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Gekkou no Natsu (Summer of the Moonlight Sonata) - Drama CD
Written by Tsuneyuki Mori
Produced by Nobuhiro Tsuneyoshi
Pianist: Satoshi Shigematsu
Cast: Isao Hashizune as Yasufumi Miike, Tomoe Hiiro as Kimiko Yoshioka, Kiyoto Harada as Shinsuke Kazama
Atmark Corporation, 2003, 129 min.

The popular movie and book entitled Gekkou no Natsu (Summer of the Moonlight Sonata) came out in 1993. Ten years later the same writer, Tsuneyuki Mori, wrote the script for this drama CD with the story of two kamikaze pilots who visited a local elementary school to play the grand piano there before they departed on their suicide mission to Okinawa. Although the drama CD, film, and book cover the same basic story, each one has distinct features. The plot has been summarized on the separate web pages covering the movie and book, so this page focuses on the drama CD's unique characteristics.

The drama CD features the three movements of Beethoven's Sonata No. 14, also known as the Moonlight Sonata, which one of the kamikaze pilots played when they visited Tosu Elementary School in Saga Prefecture in 1945. While listening to the beautiful music being played by the pilot, a young teacher named Kimiko Yoshioka says, "Oh, the piano is singing." When the other pilot returns to the school more than four decades later, he plays the same sonata on the same grand piano. The overall production of this drama is very professional, with convincing narration and realistic sound effects.

When Yoshioka accompanies two journalists in 1990 to visit the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots in order to try to identify the pilots who played the grand piano in 1945, several letters written by kamikaze pilots are read aloud on the CD. These letters and additional ones read during the CD Prologue let listeners understand the emotions and thoughts of kamikaze pilots as they faced death. The Chiran Peace Museum, also featured in the 1993 movie, sells this drama CD and a children's book about the real-life teacher who saved the grand piano played by the two kamikaze pilots.

Some performers on this drama CD present some interesting contrasts with the movie's actors. For example, the Tokyo-based documentary producer named Yasufumi Miike, who investigates the identity of the two pilots, comes across in the film as very abrasive in his first meeting with Kazama, but in the drama CD the same character speaks softly to Kazama as he explains his personal wartime experiences. In another example, Kazama's wife on the drama CD speaks up assertively to Miike during their meeting, but the same character in the movie is very soft-spoken.

The CD liner notes give details on the continuing popularity of Gekkou no Natsu (Summer of the Moonlight Sonata). Over two million people went to see the movie, and it has also been shown on television. A play about this story has been presented over 100 times, and a reading drama based on this story started to be presented in 2003 throughout Japan.