New to Paradox Live?
This crash course assumes that you are starting from zero, which is, admittedly, probably pretty unlikely if you're on this site; if you have any knowledge coming in, some of this may come across as redundant!
Paradox Live is a Japanese multimedia franchise, created by GCrest and distributed by Avex Records, featuring many popular seiyuu and utaite among its cast.
But what is it?The big question people often ask is: is it an anime? Is it a mobile game? And the answer is that it is a multimedia franchise with the core content consisting of audio dramas and music. Though we are getting an anime adaptation and a mobile game has been announced, the core of the franchise is the dramas.
Though I had no hand in it, there is a decent introductory YouTube video for English speakers over here that explains much of what I ramble about here, if you find that format easier to follow!
A crash courseThe music is hip hop (in a very "animusic" way), with various groups having different styles within the overarching umbrella (for example, one group's music tends to resemble trap, whereas another's is influenced by east coast jazz rap, one blends traditional Japanese music and Chicano rap, and yet another is 2000's style rap-rock).
Most CD releases are done as "battle rounds", where two teams are going to be going up against each other in a song competition where every round has a given theme. The CDs then consist of the songs the groups put forth for that round, and audio dramas following the characters in the time period before the battle round.
The first major arc of the story consisted of a round robin competition between four groups: BAE, The Cat's Whiskers, cozmez, and Akan Yatsura. There was one introductory CD, six battle rounds, one mid-round interstitial taking place between two rounds, a finale, and a collection of shuffle team tracks following the finale.
The second major arc, -Road to Legend-, introduced four new groups -- VISTY, AMPRULE, 1Nm8, and GokuLuck -- in addition to the four previous groups all returning. This round took the form of a single elimiation bracket, with a comeback round for the losers of the first round leading to a three-way battle in the finale.
While the main conceit of the plot is the competitions, the actual draw of the franchise is the character interactions, and you'll get the most out of it if you view it less as a tightly-paced plot and more as an ensemble piece with plot threads interwoven through it. The series's special narrative gimmick is that the characters use special metal accessories to create elaborate illusions on stage, and these accessories and their side effects turn out to be central to the overarching story.
Where do I start?
I have a page right here to help people know where to start!
VotingThe trajectory of the story is partially dictated by fans voting on who they want the winner of each battle round to be. This is accomplished via Dope Points, which are gained through purchasing CDs and other social media action. More details about this are on the page for Paradox Tribe, the official fan app.
Fans can vote on who they want to win a given round for a period of about two weeks after the release of a CD battle round CD. Most fans only vote for their favorite group, and might hoard points for a very long time waiting for their team to be up at bat.
Social MediaWhile characters having social media accounts is not unheard of, Paradox Live's entire cast have twitter accounts that often provide hilarious and entertaining glimpses into the character's lives, in addition to periodically doing in-character reply events on the fan app. More information about this is on the Social Media page!
The cast's social media antics are a source of a great many jokes within the fandom.
Adaptations and Other Media
In addition to the CDs and audio drama series, there are multiple adaptations:
- Stage Battle "COMIC" is a manga adaptation released serially on ZeroSum Comics Online
- Paradox Live On Stage is a series of stageplays adapting the story
- Paradox Live The Animation is a 12-episode anime adaptation that began airing in October 2023