Storytelling through music and situation drama. Ambitious projects with star-studded casts and high-quality music. This is the fascinating niche of the 2D music industry: 2D music + situation drama projects.
Estimated reading time: 36 minutes
It’s time to talk about those 2D music projects that went the extra mile, introducing not only awesome songs to listen to but also that have drama tracks or drama CDs in which you, the listener, are an active part of the story.
Is this another excuse for me to write about the Dear Vocalist franchise? Yes.
But this is also an excuse to write about 2D music projects that, because they have drama CDs – or situation drama CDs – at their core, most people avoid those because they are either worried they’ll completely miss out on the story by not listening one of the CDs in the collection or because those CDs are expensive, more so than regular music CDs.
Ask yourself the following questions: What if I could live a different life? What if I could be in those worlds from the music projects I love? What if I could be in the shoes of someone else managing the groups I love and, perhaps even experience love within those?
If you’re thinking, “I’m okay.” Or “Not interested”.
Well, I’m afraid this article is not for you (see? I’ve already saved you some time here).
However, if you wondered about the possibilities in any of those questions, and if you want to escape from your routine for 1 hour – or more, depending on how many CDs you plan to check -, then this article is for you as I’ll be diving into 2D music projects that have focused on marrying music with romance via situation CDs.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to read, the content on this article is featured on 2 episodes of SEIYUU LOUNGE. You can find those below.
If reading is more your thing, I hope you enjoy this trip down one of the “nichest” and most fascinating parts of the 2D music industry.
Who has been pushing a lot for 2D music projects to have situation drama?
Rejet’s Daisuke Iwasaki has always been keen on making situation drama CDs.
If you’re familiar with the projects that Rejet creates and publishes, you’ll know most stuff is twisted, sometimes borderline wacky.
But you can’t deny it, Iwasaki’s ambitions have, over the years, led to the launch of genuinely good projects and you can safely say it was him and Rejet that started this niche within 2D music projects.
Rejet’s flagship project when it comes to marrying 2D music with situation drama is Dear Vocalist.
This is an incredibly popular franchise in Japan that only in 2021 opened the doors to international fans (by making some of its CDs available for streaming worldwide).
Honeybee Black has been, since 2014, creating otome games with music as a tie-up and that’s, essentially, what DYNAMIC CHORD was for a couple of years before introducing situation drama CDs (of sorts) in its content lineup.
Team Entertainment pivoted from drama CDs to music + situation drama CDs with PERFECTION NOISE. Although not popular, the project has incredible potential.
You may be familiar with this label because of the MintLip drama CDs but those are drama only, there is no music there.
And a recent player in this niche is Orangette. Once again, a label that was known for drama CDs pivoting to music + situation drama CDs with the project Bremen.
These 4 labels have been in the vanguard, doing their own thing, creating a unique mix of content that, almost a decade since the very first projects of this nature were launched, is still niche.
When did 2D music projects start to pivot to including situation drama CDs?
Looking back in time, it really is difficult to pinpoint a specific date on which 2D music projects started to pivot towards including drama CDs.
Although DYNAMIC CHORD may be the instant pick for fans of this type of content, the franchise only started to have drama CDs a couple of years past the game releases and those did not mix music with drama (initially). You can say that those were regular otome drama CDs but not CDs that mixed music and one-on-one situation drama.
With that being said, the first 2D music project to actually blend music – high-quality music – with equally high-quality situation drama parts was Dear Vocalist.
The franchise launched by Rejet in 2015 is still to this day one of the most exciting among 2D music projects.
With high-quality music composed by R.O.N and lyrics by Daisuke Iwasaki, Rejet’s CEO, the franchise has maintained a surprisingly high level of quality since the start, with the songs being tie-ups with the situation drama tracks included in those CDs.
This was a weird concept when it was first announced, yet again, Rejet is full of weird ideas in its franchises, some working better than others.
However, fans started to find in Dear Vocalist something refreshing.
Up until 2015, you had 2D music franchises like Utapri that had a big focus in its otome games and tie-up music (now has branched out to anime, stage plays, live shows, and more). However, fans never got solo drama + music CDs with each of the members of the franchise’s 3 groups.
