Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Lovely But Lethal

いつまでも待つわ あなたに送るメッセージ

To be in time for the last dance
I'll always wait. My message for you
"My Love Letter Still There" (Kisaragi Miki)

It's been a while since the last audio drama review!

Kisaragi Miki was a not very succesful, nor talented idol (singer/actress/model), but even she had her share of fans. Five of her fans have gathered together in a penthouse exactly one year after Miki's unfortunate death to commemorate their idol. The five men got to know each other through online message boards, and that's why the people gathered have the oddest names: Boss, Ono Daisuke, Snake, Yasuo and Strawberry Girl. As they talk with each other about memories of Miki and show off their fan goods, they slowly come to realize that Miki's death, who was thought to have burned to death in a fire in her apartment building, might not have been just an accident. As their discussion evolves, a horrible truth starts to take shape in their minds, one which shows that perhaps one of the five men present at this meeting, might be responsible for Miki's death. A trip into memories unfolds in the 2009 audio drama Kisaragi - Voice Actors Version.

Kisaragi was originally a 2007 film penned by Kosawa Ryouta, featuring the same story. I haven't seen the film, but from what I understand the 2009 Voice Actors Version (by Momogre, who also did the Arisugawa Alice audio dramas) is mostly a very faithful adaptation of the original story. I emphasize mostly, becausse it appears the Voice Actors Version does feature a slightly different ending (more on that later). One more difference is the name of one of the characters. In the original film, one of the characters used the nickname Oda Yuuji, a popular actor/singer. This was pretty funny, because "Oda Yuuji" was actually played by Santamaria Yuusuke, an actor who has played with Oda in several TV series/films before. In Kisaragi ~ Voice Actors Version, "Oda Yuuji" is switched with "Ono Daisuke", who is a famous voice actor. The funny thing here is that Sugita Tomokazu is playing "Ono Daisuke", while the real Ono Daisuke is also acting in this drama as "Boss".

Overall, I'd say Kisaragi ~ Voice Actors Version is a fun story, which might not be very deep, but manages to entertain from start to finish. The story is built completely around conversations between the characters and each of the characters is distinct enough in behavior to keep the listener's attention throughout (the voice actors also do a good job at playing very distinct roles, allowing the listener to keep them apart without any trouble). As for how the mystery unfolds: after one of the men makes a daring accusation, each of them start to remember little episodes surrounding Miki that sheds a different light on the situation. Because of that, the situation keeps on changing and occassionally little remarks made earlier in the story come back in surprising ways. While it's not a completely fair mystery story because of the way the men keep remembering things at crucial points, it does keep the story exciting and it is a very accessible, but interesting example of how quickly deductions can change just by the addition of one new element, like often featured in the mystery stories by Ellery Queen and Anthony Berkeley.

Much of the story's comedy is derived from its (admittedly stereotypical) presentation of idol (w)otaku. Both the film and the audio drama even end with a song by Miki, interspersed with wotagei (dancing gestures and utterances that are done by fans during the performance of a song). Yet it is not mean-spirited and the depiction of wotaku here is even heartwarming. The image of Miki portrayed through their memories is also surprisingly vivid, even though it's a character who's been dead for a year by the time the story starts.

The Voice Actors Version features an ending that... is pretty much the most horrible thing they could've done to 'spice up' the story. Like I mentioned earlier, I haven't seen the film myself, so I can only go by some write-ups, but apparently the Voice Actors Version is the same as the film all the way to the end. What I think is new, is a very short segment (not even a minute long) added to the very end, that is supposed to turn things around, but it makes absolutely no sense. It is basically having a complete detective story which ends with the words "Everything is solved!", followed by the credits and then the words "Or is it?!". It is a cheap way to 'add a new ending' and it basically renders everything that happened until then useless.

Save for the very short original "ending" though, I thought Kisaragi - Voice Actors Version was a pretty entertaining, if light mystery story featuring some really good voice acting. I recommend not listening to the last minute of the drama, then you'll have a good 80 minutes worth listening though.

Original Japanese title(s): モモグレ 『キサラギ 声優ver.』


  1. will you make a Lupin III review ?

    1. You mean Part IV? Or something else? Anyway, no plans for that any time soon. The short version would be: great series :D