Photo from Tokyo Otaku Mode.

When I was in junior high and high school, I was obsessed with theater. As someone whose friends called them a “black hole” when it came to feelings, the stage was a place where I could open up and let loose with whatever I wanted under the guise of these characters.

Of course, though, I never ended up pursuing it in the end. My mom told me I wasn’t good-looking enough, and I was never really all that great, anyway. But that doesn’t mean my attachment ever left.

High School Musical, Glee, you name it, I probably indulged in it for a while. The musical theater phase of popular media was my bread and butter.

Enter: anime mobile game A3!: Act! Addict! Actors!, where you direct and manage your very own theater troupe of a bunch of pretty boys.

I’ll start off by saying I’m not very good at keeping up with mobile games. You have to log in every day to get your daily bonus, and many of them have an auto-play feature which requires you to do literally nothing and therefore takes away the attachment. Some people like this, but if I’m gonna play a game, I want a game, y’know?

But A3! changed it for me. The concept is set up like a typical Japanese visual novel where you’re the one girl in a sea of impossibly lean, good-looking dudes, and you have to help them all reach their end goal. In A3!, you are Izumi Tachibana, a girl whose father disappeared years ago and you haven’t heard from him since. You discover he was involved with a local community theater troupe on Veludo Way, the hot spot for up and coming theater actors.

Photo from A3! Mobile Game

Long story short, you round up a bunch of random dudes into season-themed troupes and have to teach them how to act.

It’s kind of cheesy, but it’s cute. And as a past aspiring actor myself, the way these amateur actors come to love the stage always manages to touch my heart.

You unlock the main story by doing “practice” sessions, which are basically just you tapping the screen to turn pages in your “notebook” while they practice and yell random lines. This is an auto feature I can get behind. I just let practices run while I’m washing dishes, drawing, or any other activity and then – boom! More story! (They also refer to combining cards as “blooming”.. And they all have their own symbolic flower. It’s cute!)

Photo from A3! Mobile Game

The main story is only four chapters, however, which cover each troupe’s first play – the rest of the story progresses through “Events” which are the troupe’s subsequent shows they put on. As you “practice” during the event, you unlock the story behind the show.

Photo from A3! Mobile Game

(There’s a lot of strategy behind ranking and show teams and blooming actors, but that’s for another time. It’s really a whole other article.)

As most other Japanese mobile games put out by established companies, there is a lot of work and involvement put into this game. One of its best features (besides the gorgeous graphic design on play posters and within the game itself) to me has to be the quality of the songs they put out. Although this isn’t an idol game, nor is it said explicitly in game that these are musical shows they’re putting on, Liber regularly releases EPs that have the character’s voice actors sing character songs and songs inspired by each play they “troupes” put on, sung by the main leads of their respective plays. 

Oh, and you can unlock these songs in-game as Jukebox snippets to play on your homepage!

The songs are incredible. There are several different composers involved, which makes sense when you have to consider the wide range of genres these dudes have to cover.

But that’s enough talking from me. If you’re interested, go ahead and download the game to give it a shot! We are slowly but surely on our way to catching up with the Japanese events, with the Spring Troupe just about to start their third production.. and you won’t wanna miss it!

Photo from the A3! English Twitter, @MankaiCompanyEN