Manga Monday: Oshi no Ko

[This is a running series where I share my thoughts on a different comic on Mondays, sometimes Manga, sometimes American, Chinese, Korean or UK comics. I read a huge amount of comics and thought I’d start to highlight some of the more interesting ones.]

Series Name: Oshi no Ko 

Author: Aka Akasaka

Artist: Mengo Yokoyari

Tags: Entertainment Industry, Drama, Mystery, Reincarnation

Target Audience: General Audience, Shonen

MICE Quotient: Milieu

Rob Rating: 10/10

Rob Synopsis:

Two megafans of a top teenage idol singer die and end up being reborn as her twin children with all their memories of their previous lives intact. The story mostly takes place after they’ve become older and started their careers in the entertainment industry – the boy, Aqua (technically the main character of the story) becoming an actor, and the girl, Ruby, becoming an idol singer like their “mom.”

Rob Notes:

Serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump since April 2020, Oshi no Ko (which is difficult translate to English directly, but has a meaning like “We’re fans of theirs!”) was a manga I had heard about but didn’t pay much attention to for a long time. I assumed it was some fluffy idol singer origin story and when I heard about the reincarnation element of the story I was even less interested.

Boy was I in for a shock when I finally read it.

This is a story with so many layers it makes it difficult to describe or even review. The synopsis above doesn’t do the story justice in any way, but without going into spoilers it’s hard to convey what’s actually happening in the story.

The story itself operates on many levels once it gets going:

  1. A surprisingly deep look at the different aspects of the entertainment industry in Japan
  2. A philosophical exploration of what it means to be an entertainer
  3. An examination of the skills and mindset needed to be an entertainer in the Japanese industry
  4. A critique of idol culture and its place in society
  5. How to run a entertainment management company
  6. A tale of obsession and revenge
  7. A murder mystery
  8. A fun slice of life school story

For example, look at this page:

Not only is the art beautiful, but it’s just the start of the exploration of how entertainers weave beautiful lies to transform their audiences, and how doing so affects the entertainers themselves.

And the writer has such a great light touch, so nothing ever feels to heavy or slow, but instead the manga is addictive and moves along as a brisk pace. You can really tell that this series isn’t being made up as it goes along, but has been carefully planned out and is being laid out before us step-by-step by experienced and thoughtful creators. Which isn’t surprising, because Aka Akasaka is also the author of the super popular manga Kaguya-sama : Love is War, which is totally different than this, but also very well written.

In a lot of ways, this story reminds me of the (sadly cancelled) manga Act-Age, with the characters exploring both the entertainment industry and the art of being an entertainer at the same time. The difference here being the extra level which comes from the reincarnation angle, which takes a bit of getting used to, but ultimately does bring a level to the story which wouldn’t be possible without it. The main character, Aqua, is both part of the industry and able to critique it at the same time because of his secret “true self” hiding underneath his many layers of deception.

Oshi no Ko takes many of the strongest character aspects of girls manga and combines them with the strong plotting of boys manga, and creates a unique mix that I can’t speak highly enough of it. If you get the chance, check Oshi no Ko out on Mangaplus or wherever you can find it, because you won’t be disappointed by this unique and fun journey into the entertainment world.

Rob