Time to Meet the Spring Troupe

Hello and welcome to all you beautiful people, today we’re continuing our quest to save a theatre and it’s company from destruction. Of course I can only be talking about A3! So without further ado let’s get into it.

The Spring troupe is the first of the four troupes to be formed. Spring brings new beginnings and this is most definitely a new beginning for the Mankai Company. I can see what you did there developers.

Already I can spot the formula for each story section. Tachibana finds five guys to form a troupe. They start rehearsals. Some of the boys are good or have good instincts. The others have a lot of work to do. The play is written. Rehearsals start with read throughs that are a bit rocky. Tachibana has a scene with each of the boys, encouraging them or discovering something about them. Rehearsals improve. Tickets aren’t selling well. The troupe comes together and manages to sell every ticket, closing night being the most important day. Finally they perform the show. I promise there’s more substance than what I’ve laid out here but that’s the basic outline.

The Spring troupe’s first show is Romeo and Julius, a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet about friendship and not romance. Although honestly I still get a romantic vibe from the dialogue and acting. Whether it’s a romance or not there’s enough there to fuel the shippers’ imaginations. Through the Spring troupe’s story the group suffers from a lack of teamwork. They’re all stuck in their own heads. A mindset that can be detrimental to a play, believe me. That all changes when the troupe decides to spend a night on the theatre’s stage. From then on in rehearsals all the actors noticeably improve. As I’ve already stated, at the end of the troupe’s story they perform to a full house on closing night, receiving a standing ovation.

So now I should probably talk about the boys. I mean they are the main characters in the story. And the reason why we’re here.

Sakuya Sakuma

Sakuya is the first member of the new Mankai Company and the Spring Troupe. He’s like a puppy, full of energy and always optimistic. Ever since he was young he’s been in love with acting and the theatre. Now he wants to give it a go himself. He’s got a lot of training to do but he puts his all into every rehearsal. His upbeat personality and position as lead in their first show is what leads to Sakuya being chosen as leader of the Spring Troupe. He’s a ball of sunshine that you can’t help but like. He’s a little naive but eager to learn. Sakuya tries his best to stop any fighting and keep the group together. He’s the best choice as leader. I like Sakuya but he’s not really my type when it comes to these types of stories, i.e. otomes and dating sims.

Masumi Usui

Masumi joined the Mankai Company after seeing Tachibana doing a street act with Sakuya and Matsukawa. It’s love at first sight and Tachibana becomes his whole world. So he’s an obsessive stalker, kind of. He’s harmless really. He doesn’t force himself on her but also doesn’t understand that Tachibana isn’t interested in him. Or rather she can’t be because there aren’t specific routes. There’s also the fact he’s 16 and Tachibana is in her twenties, gonna have to wait a few years there. I believe Masumi falls under the cool aloof type. He’s a good actor, despite having no experience, that could do with thinking about other things besides Tachibana. Oh wait, he’s a teenager so that’s unlikely. Although I think his upbringing factors into why he becomes so attached to Tachibana. Again I like him but he’s still not my type when I play these games and nothing has really grabbed me yet with his story/personality.

Tsuzuru Minagi

Tsuzuru is the third member to join the Spring Troupe. He was on the hunt for a troupe with a dorm, Mankai Company perfectly fits his needs. He wants to be a playwright and uses his talents to write plays for all the troupes to perform. He prefers to write characters specifically for each actor. He’s a hard worker. To help look after his 7 little brothers Tsuzuru worked many different part time jobs, picking up many different skills. When it comes to acting however he has no prior experience. He is a sweet guy who continues to fill the big brother role despite trying to strike out on his own. Tsuzuru is someone I could see myself dating if he was real. A nice guy who also loves writing and likes spending time in libraries reading. He even looks up to a slightly older actor, a 3rd year at his university, who is such a genuine guy, wanting to be more like him. Thinking about self improvement. But Tsuzuru is not my favourite.

Itaru Chigasaki

Itaru is another young man looking for a place to stay so he joins the Mankai Company. On the surface he’s a heartthrob that has his life together. Mature, kind and sociable. But his real personality is a far cry from the mask he wears. Itaru is a serious gaming addict. Everything he does is so that he can quickly return to his games. In my opinion he’s the one that goes through the most character development. At first he’s lazy, thinks acting is easy and spends all of his freetime in his room alone playing games. He goes from this solitary, single minded person to becoming part of a team, making friends and gaining a passion for acting. Itaru is my favourite of the Spring Troupe boys. I know gaming addiction is serious and should be treated as such. Games are fun but when they start taking over your life it’s time to get some help. But of course I’m attracted to a fellow gamer. I’d be right there playing games alongside him. We’re both competitive people which can be either a good or bad thing, good thing this is fiction. His character design is very attractive, I find it even more attractive when he ties his floofy fringe up when he needs to concentrate. I very much stand Itaru.

