi.

Kaori's White Day as typical proves me wrong, as this short-ish piece deals with Yuuichi's lack of care for his new harem member, in that he manages to dish out at least 8 or 9 boxes of giri (i.e. gift, non-romantic, whatever) chocolate for White Day (heh, there's a problem for having a large harem) but happens to convienently forget Kaori, despite all the false starts that make her think he actually does have something left for her (he doesn't). Right, and Kaori only claims she wants her giri chocolate back. Mmhmm, sure.

Ayu's Wish Upon a Star completes the 'every girl appears' checklist (although Nayuki and Sayuri don't get solo stories), in the episode where Ayu deals with typically Ayu stuff: 1) uguu~ and 2) taiyaki. The two of them walk together and exchange uguu~'s as usual when they spot a shooting star. Yuuichi tells Ayu of the whole 'repeat wish 3 times before star dissapears' thing, which causes Ayu to repeat her wish about a million times, spamming it in hope that a star appears. Cute, but annoying. Very. Ayu's wish, since this isn't the main storyline, deals with her and getting taiyaki. A lot of it. Ironically enough it comes true as Akiko pulls out another deux ex machina in having recieved about a couple hundred taiyaki from a co-worker (where does she work?).

Mishio and Fate II - yeah, she's back! Didn't see that coming, eh? Funnily enough I didn't mind it too much as I really do think Mishio deserved more screentime - if not only because of the rapid development she got in 2006 that showed some promise. Mishio and Yuuichi happen to run into each other at Hyakka again, and this time Mishio shows some interest in fortune telling. She discovers that, typically enough, the personality of her and Yuuichi both match up with the ones predicted in the book - what are the odds of that? (Very high) Mishio shows a bit of her scary obsessive side though, in discovering that her and Yuuichi apparently have very high compatibility together, under certain situations. She gets worked up to the point where the waitress calls for Aizawa and both of them respond - remember, women adopt the man's name when they get married.

See, Yuuichi? To hell with Ayu, Nayu, and the rest. You've got Amano. Mmhmm.



I really enjoyed the drama CD - and presenting it as a non-interactive visual novel was sheer genius. In no way did I feel this was a sell-out; and companies should think seriously about releasing more material in this format.

As expected some tracks were better than others. Akiko, Kaori, and Mishio were the real stars - Mishio in particular was a real hoot with all her misunderstandings.

I have mixed feelings regarding the drama CD. On one hand, I really liked how Kaori and Amano got some much-deserved screentime. But on the other hand, I really didn't like Yuuichi in the stories. He came across as easily flustered and a bit too silly. I liked Yuuichi in the 2006 anime because he was so different from the vast majority of male leads: he was confident, capable, and witty. Hearing him stammer when Akiko found him at the supermarket just doesn't fit my image of him. And the fact that Atsushi Kisaichi's portrayal of Yuuichi sounds more like Tomokazu Seki's Kitagawa doesn't help out at all.

I did like how the fansubbers made it into a kinetic novel-ish format, though. LOL at the Lucky Star cameo.

mirrinius: That Yuuichi stammer you're referring to...was that the one when him and Sayuri were spying on Mai and Akiko? Cause I think that'd be a right cause to be flustered.

But you're still right that Drama Yuuichi seems more like the 2002 than the 2006 version, which is a shame.

dsong: I wonder though, is the issue a lack of content or a lack of translators? Since obviously, there don't appear to be a lot of fansubbed drama CDs at the moment. I think quite a few series do have drama series - Wiki lists series like Host Club and DNAngel as having them, I know Haruhi does too, even Lucky Star I think does. (I don't imagine it was too big before the anime) So I imagine a lot of big name anime have drama CDs. How good they are, compared to this though, I don't know. I'll have to start looking for translations in any case (since any of the non visual-novel based ones will be a bit hard to fansub).

Thank you for blogging about our releases.

At first we just wanted to use still shots from the Kanon 2006 anime like other drama CD releases. But since we weren't sure we could get good shots, and the style for the drama CD releases matched more the TOEI version, we decided we should probably use the in-game art.

Unfortunately, there's so much art that's actually not in the game. For example, Amano only has 'depressed,' 'crying,' 'forlorn,' or 'smiling pensively' expressions. A far cry from the range of expressions the script writer had for her. On top of that, a picture of Kuze doesn't even exist in the game!

Our plan is to continue to release all 5 CDs. I hope you will continue to enjoy them.

OTL: It seemed like Mishio had a lot of expressions in some of the side stories, still. Did you end up sort of cut-and-pasting different expressions together or something? It looked pretty good in any case.

And has all this been one CD so far then, since the numbers have continued to go up in each release? That's promising for Kanon addicts like me. :D

Thanks for the great work, I'll look forward to it.

CCYoshi: I believe that was my fault (speaking for myself now rather than our whole group.) I guess I paid too much attention to Amano, as she is my favorite in the drama CDs. 8)

Sakamoto Maaya switches to her 'cute' voice for Amano and I thought I needed to have her eyes reflect that. I used Nayuki's as a base, and made sure they were enlarged as compared to her normal expressions. It was just a lot of photoshop work.

The mouth and nose though, are copy and pastes from the other girls.

As for the CDs, they contain:
CD1 01-13
CD2 01-11
CD3 01-12
CD4 01-13
CD5 01-15

It'll be a long haul, but I'm determined to get through them, for I too am also a Kanon addict. 8)

And now back to work...