Tuesday, December 16, 2008

J-Pop Idol, vol. 1

Story by Millenni+M with Art by Toko Yashiro
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Do Idol producers pay manga publishers to keep on churning out idol manga, I wonder?

The three person band No Escape wins a singing contest but only Mika is offered a music contract. Naomi is understanding about the snub but the third member of the band Kay is furious. Mika is torn over whether to accept the offer but one of her idols from her youth (all of two years ago) Ken agrees to be her manager and gives the requisite pep talk to become a star. Ken prepares Mika for her debut over a year's time, with Mika and Ken drawing closing together over that time. But Ken keeps everyone at a distance because he is sick but unwilling to take his medication because it's side effects include hearing loss and thus possibly robbing him of his music. By at the end of volume Kay is thinking of ways to complicate Mika's life.

Idol manga are a dime a dozen, well not literally (not even on EBay) but it certainly feels like it sometimes. The idea of skipping over the year or so preparation of Mika's debut is actually a useful conceit. It allows for Mika's love for Ken to grow offstage in a believable manner. Usually it happens on panel and I always snort in disbelief when it is shown that treating a woman rudely and in a high-handed manner will get them to fall in love with you. By pushing it off-panel and giving it a year, it can just be taken as given rather than dissecting the emotion growth at it's most vulnerable stage. Despite the early tension between Mika and Kay, it is overlooked for most of the volume, with Naomi drifting into the background. So despite the occasional interesting touch, there is little here beyond the standard idol manga.

J-Pop Idol, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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