Citron

Citron is the last member to join the Spring Troupe. He’s a foreign exchange student shrouded in mystery. He’s still learning japanese, funny thing to say since I’m reading the story in english, so he gets his words mixed up sometimes. He’s always in a cheerful mood and is there to cheer up the group when they need it. Citron is disheartened at his lack of lines in the first show but quickly switches his attitude to wanting to do his best. I find Citron a great source of comic relief, you know a scenes gonna be good when Citron’s involved. I don’t like him in a romantic way but he’s one of my favourite characters. The Spring Troupe wouldn’t be the same without him.

In conclusion, the Spring Troupe story might be an insight into the skeleton of what the other season’s stories hold but that doesn’t mean they’re all painted the same. The characters determine what challenges the troupe will face and how they’ll deal with them. The Spring Troupe are all likeable guys who provide an entertaining first quarter for the overall story. Thank you all for reading and I’ll see you in the next post.

-Your Hostess-

Image Source: All photos are screenshots taken on my phone directly on the app.

Time to Save the Mankai Company

Hello and welcome to all you beautiful people. For those who have read my post looking at the spring anime for this year it will come as no surprise that I’ve started playing A3! I’m still playing through it so what I’m going to do is talk about the different sections of the story as I go, starting with the prologue. So without further ado let’s get into it.

A3! Act! Addict! Actor! Is a mobile character/card collecting otome game. Developed and published by LIBER Entertainment, creators of primarily mobile games. The game was first released in Japan January 27th 2017 for both Iphone and Android. The English translated version was released October 23rd 2019. The main story is fully voiced, apart from the heroine, like most otome games. As you already know the game has already received an anime adaptation but there is also a manga available to read. Other material I’ve found are CDs. What I’ve played so far hasn’t had a focus on musicals but  I’m happy to see they’ve released songs. I quite like the OP and I want to listen to more.

Now before I get into the story I want to talk about the “gameplay” if you can call it that. It makes sense to look at these elements first since this is a character/card collecting game. Though unlike other character/card collecting games I’ve played this one’s primary focus is the story. Story parts are unlocked by levelling up. To level up you do practise sessions with the boys. During the session you can either tap to cycle through the lessons or enable the auto feature. For something like this I think the auto feature is useful. By doing practises small scenes with the character you are doing the session with are unlocked. These are cute little scenes between the character and heroine related to rehearsals. It’s details like this that have kept me coming back to play the game.

A3! App

The cards you collect unlock backstage scenes as you level them up. I feel these backstage stories are where the real otome elements come in. They’re short, what I would call, romantic scenes between the boy and heroine. Not to mention scenes of the boys interacting with each other can also be unlocked. Being able to unlock these stories gives players a reason to continue playing beyond that main story. It also encourages you to collect more cards and to level them up. Another way to gain experience for levelling up is by putting on shows. Both shows and practise sessions require energy to do. Shows use a different energy type to practises so when you can’t do anymore of one you can move onto the other. Using premiare tickets you can even watch the shows in the theatre. They’re a cute a five minute show that you can watch. You can see the characters act out the play in chibi form. It is adorable.

A3! App

Other features include the boys doing street theatre to earn cash for increasing the actors card stats. Along with cash you also need to collect items to be able to do that. Finally you can add friends and give each other flowers to earn friendship points. Friendship points are used for tryouts, which is how you collect cards. I think the way this system is setup has kept me interested in the game. Story and characters are why I play these types of things and if it’s relatively easy to unlock new story parts I can put up with the other aspects of the game. 

I think most people would describe the art style as generic or nothing special. That might be true. To me it looks like what you’d typically see from anime and I like that style. It’s familiar and I’ve always thought it was pretty. I like the backgrounds and character designs. The CGs have a different look. They feel brighter and animated, breathing life into the characters. If you’re a fan of the typical anime style then you’ll like the art for A3 as much as I do.

