“Oshi no Ko” Review

“Oshi no Ko” Review

"Oshi no Ko" anime series cover art
“Oshi no Ko”

Rising Star Ai Hoshino

“Oshi no Ko” (【推しの子】) is a drama anime from the mangaka Aka Akasaka, whom you may know from Kaguya-sama: Love is War. As a drama series, though, “Oshi no Ko” is nothing like Kaguya-sama. And, my hot take is that it might be better.

So, what is “Oshi no Ko” about? It’s about idols, actors, and the Japanese entertainment industry as a whole. We explore this industry through all the characters in the series. But, there are three main characters: Ai, Aqua, and Ruby Hoshino.

At the start of the series, Ai Hoshino is an up-and-coming teen Idol. I think she’s supposed to be 16 years old. However, her path to stardom almost comes crashing down when she becomes pregnant. And to make matters worse, nobody knows who the father is. So, to protect her career, Ai has her twins delivered in secret.

Aqua, Ai, and Ruby Hoshino from the anime series "Oshi no Ko"
Aqua, Ai, and Ruby Hoshino

In case you couldn’t figure it out, Aquamarine “Aqua” and Ruby are Ai’s children. As they get older, they decide to follow in their mother’s footsteps for their own reasons. Aqua gravitates toward acting while Ruby’s dream is to be an idol.

Now, there is a bit of a twist. “Oshi no Ko” is also a reincarnation series. It’s not an isekai because there’s no other world. But, both Aqua and Ruby are reincarnations of Ai fans. That’s where the title of the series comes from. Aqua and Ruby are the children (ko / 子) of their favorite (oshi / 推し) idol, Ai.

That’s not much of a spoiler. I think it’s revealed in the first half of Episode 1 (which is an extra-long episode). But, from here on, I’m going to be including real spoilers in this review. If you don’t want to be spoiled, go watch the anime.

Ai’s Legacy & B-Komachi

It’s time for the real spoilers. At the very end of Episode 1, Ai dies. A stalker shows up at her apartment and stabs her to death in front of Aqua. And it’s this event that sets up the rest of the series.

Obviously, this was a traumatic event for Aqua. So, he dedicates the rest of his life to getting justice for Ai. The man who killed Ai also dies shortly after, which at first seems to close the case. But, it doesn’t take Aqua long to figure out that there must have been an accomplice.

How did that stalker find out where Ai lived? There were very few people who knew. But, one person who likely did was the father of Aqua and Ruby. The only problem is nobody other than Ai knows his identity.

That’s why Aqua becomes an actor — to find his father whom he assumes is in the entertainment industry.

Kana Arima from the anime series "Oshi no Ko"
Kana Arima

Ruby’s path is very different. The death of Ai affected her, as well. But, she didn’t physically see it happen. Instead of seeking revenge, she wants to become a star idol like her mother. And to do so, she revives Ai’s old idol group.

B-Komachi was the idol group Ai was the center of. The group disbanded after Ai’s death, which makes sense. But, Ruby’s plan is to revive the group with all new members. So, the only thing that’s the same is the name.

Now, you might be thinking why Ai is a main character if she dies in the first episode. Does she also get reincarnated? No. But she’s arguably the most important character. Everything that Aqua and Ruby do for the rest of the series is because of Ai. Her influence is always present, even if she isn’t.

The Dark Side of the Entertainment Industry

Ai’s death at the hands of a stalker was the first hint of what “Oshi no Ko” is really about. It’s about the dark side of the entertainment industry. And, surprisingly, we don’t see much of that from Aqua and Ruby.

Instead, a lot of the dark content comes from the supporting characters. Kana Arima, Akane Kurokawa, and Mem-Cho each represent different aspects of the industry. Kana is a washed-up child actress. Akane is an actor who receives hate mail. And Mem-Cho is a streamer who fakes her age because she’s “too old” to be popular.

In terms of being dark, Kana and Mem-Cho’s stories are light gray. They’re not very dark. But, they do illustrate how the industry has no use for certain people. Once Kana was out of her cute phase, she had a hard time finding work. And Mem-Cho knows female entertainers have a short shelf-life.

Akane Kurokawa from the anime series "Oshi no Ko"
Akane Kurokawa

Akane is the one with the truly dark story. And I’ve seen a lot of people get mad at “Oshi no Ko” for this. Akane’s arc is about a young actress who receives a lot of online hate after appearing on a reality TV show. She then decides to kill herself, though Aqua stops her.

So, why do people hate Akane’s story? Well, it’s almost exactly what happened to Hana Kimura, a Japanese female wrestler. She appeared on a reality TV show, received hate online, and then killed herself at 22.

There seem to be a lot of people who find the inclusion of a similar story in “Oshi no Ko” disrespectful. But, I disagree. Again, the point of this series is to show the dark side of the industry. It’s way more important to raise awareness about mental health issues than to shy away from them.

Conclusion

Overall, I gave “Oshi no Ko” an 8/10. It’s a very good anime, and as I said at the start of this review, I might like it more than Kaguya-sama. Kaguya-sama is also very good. But, I tend to prefer drama anime over comedy anime.

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