In Volume 1 of Hirao Auri’s new series, we met the idol group Charm Jam, and the otaku who “idolize” them. In Volume 2 of Oshi ga Budokan Ittekuretara Shinu,（推しが武道館いってくれたら死ぬ) we are given a sobering glimpse of the rigors of that fandom.
The popularity rankings have arrived and we find that they are driven not by applause or mail-in card sbut purely by sales. Each idol sells goods and CDs at a table, post-show, which we kind of all knew, but never really grasped. Idols whose fans buy the most are accorded higher rank.
(As an aside, I was not sure I could loathe the Japanese idol industry more than I did, but upon learning this, I found room to hate it more than ever.)
Having emptied her account, Eri is able to catapult Maina into the front row.
We digress into a story about Reo, the most popular of the group, and the group’s history, and some of the relationships between the girls themselves. It’s not hard to see something more than just fellowship between Sorane and Yumeri.
Eri does not realize it, but she wields a lot of power as a superfan. The other fans look to her for colors, sales leads, and other indications. She only has eyes for Maina, so much so that she cannot see that Maina herself wants desperately to reach pass the important wall that exists between fan and idol. Neither have any idea how to make that connection, since both play by the rules.
The end of the book forces us to see a situation in which the strict rules of contact and communication actually hurt, rather than protect.
Art – 8
Story – 8, dammit
Character – 8
Service – 1
Yuri – 4 I’m running out digits to cross, with the need to strangle the author.
Overall – 8
Despite myself, (very, very much despite myself) I find that I actually want to read this series. I’m not always comfortable reading it, but I am learning a lot and finding all sorts of new ways to strangle Hirao-sensei in my head with every page.