Lies are the most exquisite form of love and they are also the greatest tool an idol can have to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of entertainment. The smiles on each face we see on the screen may all just be a facade to rise and stay at the top of stardom. This is the narrative that the highly anticipated Oshi no Ko anime is focusing on. The anime delivered one of the best premieres ever produced but also gave an extreme rollercoaster ride of emotions.
With its 90-minute duration and quality production, it can be a bit of a stretch to call it an episode because the whole premiere felt like a blockbuster film of its own. From the direction to the character designs and sound, the whole composition seemed flawless and never let viewers feel a dull moment. The pacing was admirable as it gave each important character ample amount of time to build their own story while also showing their growth.
As someone who has already read the manga and who is intrigued by the dark side of the entertainment industry in general, I was very delighted to finally see one of my favorite stories being animated. Needless to say, I want this series to be perfect, therefore, I wasn’t only admiring all the elements of the episode but also I did try to find if there is something awkward and uncomfortable or anything I wish they could’ve done better on the premiere.
But I dare say I couldn’t find anything like this. One of my most anticipated anime of all time actually surpassed my expectations. I just couldn’t say anything negative about it. It was legendary, dazzling, and heart-wrenching. The heartwarming moments from the start and the soul-crushing scenes at the end were everything I wanted in the series. In short, it was perfect.
Although I will admit, I was one of those people who was skeptical when the news came about studio Doga Kobo animating the series. Not that I think they are a bad studio or anything but it’s just that Oshi no Ko isn’t like their other titles. New Game!, WATATEN!: An Angel Flew Down to Me, Yuru Yuri, Shikimori Isn’t Just a Cutie, Tada Never Falls in Love, and My Senpai is Annoying: Doga Kobo seems to excel at cute girls doing cute things genre and romantic comedies which is why I was worried when Oshi no Ko studio was announced. However, the staff really outdid themselves with this one because it feels like they went out of their comfort zone and managed to make Oshi no Ko a contender for their best anime to date.
The Genius Behind Oshi no Ko
The reason I’m really stoked about the series is that it took on the idol genre on a whole other level. Aka Asaka is a genius when originally writing this series as he added a mystery/fantasy twist to it while subtly exposing the dark side of the industry along the way.
The show capitalizes mainly on how money governs this corrupt industry, hence, why lying is prevalent in order to stay relevant. The agency covering up for Ai’s teenage pregnancy was the first line we saw on how the industry plays out. Not only that but the series also educated us on how TV shows work in terms of casting and idols, and how agencies are pushy when it comes to advertising their own talents. Oshi no Ko is not just a series about the everyday life of idols, it will focus on what is beyond the scenes in all its glory and horror. It will also show the human side of idols, even when it is not very pretty.
Even though it’s already obvious, the show also portrayed how idols and celebrities are the same as each and every one of us by using fans to highlight the similarities. They have feelings and lives of their own and above all they’re not perfect and pure as the media would like them to be. They commit mistakes and sometimes those mistakes have long-lasting consequences. As Ai mentioned, “Idols are objects of worship. They sparkle through the magic of lies.” This line alone just makes me think twice whether the news about celebrities going on hiatus or taking a break is actually true or just an alibi to conceal a much darker truth. This is why Oshi no Ko is brilliant and a refreshing take on the whole idol genre. Mostly because people perceive the genre as just charming personalities singing and dancing pinched with a little bit of drama on the side. But again, this anime is far from different, and here is one more reason why.
The Most Beautiful Death
If you haven’t been spoiled yet by countless online posts, now is the time to stop reading. But if you’ve seen them/don’t care: the first half of the episode already foreshadows upcoming death in some way. From Goro being murdered to Sarina desperately clinging to life, the anime is stating that they are not afraid to show one’s death and that this is not your typical girl’s coming-of-age idol story, granted some series in the past did some morbid stuff to their known figures. Idoly Pride, Selection Project, and Phantom of the Idol all laid out the foundations of their story through the death of their own “legendary idols” so this isn’t really something new in the genre. However, Oshi no Ko pushed this idea to the extreme. It showed the actual death of its own legendary idol and animated the scene in the most beautiful way possible, pushing beyond the boundaries of what animation offers off the limits. Not to mention it did a good job of showing one fan’s possessiveness over an idol as if she was his property.
I already expected Ai’s death scene to happen and I even prepared myself for it but in the end, it still destroyed me. Even if you’re watching on mute, just looking at how precise the facial expressions of Ai, Aqua, and Ruby were animated deals critical damage to the heart. Each character accurately reflected the painful feelings they had at that moment. It was a brutally heartbreaking sight to witness despite each frame having such intricate levels of details drawn into it.
When you hear the voice acting, it just makes you cry even harder as Rie Takahashi, Yumi Uchiyama, and Yurie Igoma managed to voice their hearts out to deliver a crucial scene. I thought Rie Takahashi peaked at Anzu Hoshino in Romantic Killer but she was unbelievable in this premiere. From the start, she consistently portrayed Ai to be this careless, happy-go-lucky teenager who is sometimes full of herself despite being a mother of two. But in the final moments, her voice softened similar to how a mother beautifully lullabying her kids to sleep. It was endearing to hear how mellow her tone was and you can feel the voice actress’ warmth and passion for acting as she was connecting deeply with Aqua and Ruby.
Yumi Uchiyama always has a charm for voicing young versions of the male protagonist. Similar to how great she did with Rudeus from Mushoku Tensei, we see nothing different in quality here in Oshi no Ko as Aqua. With that, I already expected that the aforementioned voice actresses are going to do exceptionally well which is why I had my ears set up for Yurie Igoma. You could never tell that she is a rookie voice actress: her performance as Ruby made it seem like she has so much experience already. Not only did she wonderfully express the jolly and childlike nature of Ruby (and Ai’s death scene), but the change of her voice to Ruby’s teenage version was also surreal and worth waiting for.
While still on the topic of voice acting, I would also give a shout-out to Megumi Han because despite Kana’s short screen time in the premiere, her acting was outstanding, and that part she played when asking the director to retake the scene was mind-blowing.
Oshi no Ko Breaking the Limits but I Worry One Thing
After being voted as the most anticipated anime in our polls and placing first in its debut week, there’s no question about how amazing the premiere was. Oshi no Ko is the top-rated anime on My Anime List at the moment; the opening song’s music video of the anime by YOASOBI reached a million views in just 8 hours and Twitter is full of posts about it. With how good viewers’ reception to Oshi no Ko premiere was, I wouldn’t be surprised if more series began using this same format for prologues.
As much as I love the series, I know this isn’t really for everyone because there are people who don’t really care about idols or show business in general. But that’s not really what I’m worried about. Instead, I’m worried about how high the premiere setting an impossibly high standard for the rest of the show. As the saying goes, the higher you climb, the harder you fall.
We are still on the first episode after all, even though it was very long, and we still have 10 more episodes to go. If the quality goes down in the upcoming weeks, then the anime will be remembered as nothing more than a one-hit wonder in the adaptation sense and the comments be full of “it fell off” which isn’t really what I’m hoping for. However, if Oshi no Ko can manage to constantly deliver the same quality to future episodes, there’s no doubt that we’re witnessing a modern classic like none before.
Images via HIDIVE
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© Akasaka Aka x Mengo Yokoyari / Shueisha / Oshi no Ko Production Committee