「恋愛リアリティショー」 (Ren`ai Reality Show)
“Reality Dating Show”
Oshi no Ko’s fifth episode tackles Ruby’s first attempt to establish herself (and Kana) as part of a girl group. But while she chases after her idol dreams, Aqua has to finagle with other entertainers on a reality show about falling in love on campus.
SETTING THE SCENE
I’m starting to get a better idea of how the story tackles the good and bad of the industry. Rather than outright condemning everything for being hazardous for young creatives, the vibe I’m getting is that we wind up giving up at least some part of ourselves or our passions to perform for others.
There is still a passion and energy for entertaining an audience, but there are many compromises that are made to keep the ball rolling, many of which are influenced either by corporate pressure or public demand. Monetizing art, afterall, opens the door for affluent people to jump in and motivate exactly what can and should be presented to others for gain.
I’m starting to see that the reason why the idols of the show are cynical is more because being an idol requires you to appease your company and your fans by following every word, note, and beat they offer you. Most of the writers and directors in Oshi no Ko are tearing their hair out at the decisions they have to make, while musicians, idols, and actors are beheld to whatever their production company tells them they can do.
I’ve started to do some Vtubing around late January, but as I’ve gotten further into it, I’ve come to realize there is a world of difference between being your own boss and seeing the news of peers in corporate settings being shackled down to corporate pressure. Being your own boss causes the uphill climb to be more strenuous, but being locked down by a corporate agency means having to alternate between keeping your fans satiated and navigating around the production company’s restrictions.
”I BRING IN 100 MILLION YEN A YEAR”
One of the big indicators of this is told through Ruby’s POV as she has to contend with what kinds of activities she’ll have to take on for promotions sake. Because creating a fanbase out of thin air is a rarity, you’re likely not given immediate access to new music, venues to perform at, or events to attend.
Instead, viral promotion and networking is vital for Ruby and Kana to announce their presence as an emerging idol group. Their collaboration with Pieyon makes it clear how important cross-promotion is to giving newer acts a boost in exposure. It also allows a YouTube influencer like Pieyon to bring them up to speed on what it means for them to participate as guests on one of his videos as they play along with him and are briefed on what the video will look like by the time it’s published.
It makes for some interesting material, especially when it’s comparable to the kind of contemporary media landscape with influencers and YouTubers. I was instantly reminded of Ladybeard and how they became highly prolific online through viral videos, musical acts, and podcast appearances. Their brand as a musclebound, bearded, magical idol made them a household name both with the Western otaku crowd and the Eastern idol sphere.
In the latter sphere, Ladybeard’s collaborations with pop idols often acted as a way to help promote the girls while also increasing his involvement with “kawaiicore” music that many groups in the 2010’s embraced. With this in mind, it’s amusing how the second incarnation of B-Komachi was because this universe’s equivalent of Ladybeard roped them into a viral video where Pieyon would make them sweat for exposure.
NO SCRIPT AT ALL?
While I wasn’t into the idea of Kana shelving her acting career by getting roped into the new B-Komachi because Aqua learned from her book how easy she is to manipulate, Aqua’s current predicament is something I’m looking forward to seeing more of because it dives into reality television. Had I not been mostly invested in writing about films, I would’ve likely dedicated a college paper to reality shows like “The Real World” and “Terrace House” because of how much it boils down the tribalism that occurs at different points in society, whether it be through the decisions made behind the scenes and the reactions that fans of the shows have towards their contents.
The show that Aqua’s involved in, “My Love with a Star Begins Now”, seems to borrow more from “Terrace House” where the appeal is being a fly-on-the-wall for young, prospective stars to share a communal space with one another. In this show’s instance, it’s being at a school where the group of young entertainers have to work with each other to make it through school and perhaps find some romance along the way.
For added context, “Terrace House” is a seemingly innocuous reality show that takes a premise like “The Real World” or “Big Brother”, and strips it down to its most basic elements. Mainly, that it’s meant to be an unscripted cinema verite approach of filming its participants living out their regular lives together, and seeing what sparks up between them.
But while there isn’t meant to be any kind of interference or intervention from the production crew, there is indirect interference when it comes to their panel of hosts, who chime in with their own personal takes on what happened. These panels not only use the hosts to influence public opinion towards the participants in the show, but also cause the participants to think carefully about how they act around their roommates since they are watching the show and, by proxy, seeing what other people think of them.
Yukipon and Aqua actively do their homework on “My Love with a Star Begins Now”, and are hyper-aware of the show being a launchpad for celebrity couples to emerge from the series. With “Terrace House”, this was highly commonplace as stage couples like Minori & Uchi, Seina & Noah, and Sean & Tsubasa caused audiences and hosts alike to swoon for them or spitefully mock their relationship developments.
Although most of them don’t last as long, they become some of the more endearing participants on the show because they are willing to beautifully stage their love stories for the camera, and act as success stories to contrast with the influencers who either used “Terrace House” for exposure or kept striking out with the others.
The inauthenticity of “Terrace House“ will likely be discussed in other episode impressions since we’re only scratching the tip of the iceberg. But with “My Love with a Star Begins Now” and Yukipon’s self-awareness of wanting to angle herself as a success story on the show, it clarifies the kinds of pressure that many participants face with reality shows like “Terrace House” that are structured as PR opportunities for aspiring entertainers.
Heck, when Yukipon mentioned the reality show that ended on a kiss, the frame they used was nearly a shot-for-shot remake of the first kiss Misaki and Byrnes shared on a romantic evening out in “Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City”. It makes for a fascinating opportunity to cross-reference what kinds of allusions that Oshi no Ko, will make to the reality show, especially given the nature of its cancellation.
There is a fan-theory that since the author is the same as Kaguya-sama:Love is War, this series exist in the same universe. Pieyon might be the Cheerleading Club president with his mannerism and enthusiasm.
I’m curious when all is said and done, where will Kana’s opinions and respect for Aqua stand at the end of the season? Aqua keeps pushing Kana to do things that would benefit him or Ruby at the expense of her own goals. There has to be a tipping point. Kana has self-respect despite being a has-been child actor.
↔I’m starting to see that the reason why the idols of the show are cynical is more
↔because being an idol requires you to appease your company and your fans by
↔following every word, note, and beat they offer you. Most of the writers and directors
↔in Oshi no Ko are tearing their hair out at the decisions they have to make, while
↔musicians, idols, and actors are beheld to whatever their production company tells
↔them they can do.
The same can be said for other trades, such as Waitresses, Waiters, Contractors, and Technicians, not simply limited to performers from the entertainment industry.
You’ve described working under capitalism. You literally give your body, most of your awake time and your health to make other people richer in exchange for enough money to survive and maybe play a video game or two on the weekend (if you’re not too depressed because of work burnout).
Capitalism, yes, for the company that sponsors the Idol. The Sponsor wants you to suck up to paying fans that have a para-social relationship with the Idol. An Idol’s popularity is a cash cow. The Fans (SIMPS) want your attention and don’t want your life to change. This way, the fans get disrupted entertainment, and the Sponsors rake in the dough.