The entertainment industry is well-known for its soaring highs and crushing lows, and nowhere is that more startlingly realized than in the idol industry. With their combination of music, performance, and acting, idols are a powerful force in South Korea and Japan, with huge export power to Westerners.
It makes sense that there’s also plenty of manga set around idols—some delving into the darker side of showbiz, and others focusing more on the joys of entertainment. But no matter what take on the idol industry you prefer, we’ve got something for you to read!
Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we explore the 5 Best Idol Manga!
5. Hikaru in the Light!
- Authors: Matsuda Mai
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Seinen, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 1+
- Published: June 2022–present
Starting our list today is the brand-new manga, Hikaru in the Light!—a series all about pursuing your dreams, no matter the cost.
Hikaru Ogino wants to be a star, but instead, she just sings to herself in her family’s bath house. When her best friend—and a former idol—invites her to an “idol survival camp,” Hikaru will find herself, and her dreams, put to the ultimate test!
Hikaru in the Light! is a competition manga at heart, with plenty of sparks flying between Hikaru and her best friend. There’s a heavy emphasis on trying to stand out amidst a sea of “normal” girls all desperate to become the next big idol—and only time will tell if Hikaru can reach out and seize her dreams!
Hikaru in the Light! is available digitally via Azuki Manga.
4. Otatomo ga Kareshi ni Nattara Saikou Kamo Shirenai (Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend Is the Best!)
- Authors: Aoi Mito
- Genres: Comedy, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: Comedy, Romance, Shoujo
- Published: March 2022–present
We reviewed Otatomo ga Kareshi ni Nattara Saikou Kamo Shirenai (Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend Is the Best!) earlier this year and loved the positive message in this otaku-loving story!
Centered more around the fans of idols rather than idols themselves, this romance spreads the message that growing up doesn’t mean growing out of what you love. Shameless otaku girl Akari is a die-hard idol fan, but she’s totally surprised when Onda, the grumpy chef at her cafe, turns out to be a closeted idol lover!
The pair begin a trial dating phase together, going out to idol cafes, helping each other collect their favorite idol merchandise, and otherwise just being an adorable geek couple. The series gives off great gender role messaging, with Onda being star-struck by a male idol, and ultimately encourages adults to reconnect with whatever makes them happy.
If you want a manga that celebrates idols and otaku culture, then check out Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend Is the Best!
3.【Oshi no Ko】
- Authors: Akasaka Aka (Story), Yokoyari Mengo (Art)
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Tragedy, Slice of Life
- Volumes: Streaming digitally on Manga Plus
- Published: April 2022–present
A title that’s hot on everyone’s lips at the moment is Oshi no Ko, the next manga from the author of Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai - Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen (Kaguya-Sama: Love is War!). An anime has been announced by Doga Kobo studios, and physical English volumes will soon be published by Yen Press.
Diving deep into the psychological drama of the idol industry, Oshi no Ko really should come with some trigger warnings. For the sake of our own readers, we’d like to flag Oshi no Ko’s triggers as teen pregnancy, attempted suicide, stalking, and generalized post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
With that said, you probably have a decent idea of where Oshi no Ko is going. When star idol Ai Hoshino becomes pregnant at sixteen, her children become the reincarnations of two of her fans. After their mother’s shocking murder a few years later, both children grow up to pursue the entertainment industry for different reasons.
This story is dark, and definitely not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot to unpack about the nature of the industry, the expectations of fans, and the very real danger that idols face from strangers and studios alike.
Oshi no Ko is currently streaming digitally via Manga Plus (Shonen Jump App).
2. Hanazono-sanchi no Futago-chan (Oh, Those Hanazono Twins)
- Authors: Kitajima Nena
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Ecchi, Romance, School Life, Shounen, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 1+
- Published: May 2022–present
A fun rom-com of snowballing errors begins in Hanazono-sanchi no Futago-chan (Oh, Those Hanazono Twins) when ultra-popular high-school idol, Yuriko Hanazono, dresses up as her fashionable twin sister, Rinko, to go on a date. Since idols aren’t allowed to have public relationships, she thinks her ruse will let her safely date her best friend Tatara…but her plan goes awry when she’s discovered by their school!
To save her sister’s reputation, the real Rinko now has to date Tatara in a pretend-lover scenario that might end up as something more?! This love-triangle romantic comedy is all about young love and fake relationships, with a healthy dose of idol-related drama.
Oh, Those Hanazono Twins has its first volume out already, and is complete in Japanese at 7 volumes.
1. Oshi ga Watashi de Watashi ga Oshi de (Star⇄Crossed!!)
- Authors: Junko
- Genres: Comedy, Gender Bender, Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 4 (Complete)
- Published: March 2020 — March 2021
The top pick on our list today is the fabulous gender-bender rom-com, Oshi ga Watashi de Watashi ga Oshi de (Star⇄Crossed!!).
Ultra-fan Azusa lives only for Chika-kun, her favorite idol in the P4U group. When she accidentally dies trying (and failing) to save her beloved idol, she and Chika meet God, who sheepishly admits this was an accident and sends them back down to Earth. The only problem…Azusa and Chika have switched bodies! And they can switch back…with a kiss?!
To prevent tragedy, Chika transfers to Azusa’s school and moves into the apartment next door to her, all so they can keep up this ruse until they can fix their body-switching problems. Of course, for Azusa, this is a dream come true—but it’s a nightmare for P4U’s management!
Full of laughs, romance, and idol-group-tension, Star⇄Crossed!! is our top pick today for idol manga.
These are just five of the idol manga out there! From industry drama to fandom celebration, idol manga shine a light on all the different facets of the entertainment industry.
Are you interested in any of these titles? Let us know down in the comments below, and as always, thank you for reading!