新撰組黙秘録勿忘草 第壱巻 斎藤 一
Based on: Shinsengumi
Official site: http://rejetweb.jp/wasurenagusa/
Shinsengumi Mokuhiroku Wasurenagua (after this simply 'wasurenagusa') is a series based on several historically famous people within the shinsengumi. The concept of the CDs is "what if I could have been there (and fall in love with one of them)". So while they are based on historical people, the rest is all fiction. The series uses the dummy head mic for several scenes. The first CD has Saito Hajime (CV: Takahashi Naozumi).
The first thing that surprised me is that the drama is recorded on two discs. So it is long: about 90min (and an 8min freetalk). I think this is the first time I've seen a situation CD recorded on two discs.
The story begins during the Ikedaya Incident. Saitou was patrolling the streets when he finds you. You parents have been killed by several ronin who are involved in the incident. Saitou quickly finishes them off and notices that your are injured, so he orders several subordinates to take you to the shinsengumi headquarters and tend to your injuries.
You stay there as a servant (judging from what he calls you, you are mostly doing kitchen work) and while he does recognise you he mostly acts cold towards you. He notices you are watching him from the shadows while he is training, and this only causes him to get even more irritated with you. Eventually you confess that you want him to teach you how to use a sword. At first he declines, saying that a woman shouldn't be holding a sword and that you will only get yourself killed if you try to get revenge for the death of your parents, but eventually he agrees. Although he only teaches you techniques for protecting yourself.
This continues for a while, and he is quite strict and obviously still doesn't really care about you, but eventually he becomes a bit milder towards you. The first time he actually shows some affection is when he is ordered to accompany you into town (you have been working hard and this is a kind of reward, but obviously you can't be on the streets alone so you need someone to accompany you). This is also a slightly amusing scene, as you basically go shopping with him and he acts like a prototype boyfriend-that-doesn't-want-to-shop. On the way back he tells you that he will have to leave on a mission soon, and you nearly start crying so he hugs you to calm down.
The next you are sent out on an errand alone, and return very late. He first scolds you for not being on time for your training and making him wait in the rain, but it turns out soon enough that he was simply worried that you wouldn't come back to him. Which is when he kisses you, which develops into to more and basically continues to a point where I started to wonder when the fade-out was going to come.
The final track is him saying goodbye to you when he leaves, telling you that he hopes to return to you so that you can be together some day. This is probably the cruellest part of this CD (and series), because most of the shinsengumi members don't exactly get to live a long and happy life.
The pacing in this CD was done very well - it really takes a while before Saitou warms up to you, although I have to admit that he still seems a bit cold even then thanks to his not so talkative attitude. But from his actions is does show that he is starting to like you. Of course the CD has the advantage that it is pretty long, so they had plenty of time for development as well. Although technically the larger part of the second CD is used for all the, erm, intimate moments of the story.
I found the background music and especially sounds very interesting. The time of day is mostly noticeable though this: the sound of crickets at night, or the kind of sounds you hear in the morning. It also rains a couple of times. The first time it rains it isn't of any importance to the story, but it somehow made me feel like this is an actual world, where things unrelated to the story also happen. My only regret is that I think that they could have used the -absolutely gorgeous- theme music better in the last track. If they would have played most of it after the goodbye (instead of during) I think the effect would have been much greater.
While I am not much of a Shinsengumi fan (and had to look up most of the background information) it was a good CD. You don't need to know the background, but knowing it certainly adds some depth (and a whole lot of heartbreak) to the story.
Takahashi Naozumi sounds very different during his freetalk (he sounds so cute). He mentions that he is a bit like Saitou in the scene where he takes you shopping (again, cute). He talks a bit about the shinsengumi and the dummy head mic but all I can think during the entire recording is "so cute!". Which only led to more suprise when I googled him, because he is much older than I thought.
Despite it actually being an 1.5hours it never felt a really long, which only shows that they did the pacing right. Personally I am not much of an ero fan, but it never became too much so I was fine with it. Somehow I expected more heartbreak, but looking at the historical facts there is plenty of room for that in other entries in the series.