11/05/2007

Taiyaki Never Goes Bad: Kanon Drama CD, Part 2

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The wonders of being American and, as such, Japanese-illiterate, is that new content manages to come out for old, popular shows seemingly endlessly.

When in reality perhaps all the rampant merchandising of a show ended a few years ago - in this case, the last drama CD was released in 2003 - the slow trickle of the content through the fansub community (understandable, non-anime content is usually a bit slower to translate) allows for a steady supply of material on the English side of things

As such, the continuing translation of the Kanon drama CDs (supposedly 5 in all; or at least, the third 'Akiko' set) is something that really sends rabid fanboys like me over the moon.

The drama CDs are, admittedly, less than canon (insert pun) content, in that many characters' personalities are different than what's seen of them in the anime. This is mainly true for the side characters, who didn't get much exposition anyway, though; as such, it's entertaining enough to see a side to the secondary characters that time didn't allow.

So Mishio - and, dare I say it, Kuze - fans will really find a lot to like with the drama CDs.

And pardon the fanwankery, but I think a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised with the animation of the drama CD as well.


OTL really went above and beyond the call of duty with their release of the drama CD. Presented in visual novel format, the backgrounds and characters on-screen change in true VN fashion; starting with the second CD, the mouths even move - in sync - with the voices!


Not to mention, some of the extra work in creating backgrounds - such as this manga Yuuichi was reading - or entire characters, in the case of Kuze, who had no sprite in the original VN! It really does a lot towards extending the entertainment value of the drama CD, and I have to hand it to OTL for all their extra work.

Not to say that the drama CD is any less subpar. Check out this previous post for the first ten stories of the first CD.

Continuing off, the 11th story of CD 1, Kuze's Struggle, deals with the everpresent enemy of arcadegoers everywhere, the crane game. As most should be familiar with by now, Mai is a stuffed animal fan, and so when Mai sees a cute one (or what passes for it) trapped in a UFO catcher (hint: a way to not say 'crane game' twice) she is instantly drawn to it.

It's revealed that she actually wants to get it for Sayuri, in that pseudo-quasi-yuri form of friendship that the two have, and so, 'Crane Crasher' Yuuichi, being the manly man he is, vows to get that animal for her.

Like most manly men, Yuuichi fails miserably. Kuze, ever the cocky bastard, comes into the scene to taunt him, when it's revealed to him that the doll is for Sayuri. Then it's his turn to try to win one for her. Being an even manlier man, and with some sort of soft spot for Sayuri (there's a shipping doomed to fail), Kuze fails even harder, and makes some great baseball references in the product.

Flash forward to the Minase household, where Sayuri recieves a bunch of stuffed animals from Yuuichi and Mai...but mostly Mai. 'Crane Crasher' Mai. Kuze drops in, now playing the stalker role, and proudly gives Sayuri one as well...that's revealed to have been purchased from a convenience store. Amusement ensues.

Nayuki's Bathhouse Laws, the 12th story, deals with the travel of the Minases and one very lucky Yuuichi to a public bath, after the latter utterly destroyed their private bath (without even resorting to miso soup like a certain Makoto).

It's more of a light track than a humorous one, as Nayuki recounts all the fun things they used to do in the bathhouse together (...whaaaaat?), which mainly involves Yuuichi pulling a lot of jokes on naive Nayuki. Certainly shows that the two go way back and have a good relationship...although maybe too good; Nayuki references how back then she and Nayuki used to go into the same side (i.e. gender-wise) of the bathhouse. Scary.

The 13th story is actually the bonus track of the CD, and deals with all the Kanon characters drumming up attention for the other drama CDs, although there is some funny fourth-wall-age when each character shows up in turn to advertise their section...even crazy-laugh Kuze. It gets to be a big crowd.

Moving on to the second CD, as usual, the first story, Nayuki's Errand, is a slow kind of intro piece, with more of a relaxed feel than a funny one. Nayuki asks Akiko via phone if she needs any errands run for her on Nayuki's way back from school.