Tsukiuta was impressing everyone since 2012 however it was – and still is – known for its strong focus on music + drama, but those drama portions were just regular drama in which the listener only got to listen to the story unfolding.
Marginal #4 (called Pythagoras Production since the roster expanded from 1 to, now, 4 groups) had a weird mix of fanservice lines in the middle of its songs, hinting at what would be Iwasaki’s next crazy idea: a 2D music project with equal focus in the music and situation drama parts.
With Rejet being a drama CD powerhouse back in 2015, and with its – back then – recent adventure with Dance with Devils having piqued the interest of fans of otome content that loved music, it was time to launch Dear Vocalist.
The franchise was launched in 2015, setting a niche trend within 2D music, ending up influencing all projects that followed – most of those connected to rock music.
Storytelling through drama and music
All 2D music projects that have situation drama CDs or tracks tend to focus on having continuity between CDs of the same character.
This is what I believe makes 2D music projects that focus on this unique blend of content awesome in my eyes.
You’re participating in a story and it continues from where it left off.
Across several CDs, in the franchise, you get to experience the character’s growth, see them overcome struggles, change their ways, continue to be geniuses, or simply have your relationship with them grow into something more personal.
Storytelling is a big feature in 2D music + situation drama projects.
The music reflects the storytelling in the individual situation CDs, it is actually a direct result of the events in those CDs.
Then those happenings carry over to the main story in the franchise, shaping up how the characters act around each other when it comes to games or franchise drama CDs.
A franchise that does this really well is the Dear Vocalist franchise.
Expanding the worldbuilding in a franchise
You and I can agree that drama tracks, regardless of in which music project those are included, help flesh out the ongoing main story.
In regular CDs that include cast drama tracks, you get to explore the bands or groups and their dealings and struggles. As a bystander, you’re rooting for those characters, but that’s the extent of your involvement in those stories.
When it comes to 2D music projects that focus on situation CDs, the worldbuilding is expanded, the characters gain life, a purpose beyond the main story.
You can dive a bit deeper into them much closer than you get in a regular drama CD or track included with a music CD. You go from rooting to being an active part in those stories – a participant -, perhaps even becoming a muse for those characters or the person that steers them in the right way.
As a result of having situation drama added to 2D music projects, the characters end up sounding “human”, “relatable” and you actually have the main story benefiting from diving deeper into those micro-stories for each character.
All of a sudden, that world and those stories sound worth diving deep into not just watching them unfold.
What happens in those CDs ends up fleshing out the characters, and actually, those events carry over to when the characters are in a full-on drama CD with the project’s ensemble of characters.
As such, these franchises have rich, well-laid out, and developed worlds and stories that are engaging, making you curious even about other characters you weren’t initially planning on checking.
If you want to skip situation drama parts in 2D music projects, you won’t be left in the dark about the story
Contrary to regular drama CD collections or drama tracks in 2D music projects in which if you miss a CD, then you’re completely lost in the story that is going on, or in which the music is not tied up with the story in the drama tracks, situation CDs in 2D music projects are a two-part deal: music complements the situation drama and vice-versa.
2D music projects that feature regular drama parts do the storytelling exclusively through there. If you miss it or don’t fancy drama tracks, you’ll be left in the dark, that is, unless the project ends up having an anime or game adaptation, for example, and you happen to be interested in checking those out.
So yeah, in 2D music projects that embrace situation drama, you can actually skip the drama parts.
Yes, you read it well. You can skip those.
Like I wrote before, these projects do storytelling through a combination of music + drama, not just drama and not just music.
It is a combination so you can pick either of those and you’ll still grasp a lot of the story without the hassle that may be listening to drama tracks, in case you’re not comfortable listening to Japanese or don’t fancy the medium.
The music will speak for itself – if the project is good -, telling you those stories you missed in the drama tracks through itself.
If this happens, it is a sign the project is a good one.
So as long as you know the gist of the main story or the premise, you’re okay to dive into the music and you’ll be able to understand what is going on without spending time listening to the drama parts, especially if you’re not a fan of those.
The core story is either explained on the website – what the band, group, or artist is all about – or there is a franchise drama CD in which you have the worldbuilding and each character interacting in a specific context.
