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Suggested Reading Order

One question I see a lot from people just getting into Paradox Live is "what order do I read things in?" and "do I have to read everything?".

Long story short: yes, you should really read everything, or at least every audio drama and every chapter of the MEMORY novel. It is a single linear narrative and every group plays a part, and that means you will miss important context for the group you want to focus on if you only read their dramas.
The characters' stories are so intertwined with each other that even if you only focus on one group's dramas, you'll be very lost on what the other groups are doing in them. You wouldn't ask what episodes of an anime you need to watch; you just start at the start and watch it straight through!

Luckily, despite the multiple forms the franchise takes, it's a lot less intimidating than you might think.

The tl;dr to take away from this is this:

  1. Look over the cast of characters. Remember that only the first four groups (BAE, The Cat's Whiskers, cozmez, and Akan Yatsura) meaningfully appear until Road to Legend: Opening Show. (Buraikan are mentioned but don't appear until LIVE.)
  2. Listen to (or read my translations of!) the audio drama CDs in release order from Opening Show until the end of Shuffle Team vol. 2.
  3. Read the MEMORY light novel.
  4. Look over the character profiles for VISTY, AMPRULE, 1Nm8, and GokuLuck if you have not done so.
  5. Continue listening to/reading the audio drama CDs in release order, from Road to Legend -Opening Show- until REVOLUTION.

Congratulations, you've got all you really need! That is, ultimately, the long and short of it. Everything else is not going to be essential for the basic experience. But let's get a little more into it!

The Core Canon Order | Other Canon | Adaptations | Song Order | Who Won Each Round

Core Canon

AKA, the stuff you actually have to consume if you really want to be into this franchise

The core content of Paradox Live (at the moment) is its audio dramas, and the core plot is pretty linear! The various alternate mediums are either supplemental to the main, core canon, or adaptations of it. There is extra material in things like interviews and social media, but the dramas are basically the one thing that matters the most-- with one exception. The MEMORY novel. Lucky for you if you're here: I have translations of all of the audio dramas (and MEMORY!) right here on this very site!

The reading order is this. The only real wiggle room is where you read the fanbook short stories, since they take place ambiguously in the middle of part 1.

  1. Dramas: Opening Show ➔ Desire ➔ Justice ➔ Pride ➔ Family
  2. Novel: Fanbook short stories (optional, but I think they work best here)
  3. Dramas: Exhibition Show ➔ Love ➔ Vibes ➔ Live ➔ Shuffle Team Vol. 1 ➔ Shuffle Team Vol. 2
  4. Novel: MEMORY
  5. Dramas: Road to Legend Opening Show ➔ Fate ➔ Rage ➔ Showdown ➔ Will ➔ Trust ➔ Showdown -AFTER- ➔ Revolution

Other Canon

AKA, flavor text and where a lot of the fandom jokes come from

The other "big" thing that Paradox Live does is run in-character social media, both on Twitter and a bespoke app known as "Paradox Tribe".
A lot of fandom jokes and reference are spun off of things that happen between the official character social media. The official Twitter accounts are compiled on this list! My translations of social media is over on the Social Media Translations page
A note: If you're just now trying getting into the fandom, I wouldn't worry too much about Paradox Tribe just yet; it's mostly used for fan-interaction "mention parties" (where the character accounts will reply to fan messages in real time for brief periods of time). It's also kind of a nightmare for archival.

As with many other multimedia franchises, there's lots of other stuff like magazines and in-character interviews. If you can hunt these or translations of these down, they're often fun, but, again: it is not core content. You will not be missing out on a huge part of the canon if you don't hunt down translations of a random B's Log article from 2021.

Also potentially useful to know is this: the social media accounts, while often informing what we know as canon, are not synchronous with canon; that is to say, they (obviously) happen in real time, while the drama tracks do not, with months passing between releases and only a few days passing in-canon in the drama tracks. So, really: don't worry too much about missing things.

Adaptations

There are currently three adaptations of the canon:

Paradox Live on Stage, a stageplay. Currently consists of four entries: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and two "Live Shows". Volume 1 covers the events of Pride and Family; Volume 2 covers Love, Vibes, and parts of Live. This is more of a supplement to the original content rather than a standalone version of the story, as it cuts out a lot of things (namely the entirety of Desire and Justice and large parts of Live), assuming the audience already knows what happened.

