What is your favorite genre of music? Rock? Jazz? Or is it…hip-hop? However you might answer that question, then one thing is clear, there is probably one multimedia project or another that appeals to you, as Japan has no shortage of them.
Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the hip-hop multimedia project Paradox Live, a collaboration between Avex and GCREST that debuted on February 2, 2020. This study article will get you acquainted with the characters and their charms before the release of the television anime adaptation and mobile game that is currently under production!
The Story Behind Paradox Live
Set in the near future, a new music movement known as Phantom Live starts to gain massive popularity among young people. Four music groups by the names of BAE, The Cat’s Whiskers, cozmez, and Akanyatsura battle each other in the mysterious music festival known as Paradox Live.
As the story of Paradox Live progressed, we learned that a disaster has caused the collapse of Club Paradox and prevented the final battle between the winning group and the legendary duo Buraikan. The club was later rebuilt with a brand-new music tournament.
At that same time, four new groups VISTY, AMPRULE, 1Nm8, and Goku Luck have joined the ring alongside the current cast. With different music styles, the music groups try to fight to the top. In 2023, the project would expand beyond just music CDs, with the announcement of a mobile game, and even an anime adaptation.
Nine Unique Groups with Varying Styles
One of the biggest draws of Paradox Live lies within the amazing character design and unique styles of the nine hip-hop boy units. Diversified with their own personalities, the boys have a rather real and vivid relationship with each other. Staying true to the soul of the hip-hop music genre, the music of Paradox Live covers vast topics such as hardships, love, hate, pride, etc.
The lyrics, music, and voice drama also complete the worldview and story of Paradox Live, as it helps you picture the singers as people in real life. Each character also has their own trauma, which they struggle with, fight with each other and join hands to overcome the difficulties as the project proceeds.
Paradox Live is also known for featuring a star-studded cast lineup, including Utaite and singer 96Neko, SHIMA, Amatsuki, and lots of renowned voice actors who will surprise you with their advanced rap techniques. While it may be hard to mention every one of their trauma, we’ll be introducing each unit and their music styles in detail here, with individual characters explaining in the following paragraphs.
Paradox Live Characters & Cast
A team that takes pride in making use of Japanese, English, and Korean in genreless, trendy hip-hop. Formed by three people studying at the same private international university, they believe in living life by being true to themselves without being bound by practicality and rigid concepts. Their team acronym, BAE, actually stands for “Before Anything Else”.
■ Allen Sugasano – CV: Gakuto Kajiwara
A young man who loves hip-hop above all else. He has a scary look in his eyes and isn’t friendly, so people find him hard to talk to, but he’s actually just awkward. Born from a musical family with a pianist father and an opera singer mother, he left home after his parents disapproved of his passion for hip-hop.
■ Hajun Yeon – CV: Ayumu Murase
A Do-S (super sadistic) rapper with a smiley face. Due to his demeanor and looks, he was nicknamed ‘Smiling Young Noble’, but he is actually quite sadistic in nature. Due to his past involving conflicting interests and ulterior motives, he lived half of his life very fiercely and swore to take revenge on both of his parents in his heart.
■ Anne Faulkner – CV: 96Neko
A cheerful and fashionable rapper who is always friendly to everyone. Their appearance takes that of a fashionable modern girl, but in reality, they are the manliest ones in BAE. They decided to live true to themselves after being harassed by their strict mother in their younger days.
The Cat’s Whiskers
A four-person unit consisting of noble and proudly independent talents, who are known for their elegant track, dexterous beat approach, and their good sense of wording. They are usually working at the jazz bar Bar 4/7 owned by Saimon, and are also highly regarded for their evergreen compositions with a jazzy core.
■ Naoakira Saimon – CV: Ryota Takeuchi
A sorrowful, dandy rapper who leads a double life as a linguistic professor by day and a bar owner by night. He’s always calm and collected, treats everyone kindly without discrimination, and can’t abandon anyone who is in trouble.
■ Yohei Kanbayashi – CV: Yu Hayashi
A tough-looking rapper with strong faith. Although he’s blunt, he’s genuinely compassionate, a man among men who treasures the spirit of hip-hop. He has known Saimon for a long time, they even had their own 2-people unit in the past.
■ Ryu Natsume – CV: Natsuki Hanae
A childish but mysterious rapper and member of The Cat’s Whiskers. He is currently under Yohei’s tutelage, training to be a bartender. Most of his background is a mystery, with the only clue he remembers being a “house with white walls and lots of people”.
■ Shiki Ando – CV: Junta Terashima
A passive, small-animal type rapper who has a passive and introverted personality. When he ran away from home before, he was picked up by Saimon and started working at the bar. A freeloader who works as a hall staff.
