Story by Tatsuya Matsuki
Art by Shiro Usazaki
With the Stage Production arc finally over, Act-Age begins treading into new territory, introducing the darker side of the acting world. Just as Chiyoko predicted, Yonagi has received wide acclaim for her role as Campanella in Iwao’s production, and the tabloids are now glued to her. This leads to the introduction of producer Shinichi Amachi, who insists that Yonagi market herself as a tragic heroine. The series has continually shown Yonagi’s aptitude for acting to be a double-edged sword. While she can evoke a real-to-life performance in her roles, the level of immersion she maintains is clearly unhealthy for her mental state. As Arisa forewarns, if Yonagi continues to act in emotionally taxing roles, it could lead her having a mental breakdown like she did during her career. For Yonagi though, what seems to bother her most about the idea of being a “tragic heroine” is the one-dimensional persona it projects. As Yonagi edits Amachi’s proposed article about her, she adds in all the traits that those close to her feel she has. Instead of being defined by an archetype, Yonagi wants others to see her for who she really is as an individual. In the end, Yonagi does not want to lose herself in exchange for success and wishes for her acting career to be done on her own terms. While Amachi backs off for the time being, it’s clear that he hasn’t given up on pursuing Yonagi and will be seeking her out in the future. For now though, chapter 54 ends with Kuroyama telling Yuki that they should refuse any job offers for Yonagi for the time being, and let her be an ordinary teen.
Since the story is now outside of the actual performances, Usazaki’s art is not as dynamic as in previous chapters but is nonetheless beautiful in its own right. Amachi’s introduction in particular is well done, his facial expressions exuding a calm but unsettling feeling throughout. The tonal shifts in the chapters are also done quite well. When Amachi claims that he was “bluffing” about his article on Yonagi and starts picking up the money he threw in her face, the built up tension effectively dissipates and allows for the comedic effect to settle in. While many stories can face difficulties returning to the status quo after a long period, Act-Age pulling it off with flying colors.
The end of chapter 54 leaves it fairly open to what will be the future of this new story arc will be. If Kuroyama keeps to his decision of letting Yonagi live an ordinary life, we may see the story enter a high school acting arc, though this is more than likely a small respite before the coming storm for our heroine. Whatever is in store next, Act-Age will surely continue its fascinating journey through the acting world.