Episode 2 of Oshi no Ko titled “The Third Option” focused on how each person who was close to Ai’s life moved on after her passing while subtly exposing the harsh truth of the idol industry. It’s been 10 years since Ai passed away and, while the world is already back on its feet, the idol’s twins seem to be disconnected from one another about their future moving forward.
As the title of the episode suggests, there are three options. The first two are basically what each twin wanted: Aqua works on the sidelines with the director while Ruby takes the center stage at a different company; both having the same motive in trying to avenge Ai Hoshino one way or another. But the third option is for Ichigo Production, Ai’s former agency to produce another idol group with Ruby as its star.
Night and Day
Aqua and Ruby are simply dark and light – treading different paths in coping with their mother’s death. The latter is taking the bright road of becoming an idol like her mother, continuing where she left off and becoming the light that her mother once was. Ruby has Ai’s looks after all, and she has been watching her mother for a very long time since her previous life to the point that she memorized every move she made. Despite the advantages she has though, she still wasn’t able to pass auditions. I can’t describe enough how soul-crushing that scene was: that whole composition perfectly encapsulated her tremendous passion for idols.
Sadly though, Ruby is oblivious to the true nature of the idol industry. Since she was only 12 before being reborn as Ai’s child, she’s still gullible, thinking that becoming an idol is all rainbows and butterflies. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with her intentions or someone entering the field of entertainment. It’s just that it’s a risky career and only a few are able to survive and actually claim glory.
That is why Aqua is overprotective about his sister who is keen on becoming an idol and he himself also doesn’t want to be an actor. He knows how this industry operates and how cruel and corrupt the system is. We see his knowledge about the industry based on his conversation with Ruby at the start of the episode. Instead, he is taking a darker approach to avenge Ai’s death. However, in the end, he can’t forget what his mother said to him that he has the potential to become an actor. This actually puts him at a crossroads, still figuring out whether he wants to share paths with his sister or take the darker route alone.
This whole symbolism of the twins taking different steps was also clearly seen in the ending song video as well. Aqua walking down the stairs perfectly embodies the shady path he’s currently on while Ruby is taking her first step to rising into the spotlight.
Aside from Aqua explaining to Ruby the costs of being an idol at the start, he also went undercover to investigate the roles of underground idols (called Chika Idols in Japan).
Oshi no Ko episode 2 continues to expose the truth about the idol industry. The whole scene with Aqua and Lala on how underground idols operate is actually just the bare minimum of the job’s description. Having very little pay whilst being on an extremely tight schedule and exhausting hours of work or practice is the reality these talents face. Similar to ordinary idols, Chika idols are cute and bubbly young teenage girls, but they perform in smaller and sometimes sketchy venues. They also barely have media presence, which makes it hard for them to gain fans and they have to relentlessly practice and perform a ton just to survive. The main reason why these aspiring personalities join this type of job is that this is usually the easiest doorstep they can enter in order to achieve their dreams.
The sad reality about the Chika idols is that most of these agencies or managers are using minors to rip out cash from grown men. I don’t want to dive deeper into detail on how scummy some of these practices are because let’s not forget how super competitive the industry is and it doesn’t only apply to the talents and performers but also the management as well. It’s an exploit that unfortunately has been running in Japan for years now. It may have produced bright talents but at the cost of ruining the passion and dreams of cpuntless others who never made it into the limelight.
Miyako Saito – The Star of Oshi no Ko Episode 2
Before I conclude this review, there’s one more thing I need to talk about from episode 2 and that is the fact it paved the way in showcasing the development of the characters after Ai’s death, specifically Miyako Saito.
In the previous episode, Miyako’s intentions were clear – she married the president of Ichigo Productions so that she can work with hot guys. Based on her looks and personality, she sounds kind of like a gold digger, a selfish woman using whatever she can to reach her goals. However, after Ai’s death, we see that her character developed for the better. Despite having the option to run away and leave the kids behind, which is what her husband did, she instead reached out to the twins and embraced them with open arms.
From a self-centered woman to a loving mother, Miyako’s character development is astounding. What truly set the stone for me is how she hugged Ruby after she didn’t pass the auditions. That one single act of comfort wasn’t only because she felt sad for Ruby, but because she felt her pain as a mother. Her character can be easily overlooked in Oshi no Ko episode 2 as it focused on the twins, but the fact that she’s busy working on the sidelines and at the same time taking care of the twins endearingly is something worthy of praise. She might have a taste of discomfort for idol groups at first, but she is a star of her own.
Aside from how the Hoshino twins would juggle around their options, a big question came to mind – will the studio manage to maintain its quality after the stellar premiere of Oshi no Ko. Thankfully, episode 2 was just as stellar as the first one and my favorite part is always how the show just naturally exposes the entertainment industry. The episode was better than I expected as Doga Kobo continues to consistently deliver amazing animation and top-tier storytelling after that lengthy premiere. It was also as emotionally impactful as the previous episode while flawlessly sticking to its theme. After maintaining its number top spot in our weekly polls and many rankings in Japan and worldwide (#1 streamed series of all time on HIDIVE), there’s no doubt that Oshi no Ko will continue to be the talk of the town.
Screenshots are taken via HIDIVE
© Akasaka Aka x Mengo Yokoyari / Shueisha / Oshi no Ko Production Committee