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Audio Adaptation

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Where things are adapted to audio-only media such as Radio, Audiobooks, or Audio Plays.

The simplest is the Audiobook, which is usually a simple audio recording of a person reading a particular book. Originally, the audio version was abridged due to the limitations of audio recording media. For instance, a typical book of 100+ pages would have required an impractically large number of vinyl records to play in its entirety, and even the development of the cassette tape with its much longer playtime could require a half-dozen for an abridged edition. However, with the rise of the computer audio file and advances in data storage and playback devices, audio recordings of complete books is now a standard item.

Originally, audiobooks were largely restricted for the visually impaired with the aforementioned recording tech limitations. However, when practical recording media that could be carried on ones' person came on the market, such as the Walkman, the audiobook starting gaining a larger market. Today, audiobooks can be purchased, downloaded and played on smartphones, as well as on other audioplayers or personal computers with considerable convenience. As such, people can listen to literature while multi-tasking other activities with considerable flexibility, which has made the audiobook format a growth market in the otherwise struggling book trade.

Some are full adaptations, usually from Literature, Comic Books, or Manga, giving the then silent characters voices. Others are side-stories for the franchise released in an immerse world of sound, a favorite path for animated fare since, after all, they already have the voice actors and sound effects.

Some particular pitfalls of this kind of adaptation include Narrating the Obvious (where descriptive text is just put directly into the mouth of one of the characters present, making them sound like an interpreter for the blind).

This is especially common in Japan. Since they're pretty cheap to produce (you just need the actors, some sound effects, and mixing equipment to make them), a popular work, be it manga, anime, a Video Game or what have you will often get several "Drama CDs" as spinoffs, pseudo-sequels, prequels and interquels to fill in the world and characters. Since the production values aren't too high and for better franchises the actors can like doing them, you can produce a fair number of them and still make a good profit. However, their all-audio nature makes exporting them a nightmare. Drama CDs are the #1 source of All There in the Manual problems for exported Japanese products; because the form is very uncommon in America, there's no real place to sell them, unionized actors drive costs up, etc. As a result, these basically never leave Japan, which can end up being hugely problematic for fans overseas who are missing parts of the story (and for any producers who care about exporting, since they know it's all but impossible for overseas fans to get that part of the story). On rare occasions, there may be an officially released translation of only the CD's transcript, which is the most fans can expect to get, as was the case for the drama CDs for Final Fantasy XV and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel I and II.

The BBC also produce a fair few of these for broadcast on Radio 4, including some regular features such as "Book at Bedtime" and "Saturday Play."

