As always, from the Angelique Luminarise website - namely, this page.

I'm 25, a single businesswoman - how can I be a Queen??

"The universe is protected by a Queen and 9 Guardians."

In the modern world, that fact has now become a myth.

25-year-old Ange is burned out.
She's doing her best to get by, but her day-to-day life is filled with stress.

Every once in a while, she gets the urge to have a drink...
and one such occasion, while indulging at a bar, she receives a suspicious offer to transfer from her current job.

Dismissing it as a joke, she blithely signs the contract -
and at that very moment, a young man descends from the sky astride a pegasus.

We have a contract, then, Queen Candidate -
and I have come to welcome you to the company!

And so your tale with the Guardians begins...

There are as of yet no pictures of Ange. Given the screenshots so far, I wonder if the game is completely from a first-person perspective - where you, in fact, are the character. I also wonder if the aggressive aging up they're doing of a cast that overall looks younger than the previous ones (with the high schooler considered appropriately young for once and conspicuously 18) signifies that they may be aiming for an overseas release. Koei is being pretty aggressive with promotional stuff in the run-up to this game - they seem to have pinned high hopes on reviving one of their big cash cows with it - and given it's for all practical purposes a reboot, it makes a good jumping-on point for new markets.

As mentioned, they're releasing a series of three CDs where the Auspicious Owl Guardians pal around with their Divine Bird counterparts. The 1st Step CD was released on the 14th (with first five tracks available for listening here); it'll be followed by 2nd Step on November 11th and 3rd Step on December 2nd. More details are available for 1st Step than the others at this point in time, but here's what's available now:

1st Step:

The Guardians of the Divine Bird universe, traveling in secret, meet the Guardians of the Auspicious Owl universe, who have come to observe the beautiful cityscape of the adult quarter at night.
Yue is insufferably proud to have a chance to be with his idol Julious; the earnest Randy and the slightly-irresponsible Vergil take a stroll; and Shuri and Oscar play a game of billiards.
Amidst the recreation, an incident occurs involving some "mysterious sweets" circulating in the district...?

The story is set on the Platinum Coast, which you can cultivate in the game and which can serve as a setting for a night date. Enjoy the cordial bonds between the harried Auspicious Owl Guardians and the Divine Bird Guardians watching over them.

Bonus track: 360° Performance Review: The Auspicious Owl Guardians are given a performance review by their colleagues. Personnel reviews are tough, even in a fantasy world!

Track List:
1. Mentors Incognito
2. The Platinum Coast
3. Guardians of Light
4. Guardians of Wind
5. Guardians of Fire
6. Sweets of Desire
7. Find the Mysterious Merchant!
8. And Now the Night Begins

Vocal Song:
"In a Solitary World" (Hiroki Nanami) + instrumental

Bonus Track:
360° Performance Review

2nd Step:

Once again, the Guardians of the Auspicious Owl Universe play host to the Guardians of the Divine Bird Universe - showing them around a mysterious, mist-shrouded quarter of the city.
Though both are men of few words, Noah and Clavis find mutual understanding. The new Guardian Kanata, still in high school, meets Lumiale for the first time. The former industrialist Lorenzo pairs with the very experienced Guardian Luva.
But then they learn of a game that has been popular in this quarter: a game where you "hold a conversation with your past self"...?

The story is set in the Mystic Canal, which you can cultivate in the game and which can serve as a setting for a night date. Enjoy the friendly bonds between the tense Auspicious Owl Guardians and the Divine Bird Guardians watching over them.

Bonus Track: "360° Performance Review," held by Noah, Kanata, and Lorenzo. Listen to performance reviews from the former businessman Lorenzo, the former high schooler Kanata, and the naive Noah!

There's no tracklist yet, but the CD includes a solo song from Shuri.

3rd Step:

This setting for this observation is a nighttime amusement park filled with light! Milan and Marcel conclude they might as well have fun and enjoy themselves. A beaming Olivie joins a conspicuously at a loss Felix. Zephel stands by and watches them, dumbfounded; Xeno is just thrilled to be with Zephel. And then the six hear of a commotion inside the park...?

The story is set in the Fantasy Park, which you can cultivate in the game and which can serve as a setting for a night date. Enjoy the lively bonds between the Auspicious Owl Guardians, trying their best, and the Divine Bird Guardians watching over them.

Bonus Track: "360° Performance Review," held by Milan, Xeno, and Felix. See how the Guardians view their colleagues!

Again, no tracklist yet, but the CD includes a solo song from Yue.

The mention of the "mysterious merchant" is obviously meant to invoke associations with Charlie, but I don't think his voice actor has been mentioned as being involved. Perhaps he "appears" off-recording?

The whole thing about the old characters who are beloved by established fans mentoring the new characters is a sop, of course, but at least it's acknowledging the situation in a way that's kind of actually effectively endearing. I was afraid that the apparently final appearance of the old cast would be as hype men for the new class, but it's more: these characters want to impress you! They're doing their best! So many lazy writers fall into the "if I say the old characters suck, that makes my new characters look awesome" writing pitfall nowadays, so I'm glad they're leaning into the affection fans have for the old characters instead. I'm basing my positive impression off promo material, mind (I just learned about Koei releasing half the CD on YouTube before posting); they could still trip up.

The dumb stuff with the candy is disappointing. It's a very Angelique plot point, but I assumed with the business metaphors and day-drinking and whatnot that they were trying to shed some (though not all) of the more saccharine, babyish elements on which Angelique has been predicated. It reminds me that despite the strength of the characters, there are very few Angelique stories that actually take advantage of them. The Farewell, Labyrinth drama CDs. Drama CD Gaiden 1, A Scale of Infinite Notes. The Beneath Wings of Black novel. Certain elements of Mathias's storyline from Neo. I wish they did more stories that revolved around character instead of "oh, my! There's *commotion* at the *amusement park!*".

I do like stuff like Oscar and Shuri playing billiards together, though. That's the type of activity where those characters could find common ground and it makes me think that the franchise hasn't lost its touch for small character moments. I'll take a listen to the tracks and then update this post with my impressions in a few days.

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