I promise I’ll be kinder to Oshi no Ko. No, there isn’t any outside pressure or any Scrooge night I’ve experienced. But I’d like to extend more of an olive branch since I realize that Oshi no Ko’s head is in the right place, especially with addressing both the media’s influence on creative efforts and a creative’s relationship with their work.
ACT A FOOL
The final episode of I’ll Go With Sweet Today’s live-action adaptation is a testament to this as the anime tackles the lingering effects of the show’s reception, and how its wavering quality has a greater impact on the people involved.
I feel like Oshi no Ko is at its best when it addresses the TV and film industries, especially with so many of its characters having to contend with their responsibilities as actors, producers, directors, and writers. Whereas the idol stuff feels like an analysis anyone with a keyboard could make, the show’s commentary on the filmmaking process comes off as more well-versed in the politics behind-the-scenes of many TV shows.
Kana has a very poignant moment of reflection as she gets herself into character by thinking of both her struggles being treated like a has-been the moment she reaches puberty and her personal experience of reading the final chapters of I’ll Go With Sweet Today. On top of her status as a cheap, readily available actress, her expertise in softly crying makes her last scene in the TV drama entirely justify their reasoning behind why she would be chosen to perform such a scene.
It also tackles subjects like method acting amongst younger actors with Aqua’s improvisation getting Melt agitated enough to aggressively recite his lines and make his punch stick the landing. Additionally, it leaks into how the staging and filming is processed considering how the rain-drenched set was deliberately incorporated into the scene as a thematically murky and bleak depiction of the stalker fight.
I also appreciated how they made the mangaka more of a character than a mere cameo in a sad flashback. She reiterates the same painful lesson from Imouto sae Ireba Ii. of not letting your hopes get high of a manga adaptation. The Imouto sae Ireba Ii. scene was devastating as that author seeing how bad his TV adaptation was was a harsh wakeup call towards the kind of cruelty that’d be levied toward his work as a result of a laughably bad adaptation.
But the author of I’ll Go With Sweet Today already cast away any high expectations the moment the writing was on the wall about their casting decisions. She had to have already faced the grieving process by the time the drama was on its final episode. However, rather than having her show up as a way to smugly dunk on bad adaptations, her reaction to the last episode is far more meaningful than I expected. When she was choked up to see her own characters being acted out in a way that she didn’t regret, it was hard for my eyes not to water. It’s the small sliver of hope that justifies your life’s work in a world that aims to stomp out anyone’s efforts.
Any creator’s dream is to see their work, their ideas, and their thoughts come to life. So for her to see the kind of emotional high she must’ve felt illustrating that final chapter being captured to such great detail would definitely make the TV drama far more salvageable than it seemed.
WHY DO I KEEP READING YOUTOU HIGH AS YOUTUBE HIGH?
The next stage of the show seems pretty promising with Aqua navigating through a school catered towards younger celebrities and kickstarting an acting career that wound up getting his foot in the door for a reality show.
Knowing that the producer only knew Ai in passing as an affiliate wound up serving mainly as a way for Aqua to further amend his current goals. Whereas he felt like he could track down any one of the people on Ai’s old phone, it appears he’ll have to go with the flow and wait for any leads to come through as he starts working.
It has the potential to be very interesting given how it encourages Aqua to lean into the talents he realized he had as an actor to find any given opportunity to strike. While his ambitions and goals would still be there, it also forces him to remain on standby as he seeks out any potential leads on the sets of shows or movies.
On top of this, his own personal experiences in the entertainment industry could carry consequences in his school life given how many of his co-stars could also be his classmates. It’d make for some spicy plot developments if Aqua wound up having to do his own PR at school while navigating around how he interacts with co-stars on campus versus how he’d have to see them on-set.
OKAY, THIS SECTION IS ME COMPLAINING
With the Youtou High scenes, however, I’m still skeptical about what the story wishes to say about the young girls in the entertainment industry. So many of the girls in Youtou High School are roped into gravure and model magazines, an industry that deliberately preys on underaged girls for a shot at recognition.
Much of my fear comes from them using Minami as a way to handwave the sexism or creepiness from how younger models are treated, especially with how Ruby initially reacts to both her chest size and her pin-ups. It’s clear she’s being exploited and sexualized, but Minami is flighty enough that she is kinda just coasting off of the vibes she gets from her fake accent and sunny disposition.
Honestly, most of it comes from Ruby because she almost seems like a mouthpiece to get away with making unsettlingly fanatical statements on how sexy or alluring these girls are supposed to be. Because Ruby is very shallow in her perception of the girls around her, it gives her multiple passes to get away with cultivating the kind of attitude that would make creepy stalkers. If most of Ruby’s dialog was given to a male character, they’d come off like an obsessive geek who walks a tightrope between innocent stanning and weirdo behavior. It makes it feel like she never emotionally matured past the moment she chugged down Ai’s breast milk with a grin.
I’m also a bit worried about how Kana will turn out if she gets roped into Ruby’s idol group. She was just about to get back on her feet as an actress, and it’s clear that acting was her passion. But if she gets railroaded to become an idol because of Ruby’s whims and Aqua’s persuasion, I feel like it’ll be detrimental to her character. It’s also messed up of Aqua to think of her considering how much he’s been trying to push Ruby away from the meat grinder that is the idol industry. Aqua begrudgingly letting his new stepmother be Ruby’s manager is one thing, but to deliberately lure Kana into becoming an idol feels a bit weird for the character. But I’ll wait til the next episode to see how that turns out.
I went into this series thinking it would be a happy, slice of life, idol series….big fat NOPE from the first episode to realize this series is targeted as seinen. HOLY SMUCK…I am invested. Sad that the manga is still ongoing cause I love a good binge. And boy this series good.
I felt sorry for Kana, because fame is a fickle friend. Having to take lower-grade rolls and eat humble pie to stay relevant in the acting industry sucks, but it’s like that with every other job.
Kana is lucky since she is young; she has her whole life ahead of her. Kana can slowly develop her skills and be better than before. This inexperienced young actor playing the MC and the director’s poor direction for the TV show is just a stepping stone for Kana.
Thankfully Aqua’s part saves Kana and the inexperienced young actor playing the MC. The director isn’t putting any effort into directing the story.
The part where the Mangaka of “Sweet Today” said she’s rooting for the show made me feel sympathetic to all creators. It reminds me of how disappointing it is when Anime and Video Games get a live-action film, and it’s trash. This hurts all creators for titles the movies are based on.