Ensemble Stars! is the first installment of the series, spanning from the start of the school year in spring until graduation, ending with EP:Link. It covers the cast's time in Yumenosaki Private Academy.
Ensemble Stars!! is the second installment of the series, which takes place after EP:Link. Many characters have moved up a year or graduated, and now continue their idol activities as members of Ensemble Square, an entertainment agency, and introduces additional units. All characters from Ensemble Stars! are still featured and no units have broken up.
The Ensemble Stars series has several writers. Akira is the head writer who determines the characters, plotlines, and character arcs. There are additional writers, the most prolific of which is Yuuki Yoshino, but some aspects of their stories and characterizations may be later retconned by Akira at later points.
The Ensemble Stars series has several story components; see below for an explanation of each:
Click to Expand
Main Storyline Installments introduce the main conflicts of the game, following Trickstar (in Ensemble Stars!) and ALKALOID (in Ensemble Stars!!) as the protagonists. Other story types, such as events or scouts, will sometimes reference or build on the conflicts established in the main story. Main story installments introduce overarching plot; they do not necessarily serve as complete introductions for all units. Units are typically fully introduced through event stories.
Event Stories are stories unlocked by playing events. For example, playing the Requiem＊Sword of Oaths and the Repayment Festival event unlocked the event story, Requiem. Event stories are typically 9-30 chapters long, but can occasionally be fewer or more chapters. Event stories typically introduce and explore units, characters, and character relationships on a deeper level.
Scout Stories stories are stories unlocked through the Idol Road of cards from certain gacha banners. For example, cards scouted from the Devil's Mansion banner will unlock the gacha story, Devils. Scout stories are typically around 8 chapters, but can occasionally be fewer or more chapters.
Sub Stories (known as Idol Stories in Ensemble Stars!!) are stories that are unlocked on certain cards' Idol Roads, like Introduction Scout cards, or through other means, such as completing an in-game goal. These stories focus on a particular idol and may involve the idol interacting solely with the producer, or may involve that idol interacting with other idols. These are typically shorter side stories.
Special Stories are lengthier side stories, typically released during April Fool's. However, all special stories are canon. Of the four special stories released throughout the Ensemble Stars series, three of them heavily involve the teachers Jin Sagami and Akiomi Kunugi.
Management Stories and Conversation Events are short conversations involving characters interacting with one another or with the producer.
Chinese Version Stories are original stories exclusively written for the Chinese version of the Ensemble Stars! app, accompanied by new sets of cards not found in the Japanese version. These stories and cards are also available in the Taiwanese version of the app, and used to be available on the now-defunct Korean version of the app. These stories are written by a subwriter, Mitsuki, who only writes for the Chinese version of the game. At the moment, Happy Elements does not have any plans to bring these stories over to the Japanese version of the app.
Collaboration Stories are crossover stories with other IPs, some of which are Happy Elements's other games. In-App collaboration stories are stories that can be read in the Ensemble Stars apps; Off-App collaboration stories can only be read by downloading another app and unlocking the story there.
It is helpful to read stories in chronological story order, including main story installments, which have several events/scouts between each installment.
If choosing to read stories chronologically, because the Ensemble Stars series has a large cast, it's recommended to start reading stories related to a character or unit you are interested in.
It is not necessary to read Ensemble Stars! stories before reading Ensemble Stars!! stories, as Ensemble Stars!! assumes many of its players are new and re-introduces its characters through their Idol Stories.