I’ve already mentioned that the main story is fully voiced and I think it’s done well. I’ve found that I tend to like the japanese casting. The voices generally suit the characters and the emotion comes through. Whether it sounds like that to me because I don’t speak Japanese I don’t know. The important thing for me is whether my immersion is being broken or not. For all the characters I’ve encountered so far the voice direction has been good. I feel that’s the same with all the characters. I’m interested to hear the casting for the heroine in the anime.

Now it’s storytime. You, the player, can choose the first name for Miss Tachibana. Or you can use her default name Izumi. At the very beginning of the prologue we get a glimpse of the future. Here we see the Spring troupe about to go on stage. It’s closing night and it’s a full house. Cut to the present. On Veluda Way Tachibana is looking for a particular theatre. While wandering around she spots someone in trouble and rushes to help. A young man also passing by does the same. But all is well. This is a street act, a regular occurrence on Veluda Way. The actors performing are from the God troupe, one of the best troupes in the district. The young man who stopped to help asks them about joining. Ultimately he decides against joining because they don’t provide accomodation. This is a great introduction to the way Veluda Way works and what is normal in this world of theatres. The rules of this world are being established for the player. Witnessing the God troupe actors also introduces competition and generally shows off the standard of acting within the district.

A3! App

Tachibana moves on and finds the theatre she’s been looking for. The Mankai Theatre. But it’s about to be torn down by a yakuza looking guy. Tachibana’s words, not mine. Before anything can happen Tachibana intervenes. She manages to get them to stop long enough so she can watch what might be the Mankai Company’s last performance. It doesn’t go well. The play is short, the writing is terrible and the only human actor has a serious case of stage fright. The other actor being a cockatoo named Kamekichi. Whilst the yakuza is still set on tearing the theatre down, Tachibana sees potential. She even learns that her father used to be the Mankai Company’s director before he disappeared. Yakuza guy decides to give her a chance and tasks her with finding new actors before sunset. Tachibana, the manager and lone actor quickly put on a street act and recruit two new actors. One of them is the young man seen earlier. The group return to the theatre in time. Seeing this yakuza guy decides to give the Mankai Company one more chance to pay off their debt. With two conditions: they must put on four shows within the year with four different troupes and Tachibana has to be the director. Tachibana accepts the challenge. Now she only has one month to put on the first show and have a full house on closing night.

That’s pretty much where the prologue ends. I like the story. There’s a clear conflict and right off the bat the main characters are at a disadvantage. I wanted to be an actor at one point so of course I want to see these young aspiring actors succeed. Even if we might have already seen a glimpse at what’s to come I want to see the journey. Meet all the characters and watch them grow. I know I should have an issue with these being all male troupes but this is an otome. I’m not here for equality, I’m here for the boys. Hot boys with engaging stories.

I like Tachibana as the heroine. She has two clear wounds. Her father is missing,  plot point that may or may not be explored later, and she gave up on her dream of being an actor. Something that she was probably only pushed into because of her past directors telling her she can’t act. But now she’s going to use her knowledge to help save the Mankai Company. She really steps into the role of a leader, helping each actor to improve. She even has the ability to recognise the areas that she needs to improve. She has her doubts sometimes but she doesn’t let it get her down. Ultimately Tachibana has a big heart, is a great leader and has some funny lines/thoughts. Making her a great character to play as.

A3! App

One other character I want to talk about is Matsukawa Isuke, the useless manager. I’m not calling him useless to be mean but it’s a fact. While it’s just been him running the Mankai Company everything has fallen to pieces. They’re in so much debt to the yakuza that the theatre is at risk of being demolished. All that’s left of what was once four acting troupes is a lone newbie actor. They only put on terrible mini plays written by Matsukawa. He also can’t cook. Meals being provided is supposed to be a perk for living in the dorm but that’s not the case with Matukawa cooking them. Even his website setup is terrible. But despite all that, his shabby appearance and cowardice, he has heart. Somehow he always appears cheerful. He believes and loves the Mankai Company and it’s theatre. That’s why he finally tried to seek out Tachibana’s father. So he might be a bit useless but you can’t hate him. He brings comedy to the story. On some occasions he even serves as an ear for Tachibana. 

In conclusion, this is just the beginning. I love A3! so far. It’s not the typical otome I like to play. It doesn’t have specific routes for each boy but it doesn’t have to. I love the story, where it’s set and the characters, including the protagonist. If you’re interested why not download it? Read through the prologue and see what you think. Anyone want to add me as a friend? Alternatively you can give the anime a look, something I will be doing in the future. Look out for that.

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you all in the next post.

-Your Hostess- 

All images were screenshoted from the A3! app