Idol Dreams Volume 2
By playing with both versions of Chikage, the adult and the teen (both now, as she transforms, and then, in her memories), Tanemura expands the kinds of stories she’s able to tell, keeping the material fresh. For instance, this book starts with Chikage’s friend Tokita remembering how horrible his school days were. (Tokita is the one who provides the age-change drug.) Chikage was one of the few people nice to him, which establishes the foundation for their friendship now.
It’s a surprising start for what’s normally a lighter-toned series, and it works well as almost a stand-alone tale of what helps a kid survive bullying. As a flashback, though, it gives the sillier events to follow more depth.
Chikage already has a rival in present-day, adult life. That’s part of what spurred her choice to try youth over again. But now, she gains one as a teen idol, too. Due to contrived circumstances, she’s in a competition with another girl to perform the same song and see whose CD sells better. Her producer encourages her with dance lessons and coaching, but he’s got a secret of his own (just to toss in some family drama).
In addition to some cute kids, a fashion contest is added, as young Chikage will also be judged on her outfit, which requires her to get shopping help from Tokita. This can be a kitchen sink manga, with anything and everything somehow fitting within its pages, but that “anything can happen” approach is part of its charm for me. It’s certainly unpredictable.
I also appreciated, during one of the pep talks to get Chikage to quit freaking out on stage, her producer reminding us of the value of throwaway pop entertainment:
The people who are in the audience… go to school, work in an office, do housework, and raise children. They work every day…. It’s an idol’s job to cheer them up, to give them the energy to work hard again tomorrow.
I’m not sure what the status of this series is. I’ve found passing references to a third Japanese volume, but there’s nothing listed beyond this book at Amazon from Viz. I hope there’s more coming. It’s a lovely trifle to escape with for a few hours. And I want to find out what happens at the cliffhanger, as Chikage’s two worlds risk colliding!