If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Budokan, I Would Die
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 10 of
If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Budokan, I Would Die ?
Well this has got to be some of the worst timing imaginable. I hope the fine folks watching OshiBudo at home are able to find some fun levity in all it's doing, even as this episode's plot partially deals with characters contracting a contagion. Eripiyo and several members of ChamJam themselves end up having to miss a mini-concert at the center of this episode, though thankfully it doesn't get cancelled entirely, global pandemics not being an issue in the fluffy idol-delight-centric world of OshiBudo. Still, it's just a bit jarring seeing characters wearing facemasks and worrying about catching diseases through all these contact-focused handshake events. Interesting times here at the intersection of fantasy and reality.
Honestly, with that in mind, it's probably for the best that this is actually one of the straight-up silliest episodes ofOshiBudo yet. It starts off extremely strongly, getting to see Maina crash the impromptu birthday celebration Eripiyo is giving her at the maid cafe, funny enough in its timing plus that setting means we get to see Aya too. It sets up a running theme of demonstrating Maina's general ineptitude in interacting with Eripiyo as her feelings for her have seemingly intensified. That jibes with the title of this one, 'Your Fave Isn't Your Friend” ostensibly a mantra that idol fans need to keep in mind regarding their support of their best girl, but doubling around to the point that Eripiyo can't seem to achieve an actual friendship with her favorite fan either.
It's an odd kind of frustrating from the previous will-they/won't-they antics that fuel Maina and Eripyo's interactions, as the idol seems to have picked up more than she realizes about her #1 supporter. Several points are present throughout this episode that would have been episode-driving misunderstandings in OshiBudo's earlier days, notably around the cut-down concert. Maina momentarily worries why Eripiyo isn't present at the performance, but then Kumasa fills her in. Then she hears a snippet of a phone conversation between him and Eripiyo with a declaration that could be taken the wrong way, but immediately correctly assumes that he's just trying to make her feel better. It's all in service of underscoring the more personality-driven problems that now thwart the Eripiyo/Maina relationship, rather than mere comedic happenstance.
Particularly, and this element has been brewing for a while now, Maina just can't get out of her own way with regards to getting closer to Eripiyo. Several opportunities are present this week for her to engage with her more informally than all that idol business, such as at the aforementioned maid cafe, but she freezes up due to her own anxiety (though it's also helped along due to having to interface with Eripiyo's general weirdness). Maina is still trying to make a relationship with Eripiyo work within the idol system she's participant in, exemplified by her hoping to use a Valentine's Day chocolate event gift as a way to include her contact information, only for those hopes to be dashed by the management. There's not much more to expand on there that hasn't already been articulated exhaustively by OshiBudo's own narrative, it just continues to be a knowing, ongoing indictment of the limitations of idols as a commodity in their own industry. Mostly, by this episode, we seem to be coming onto the idea that Maina's disposition might not be cut out for being this kind of performer in general.
As well, it's not like Maina and Eripiyo have entirely stopped being split up by simple silliness yet either. All that illness business is definitely a bit yikes at this moment in history, but it's utilized to facilitate some amusing situations in the first half, and culminates in a terrific gag running throughout the second. Continuously delighted as I've been all season by Ai Farouz's voice acting, taking Eripiyo's voice away to have her communicate almost entirely by whiteboard was an inspired bit. It shows that OshiBudo absolutely still has life in how it delivers gags about its leads' awkward inability to communicate, as it changes the whole delivery of the handshake-event scenes we think we've gotten used to by this point. Similarly, the Valentine's Day event itself is uniquely structured, selling the distinct deal of fans actually getting something from their faves for a change.
It leads to only a little bit of extra interrogation of the focal idol/fan relationship in this episode. One key point touched on that I don't recall seeing much of previously is how Kumasa's support of Reo interfaces with her status as the central, most popular one in the group. She gets some of the best deals in showbiz and the adulation that comes with it, and her professionalism sees her directly thanking Kumasa for pushing her through all of that. There's a squarely satisfying give-and-take in that connection, that someone like Kumasa can see real, tangible rewards in his efforts, which may go a long way towards explaining his more well-adjusted relationship with his fandom. Granted, that's bolstered by him clearly understanding that what he wishes for from Reo is merely to see her successful, as opposed to Motoi's possessive romantic tendencies and Eripiyo's selfless tangle of oddly-understood inspiration.
But of course self-actualized satisfaction wouldn't be as funny as the comedy of errors we're here to see our main couple stumble through. The big go-home joke of this episode, with Maina being the one who tells Eripiyo about missing seeing her up front, is a great example of the comedy hurdles this one is willing to jump through. It's a hilarious running gag that starts in a separate little storyline, and intersects with all the characters and their idiosyncrasies, especially Maina and Eripiyo. And it serves as another highlight of the communication difficulties powering Maina's troubles with Eripiyo at this moment in the show. There's still little progress in terms of OshiBudo's actual plot, but it's consistent in those story details even as it's using them for simple gags. That's the kind of effective light content we can use in these trying times, making this a solid little episode to stay in and watch.
If My Favorite Pop Idol Made it to the Budokan, I Would Die is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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