Contrast with Sound-to-Screen Adaptation, where audio-based works are adapted to visual media.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lots of manga and anime have audio dramas, from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water to Count Cain to Gankutsuou. Then there's the "Nyoron Churuya" audio drama. Usually, these only exist in Japanese.
  • A great number of manga and Light Novels have Drama CDs released before, during and after their animated adaptations. Sometimes the voice actors between the Drama CD version and the anime version can change. Many a Visual Novel also has a Drama CD included, usually as a bonus. This isn't much of a stretch either, since the line between visual novel and audio adaptation is thin.
  • The Sound Stages of Lyrical Nanoha have been an integral part of the franchise from the start, giving additional side-adventures, back-stories, and setting information that would get referenced in the main part of the series, with certain tidbits in the anime only becoming clear if you've listened to these. The biggest one of these is StrikerS Sound Stage X, an entire Story Arc set three years after the third season.
  • Slayers has several set between anime seasons:
    • Slayers EX (Extra) and Slayers N>EX: Set after the first season and second seasons, there are four stories based off of the prequel Slayers Special novels, but they implement Lina's allies instead of Naga. Naga does appear in N>EX, though.
    • The Return of Slayers EX: Five original stories set after seasons 2 and 3, including a run-in with bugs in Saillune's sewer system, meeting baby Val (the reincarnation of the Big Bad of season 3), a hysterical failed attempt to help Zelgadis with his body, and Lina and Naga reminiscing during their old age.
    • Slayers Nextra: Set after the second season, a full-scale adventure, unlike the others.
    • A prologue and epilogue for the Slayers Premium Non-Serial Movie; the prologue creates an issue in continuity by setting two seasons five years apart, which supposedly isn't true in-universe.
    • Two dramas based off of the fourth and fifth seasons of the anime; there is an epilogue story for the one based on Evolution-R.
    • A Crossover story starring the Slayers cast and the Sorcerer Stabber Orphen cast.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi and Negima!? had some drama CDs, which if nothing else, are notable for actually referencing the fandom's popular "KonoSetsu" Portmanteau Couple Name in one of the tracks.
    • A more recent one is the Ala Rubra Drama CD. Specifically the following:
      • Breaking Arika out of the prison.
      • A Hot Springs Episode where the men of Ala Rubra try to take Eishun's glasses.
      • Reenacting the part where Eishun is the Nabe Shogun and Rakan defeats him yet again with the same trick.
      • Nagi VS Rakan. From fighting, an endurance race in the hot springs AND bungee jumping.
      • THE ENTIRE Ala Rubra ships Nagi and Arika together. Even Rakan gives an example on how to sweet talk Arika to Nagi. Everyone's impressed except for Nagi who just laughs at it.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing had a radio play called Blind Target, complete with its own theme songs, which was later adapted into a manga (causing a form of Adaptation Displacement in America).
  • Both the manga and anime versions of Chrono Crusade spawned drama CDs. The anime version is particularly notable for being a High School AU and allowing the voice actors from the anime to purposefully make fun of their characters by being as hammy as possible.
  • A really notorious example is Getter Robo Armageddon, which was the animation sequel... to a popular, long-running radio drama based on the Getter franchise that 99% of anime fans had never even heard of when Armageddon first made its way to America. Fans end up missing a fair bit of backstory as a result.
  • Sound of the Sky has two audio dramas. One which explains the deal with the ghost which kicked off the events of the second episode, only to be forgotten by the end. The other tells of how Filicia and Rio first met, along with an explanation of the history of Helvetia after The Great Off Screen War, at least as far as the characters know.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has four Drama CDs - three of which were packaged in the home video releases and one that was released at a convention. The even numbered CDs are probably non-canon since they are light-hearted Slice of Life Self Parodies of the series. However, the odd numbered CDs contain rather important background information including the identity of the cat seen in the anime's Title Sequence and the prior relationship between Mami and Kyoko that was only implied in the anime. (The latter would actually get a Comic-Book Adaptation in a Spin-Off entitled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story.)
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has the comedic Self-Parody Evangelion: After the End, featuring the cast as Animated Actors who discusses how to retool the TV show to appeal to a wider audience. Much Conversational Troping occurs, and it is actually surprisingly in-character.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Pokémon has many Japanese-exclusive radio dramas. For example, The Rocket-dan's Secret Empire is a series of dramas where Musashi (Jessie) and Kojiro (James) act out plays together. In at least one case, their characters were named "Jessie" and "James" in reference to their Dub Name Changes.
    • It's a White Tomorrow, Team Rocket!! is an Original Series drama where a Team Rocket delivery trainee named Mondo meets the Team Rocket trio.
    • Pokémon: The Birth of Mewtwo was a Japanese-only radio drama backstory to Pokémon: The First Movie. It was later adapted into Mewtwo's Kidroduction for rereleases of the film.
  • A Drama CD version of the 2005 film One Stormy Night was released in Japan in 2006.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • A BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the Guardian strip Clare In The Community became one of the station's longest-running sitcoms.
  • In 2010, the Telegraph strip Alex was adapted for Classic FM.

    Fan Works 
  • The Changeling of the Guard: Beginning in November 2017, the YouTube channel Fanfiction Reader began featuring this story as read by a computer voice. Begin listening here.
    • The author has expressed amusement at some of the effects caused by having a computer read the story.
  • One Helluva Broken Day: Begun on April 2023, a bunch of Hellaverse and SCP fans from said fics Discord community got together to make an audiobook for this crossover fanfiction from Archive of our Own. The channel can be found here.
  • The author of the Undertale Fanfic Visiontale made an audio drama for Chapter 41, the in-game equivalent of the moments leading up to the protagonist meeting Asgore. The first half can be found here, and the second half can be found here.
  • The Youtube channel HellFox83 produced a number of audio dramatizations of scenes taken from The Wormhole Chronicles, a crossover fanfiction series based on Halo and Mass Effect.
  • A fanfiction based on Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Penny Saves Paldea, was made into an audio adaptation by Katrina S. Forest on her YouTube channel starting on April 2023, where she not only reads the chapters, but also goes over the glitches logic fails in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet that are covered in each video (including some fails inspired by her experiences with the game) in full detail before she begins each chapter, complete with clips from the game and custom animation with models based on the models of the characters and Pokémon. It can be found here.

