So used am I to feeling frustration born of absolute disinterest in hideously boring characters in previous Hirao Auri manga series, that reading Hirao Auri’s new manga, Oshi ga Budokan Ittekuretara Shinu, Volume 1（推しが武道館いってくれたら死ぬ）instilled in me a wholly new feeling – frustration because I actually care about the characters! It’s a completely different feeling, I assure you. ^_^
Oshi ga Budokan Ittekuretara Shinu (which is a really evocative title that one could have a lot of fun translating: Budokan or Bust; Give Me Budokan or Give Me Death; Push on to the Budokan or Die Trying…) follows an obsessive fan of a minor pop idol group, a woman named Eripyo, and the specific idol she likes, Maina.
Cham-Jam (pronounced “Charm Jam”) is a street pop idol group that is just starting to get some traction. Each of the members has her own set of otaku, of course, and we get to see some of the many unwritten rules involved in being a idol’s fan in this manga. It reminded me of Yumi’s line about a “fan’s pride.” These fans are allowed a certain amount of controlled exposure to their objects of admiration and anything else crosses a line for the idols – and the fans.
Eripyo is friends with two other Cham-Jam otaku, Kumasa and Motoi. Each has their favorite, but it’s easy for us to see that Eripyo’s feeling when she yells that she loves Maina are more complex than just admiration. And poor Eripyo….the mangaka hates her. We can see that Maina has sincere regard for her Number 1 fan, but plot complications force them further and further away from one another. I have to admit to a few imagined comic “strangling the writer” panels in my head, as poor Eripyo, so deserving of real intimacy with Maina, is beaten bloody with failure. Argh.
The loveliest – and I mean this sincerely – moment of the volume, comes as the members of Cham Jam are participating as models for a “girls festival” fashion show. The audience, mostly fashionable young women, are put off by the idea of a street idol group, and Eripyo and Kumasa are uncomfortable and awkward out of their element. Despite the different social mores of the girls festival, there are Kumasa and Eripyo in the front row when it’s the members of Cham Jam’s turn. Reo, Kumasa’s favorite, even goes so far as to make her signature move towards him as she turns back up the runway. Maina and Eripyo lock eyes, and it becomes immediately apparent that their feelings – nascent and confused – are the same. Maina notices that Eripyo has dressed up for her, so as not to come to this fashion show in her usual UPS-style outfit.
Sadly for readers, this moment is followed by an excruciating Rube Golderbergian plot, that includes mice eating through a string that holds a tanabata tree, which crashes through a window so that Eripyo’s messages to be tied on it fall outside and are missed in the mayhem. (cf, imagined comic “strangling the writer” panels in my head.)
The upshot is that, while I still imagine comic violence against Hirao-sensei, this time it’s because I really like the characters and want to see them together. So…progress, I guess.
Art – 8 Much improved since early days At least Manga no Tsukurikata had some use, then.
Story – Still frustrating, but there is hope for a decent payoff, unlike Manga no Tsukurikata, which was merely an nihilist exercise in manga-reading.
Character – 8 I really like the otaku group. They aren’t all one thing, but we really get to see the side of this relationship we don’t tend to see if we’re not part of it. And the Cham Jam girls are nice, as well. You don’t feel yucky liking them.
Service – Not really, except for it being a pop idol group, but even the costumes aren’t creepy.
Yuri – 4 Hovering at “I think I feel something for you, but can’t put a finger on it,” to “I can’t look you in the eyes, but don’t know why” with potential
Overall – Gods help me, 8.
I want to know what is going to happen. (Hirao-sensei, they better bloody well get together, you. (insert comic “strangling the writer” panels here.)