This might come as a surprise to people, but in a game called Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage, the Crypton Vocaloids aren’t really the main characters. They are there, sure. Miku is an important part of all the storylines as a central character, yes. However, they aren’t the stars. Instead, the focus is on groups of talented young people. Each one of them possesses some musical talent. They’re on the verge of a breakthrough (or breakdown). And rather than just make sure they look and sound good, there’s genuine thought put into making them identifiable, heartfelt, and even realistic.
There are five groups in Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage, each with its own sort of theme. For example, Leo/need is the group of childhood friends getting the band (and their friendship) back together. More More Jump! is composes of idols (and prospective idols) at varying stages in their careers. Nightcord at 25:00 is a group of strangers with unique traumas coming together to create music anonymously. So individually, you have different genres and themes connected to the overarching stories. Wonderlands x Showtime is a group of eclectic individuals trying to make a theme park’s stage show popular again. You know to expect silliness. Nightcord at 25:00 is a darker and more dramatic tale with mature themes. Its members are in the Empty Sekai attempting to keep one of their own from doing something drastic. The five base tales cover different bases.
But what makes them stronger is that each one isn’t limited to the genres and themes you’d expect from them. You’d expect More More Jump’s tale to be about the prospective singers coming together. They find what they need to become stars is perhaps each other. And sure, there’s some of that as Airi, Haruka, Minori, and Shizuku practice together and interact with one another. But it’s also a realistic look at what people might go through if they pursue a professional career in music. Airi ended up finding success in the idol industry, but found herself typecast as “comedy relief.” Minori’s failed dozens of auditions. So in addition to them discovering and rediscovering what they love about performing, we see how difficult the work is. Leo/need is touching. We see friends reuniting. They discover they still cared and needed each other all along. But we’re also seeing how bullying can affect people’s lives.
Also, the Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage characters are each well developed. While certain people might come across initially as “more important” in some storylines, the others matter just as much. Nightcord at 25:00 is especially good at this. K and Yuki are the focal points. K’s father is hospitalized. She blames herself for his illness. She’s desperate to save people, since she couldn’t save him. We see her isolation and savior complex. Yuki’s so depressed and pressured that she’s completely emotionless and empty. However, both Amia and Enanan are dealing with their own traumas. Each of them isn’t attending school normally, like K, for their own reasons. While the group (and players) might be “there” for Yuki, these four are genuinely lifelines for each other. We get to see that play out as they connect here and in their first event story.
Not to mention how important the Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage events are for developing characters. The global version’s been going through some of them rather quickly, perhaps in an attempt to catch up to the Japanese version. They offer supplemental development for specific characters. Each one provides even more insight into what they’re doing and how they’re growing after the main stories. In First Star After the Rain, we explore how Saki feels after finally being discharged from the hospital. We get to understand her priorities. We also see how someone who once thought she was going to die is dealing with it. While the Nightcord at 25:00 tale hints at Yuki’s trauma, Imprisoned Marionette shows part of what she’s dealing with after an excursion in the real world with her collaborators triggers her.
The result is that Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage is a game where characters are constantly growing. We’re learning about them with each main campaign chapter and event. And, due to the way it works, nobody is locked out of event stories after they’re over. All of them are unlocked to view, even if you didn’t earn them. Which means every player is able to follow along with the developments and see the different layers to each one’s personalities.
Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage is available on Android and Apple iOS devices worldwide. In Japan, it is known as Project Sekai: Colorful Stage.