    Films — Animation 
  • Gulliver's Travels was given a 30-minute adaptation for radio's Good News of 1940, and was presented with a Framing Device of Gulliver returning to Lilliput to visit his tiny friends. Jessica Dragonette and Lanny Ross, the singing voices of Princess Glory and Prince David respectively, did their singing and speaking voices for the broadcast.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All three original Star Wars movies had radio play adaptations broadcast by NPR: Star Wars in 1981, The Empire Strikes Back in 1983, and Return of the Jedi in 1996. The first one is very famous for including a whole lot of stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor of the original movie, including early scenes on Alderaan with King Organa, a long chat between Biggs Darklighter and Luke that established both their characters, and a greatly expanded interrogation scene between Vader and Leia.
    • As have the following comic book arcs: Tales of the Jedi Knights of the Old Republic, TOTJ Freedon Nadd Rebellion, TOTJ Dark Lords of the Sith, Dark Empire I, II and Empire's End, Crimson Empire, and the three Dark Forces graphic novels. Oddly enough, they never finished them by releasing the two more Tales of the Jedi arcs featuring Ulic Qel-Droma as well as making Crimson Empire II. Dark Empire has some script changes.
  • The Radio show Lux Radio Theatre was a long-running program adapting hit (and some lesser) movies to radio drama form. It was produced and hosted by Cecil B. DeMille.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who has a lot of these.
    • The BBC have produced a few radio adaptations of serials such as "Genesis of the Daleks."
    • Official BBC-produced original radio plays have been produced as far back as 1986's "Slipback."
    • Officially licensed audio plays by Big Finish, featuring the continuing adventures of Doctors Five, Six, Seven, and Eight (and later Four), now number in the hundreds. Quality is generally considered very high, and is praised for expanding character and concepts which didn't get too much attention or love during their appearance in the TV series, thus leading to quite a few cases of Rescued from the Scrappy Heap, especially for Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor.
    • An outfit called BBV Productions produced audio plays and series of varying officialness during the Nineties: one starring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant as "The Stranger" and "Miss Brown"; one starring Lalla Ward and John Leeson as "The Mistress" and "K-9"; and one starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as "The Professor" and "Ace." None of these were licensed Doctor Who spin-offs, though BBV did obtain a license for K-9 directly from the writers who created the character (an approach they also used to have several recognizable monsters appear in their productions). The "Stranger" and "Mistress" series got away with it by having a low profile and just enough differences from the originals, but the "Professor and Ace" series attracted official notice because McCoy and Aldred were basically playing the same characters under the same names ("Professor" was what Ace always called the Doctor in canon, too), and the BBC stepped in to force some more filing-off of serial numbers.
    • BBC Audio has produced several audiobooks featuring the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. They also created three series of Fourth Doctor audio dramas, starring Tom Baker and Richard Franklin (reprising his role as Third Doctor "companion" Mike Yates).
  • BBC Radio produced a few audio dramas of Torchwood, that originally aired on BBC Radio 4. The first celebrated the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider. This was followed by one three-episode series of plays to bridge the gap between series 2 and 3, and another, Torchwood: The Lost Files to bridge the gap between 3 and 4.
  • BBC Audio made some audiobooks of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
  • There have been a few instances of BBC SitComs transferring from TV to radio:
  • Have Gun – Will Travel was one of the few television shows that then had an adaptation for radio, as opposed to the other way around.
  • Various adaptation of Kamen Rider, in tapes.
  • Radio 4's six part Neverwhere technically belongs under TV, although Neil Gaiman would probably rather you considered it an adaptation of a book.
  • The Channel 4 sketch show Absolutely has been revived on BBC Radio 4 as The Absolutely Radio Show.
  • There was a brief attempt to adapt I Love Lucy as a radio show – a little ironic considering the concept started as a radio show years earlier – but after a single unaired trial episode was produced (using the same script as the TV episode "Breaking the Lease," fleshed out with descriptive narration from Arnaz as Ricky), the idea was abandoned. However, the radio pilot did have one positive effect: CBS executives had worried that Arnaz's accent was too thick for American audiences to understand. Hearing the radio pilot convinced them that his accent wasn't as thick and undecipherable as they had originally feared.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Many television episodes were SoundToScreenAdapations of the radio program. But a few episodes of the television program would also be remade for the radio. For example, "June Bride", the first season finale, was remade into "Marriage by Proxy".