And situation drama CDs in 2D music projects isolate those characters to flesh them out through micro-stories in which you participate.
Some projects have a canon relationship going on, or a canon status for you, the listener, within the world of a project and then there are projects in which each CD is a different micro-world within the big story in that franchise.
Once again, you can grasp the story pretty easily through the music and if you feel like filling in the gaps in the story, perhaps understand why a song talks about guilt or unrequited love, you can do so by resorting to the drama tracks that complement the music.
But… 2D music projects are not popular
Let’s face it, not many people like 2D music projects and, at the same time, not many people enjoy drama CDs or situation drama CDs of any kind.
And if both are together… you can imagine those projects not being that popular.
So everything about this article is quite niche.
At the core of the reasons why most people, especially international fans, don’t enjoy drama CDs or situation drama CDs is the fact that they don’t feel comfortable with the Japanese language to the point they can understand what is going on.
I can feel you. I started listening to drama CDs without knowing a single word in Japanese. I just wanted to hear the voices that I fell in love with. What was happening?
Honestly, I didn’t know and didn’t care much when I started.
But as time passed, being exposed to the Japanese language through those drama or situation CDs within 2D music projects, I found myself picking up words, understanding a bit what was happening. I got relatively comfortable with Japanese as a language.
I don’t know if you are the type of person that needs to follow a textbook to learn a language, the type that needs to grind the grammar and everything to learn a language, or the visual type that just by listening and watching something you quickly pick up the language and start to learn it.
Depending on the type of learner that you are, drama CDs may be something you dread and that, actually, you don’t find enjoyable or it can be a good way to dive into the language and learn it through the voices you love.
Another reason why international fans may not be into 2D music projects that have situation drama CDs at their core is that they find those cheesy. This is perfectly valid, those are your tastes, after all.
And the other reason I believe detracts international fans from enjoying those projects is that purchasing the CDs in question is really expensive.
CDs by 2D music + situation drama projects are full price, the most expensive you can get within music releases.
That happens because you’re paying for two different types of content: drama, and music.
Drama CDs are, oftentimes more expensive than regular music CDs so it’s no surprise that being a fan of 2D music + situation drama CDs can be an insanely expensive hobby.
To add up to those costs is the fact that all 2D music + situation drama projects out there only have their CDs available in physical edition, only making the songs available digitally, if ever.
Music + situation drama CD franchises are rare
You can count with your fingers the number of 2D music franchises that have focused on presenting a solid mix of music and situation drama CDs.
At the moment of writing this article, there are only 5 projects that have at their core a balance between music + situation drama CDs.
Those are Dear Vocalist, DYNAMIC CHORD, PERFECTION NOISE, Bremen, and CARNELIAN BLOOD.
Those are the 5 2D music projects trailing their own path in a niche medium such as music + situation drama.
And these are rare because most people are not looking for stories to dive into and prefer to actually be bystanders or even prefer projects that are only about the music.
Then, out of the projects I mentioned, 4 are about rock music and as you may already be aware, rock music is not that popular among fans of 2D music projects (that much rather fawn over 2D idols or rappers).
Another reason why music & situation drama CD franchises are rare comes from CDs being incredibly expensive for the fan to purchase as well as for the creators to produce (because the cast for drama CDs can require a big budget).
Remember what I wrote about how much seiyuu earn: for drama CDs, seiyuu are paid per word. Some projects are really heavily focused on dialogue thus it can be insanely expensive to produce those CDs.
This can lead to some project creators putting aside their idea for a 2D music + situation drama CD and, instead, deciding to launch a 2D music project with some drama tracks (but those far from being the selling point).
The 2D + situation drama music projects
For many of you, Bremen is a project that you’re not familiar with. I can’t blame you because it has been pretty lowkey in its presentation despite its star-studded cast.
Bremen is a 2D music + drama CD project by Orangette that follows the adventures of the members of the rock band “Bremen”.
The band is fronted by Kanato Hanajima (CV: Junta Terashima) who’s simultaneously the guitarist, drummer Kyohei Koga (CV: Nobuhiko Okamoto), bassist Hikari Amamiya (CV: Shoya Chiba), and keyboardist Ritsu Inui (CV: Makoto Furukawa).
