This week you’re getting two manga posts because I have been reading them too quickly! I might start dropping some in here and there if I horde to many manga posts.
So lately I’ve been ordering a lot of manga. I’m in the mood to discover my next big manga love story. I’ve also not been reading as much webcomics. At least not family-friendly ones. As such, I figured I would switch my webtoon recommendations for manga first impressions until I build up a nice stock of webtoons to recommend once again. That way, maybe you can discover your next big manga love. Or you could just fan-out over cute idols…
Why I Picked up Not Your Idol
Honestly, the summary is extremely similar to Perfect Blue and I love that movie. Moreover, I haven’t seen it or anything else that uses the same premise (i.e. snapping under the peculiar pressures of being a Japanese idol) in a very long time. I figured it would be interesting to get another take on it. Also, the original title is Sayonara Miniskirt which is just great.
A psychological suspense series about a girl who has given up her life as an idol after being assaulted by a fan.
After that day, she stopped being a girl. In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.
My First Impression
Man, this book tries really hard. Either that or it thinks I’m a little slow.
What I liked
I still quite like the premise and I wouldn’t say it’s not well used here. Nina is now trying to live the life of an average high school student and there’s a lot of potential there. The story of falling from fame isn’t told as often as the other way around and it’s rarely the beginning of the story.
I liked the few peeks we got into the idol industry. It’s very interesting to me and although volume 1 didn’t go into much detail, there were still a few. So I appreciate that.
The last chapter of the volume introduces a potential mystery that livens up the narrative a lot. Before that, it’s pretty much straight drama.
Man, this volume is heavy-handed. It’s Perfect Blue for dummies. There is no subtlety at all, the messages are just plainly spelled out and repeated over and over again.
Moreover, instead of making Nina’s assault the straw that broke the camel’s back. An important element that bolsters a full range of pressures and per-existing conditions. The assault is the entire thing. Everything was fine and Nina was a successful happy person then she got assaulted (not sexually if you’re wondering, she got slashed across her arm) and then she was traumatized for life and everything was bad. And for some reason, it’s very gendered.
Nina now dresses as a boy and is uncomfortable with her femininity because she sees all women as victims and all men as predators, due to her trauma. The thing is, the culprit happened to be a man but it could just as easily have been a woman and it didn’t seem to be motivated by Nina’s gender. That’s fine, it is what happened so she got traumatized in that way. It happens. But then the entire book is kind of a gender war where various girls are put in these victim roles opposite more powerful and abusive men. And it doesn’t really tie into the base premise. It just feels like an excuse to rethread gender stereotypes.
Like I said, it’s very heavy handed.
I get what Not Your Idol is trying to say and I’m not bothered by the message or the premise. But it’s so insistent and blunt with everything that it becomes a bit of a parody. It’s like the straw-men feminists everyone makes fun of.
Since I have a shonen jump subscription I might read more if it’s free but I don’t think I’ll be buying the other volumes. Although I will say, I think I did see some potential for improvement as the storytelling does get better in the later chapter.