Now, as much of a kind-hearted person she is, Nayuki mainly asks because she spies her slave carrying buddy Yuuichi across the street. And so, Akiko asks Nayuki to purchase the usual truckload of stuff.

Yuuichi is the first to get home, by himself, and it's not until later that Nayuki manages to flop through the door, pushing the bell with her face (Incidentally, there is a mark on her sprite just as descripted. Props.) while carrying multiple bags of rice.

By then, it's revealed that Yuuichi suddenly got dragged into another taiyaki thievery situation by everyone's favorite uguu~machine, and as such didn't notice Nayuki. Poor girl had to carry home all the food by herself instead of turning down her mom. At least now she'll be strong and fast. And sleepy. And ever-adorable.

The ominously titled second story, What'll Happen to Yuuichi Tommorow?!, occurs around New Year's, and begins with Makoto begging Yuuichi for New Year's money, having spent all the cash from Akiko. Yuuichi, a beggar himself, flat out refuses, saying that you only recieve money from old people like Akiko.

Catch the fatal mistake.

Yuuichi goes off to spend his own money, and eventually runs into Akiko and Makoto exploring the shopping district. Confused as to why Makoto gets more attention (and money), Yuuichi inquires, and suddenly his critical error becomes clear.

Never call Akiko old.

As such, Akiko goes on the offensive with that famous brand of very subtle threatening (suggesting that the family needs three bags of rice today, paid and carried by Yuuichi), showing that it's not just her jam that you need to worry about. I can't decide whether it'd be scarier to have Subtle Mafia Agent Akiko or Yandere Akiko, but either way, this is an amusing scene.

The last story released so far, Makoto Wants to Write a Diary, is a long one and a golden one. It begins with Yuuichi recounting some of his relatively ordinary days in his diary, the recurring theme being him buying his harem food to raise their spirits.

Eventually, we get to Yuuichi writing about himself at the bookstore. Having previously bought Makoto the shoujo title Love Love My Darling, Yuuichi notes that it's up to volume eleven, and, being the macho man he is, decides to read it for himself.

Naturally, he's hooked, and begins to read one of the scenes (the confession, naturally) out loud. After a good read, he looks up to find everyone's favorite ice-queen-turned-fangirl, Mishio, reading along with him. He flips out at her scarily obsessive antics - especially since it's unknown whether she actually read the confession part with him or not.

At this point he escapes from the flashback into reality, where he finds out that his diary entry for the next day has already been written for him by Makoto. Tommorow, he is fated to lend money to her for nikuman and manga.

Unsurprisingly, he raises a fuss, and so Makoto recieves her own diary compliments of Akiko. Within a day, however, Makoto writes an entire half-year's worth of entries...all reading the same thing about getting money from Yuuichi. It takes a bit to iron out the misunderstanding.

Although, to Yuuichi, nothing is scarier than the final line in his entry for the last day, written in pink marker and voiced by Mishio in the CD: "Aizawa-san and I confessed to each other..."

Gold, gold I tell you! I don't care if Mishio wasn't a tenth this energetic and love-love (not even like shy, but more Lisianthus-style "I'm gonna get you to love me, damn it" stuff) in the original work, this kind of personality flip for her is hilarious and completely awesome and I'm finding myself liking her as a character even more.

Kuze doesn't fail to dissapoint in his moment in the spotlight as well, even if the thought of him chasing after Sayuri sets off the gag reflex. The usual formula of 'cocky attitude + complete failing' works well, and his analogies are very funny.

The other characters don't dissapoint as well, although they do fit their defined role more with Nayuki being the childhood friend, Makoto being dense/naive, and Akiko being very 'friendly'. If there was one issue, it'd be that there wasn't enough Shiori Yuuichi didn't have as much of his usual sharp wit, instead being more on the recieving ends of situations; but this is a change from the norm and allows the side characters to shine.

Otherwise, I would give the drama CDs a hearty recommendation for anyone who needs more Kanon, as it's an amusing take on the normally dramatic life of the sad girls in snow.

-CCY

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