The entertainment industry, where a plethora of hopeful and starry eyed individuals enter to make it big. Hidden behind it, a sinister side of ruthless competition and a high stakes game of popularity and money. As soon as you are deemed worthless, you are harshly cut from the act. Welcome to the world of entertainment, welcome to Oshi no Ko. Major spoilers down below.
The story follows an up and coming idol named Ai Hoshino, a young 16 year old teenage idol with high aspirations. Her only mother was sent behind bars, she was sent to an orphanage, and was picked up by an entertainment industry at the young age of twelve. The manga doesn’t pull its punches, and shows the raw side of characters. To make matters even worse, she’s 16 and pregnant at the height of her idol career. But she doesn’t let any of her past or current predicaments affect her, as she continues with her activities, in the best way she can.
Despite all the cards being stacked against her, she only continues to make waves in the entertainment world, picking up acting roles and making a truly big name for herself. So what’s the catch?
Quick segway, during Ai’s pregnancy, she is taken care of by a gynecologist named Gorou who is a huge fan of hers. Unfortunately, he is murdered the same day of Ai giving childbirth, by a stalker of Ai’s. But Gorou is reincarnated as Ai’s son, now named Aqua. Another of Gorou’s patients, a terminally ill girl, also passes away that same day, and is reincarnated as Ai’s daughter named Ruby. They were both huge fans of Ai in their previous lives, and are ecstatic upon realizing they have been reborn as Ai’s children.
Now all of this sounds like a happy predictable story. The main character Ai is becoming a famous superstar, and her kids are reincarnated fans who will probably pick up the torch, and become superstars themselves right?
Dead wrong. Because all of this is just a prologue. Since 4 years later, Ai is brutally murdered by the same stalker who became insane after finding out Ai has two children. And this is where the real story begins. And what a masterful stroke and surprise it is, thinking Ai was the main character, when it’s really her reborn kids who are the protagonists.
As Ai is dying from her wounds, she takes solace in the fact that despite her rough upbringing, she learned that she truly did love her kids. Her son, Aqua, is cradled in her bloody arms, as she draws her last breath. And her daughter Ruby, can only hear from the other side of the door, her mother’s last words.
The Main Actors
Thus begins the journey of two reincarnated individuals. Aqua, the boy who was the gynecologist in his prior life, recalls that this was the same stalker that had taken his life before. And he makes a connection; someone in the entertainment industry has betrayed Ai and given the killer information to murder her. Anger fills Aqua’s soul, as he only thinks of one thing; revenge. He will stop at nothing to find the true mastermind behind Ai’s death.
A timeskip occurs, and Aqua and Ruby are now sixteen. We learn that they have both dealing with the incident in their own ways. Aqua seeks to enter the entertainment industry to fight his way to the top, to be able to track down his mother’s killer. Ruby wants to honor her mother’s memory, by becoming an idol and becoming even more successful than Ai.
Make no mistake, Aqua is the main protagonist here. His clever machinations and ice cold demeanor to manipulate anyone for his own ends reminds me of Light from Death Note, as he is single minded in his revenge. However, he isn’t totally cold hearted as he does truly care for Ruby and the people he holds dear. He preferred Ruby to not become an idol, as he personally thought that there were better ways to honor their mother’s memory. He went as far as behind the scenes work to manipulate agencies to purposely fail Ruby’s auditions. Ultimately, he relents and helps her form her idol group, as he realizes Ruby may just be able to succeed and surpass Ai.
Don’t mess with Aqua. Period.
Ruby is just as compelling a character as well. Having been a terminally ill patient in her past life, she was confined to a hospital bed for all her time and had passed away young. Having been given a second chance, in literally more than one meaning, she seizes the opportunity to become just like her idol and mother Ai. She sees it as more than honoring her mother’s memory, but as her own selfish and ambitious goal to become an idol superstar because she WANTS to be one. This is where Aqua and Ruby differ in their goals. Aqua remains mired in the past, hellbent on revenge, while Ruby strives to push forward.
The other cast are just as compelling as well. The author (same author of Kaguya Sama Love is War) really goes the extra mile in establishing each characters’ backstories and explaining why they are the way they are today. Here is a small taste of how harsh the manga can be. And this is for a side character, let alone the main ones.
The art is delightful as well, one very neat aspect in that Ai has stars in both her eyes (symbolizing stardom?), and passed that onto her children, where Aqua has a star in his right eye while Ruby has a star in her left eye.
Oshi no Ko is an ongoing manga, and it’s pretty easy to catch up. It is a raw story about how harsh the entertainment world is, but has many points of dry humor and times where you really root for the characters to succeed, and feel empathy for their struggles. It’s a human manga where you see the flaws in characters, but really understand their motivations and struggles. The twist that the early chapters is just a prologue for the TRUE main characters is a gut wrenching knife to the heart, that you can’t help but feel sympathy for Aqua’s path to revenge, but also hope for Ruby’s earnest struggle to become an idol. I highly recommend giving this manga a try.