Few mangas are as surprising as Oshi No Ko. Sure, the story’s events, each on their own, show up in various manga. What’s astonishing is all of it shows up in one volume. Even the synopsis does not prepare you for what’s in store. If isekai, slice-of-life hilarity, the suspenseful horror elements of Perfect Blue, documentary-style sections, plus mystery mixed in a blender, out pops Oshi No Ko, Volume 1. It lulls you into feeling safe, then delivers a curveball, rinses, and repeats to stunning effect.
Don’t think that Aka Akasaka’s credit as the author means a hilarious tale of love and rivalry like in their famous Kaguya-sama: Love is War series; this is not it. Mengo Yokoyari, the creator of Scum Wish, lends her artistry to the story capturing the lighthearted and darker moments to dramatic effect. Serialized in English from Yen Press with translation by Sarah Neufeld and lettering by Abigail Blackman, the narrative begins peacefully enough.
The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly
Thirty-year-old Gorou works as an ob-gyn far removed from Tokyo. Though he does not live in the spotlight, he is a fan of an idol group named B Komachi, specifically member Ai Hoshino. Gorou’s affection for Ai stems from a former patient he knew four years ago, 12-year-old Sarina. Sarina passes away shortly after, but Gorou continues supporting Ai, who he feels is living out Sarina’s dream. When Ai shows up with her manager for ob-gyn care because she’s pregnant, Gorou has a choice to make. Idols don’t last when they have a partner or children. Fans turn on them.
Gorou decides to help Ai, who wants to continue her career and have twins. Here’s where the situation takes a turn. Before Ai delivers, Gorou meets a hooded man outside, who murders him. The next thing Gorou realizes, he’s a baby, Ai’s newborn baby boy, Aquamarine, with a twin sister, Ruby. Oshi No Ko, Volume 1 foreshadows this throughout the chapter, and it’s easy to guess who his sister is, although the gap in their deaths leaves it unclear how it’s possible. Still, roll with it.
To the Future and Back Again
After the first chapter, “Mother and Children,” the timeline moves back and forth. In the present, documentary-style interviews with Ai’s manager, Ishido Saitou, Ishido’s wife, Mayuki, director Taisha Gotanda, Ruby, and Aqua intersperse between past events. As the interviews discuss Ai and the twins when they were toddlers, their underlying somber quality builds tension and dread. In the past, the chapters build the twins’ relationships with these various people, including their mom, Ai.
Reborn or not, both Aqua and Ruby are still fans of Ai. Since they remember their previous lives, their vocabulary is wildly superior to any two-year-old lexicon. Both are happy; they live with their idol, and others care for them. But they are a secret. Manager Saitou and his wife pretend the twins are their kids whenever they are out. Allowing Ai to shine brighter in her career while still having her children was the plan for Aqua when he was Gorou. There’s no drag in these chapters since it’s a peak behind the curtain for Aqua and the reader on the complexities and cutthroat nature of the business.
Ai’s Fitting Name
Ai is a fascinating character who comes full circle. When Saitou first approached Ai as a kid, she turned him down because she believed idols’ words of love were genuine. But “pretty lies” are what audiences want. So Ai, incapable of meaning “I love you,” enters a career where she always says it. Ai has that star quality, and the artwork emphasizes this with the sparkle in Ai’s eyes. Besides Ai, only the twins have that sparkle, hinting at a future in the spotlight for both of them. Her story comes in just as another twist upends everything.
Oshi No Ko, Volume 1 is a prelude to the meat of the story, one that keeps you guessing its final destination. Each time you think you know where it’s heading, it morphs. But the volume is never dull. Oshi No Ko, Volume 1 starts as a slice-of-life, dances through horror, and winds up in revenge and mystery. With genre-shifting that leaves readers guessing until the end, this manga is a 2023 top-tier recommendation. The twists, characters, and illustrations cement this first volume as dynamite. Thank the sparkling stars this series has an anime premiering in a few short months.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.