A3! Spring and Summer – Episode 1

By: Caitlin Moore January 18, 20200 Comments
A parrot in a bow tie sits on Sakuya's shoulder

What’s it about? Eight years ago, Tachibana Yukio was the star of the Mankai Theater troupe. But now, it’s completely broke, with no audience and only one actor. Tachibana Izumi, Yukio’s daughter, responds to a letter begging her father to come back and save the theater, because a yakuza loan shark is about to tear it down and turn it into a bar!

There are few things anime loves more than an underdog story. The medium is full of upstarts, clubs under threat of being shut down, and fighting the powers that be. It’s an easy source of conflict, and a lot of the time, it works. Row row fight the power and all that.

So you can tell that A3 really messes up when I found myself rooting for the bad guy.

Two boys march forward down a street while a girl watches. Subtitles read "Sakuya?"

And this story even has connections to my life! The theater my dad has been a member of since I was a little girl, Theatre West, is pretty much constantly under threat of closure despite being the oldest continually running theater company in the US. Like Mankai Theater, they have their own devoted venue that I assume has fairly pricey rent due to the location. Like Izumi, I have memories of the auditorium and backstage area as my and my sister’s personal playground.

Maybe that’s actually what feeds my cynicism and practicality, because all I see is Mankai Theater wasting money left and right. Like, okay, they need to keep the location, sure, I get that, but they also feed and house their actors. They’re wasting so much money on empty dorms, when they have exactly one actor, a parrot, and zero audience.

And they’ll never get an audience back at this rate, because their sole actor, Sakuya, is absolutely awful. Izumi was also kicked out of the company as a young girl because she, too, is a terrible actor. When the yakuza boss trying to tear down the place points that out, she tries to defend him by saying, “But he got his feelings across!”

Izumi facing a stage full of people with text, "You're a terrible actor"

Listen, acting is a skill that people can improve through education and practice. I’m not going to take a stance about whether it’s something that can be learned or must be inborn (though I do think inborn talent can exist because there are some two-year-olds who are very good at it). But once you’re up on a stage, supposedly trying to entertain an audience, and you’re failing at it, my sympathy for you goes out the window. You have one job, and if you suck at it, you can’t cry about people not wanting to come see your shows.

Not that I was impressed with any of the acting at all throughout the episode. The cold open is just Mayumi reciting acting cliches, including the “All the world’s a stage” speech from As You Like It. He catches a street performance from a more prestigious acting company, and all the onlookers are enthralled by a context-free scene about a man getting medical results. You know, the kind of thing that really only has any emotional impact if you know the characters.

A man in a hard hat and a loud purple leopard print jacket yelling, "Oh yeah! Look at my backhoe!"
Honestly, this was the highlight of the episode

I looked up the source material and was not at all surprised to find that it’s based on a mobile gacha game. It’s pretty much everything that I’ve come to expect on otome gachas: a dull female protagonist with little real reason to be there, and a premise to get all the boys together that falls apart if you look at it too long, and overall poor writing. Of course, it’s already planned for a second cour, but I won’t even be watching this one.

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