Idol Dreams Volume 1
Idol Dreams puts a clever twist on a typical manga situation, that of becoming famous in show business. Only Chikage is a 31-year-old office worker, unpopular, lonely, and nervous around men.
She’s having a mid-life crisis, feeling she peaked when she graduated high school. She attends her class reunion, dreaming of reuniting with her crush from back then, only to be embarrassed by a classmate blurting out her status as a virgin. She’s hopeless and suicidal.
But then comes the magical part, as you’d expect from a manga by Arina Tanemura. (Idol Dreams came about because she was asked to do “a magical girl series for adults.” Which means fewer starry eyes, a restraint on Tanemura’s style I appreciated.) Another former classmate provides a drug that can make her 15 again. She gets a second chance to make different choices. And she’s instantly picked off the street to model in an ad with a young celebrity who happens to look just like her original high school crush.
Having a chance to do things over is a fantasy many adults have had, and it’s fun to see it play out, even full of coincidences as this is. The blend of teen fantasy (which Chikage embraces in order to make herself braver) and sympathetic adult office worker is intriguing. For a while, her life is full of guys ordering her around, but later, her experience becomes relevant, as it gives her sympathy for the secretly lonely young star she’s paired with.
By the end, it’s clear that this is a modern twist on Cinderella, with, instead of a clock striking midnight, Chikage having to run away from her young prince before she re-ages. I know the eventual lesson will involve her becoming stronger and less timid in her real self, but I’m looking forward to what crazy adolescent adventures she has before then. (The publisher provided a review copy.)