I’m not someone who really follows idols or is big into idol culture, but I thought that the plot of Ossan Idol!, which centers around three middle-aged men forming an idol group, sounded like a ton of fun. Adapted from a novel series by Mochiko Mochida, this manga series by Ichika Kino is all about how it’s never too late to discover your true passion or pursue your dreams.
After being fired from his job at a health-food company for being over-weight, Miroku Osaki spirals into a deep depression and isolates himself in his room. What helps him to eventually pick himself up again is a new game called “Let’s Try Dancing”. Watching others dance their hearts out inspires Miroku to start working-out so that he can move the way that he wants and fully enjoy dancing himself. At the gym he meets Yoichi, a director at an entertainments company, who encourages him during his workouts and helps him to get into shape. While he’s singing karaoke one evening, Miroku accidently uploads a video of himself to the internet where it instantly goes viral, thanks in equal parts to his new, sexy looks and his innate charisma. Miroku has no idea how to handle becoming on overnight sensation, but Yoichi can spot a natural talent when he sees one and is eager to sign Miroku up with his company. But is it possible for someone well into their thirties to become a popular idol?
Ossan Idol! is a very sweet, feel-good kind of story about over-coming your insecurities and just going for your dreams. I think my favourite part of this series was the camaraderie between Miroku, Yoichi and their friend Shiju, a former dancer who winds up being the third member of their idol group. All three of them have things that are holding them back, but they’re able to push through their doubts and put themselves out there anyway, thanks in large part to how they all support and encourage each other.
Miroku is a kind and trusting person who winds up pursuing being an idol because he wants to be able to inspire and bring happiness to others, but, despite his gorgeous good-looks and abundance of charm, he still has moments of intense self-doubt. It hasn’t quite sunk in for Miroku that he’s attractive and that people might be staring because they think he’s hot. Shiju is more laid-back and seems confident, but he’s initially hesitant to get too close to Miroku and Yoichi, since he’s already had his dreams derailed once before by a group situation that turned sour on him. Yoichi is probably the most mature of the three. He’s thoughtful and approached Miroku to offer him encouragement when it was clear that he was getting discouraged during his early attempts to workout, just because he’s a nice guy. Despite being a hunk in his own right, Yoichi seems more at home being in a supporting role and clearly had never considered putting himself in the spotlight before Shiju suggests that the three of them perform together.
By themselves, these men would probably have struggled to move forwards, but together they can do much more then they could alone. Shiju has experience with dancing and performing, Yoichi already knows the ins and outs of the entertainment business and Miroku has star-power and a positive outlook that helps to inspire the others. It’s really cute to see these guys helping each other to do their best and to overcome their self-doubts. I’m rooting for them to become successful and take the entertainment world by storm!
There were a few things about this manga that I wasn’t crazy about, however. While I thought the character designs all looked great, I found that the art sometimes looked a bit stiff. The dialogue also felt awkward in places, though I can’t tell if this was a translation issue or if this was a problem that was present in the original text. I also wasn’t crazy about how the group’s producer, Mr. Lavender, was introduced. Mr. Lavender is a queer-coded character and as soon as he meets Miroku he asks him to sit on his lap. This blatant sexual harassment is later hand-waved away as being part of a test, but I’m still not entirely sure what the point of said test was and I’m less then thrilled that the manga’s one, possibly, queer character was framed in this predatory light, even if it was walked back later.
While this manga had a few flaws, I confess that I really enjoy the idea of a group of thirty-somethings becoming heart-throbs and succeeding in a profession that’s considered to be a young-man’s game. In the end, this was a pretty fun read and I think I’ll be picking up the next volume to see how our trio of middle-aged idols manage to handle stardom.
Final Score: 7 out of 10.
What did you think of this manga? Which of the main guys is your favourite? I’m leaning towards Yoichi, personally.
For more information on this manga, visit Tokyopop’s website.
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