  • Realm's catalog includes audiobook adaptations of classic sci fi short stories.


    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky has a whole bunch of these, focusing on various characters and expanding on them. Even with the games coming to America at last, we're quite unlikely to see these.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has a Radio Drama adaptation called Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Radio Edition.
  • Ever17 has two Drama CDs, After You've Gone and 2035, both being Post Script Seasons.
  • Riviera: The Promised Land has three drama CDs — one of a promotional nature (the Prelude disc), one containing mostly gag stories and voiced scenes from the game with a single serious original drama explaining antagonist Malice's backstory (the Epilogue disc), and a third containing a series of long episodic adventures (The Precious Chapter). Even when the first two were in print, it was a nightmare trying to buy them, as none of the Japanese vendors selling them shipped overseas. Luckily for (Japanese-speaking) fans, the third didn't have this problem.
  • Yggdra Unison was given a drama CD, featuring three episodic stories starring some of the more popular characters. The cast has expressed hopes of being able to produce more, although we've heard nothing from them on the subject since.
  • The Putt-Putt series had a book titled Putt-Putt's Night Before Christmas, which came with an audio cassette of the same name.
  • The Freddi Fish series had a book titled Sing Along with Freddi Fish and her Friends, which came with an audio cassette of the same name.
  • The Mega Man Zero series had audio tracks included on each of its soundtrack releases. The story importance of these tracks ranged from trivial (such as how Alouette came up with the names for the Baby Elves) to vital, such as explaining Elpizo's backstory (including how he got his name), how Phantom knew about Omega's true nature, or why the Guardians chose to help Zero at the end of the third game.
  • The Japanese version of Elemental Gearbolt includes an unlockable audio drama version of an event mentioned in-game, in which the main characters meet as children and promise to reunite. It was Dummied Out of the English release, but the localizer summarized the story in the manual.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening has four CD dramas, each with different stories. The first one (with a male Avatar) depicts the days around Chrom's marriage and focuses on character interactions and some ambushes by Risen. The second (with a Female Avatar) revolves around someone's serious Sick Episode and the aftermath of Emmeryn's Heroic Suicide, alongside Henry and Lucina/"Marth"'s sort-of Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. The third (no defined Avatar) is all about the already Bad Future that Lucina and her fellow Second Generation characters are about to leave. The fourth and last one (also w/o a defined Avatar) is noticeably Lighter and Softer and about Lucina and the children's struggle to find Lucina's precious tiara and both Morgans incidentally meeting up with each other in the Outrealms.
  • There are many CD Dramas for for The King of Fighters, usually one or two per game, with individual characters sometimes getting their own CDs. They go from very cracky skits bordering on Gag Dubs, to pretty interesting characterization-wise (i.e. Dengeki Bunko explains how both the Japan Team and the Women's Team came to be among other things, The Sun and The Moon chronicles Iori Yagami's life outside KOF and the Yagami/Kusanagi feud at an unspecified time in the past, and KOF 2000 gives more background on K' and his group while also featuring Athena's misadventures through the world until she finds Kyo and they have a more serious talk about how everyone misses him at home).
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has a CD Drama available only in Japan which takes place a year after the events of the game, and also confirms which of the good endings is canon (Maria chases Alucard).
  • New Dynamic English has a radio show produced for Voice of America.
  • A series of Persona 3 CD Dramas were produced. All of them take place during the events of the game and focus on relationships between the cast members as well as side plots that were not covered by the main game. Unfortunately, they are only available in Japanese but fan-made translations exist.
  • Several audio CDs of Puyo Puyo are known to exist, each having multiple stories on them presenting all sorts of humorous scenarios featuring the series' characters.

  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has an "unofficial" Radio Play here that has currently produced three episodes covering the story arcs "Warrior for Hire," "Recipe for Disasters," and Part I of "The Return of Dark Pegasus," with Part II in the works as of October 2010.
  • Slightly Damned has a Radio Drama adaptation here that currently consists of two episodes covering the first 63 pages, with episode three (set to be pages 64-93) well under way as of October 2010.
  • Welcome to Room #305 has received a Korean Radio Drama.
  • An audiobook of When Heaven Spits You Out follows the novelization of the original webcomic, and is narrated by the comic and novel's author, Ruairidh MacVeigh.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Sound Adaptation, Radio Adaptation