They’re liars. Your favorite actor, YouTuber, artist, influencer; all of them. They’re meticulous and expert liars. Surrounded by an infinite amount of entertainment media for us to consume we tend to forget just how much of it all is fictional, scripted and constructed.
From its first page, Oshi no Ko manga takes its readers straight into this world of lies. This manga delves right into the world of showbiz and the behind the scenes of film, idol culture and more; and what goes on behind the scenes is not quite as pretty as what we see on screen.
Written by Aka Akasaka (Kaguya sama: Love is War) and drawn by Mengo Yokoyari (Scum’s Wish), both huge celebrity mangakas, Oshi no Ko has quite a reputation to live up to and it does not disappoint.
What is Oshi No Ko about?
Okay, while Oshi no Ko mainly deals with acting, performing and showbiz, its initial premise is a bit bizarre. I’m gonna try and sum up chapter 1 as briefly as I can.
Gorou Honda is a gynecologist working in a countryside hospital. He’s a massive idol otaku and fan of one particular idol, Hoshino Ai, a 16 year old idol sensation. Serena, a 12 year old girl, is a patient of his and a fan of the same idol.
So when Ai suddenly shows up at his hospital pregnant with twins, Gorou is shocked. He vows to safely deliver her children but is murdered on the day of delivery.
In classic manga fashion, Gorou and Serena are reincarnated as Ai’s newborn children Aquamarine and Ruby Hoshino and the two begin their lives as children born into the entertainment industry.
While the weirdness persists throughout the first volume Oshi no Ko is one of those series that just gets better with every chapter.
Please do not make my mistake of dropping the series within the first five chapters because the talking babies turned you off.
Although Volume 1 is not completely representative of what the manga is really about, it is essential. The first volume of Oshi no Ko sets up all the premises of the manga. It ensures that Aqua and Ruby are born right into the world of showbiz, and have motivations to rise to its top.
Without giving away any spoilers, the absolutely shocking twist at the end of the volume also sets up an overarching plotline that carries the series forward as it explores different facets of the entertainment industry.
Exploration of the Entertainment Industry:
Once volume one ends, Oshi no Ko truly starts. We begin following teenage Aqua and Ruby as they enroll in an elite high school for kids born/related to the entertainment industry and attempt to make it to the top of the acting and idols worlds respectively.
As I said before, from the inside, showbiz is not pretty. Along with Aqua we learn how unfair, brutal and insanely difficult acting can be. Interpersonal relationships are key; just talent and hard work won’t get you anywhere if you don’t know the right people.
The very first chapter includes teenage pregnancy, how important it is to maintain public image, obsessive fans and the celebrity worship culture, indicating the dark themes the series intends to deal with.
Oshi no Ko makes acting and showbiz equal parts engaging and educational. There’s well researched details on the intricacies of acting and producing films, tv shows and other forms of media but alongside them are scandals and drama that keep you reading.
However, showbiz being dark or scandalous is nothing new. What makes Oshi no Ko stand out is how it explores so many different aspects of the industry. Unlike other manga that deal with showbiz like Act-Age for example, Oshi no Ko does not restrict itself to traditional themes such as acting or idols.
The series also explores Youtube, social media, dating shows, and most recently 2.5D theater adaptations of manga. Oshi no Ko feels extremely hip; it deals with things like cancel culture, maintaining a social media presence, and internet celebrity culture.
This modern contemporary take on showbiz feels very refreshing to read. Additionally, showbiz is not depicted as simply dark or bleak. There’s a balance of the flaws within the industry and the things that make the art of performance truly magical.
As I had mentioned before, Volume 1 sets up an overarching narrative that progresses along with Aqua’s journey through showbiz. This plotline introduces the thriller element that makes Oshi no Ko so readable and gripping.
The combination of the manga’s exploration of the entertainment industry and this overarching narrative leaves you on the edge of your seat after every chapter. You have so many questions you want answered; related both to the protagonists’ careers and this thriller-esque plot.
This makes Oshi no Ko one of the most addictive manga I have read in recent memory. Like me, you’ll probably end up binging it in less than 24 hours.
Characters and Relationships in Oshi no Ko
As seen in Kaguya-sama, Aka Akasaka is great at creating a cast of interesting characters, each with unique traits. In Oshi no Ko he simply excels at this. When we watch movies, concerts, or scroll through social media, we often tend to forget that the person behind the camera is human.
With his characters in Oshi no Ko Aka does a great job of reminding us that even celebrities are just people. Each character is grounded and convincing, and although most of them are budding actors or celebrities, none of them feel distant.
Interpersonal relationships are vital in the showbiz world and Aka puts real care into the relationships between his characters accordingly. And what’s a scandalous drama about showbiz without some romance?
While it is not the central theme of the manga, Oshi no Ko definitely does feature some romance and romance drama. What makes this even more interesting is that, like in Kaguya-sama, Aka weaves in psychological elements into the character relationships.
Oshi no Ko Art review:
How could I have written a review of a Mengo Yokoyari manga without mentioning her art? Her work in Oshi no Ko is even better than it was in Scum’s wish and that is saying something.
The characters are stunning to look like and her art makes the positive magical moments in the plays/films/concerts even more magical. Her style is very distinctive, which just adds to the feeling that you’re reading something new, something original.
Oshi no Ko is an extremely well balanced manga; it has basically everything. Aka’s tight writing and Mengo’s art together make it a visually splendid, funny, gripping, informative, and emotional journey.
The series has not been officially licensed and translated in English yet which is probably the reason why it is not that well known outside of Japan right now. However, once it does, I guarantee it will blow up. With rumors of an anime adaptation going on, the series is most certainly on its path to worldwide fame.
Oshi no Ko is definitely going to be the next big thing; hop on the hype train early and go read it right now!