The Live Shows (BAE vs The Cat's Whiskers and cozmez vs Akan Yatsura) are, I think, the most confusing thing. I find it helps to think of them as basically just extended cosplay skits/mini-concerts performed by the stageplay actors. They're a lot of fun and take the form of in-universe performances, but they're pseudo-canonical at best.

Paradox Live Stage Battle "COMIC", a manga adaptation hosted on Zero Sum Comics. Following the drama tracks very closely, with some later information folded back in earlier to make things flow a little better. Releases chapters monthly, more or less. Some chapters are time-gated, but some are free to read in perpetuity. The second physical volume came out in May 2023. I believe the manga can more or less stand alone as an adaptation.

Paradox Live The Animation, a 12-episode anime that began in October 2023. It more or less follows the plot of the dramas up to episode 8, and then goes completely off the rails. I do not believe the events of the anime are compatible with the drama tracks in terms of both plot and characterization; if you are coming in from the anime and want to get caught up with the drama tracks, there is unfortunately no point that you can skip forward to. You will be confused and missing out on major parts of many characters' arcs.

There is a mobile game that has been announced, with more information slated to be forthcoming during the franchise's fourth anniversary. We currently know very little about it or its status as canon.

Where do the songs go?

Coming in late, it can sometimes be a little bit confusing what songs go with which round, or figuring out in post who won each round, so here's a quick guide to that. Enjoy.
Opening Show
BaNG!!!, Master of Music, Where they at, BAD BOYZ -悪漢奴等 Underground-
Desire
AmBitious!!!, Get it
Justice:
Faith, OUTSIDERZ -悪漢奴等 is Justice-
Pride
EmBlem!!!, 4 REAL
Family:
This Is My Love, CALL FOR FAMILIEZ -悪漢奴等 is Forever-
Exhibition Show
FRE△KOUT, Life is Beautiful, Back Off, REBELLION -悪漢奴等 is still Burning-, all collab songs
1st Album TRAP
BErmud△ Tri△nglE, One Shot One Kill, Runnin',A.K.Y.R. -悪漢奴等 Go over da TRAP-
Love
Ain't No Love, Mercy On Me
Vibes
F△Bulous, ROWDIEZ -悪漢奴等 Wanted Vibes-
2nd Album LIVE
Better Dayz, Buraikan is Back, Rap Guerrilla -Paradox Live All Artists-
Shuffle Team Vol. 1
New & Classic, Giragira CANDY NIGHT, Rooftop, Jumping Into My World
Shuffle Team Vol. 2
The Sound of Voltage, Why do you like me??, Rats & Nobles, Double Trouble, CHILLIN'
Road to Legend Opening Show
Road to Legend, W△vin' Fl△g, Ride Out, Takin' Over, TURN IT UP!!!!!! -悪漢SOUL FEVER-, For My Stella, Do as I say, Break Outta Here, STRONGER
Fate
We △re The Future, True Pride; Shooting Arrows, edN
Rage
Hit 'Em Up, BE A STAR; 大火傷 - License To Kill, Fight for Liberty
Showdown
Do or Die, Rap Guerrilla Reload -Paradox Live All Artists-; Endless Dream, Nobody But Me, S∀G∀, Trigger
Will
G△L△XY∞, No Matter What
Trust
Trust Nobody, 喝采 -Leave It To Me-
Revolution
Ch△mp1on, Two Crowns, S.W.A.G.

Who won each round?

The winners of each round are not always addressed in-text, so if you don't keep up, you may lose track of who won each round.
Please be aware that this section, necessarily, involves spoiling large parts of the plot.

Paradox Live

The "first season" or first major arc, held as a round robin competition (every team went against every other team); winner was determined by cumulative votes.
DESIRE: BAE
JUSTICE: Akan Yatsura
PRIDE: The Cat's Whiskers
FAMILY: cozmez
LOVE: cozmez
VIBES: BAE
Round 1 Overall: cozmez

Road to Legend

The "second season" or second major arc, held as a direct elimination bracket with a comeback round for the losers of round 1, leading to a three-way final round.
FATE: BAE, The Cat's Whiskers
RAGE: cozmez, Akan Yatsura
SHOWDOWN: GokuLuck
WILL: BAE
TRUST: cozmez
REVOLUTION: BAE
Round 2 Overall: BAE