ACTORS is a mixed-media franchise originally created by EXIT MUSIC PUBLISHING, a Pony Canyon subsidiary formerly known as EXIT TUNES, spanning a series of albums including both Vocaloid covers and a series of drama tracks, as well as a companion magazine (the one-off Dengeki Girl's ACTORS, a tie-up with Dengeki Girl's Style) and a light novel. A yonkoma serialization ran in the magazine B's Log, and has been running since 2016.
The drama tracks focus on the daily lives of students and teachers from Tenshou Academy, a perfectly normal high school where school clubs are ranked by points they earn from participating in school activities (like singing). Perfectly normal...or at least that's only what it seems to be on the surface.
The series has an Official Website.
The series was announced for an anime adaptation in late 2018, titled ACTORS: Songs Connection. The Singing and Beauty clubs get major focus, but there are a few original characters featured as well. The adaptation aired a year later, in Fall 2019.
This work contains examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: A more light-hearted example - Rei thinks Tsukasa is this, in regards to the latter's control over the swim club.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted. The campus heartthrob is Chiguma Marume, closet Otaku and actual Nice Guy.
- All Men Are Perverts: Minori Shido, who wishes on a shooting star to someday have "an oppai harem".
- Alternate Universe: The premise of the Music Situation drama CDs, involving Mike (Yoshiwara Lament), Satsuma (Lunacy of Duke Venomania), Mitsuki (Ifuudoudou), Kaoru (Eternal Fireworks), Shirou (ELECT), and Kakeru (About Me).
- Art Evolution: Over the years, you can tell that the boys' designs have changed. Their faces fill out over time, there's less cel shading in the artwork, and they overall look more varied in size and features.
- Beach Episode: The drama tracks included in Exit Tunes Presents ACTORS 2 happen during the Swim Club's training camp at the beach.
- Bland-Name Product: The brand name is never explicitly stated, but Mitsuki is almost always depicted with a laptop computer. His chibi art shows it with the branding of two cherries.
- The Blind Leading the Blind: Takato befriended Chiguma so the latter could teach him how to be more popular with girls. Little does he know that Chiguma has no idea how to do this, either.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The series is saturated with good looking guys and pretty boys. The most ridiculous part about it is that while the series makes very little mention of girls at all, the school is explicitly co-ed.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Tenshou Academy has very consistent uniform colours: red for first-years, green for second-years, blue for third-years.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: Not at all. Whatever song they sing, they sing it as is. Which includes songs from a distinctly female point of view.
- Cover Version: The entire discography is made up of covers of famous Vocaloid (and even some UTAU) songs.
- Darker and Edgier: The Music Situation drama CDs, specifically the ones based off Yoshiwara Lament and Lunacy of Duke Venomania. ELECT's CD is also much more somber than the rest of the ACTORS discography.
- Elaborate University High: What's more, the high school is located in a whole district of them. It's only the seventh of ten areas.
- Ensemble Cast
- Excuse Plot: The reason why there's so many songs involved is because all of the clubs are competing against each other in the school wide singing contest, and if they compete favorably, their club gets preferential treatment. But the audience isn't really listening for that— they came for the cute boy interactions and the male Vocaloid covers.
- From Stray to Pet: Subverted in ACTORS 1, which features the Archaeology Club (and later, thanks to Mike, the Singing Club) dealing with what they think is a stray cat. Eventually they feel about ready to take it in as a club pet, but they realize it has a collar already and thus needs to be returned.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mike and Kai, Ryuunosuke and Takato.
- Homoerotic Subtext
- Japanese School Club: Everyone is part of one.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": The Broadcasting Club's aloof VP Seijun Yuyama is a big fan of Chiguma Marume. To the point where he gets jittery and excited over Chiguma shaking his hand.Mitsuki: Chiguma-kun, you're like an idol.
- Mistress and Servant Boy: How Mike insists his relationship with Kai is, calling him his "dog". Fittingly, he also sings "KiLLER LADY" in ACTORS 4, which depicts that sort of (sexual) relationship.
- Necktie Leash: Mike does this to Kai in one special illustration.
- Not What It Looks Like: In his "ABOUT ME" CD, Kakeru plays a young man who thought his lover had left him for another man after seeing them both walk together. It's only after she dies that he figures out they were both looking for a birthday gift for Kakeru himself.
- Odd Friendship: Ex-best friends Rei and the more laid-back Takato, among others.
- One Head Taller: Not quite, but Mike is 170 cm to Kai's 188. Kai used to play basketball.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Chiguma likes teasing that Kai is Mike's 'girlfriend'. Both parties usually react this way.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Rei and Takato.
- Yonkoma: Has an official chibi spinoff, ACTORS 4koma, which just gives off silly anecdotes of the boys.