Oh my goodness, there's so much to squee about I have no idea where to start! (Athena: "Start at the beginning. And when you get to the end... Stop.") But it's so shiny, and not in any kind of sequential order!
Okay, let's see. First, there's the pictures. (Athena: Oh my goodness! The pictures!) The lyric book format has the lyrics on the left page and a photo of the singer on the right page, and almost every time, there's something in the picture that has to do with the movie the song is from. For example, Tomokazu Sugita sings "One Jump Ahead" from Aladdin, and he's sitting in front of a piano with the Aladdin sheet music book on the music stand. I saw it and I was like, "I have that book!!!" Only the one in the picture had Japanese text and mine doesn't.
Of course, the guys who sang princess-related songs got to be in front of castle-type things, so Kenichi Suzumura (A Whole New World) was at DisneySea in front of Jasmine's palace in the Arabian Coast, and Jun Fukuyama (Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo) was at Tokyo Disneyland in front of Cinderella's castle.
And then! then! Toshiyuki Morikawa (Once Upon A Dream) was at Disneyland! OUR Disneyland! In California! And we were like, "Aaaaahhh! I bet they took this last year when he was at AX and we weren't! Sob sob sob!" And then we came to the obvious realization that the Disney Parks photos were all doctored.
And, typical of us, it wasn't the posing or the lighting or anything like that that led us to this realization. It was the fact that Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the picture was a lot less pink than it is these days, and there were swans in the moat. They made the castle pinker in about 2004 so it would stop looking so washed-out in photos, and they probably took the swans out around the same time because 2005 is when they started shooting fireworks from the moat. And then the photo made us sad because we miss the washed-out white castle and swans. The white really is so much more elegant. I'm so frustrated with Disney color schemes these days.
Anyway! our favorite photo is Tomokazu Seki's. He sings Go The Distance, so of course they needed a picture of something from Hercules. What did they use? He's holding a DS cued up to a scene from Kingdom Hearts re:coded. So it's a Japanese voice actor singing one of our favorite Disney songs of all time, displaying our favorite video game (series) of all time. When we turned the page to that picture, I said, "Seki, you're my hero." (Athena: And then you thought, "How rude of me to use yobisute!") I didn't actually think that, because there was no time--the longer it took to comment, the less time we were actually listening to the CD, and thus we've been yobisute-ing voice actors all day. We don't normally.
Okay, so that's pictures. Next is the songs. As expected, they used rearrangements of everything--none of the music is exactly what you hear in the movie. The lyrics, on the other hand, were obviously pulled straight from the Japanese versions of the movie. We haven't seen most of the movies (or any of them, actually) in Japanese, but it was obvious as soon as we heard Suzumura-san singing A Whole New World.
It was actually pretty fascinating for us as translators to see how they handled all the lyrics. For example, you can tell in the Aladdin songs that the translator took a lot of liberties but made the words match the visuals. In A Whole New World, the first couple of lines in English are, "I can show you the world--shining, shimmering, splendid. Tell me, Princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?" In Japanese, they're, "Misete ageyou, kagayaku sekai. Purinsesu, jiyuu no hana o hora. (I can show you a shining world. Here, princess, take a flower of freedom.)" And that line is exactly when he steals a flower from someone's windowsill for her (he just can't shake that nasty habit).
Incidentally, we're listening to the CD right now (of course), and I have to point out how incredibly amazing Seki-san sounds singing Go The Distance. Oh man, I love this song.
Speaking of Aladdin lyrics, I already mentioned Sugita-san singing One Jump Ahead. You know how that's kind of an ensemble number? He plays the whole ensemble. And it's awesome.
Miyu Irino sings Under The Sea, and he's so completely adorable. You can totally hear how happy he is to be singing that song. I get the feeling...you know how all little kids have their pet movie that they watched a million times? I get the feeling The Little Mermaid was his. Especially because he adds all the laughter that Sebastian interjects inbetween verses (which happen to match the English version).
Speaking of fascinating translation notes, there's the part where Sebastian does all the fish puns. They didn't do that for the Japanese version. It's like the translators (there were two for this one; they're all credited, which is awesome) read the lyrics and got a headache. And then they talked over and said, "Okay, we can either have fish puns, or we can keep the musical theme and match the visuals." And they chose the latter. They did it really well, though, because they have Sebastian kind of "directing" their playing, which is kind of his job. So there you have it.
And oh my goodness, Kouichi Yamadera singing The Circle of Life. To be honest, we were a little sad that this CD has two Lion King songs, because we realized back when we were wondering why we don't like the movie that a big part of it is that we're just not Elton John fans. But this is amazing. It makes us want to go find some old school anime so we can hear Yamadera-san act in stuff. Seriously, when he took his first breath (where we could speak without talking over him), we were both like, "...Wow." And not the kind of "...wow" from when we tried the lemon cupcakes at Disneyland. This was a, "This is so awesome!" kind of amazement and not a, "What are they trying to do to my tastebuds!?" kind of amazement.