The common denominator for all members in this band is that they lost their place in the bands they were previously with for various reasons. It’s up to you to find closely with each one what was the issue at the core of them losing their place and ending up later on finding a safe haven in Bremen.
Where do you, the listener and the protagonist in the individual drama CDs, enter?
Your starting point is different for each member. For Kanato (CV: Junta Terashima), you work at a music store that he visits frequently. It has come to the point that he only asks you to tune his guitar, later on inviting you for a guerilla live by Bremen.
With Kyohei (CV: Nobuhiko Okamoto), you’re a sophomore in graduate school taking a master’s degree. Kyohei has just entered graduate school hence you do not know each other until a certain party in which he saves you from being harassed.
With Hikari (CV: Shoya Chiba), you are friends since you were high school classmates. Hikari has a part-time working at a live house and you’ve always been part of his circle of friends, with you having an obvious crush on him.
And with Ritsu (CV: Makoto Furukawa), you’re a childhood friend of his. You dream of playing a duet with Ritsu’s piano and your violin however things go wrong midway through and your close relationship takes a toll.
As you can tell from these brief takes on each story, there is an interesting main story – why Bremen is a haven for outcasts – and then equally compelling sub-stories with each member having a source of pain and you, the listener coming across them or be in their lives in a unique capacity, easing that pain.
The protagonist, you, the listener, is a strong person and not a damsel in distress. This is actually something that the new projects in this field have been embracing: strong, determined, and passionate protagonists, making the listeners feel like they have more control over the situations and not roll their eyes to ridiculous decisions.
For the music portion of Bremen, only Junta Terashima sings. And given how each member is an outsider, the music in the franchise reflects that. In this project, music is almost like salvation, like screaming “I’m here”, it feels like a second chance that all members don’t want to throw away.
At the moment of writing this article, the franchise is focused 95% on the drama CD component, counting with only 2 songs in its repertoire (the most recent being “Awake“).
I started off this feature with Bremen exactly because it is a new project following this format that few dares to venture to and, so far, it has been interesting, with stories that definitely are worth spending some time to dive into.
PERFECTION NOISE is yet another fairly recent project in the music + situation drama CD side of the entertainment industry.
However, contrary to Bremen, in PERFECTION NOISE, you, the listener, are NOISE NOVA’s brand new manager, with all individual CDs starting off from the point in which you are first introduced to them.
Before the solo music + situation drama CDs, the franchise has 1 CD that documents how the group came to be and the struggles they faced as they tried to understand each other and their motivations.
From that point on, each CD has you, the listener, assuming the role of NOISE NOVA’s young manager fresh out of college and always with the same dream at its core. You wanted to become a manager because of NOISE NOVA and you were lucky enough to get to start working with them.
Your personality is the same across all CDs. You’re strong, determined, and passionate, getting on the nerves of some members for being too professional even in the face of teasing or even bullying, as some members try to make you quit your position or clash with members that have the same personality as you, earnest and focused at all times.
Narumi (CV: Shoya Chiba) is NOISE NOVA’s co-center. Earnest, passionate, and always with a chip on his shoulder, he’ll easily see himself in you, as you have a similar personality and drive.
He does have an inferiority complex towards the seemingly perfect Sena and isn’t honest with his feelings, something that ends up leading to misunderstandings.
Sena (CV: Soma Saito) is the group’s co-center and ace. He’s a fantastic dancer and a singer with an insane degree of professionalism. Due to that level of professionalism, he tends to look down on those younger or with less experience than him, which ends up with you butting heads with him.
He does have a unique and rather tragic motivation behind his insane professionalism and want to be the best that you end up uncovering.
Akito (CV: Kaito Ishikawa) is NOISE NOVA’s sub-vocal and rapper. He ends up being like a father to everyone in the group however when alone, he doesn’t show much of himself.
This ends up being intriguing to you as you take quite some time to have him open up to you and welcome you with open arms as their manager.
Chisato (CV: Ryohei Kimura) is NOISE NOVA’s leader and resident mother figure. While he is incredibly diligent and professional in his job, he’s actually deeply hurt as an individual, incessantly looking for someone with which he can be, for a change, weak and vulnerable without being judged.
