Oshi no Ko
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Oshi no Ko ?
Community score: 4.5
Content Warning: This review deals heavily with themes of suicide and cyberbullying.
It looks like I wasn't the only person who connected the dots between Akane's arc and a real-life tragedy. This week, the mother of deceased Terrace House star Hana Kimura criticized Oshi No Ko for taking inspiration from her daughter's death. However, “Buzz” reminds us that Kimura's death is only one of the dating show tragedies that inspired this plotline, stating that “nearly 50 people from such shows have [died by suicide].” After a quick Google search, this appears to be a mostly true statement: one estimate claims that 38 reality show contestants have died by suicide. In this case, this episode of Oshi no Ko is an improvement over reality, serving as a sort of “fix-it fic” that some real-life bullied reality show stars never got the chance to live out. Due to its sensitive topic, this episode occasionally teetered into after-school special territory. However, it finished strong with Oshi no Ko's trademark flavor of dark intrigue.
Never mind how implausible it is that Aqua was able to track down Akane in the middle of a typhoon and catch her in his arms just as she was about to do the unthinkable. No matter how much it may be based on the actual Japanese entertainment industry, it is still a work of fiction, so I will allow this dramatic coincidence to slide. And honestly, it's time our boy got a win after dealing with multiple deaths that he couldn't prevent. "People die easily," Aqua says later, and he would know. His own life as Dr. Goro was snuffed out in a single violent act, and so was Ai's. It's nearly enough to soften his cold demeanor, but the Aqua we know is back in a flash with a moment of black humor: "I'll charge Akane for the taxi fare later." It's the kind of joke that's funny within the context of Oshi no Ko, but I can't imagine it hitting the mark in any other airing show.
While Aqua is off being a hero, Miyako, Ruby, and Kana have a somewhat forced conversation about the heightened suicide rate among reality TV stars. Kana's words seem sincere enough, her eyes going black as she admits that even she thinks about dying sometimes when she receives intense criticism from fans on Twitter. But as the conversation continues, it is overly clear that this discussion is a lecture for the Oshi no Ko audience. Aka Akasaka doesn't just have an axe to grind; he's pulverizing it to bits. As he said in his interview with ANN, a major inspiration for Oshi no Ko was the way “fans' voices are heard directly,” and “how people should… treat those talents.” The conversation has the feel of an after-school special, and for those of us who have the self-control not to bully reality TV stars (which I sincerely hope is the majority of Oshi no Ko's audience!), it feels more than a little didactic.
After Akane gives her statement to the police, the "fix-it fic" portion of the episode commences in earnest. Akane's tearful reunion with the cast (including Yuki's dramatic, circle-closing face-slap of relief) is one that some suicidal reality stars never got to experience. She decides to return to the show after all, though Aqua's clear-eyed assessment of her options is likely based on the actual entertainment industry. If it came down to an underage contestant facing real harm, I'm certain any company would want to do the right thing and let her break the contract—at least due to the optics. This is also how Aqua convinces the director to let him use the camera footage of Yuki hugging Akane immediately after she slapped her.
Hold on a sec... there was footage of that? And Yuki knew? That sly devil. This makes her statement last week that Akane should believe her apology because "the cameras aren't rolling" a lot less sincere. That said, just because Yuki is shrewd doesn't mean she doesn't genuinely care for Akane. Her words at the police station weren't being filmed. And she played a major role in Aqua's Operation Restore Akane's Image video. With his co-stars' aid, Aqua successfully used the video to take responsibility for leaking Akane's suicide attempt to the press, and then some. Only this show could make a bunch of people sitting in front of a computer counting the number of retweets on Twitter into a suspenseful scene. It's one of the more escapist moments of the show, but it's heartwarming to watch the cast come together and to see Akane's eyes fill with happy tears when she sees what her co-stars have done for her.
Before things get too uncharacteristically joyous, Aqua's reluctant confession of his ideal woman draws out an eerier facet of Akane. We've seen Akane at her baseline (mousy, studious, notebook in hand), and Akane at rock-bottom, but what this episode showed us was a third side to her—an almost pathologically-talented actress. As she methodically studies Ai's every gesture, she hangs notes and photos on the wall of her darkened room in an unsettling imitation of the “Who Is Pepe Silvia” meme. She single-mindedly tracks Ai like a serial killer until she spouts out monotone statements about Ai like they're facts, ones that even Aqua doesn't know. The beat drop into the ending song is perfect right as Akane opens her starry eyes—a carbon copy of Ai Hoshino and her flavor of genius. Aqua looks like he's seen a ghost; what must he be thinking? Unfortunately, we'll have to wait two weeks to find out since next week appears to be a special recap episode. Once again, Oshi no Ko betrays its layers upon layers of mystery, peeling back the curtain just a teensy bit to keep me wanting more.
P.S. Don't miss ANN's exclusive interview with Oshi No Ko co-creator Mengo Yokoyari! As she did with Akasaka, Kim asked Yokoyari what she thinks about Kana's "Baking Soda-chan" nickname transcending borders and languages.
Oshi no Ko is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
Lauren blogs at Otaku Journalist and writes about model kits at Gunpla 101. She spends her days teaching her two small Newtypes to bring peace to the space colonies.
Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.
discuss this in the forum (118 posts) |
back to Oshi no Ko
Episode Review homepage / archives