A group formed by a duo of orphans who grew up with hardly any memory of their parents’ faces. After escaping the orphanage, they have been surviving solely on the prize money won in their stage battles. As they have supported each other their whole lives, they have an incredible mutual trust. The melancholy, convincing, and realistic lyrical qualities are woven into their music from their troubled upbringing tends to overwhelm the listener.
■ Kanata Yatonokami – CV: Yusuke Kobayashi
Elder twin brother of the Yatonokami family. He is an orphan in a poor city, raised by adults who oppressed him, and as a result, he hardly trusts anyone. He is careless and tends to find things troublesome, but is devoted and will do anything for his twin brother, Nayuta.
■ Nayuta Yatonokami – CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga
Younger twin brother of the Yatonokami family. Nayuta has been sickly since he was little thus his elder brother, Kanata really cherishes and takes care of him a lot, so his self-centered personality stands out a bit. He has absolute trust in Kanata, who has protected him so far.
A five-person gang that values chivalry. Formerly part of a yakuza group, which was dissolved due to a certain incident. With Iori at the center, they have a unity that transcends blood ties. With their unique rap styles that connect their flow, their charm is in their ability to create hot and exciting songs that are able to get the floor involved.
■ Iori Suiseki – CV: Takayuki Kondo
The cheerful leader of Akanyatsura. He is always smiling, but his true feelings are often impossible to read. As he has been in the underground world for a long time, he somewhat lacks common sense between good and evil. He treasures the members like family members and has set his heart on creating a place for them.
■ Zen Gaho – CV: SHIMA
A man with a large and muscular body and a very straightforward, passionate personality. He is bad at reading the atmosphere, but that is the main factor in keeping the Akanyatsura in order. Zen was originally a police officer, but after meeting Iori, due to certain reasons, he decided to join him.
■ Hokusai Masaki – CV: Shunichi Toki
A quiet-natured rapper who loves cats more than anything. He had to experience a lonely childhood because his father was in prison. When he was living on the street, cats started piling up around him, which led him to become quite fond of them. Hokusai is often misunderstood, but he has a very gentle and kind-hearted personality.
■ Reo Maruyama – CV: Shogo Yano
A rapper with an explosion of lively emotion, and the youngest member of Akanyatsura. His specialty is pushing work onto other people and is very sleek at it. Formerly a young master who lived in a mansion, but his family got torn apart after a mysterious incident.
■ Satsuki Ito – CV: Tasuku Hatanaka
A Yankee-styled rapper who literally fights with everyone he sees except for his members. He acts tough, but he’s actually a very honest and good young man. In the past, he was betrayed by his own best friend and went through a difficult period of time until Iori picked him up.
The legendary duo group founded the mysterious world of Phantom Live. Their music, combined with their amazing synergy, has pushed Buraikan into becoming the top group for years, until their defeat in 2021.
■ Chisei Kuzuryu – CV: Kensho Ono
The legendary rapper most loved by hip hop, and part of the legendary Buraikan group. Despite having no trauma, he can create powerful illusions. The music he released with his outstanding musical sense fascinated people all over the world and pushed Buraikan as a world-class name.
■ Haruomi Shingu – CV: Junichi Suwabe
The song maker, who is part of the legendary Buraikan group. He seems expressionless and unfriendly and finds it difficult to communicate, but the tracks he produces are delicate and very expressive. His rap skills are extremely high, and he can make the sound swim as he pleases.
A four-member idol unit who vow to make a dramatic comeback after suffering a great fall from fame due to the sudden withdrawal of their center at the height of their popularity. While each member excels in their abilities, they were left in the shadow of their loss, treated as leftovers. With everything to lose, these idols are betting it all on this one last chance to prove themselves.
■ Shogo Yamato – CV: Yoshiki Nakajima
A big brother-type rapper and the dependable leader of VISTY. He is good at taking care of others and is trusted deeply by his fellow unit members, but life seems to have dealt him the short straw. He has a sweet tooth, particularly for gummies.
■ Toma Hikage – CV: Kashitaro Ito
A mood making rapper who is good at livening things up. He’s the unit’s jokester character but by nature is actually very caring and quite the worrier. He worries a lot about how he is perceived by others and has an extraordinary passion for beauty.
■ Aoi Kureha – CV: Aimi
A cool and level-headed rapper known as the “prince of VISTY”. He has some deep troubles but also has an awkward side that makes them unable to confide in anyone about them. He secretly adores Anne Faulkner’s free-spirited way of life.
■ Kantaro Mitsuji – CV: Tetsuei Sumiya
An SNS-dependent rapper and a vibrant and brilliant little boy. He puts on a cute and innocent act in front of his fans but puts his reputation on social media above anything else. He values his music and personality’s universal appeal.
A duo consisting of Yeon Dongha, the younger brother of Hajun, and Baek Chungsung, the Yeon family butler. Crushing BAE’s Hajun in the phantom live and grabbing the mic to reign as the absolute champion. Their music features solemn and elegant tracks and aggressive and poisonous lyrics.