In the PERFECTION NOISE franchise there’s a rich backstory to the group from their formation to stardom but also rich, well-developed backstories for each member, shedding a light on why they acted in specific ways in the core drama CD, fleshing out their personalities as they solve their issues or come to peace with the happenings in their life that traumatized them.
Rejet has been at the forefront when it comes to creating twisted projects with vampires or blood at their core.
CARNELIAN BLOOD arrives as such a unique project, embracing the concept of “blood” in a different way. Rejet states right off the bat that the project follows five brothers of unknown background and unknown origin. They are not bound by blood but by fate.
This is as cryptic as you can get and it may make some people not that interested in the story as little is developed in that intro.
Contrary to all other projects mentioned in this article, CARNELIAN BLOOD actually is a mixed-media project, meaning that the story isn’t exclusively developed only by drama and music. Some comics and comics (voice comics available on CARNELIAN BLOOD’s official YouTube channel) complement as well as flesh out those stories.
For purposes of this article, let’s assume you won’t check those and will actually want to dive into the stories and music first and foremost.
5 brothers of unknown background that are famous as EROSION, the 5-vocal rock band with a rugged sound that impressed a lot of people within its story.
There’s tragedy, passions, and dreams behind each character related to how music has saved them.
Those concepts are developed through the music + situation drama CD series “EROSION with YOU from CARNELIAN BLOOD”.
Given how the franchise has only recently – 2022 – kicked off this solo music + drama CD series, I’ll keep spoilers to a bare minimum, welcoming you to check the CDs should any character or even the band’s robust rock sound pique your interest.
Trigger warning: Your fate can be tragic with all of them, with Rejet adding “death” and “cheat” epilogue bonus CDs to tie up with the individual stories. Also, some characters talk about suicide quite often.
TOXIN (CV: Shoya Chiba) is the 3rd brother and the main lyricist and composer for EROSION. He’s incredibly gentle and delicate despite his charismatic and intense aura on stage. He loves rock music and playing guitar more than anything.
YORU (CV: Arthur Lounsbery) is the witty and foul-mouthed 2nd brother that has a gaze that gets others entangled pretty quickly. He can be temperamental and completely oblivious of what others think of him. He’s also a guitarist and singer-songwriter for the band.
NEIGHT (CV: Ryota Suzuki) is the eldest of the brothers and EROSION’s leader, surprising everyone with how well he can deal with each member and tend or accommodate to their needs. He’s well-traveled, being passionate about learning new languages and knowledge as a whole. He’s also the band’s bassist.
BYAKUYA (CV: Yuya Hirose) is the 4th brother, with a rich music sensibility. He’s known as a clean-freak, something that explains why he wears gloves at all times. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about music however, he can’t put that into words, instead composing and writing music for the band while assuming piano duties.
CREHA (CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga) is the youngest. He’s unfriendly for the most part, hiding a lot of passion in his heart. He’s extremely focused on his work, even going as far as repeating things again and again until he gets those right. He’s known for his outstanding vocals and lyricist skills.
He cites music as the reason why he hasn’t committed suicide, which is pretty dark and tells us that there is more to his behavior than what meets the eye.
In CARNELIAN BLOOD, music has saved all members from getting in all sorts of crazy stuff, with suicide being a topic explored with some attention throughout this franchise.
If there is a project that has, in a way, influenced 2D music + drama projects it is DYNAMIC CHORD.
The franchise started with visual novels and music used as tie-ups and only later on started to have standalone drama CDs with each character.
I won’t be diving into the whole cast as I did with the other projects in this article simply because there are over 15 characters that have solo situation drama CDs and will, instead focus on the unique format that DYNAMIC CHORD has to tell its stories.
Most people will be aware that this franchise started with visual novels, with each band having a dedicated visual novel in which you, of different backgrounds ranging from being a rock star to being a manager or attending college with the band members, get to interact with each character, understand their pain, regrets, passions and help them overcome trying situations.
Then, as a tie-up come the singles released by each band with the title and b-side tracks being closely connected to the main story and one of the romances within said story.
And to complement that, although not needed, are the individual situation CDs that are the epilogue to those stories. There are always the vocal CDs that are close to the concept of music + situation drama CDs that all the projects in this article have at their core.