Right, I wanted to talk a little more about Once Upon A Dream. We're really not sure what happened with that song. See, I was so overcome with fannish glee over this whole CD, that I couldn't concentrate long enough to remember the tune to anything until it was playing. Normally, that's fine, because we know these songs like the backs of our hands, so it never took long to remember the melodies...until Once Upon A Dream. Morikawa-san made it to the last line of the first verse before we were like, "Oh, that's what the song sounds like!" The arrangement is really odd. That's really the only way we know to describe it. It's just really odd. But the tune is there! Athena said the second time we listened to it, she managed to follow the tune for the first line and a half or so before getting lost. And we're not sure if the fact that we know Morikawa-san best as Sephiroth makes the arrangement more fitting or more hilarious.
I also have to point out that, as expected, Takahiro Sakurai sounds amazing singing When You Wish Upon A Star. They used the same lyrics as on the Sailor Moon Sailor Stars Christmas CD, so we can even sing along already!
Of course, we couldn't not get the deluxe edition of this CD, and this time, the bonus was another CD! Or CD drama, rather. The most accurate way (in our minds) to summarize the CD drama is to call it a giant commercial for all things Disney in Japan, but mostly theme parks. Each of the voice actors plays a secret agent who is given a special mission by the Mystery Man (played by Yamadera-san) which involves creating the ideal Disney date. And of course, all of these missions take place at some place that will make money for Disney: the Shibuya Disney Store, Disneyland, DisneySea, the Disney Mobile Store, etc.
I'm kind of like, "Really? Disney Mobile?" Athena says, "Who gets their date a smart phone as a souvenir for a date!?" Not only that, but the agent has enough money left over to buy a digital picture frame! Of course, I think the secret is in the end, which I will reveal shortly. But not yet, because I have to talk about the DisneySea mission a little.
The Mystery Man finds Agent...Four, I think, at DisneySea and says he has to come up with the ideal date program to enchant his girlfriend, and of course, Agent Four is a big enough Disney fan to have an annual passport (we didn't think they did that in Japan! we even looked once! this CD has given us very valuable information), this should be easy for him. And he said, "Well, without a doubt, we have to see Fantasmic!" And we thought, "Smart boy." And then we were like, "I wanna see DisneySea's Fantasmic! Waaaaaahh!" We hear it has the Genie and Stitch (who, incidentally, are both voiced by the same guy as the Mystery Man). And then he told us the best place to see Fantasmic! from! And! the next best place, for when it's already crowded at the best place!
But my favorite part was that they cut to after Fantasmic! was over, and he says, "No matter how many times I see it, it gets me every time...!" And we were like, "It's so true! *sniffle!*"
But then he failed, because the Mystery Man told him he had to then find something that would impress the girl just as much as Fantasmic! did, and we thought, "Yeah right. Nigh impossible." And then he mentioned the Arabian Coast, so we thought he might be smart enough to go on Sindbad's Storybook Voyage (which is awesome (a fact confirmed to us personally by the voice of Wind Waker Link via Twitter), but still not as good as Fantasmic!), but apparently that's the best place to watch the fireworks at DisneySea. And we were like, "Nope. Sorry. You failed." Then again, it's possible that DisneySea has better fireworks than Tokyo Disneyland. Still, better than Fantasmic? We didn't even like the Disneyland 50th anniversary fireworks as much as Fantasmic!.
Anyway, even though we thought Agent Four failed, the Mystery Man said he succeeded, as did all the other agents, so at the end, they got a reward! It was the outline for the perfect Disney Date! ...which they can now use with their girlfriends. As soon as they manage to find girlfriends. So the reason Agent Eight was able to afford a smart phone and a digital picture frame as date souvenirs is that he didn't already have a girlfriend draining his funds. Mystery solved.
The agents also got a copy of Lady and the Tramp on Blu-ray. It was pretty interesting hearing the reaction to it, because the agents got it, and they were all like, "Oh yeah! I heard Walt Disney really liked dogs!" And we were like, "Wow, you never get that kind of reaction from an American audience." ...Or do you? I know we haven't, but we don't really know that many people.
Okay, I think I've raved enough about that. Except that I didn't mention how adorable Irino-kun and Sakurai-san were on their missions. (Sakurai-san's mission played the music from Jubilation! That's the parade we saw when we went to Tokyo Disneyland, and we bought the soundtrack and it still makes us all teary-eyed!)
Okay, now I'm really done.
Today I'm thankful for finishing our first draft of Jerry, getting our shiny Disney Date CD!, the adorableness of the Disney Date Missions, having the ultimate Disney/Japan/seiyuu/translation fangirl item, and the adorable pictures in the lyric book.