■ Dongha Yeon – CV: Marina Inoue
A sadistic young master-type rapper and Hajun’s younger brother. He received a special education fit for a monarch drilled into him since childhood. Arrogantly, Dongha wishes to see Hajun beaten by his own hip-hop and invariable upbringing.
■ Chungsung Baek – CV: Ryotaro Okiayu
A masochist butler-type rapper that serves the Yeon family. According to Dongha’s wishes, he resolves himself for war as both track maker and MC. Precisely carries out Dongha’s orders in order to aid in overthrowing Hajun himself. Though a perfect and graceful butler at first glance, he has perverted tastes that fill him with joy whenever he receives his beloved master’s fierce punishments.
A mysterious unit composed of three people who have an extremely high affinity for phantoms and can produce unique illusions. Kei, the leader of the group, used to be the center of VISTY but left the group for one reason or another, and now the three of them live under one roof. The unworldly atmosphere that the three of them create moves the hearts of those who listen to them.
■ Kei Miyama – CV: Amatsuki
A genius-type rapper who resonates with sound. Making music is almost synonymous with breathing for him, as he’s not really concerned with anything other than music. However, he cares about Itsuki and Rokuta in his own way. He was formerly VISTY’s center but left due to unknown circumstances.
■ Itsuki – CV: Ryo Kitamura
An emotionless cyborg-type rapper who doesn’t express emotions. He was once a test subject for Phantometal experiments. During the trials, he gained an ability called “Shutter Eye”, which renders him unable to forget sad memories.
■ Rokuta – CV: Shoya Chiba
An easygoing-type rapper who has a gentle, friendly, innocent personality. Underwent human experimentation for Phantometal just like Itsuki. The results of the experiment left him with extraordinary physical abilities but put a lot of strain on his body.
A quartet of outlaws from prison who were acknowledged by taking the top ranks in Prison Rap. Heavy rap is let out based on dissatisfaction with society and anger at its circumstances. According to the Buraikan, they managed to overwhelm the stage with abundant individuality and radical lyricism.
■ Yuto Inukai – CV: Makoto Furukawa
A prison guard who was formerly a mercenary. He is usually a pacifist who is courteous towards everyone but leaves an impression of unreliability. But that’s only on the surface. He has an alternate personality who is extremely vulgar and rude. Unfortunately, neither personality shares memories, so he’s always anxious about what could’ve happened during the moments his vulgar self appeared.
■ Ryoga Tosa – CV: Shogo Batori
An outlaw who is known as the Rap King inside prison. He has the inability to communicate with others, and thus uses violence instead of his words. His anger has a fairly low boiling point and when he loses his cool he gets violently out of hand. Deep down, however, he does have a compassionate side to his teammates and friends.
■ Shion Kaida – CV: Shinnosuke Tachibana
An outlaw who is known as the Rap King inside prison. He has the inability to be a young man draped in a listless atmosphere. Born with a peculiar appearance, he spent his childhood in solitude. Now he’s a hedonist that just does as he pleases, but deep down he seeks a true connection with others. Due to his weak constitution to sunlight, he only goes out at night.
■ Kenta Mikoshiba – CV: Chiaki Kobayashi
A clingy-type rapper and a genius hacker who freely uses his advanced skills. As a child, he once created a virus with the potential to throw the entire world into turmoil. With a sharp tongue that finds fault with anyone, he knows he has a bad personality but doesn’t intend to fix it.
Support Your Favorites Units With Dope Points!
In Paradox Live, you have what is known as a stage battle. Each of them has a one-word theme, and teams will create and perform a song revolving around said theme. Once a Stage Battle CD is released, there is a period of time in which fans can vote for which team they’d like to win by contributing “dope points” to them.
This can be done in a variety of ways, such as buying the team’s CD soundtrack or merchandise and scanning the included serial code, as well as engaging on SNS. Paradox Live has already entered its second season, and instead of the four original teams competing, this time we have a total of eight units! Choosing who to support is going to be a tough choice! If you need a refresher on who won the first four battles, here’s a recap video on their themes and winners:
The Music of Paradox Live and Why Is It So Beloved
The music of Paradox Live lies in its genre: hip-hop. Generally speaking, unlike other idol projects, instead of focusing on a specific age, you have a wide range of characters, some in their thirties and some who are still in their high school ages, meaning their music is able to attract all sorts of age groups.
Avex and GCREST have also managed to make a nice mixture of languages inside their songs with not just Japanese, but English and even Korean, and manage to bring out all of the different passions of the characters into a great listening experience. As an example, here’s BAE’s debut song, BaNG!!!
I could spend days just discussing the appeal of Paradox Live, but the fastest way for you to learn it is via their music. The aesthetic rhythm and tuneful melodies will keep going around your head for days and even months as you can’t help but groove to the rhythm!