So DYNAMIC CHORD is not a “pure” music + situation drama franchise but more like a mixed-media franchise that, in the last couple of years has focused on embracing situation drama in its CD releases.
In case you want to know more about this franchise, I welcome you to check the long written or video feature I created in 2021. It is “A Guide to DYNAMIC CHORD”.
Hands down the project that does this music + situation drama CD formula perfect is Dear Vocalist.
Highly regarded for its rich, well-fleshed-out character stories and interesting main story, as well as its star-studded cast and the high-quality of the music (composed by R.O.N), Dear Vocalist has been the project to influence all projects in this article, of course, minus DYNAMIC CHORD.
At the core of this story are 6 vocalists signed to the music label CLIMAX RECORDS. This is a twisted music label that holds yearly survival live shows and survival trips, with the loser or the one that disappoints the president leaving the music label.
So far all members have survived the live shows and thus remained with the music label (Ciel – CV: KENN – being an exception, leaving the franchise in its 1st CD season to give way for Joshua) however there is a common sense of dread whenever the name President Panda arises.
Franchise drama CDs have a good balance between crazy shenanigans, pure comedy, and character development, something that makes them a must-listen.
However, this project is best known for its individual CDs, with each vocalist having his fair share of conflicts, issues, and challenges to tackle as they struggle to compose music to avoid leaving the label while balancing their relationship with you, the listener, and their significant other.
Trigger warning: All characters in this franchise have, one way or another, mental disorders (something that Rejet loves to explore in its projects). For example, 1 of the characters is abusive – physical and psychologically – towards the listener, and 2 characters mention suicide early on in their individual CDs.
RE-O-DO (CV: Toshiki Masuda) is the frontman for the rock band LUMIÈRE.
He is incredibly professional and devoted to you, going as far as finding time to call you in between jobs and inviting you to all sorts of things. He’s quite needy and clingy – you can argue that is devoted to you, the listener -, showing his love for you in the sweetest of ways.
It is safe to say that, despite that, RE-O-DO is the only character in this franchise that doesn’t have any massive personality or behavioral issues. His music reflects his desires and passion for you.
Joshua (CV: Nobunaga Shimazaki) is a gentle soul and frontman for the pop-rock band Brave Child.
He’s not the most confident person and will easily feel down and doubt his skills. Having such a fragile personality, he often raises your worries when he goes silent for a while or disappears without letting anyone know where he’s gone or, in an extreme situation, locks himself up in his room trying to kill himself.
Throughout the CDs, Joshua learns to love himself and accept love from others, healing himself although the scars remain, something that the several ballads in his repertoire perfectly illustrate.
Judah (CV: Soma Saito) has serious anger management issues.
He screams, shouts, breaks stuff, gets in fights with his guitarist, and can be quite foul-mouthed when you interrupt him midway through one of those fits. (Do prepare yourself for his CDs as Soma Saito is, more often than not, shouting pretty aggressively)
On top of that, he’s a genius singer-songwriter whose main passion is music, living and breathing music in everything he does. Everyone in the Dear Vocalist franchise respects his skills.
Although Judah doesn’t like to admit it – and takes a really long time to admit that he’s head over heels for you and that you’re his muse -, he’s insanely sweet and romantic at his core, something you can only unveil as you go through the situation drama tied-up to the songs.
Out of all vocalists in this franchise, he’s the one with the most aggressive yet straightforward and romantic repertoire, being quite easy to notice a story unfold, especially if you go through the songs chronologically.
(2)you (CV: Natsuki Hanae) has trust issues.
He hates paparazzi, he doesn’t like people meddling in his affairs – you included -, he’s particular about people mentioning his family that is all in the entertainment industry and with whom he doesn’t want to be compared. He can be insanely cold and distant, not showing his emotions to avoid being hurt.
He can drive you mad, make you cry and you can expect some level of instability with him as he’ll not hesitate to break off your relationship if he ever doubts your loyalty to him.
This arrives as a shocker, as still in the first CD, you’re no longer dating him after a couple of tracks with that relationship being, later on, salvaged by (2)you that goes above and beyond to try to make up for something he said in the heat of the moment. As a result, his music is quite moody and passionate, going from ballads to shredding, angry rock tunes.
