Lights on, curtains rise, enter stage right for the debut performance of Oshi no Ko’s 90-minute first TV anime episode, which premiered today in Japan after a limited theatrical run. But the anime wasn’t the only piece to make its debut today, with YOASOBI’s “Idol” music video being released on YouTube shortly after the episode broadcast.
Oshi no Ko is directed by Daisuke Hiramaki (Asteroid in Love) and assistant-directed by Chao Nekotomi (Love is Like a Cocktail) at studio Doga Kobo, with series composition written by Jin Tanaka (Laid-Back Camp) and character designs by Kanna Hirayama (Rent-a-Girlfriend). HiDIVE is streaming the series in English-speaking countries.
The manga, written by Aka Akasaka (Kaguya-sama: Love is War) and illustrated by Mengo Yokoyari (Scum’s Wish) is published in Weekly Young Jump in Japan while Manga Plus digitally publishes the manga’s official English version.
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In Kaguya Sama, there’s a good reason for all of Kaguya’s warped views- she was literally raised to be a sociopath. Any good in her came despite her upbringing, and her surrounding cast are similarly over-correcting their flaws like children because they are. Oshi No Ko’s approach to this is different- characters are locked in their trajectories, meaning that they have to think about the world around them. They can’t run off and start a new life, leading them to actually introspect in meaningful ways.
Without getting into spoilers, the runaway star of this anime is our leading idol, Ai. She’s such a great lens to see the world through, because unlike Kaguya she’s not comically overblown in her views. She’s a part of this big system and knows her place in it, yes, but she’s living her entire life with a consistent goal. It’s not something like “Be the best idol” or even “Live a comfortable life”, her goal is simple- she wants to love someone.
It also plays in to the other theme of the series- its biting criticism of the entertainment industry. I don’t believe that Aka himself holds any animosity towards idol culture, but seeing it portrayed in Oshi No Ko paints him as a man who’s grounded enough to know that business decisions aren’t always savory. Even Ai herself is painted as someone who knows the realities of her field. The lies, the secrets, they’re all just go hand-in-hand with being an idol, after all.
By the end of the episode Ai has become an incredibly fleshed out character, all without delving too much into actual plot. It would have been easy to make her introduction include flashbacks to her tragic upbringing, but instead the anime opts for a much fresher approach- by defining her by how she acts now. She’s reckless, calculating, and yearns for freedom while also being quite fond of the systems that keep her in place. It’s such an engaging way to write a character, especially given the directions the anime ends up taking.
I’m usually wary about putting thinkpieces on anime before they’re done because of a certain Darling in the Franxx, but given his track record I’m sure we have plenty more great character moments for the entire cast to look forward to this season thanks to Aka’s great writing. In a sense it almost makes me wish the ending to Kaguya was more this speed- because he knows how to write a lonely outcast, dammit.
As for my actual thoughts on the anime, I’m absolutely sold. I’d written this much just about the monologues of one character, I may need to start actually getting into the manga now just to feed my curiosity.
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