Momochi (CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga) is two-faced, an angel and genius for those working or fans of him and Veronica, his band, and a twisted, manipulative person when the doors close and it’s just you and him.
Momochi is the type of character you can safely call “yandere” as he’ll go to weird, extreme means to get you to be with him or show your love for him.
Yes, he’s the type that will tie you up and leave you alone for hours with no way of escaping just for you to atone for your sins of not telling him you love him.
At the core you can say he doesn’t trust others and is afraid of being left by those he loves, taking those fears to an extreme that is borderline abusive.
He’s not exactly the most straightforward person and trying to understand him takes a lot of effort in the early stages of the CDs.
I dare say that out of all vocalists in this franchise, he’s been the one that has changed the least since the start, still, he has started to showcase a soft spot in his music, and although still incredibly violent in the way he shows his love, he now more direct about showcasing said love.
Still, this is the type of character that you’ll want to avoid given the amount of psychological and physical abuse you’ll go through to try to heal him.
A’ (CV: Ryohei Kimura) is the most complex character in this franchise. While he’s always overflowing with energy, with the music in his band NSFW being all about pure chaos with electronica and rock giving way to moody, anarchic songs, he’s dealing with a lot.
Early on in the franchise, you can tell he’s going through depression and at times he shows signs of having bipolar disorder, having massive dips in mood, and with his behavior being all over the place when he’s too excited or fragile.
This will throw most people off right off the bat as his intensity can go from “I’m going to tattoo your name on me” to “I want to die” pretty quickly.
Throughout the CDs in the franchise, you get to slowly heal his wounds, show that you’re there for him and that it is okay to be fragile. That there is someone that cares deeply about him. As a result, if you listen to the music chronologically, you’ll notice him going from pure madness and recklessness to pure love and care in the most recent CDs.
The focus is completely on storytelling for the Dear Vocalist franchise with you, the listener, being pivotal in healing them, growing as artists, and being overall better people. The music perfectly tells those stories but if you want to get to know up close the issues and be there for the characters, it’s through the situation drama that you can achieve that.
With this franchise running for so long, you’ll inevitably end up feeling quite strongly about each character, looking at those flaws fondly and itching to know what the next chapter in your story with each of those vocalists will take you next.
This is, easily, the best and most intricately fleshed-out 2D music + situation drama project out there, and now that the franchise has started to open its arms to international fans by making the CDs in the 6th season – RAVING BEATS!!! – available on streaming platforms worldwide, you can start diving into those stories even without the drama parts as the songs perfectly sum up the happenings in each CD and the personalities of each vocalist.
Almost like reading a book, in 2D music + situation drama projects you get to live a different life, an alternative life. Sometimes it is awesome, other times it is twisted. In this case, you really have to pick and choose what fits best your style and the types of stories you like.
Unfortunately, there is not much to choose from as few are the labels that dare launch projects that have music and situation drama at their core.
And since it is pricy to produce each CD which leads to CDs ending up being insanely pricy for fans, everything adds up.
2D music + situation drama projects end up not attracting much attention from those that just want to casually support a project, even if 2D music + situation drama projects end up being quite easy to get into.
If only people took a gamble and gave a chance to those projects, they’d find the realistic and relatable stories going on, the rich worldbuilding, how impressive it is that the music perfectly sums up those stories and the wonderful cast that each of those projects has.
If only 2D music + situation drama projects could be available for purchase on digital stores – thus making the CDs affordable (without customs fees or shipping in the mix), more people would get into these awesome and fascinating projects.
Quality is plenty in this niche side of the 2D music industry.
And although still unknown – or underappreciated – to many, these 5 projects show that you can tell engaging stories, bringing in the listeners to participate in those, have a quality cast, and tie everything up neatly with high-quality music.
I don’t know if I made a good case for you to start checking these types of projects but deep down I hope, at least, you got a bit curious about those.
For more on each project, make sure to look for the names of the projects on this website.
I’ve reviewed music by all projects – minus Bremen as the music is not available for international fans – and, in some cases, have covered the projects extensively with special guides that will get you up to speed with those in less than 30 minutes.
This content is featured on THTFHQ’s weekly podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE.
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