We can't deny that one reading of the synopsis of Oshi no Ko could make it seem like a giant fantasy series set in the real world. The fact that our main character dies and is reborn as the idol he idolized as a child makes it feel more like an isekai plot than something grounded in reality. However, as fans of not only anime but also all things Japanese, we know for a fact that some of the elements in Oshi no Ko are far from fantastical and unfortunately very real, like the constant mental state of a public figure or the existence of stalkers. So, we have decided to delve into the scary themes behind Oshi no Ko and discuss them a little. Believe it or not, these themes give an odd sense of immersion to the world of Aqua and his twin sister Ruby.
The Rules of Being an Idol Are Law
Being an idol for a big corporation is not all fun and games. When you sign up, every agency has its own laws and rules that idols must adhere to, or they could face lawsuits and the risk of losing their jobs. In the world of Oshi no Ko, we learn more about this through Miyako, who takes over Strawberry Productions when her husband disappears, as well as other characters in the story. They frequently discuss their roles as idols and the rules they must follow, such as maintaining a certain appearance in public, restrictions on relationships, and limitations on partnerships for other projects and shows. These rules essentially confine idols in a metaphorical bubble, which is why they often strive to achieve success on their own or eventually seek agencies that offer more freedom. As we consider these contractual obligations, it becomes evident that they can be overwhelming, and we commend idols for navigating them as frequently as they do.
The Internet is Even Darker for Idols/Stars
Anyone born on the internet era knows that it is a very unforgiving place, especially for those who present themselves online. Idols and aspiring stars constantly face cyberbullying, which includes verbal harassment and ridicule on forums, chats, and other forms of social media. While experienced idols and stars may develop a thick skin against such attacks, younger individuals or those with vulnerable psyches can easily succumb to the harsh words of haters. This can severely impact their mental well-being, leading to dark thoughts like suicide or self-harm. Just take a look at poor Akane in the later episodes of Oshi no Ko.
During the filming of their reality dating show, Akane becomes a target of multiple online chats and posts accusing her of heinous actions and spreading falsehoods about her personality. The situation worsens when she unintentionally lashes out at one of the cast members, resulting in brutal harassment from various online bullies. Akane reaches the brink of suicide, but Aqua saves her in the nick of time. This form of online bullying is a genuine concern for idols and young stars, often discussed in interviews and documentaries where they share how such posts have affected their mental state and caused significant issues.
When Your Worst Critic is You
As writers, it can be challenging to receive criticism as it often feels like an attack on our work and abilities. However, constructive criticism is crucial for improving our writing skills. We cannot deny that even when we review our own work, we often feel there are areas where we can improve, and Oshi no Ko exemplifies this through its diverse main characters as they enter the entertainment world.
In episode 1, Kana is introduced as a young child star prodigy, praised for her ability to cry on cue and her acting skills. However, she quickly learns that the praise has fueled her ego, making her self-aware of her disliked attitude by directors and fellow actors. Kana undergoes personal growth, but throughout Oshi no Ko, we see that she is very hard on herself when it comes to her acting abilities, skills, and appearance.
As idols begin to rise in popularity, they often become concerned about their own talents and may experience identity crises due to their desire to improve and their fear of hitting a plateau. It is acceptable to be self-critical, but one must be cautious about the extent of self-criticism. Excessive self-doubt can lead to feeling inadequate to the point of losing one's sense of self and mental well-being.
Lurking in the Shadows for an Autograph
Every famous person will emphasize that one of their most significant concerns in the real world is dealing with stalkers. These individuals go to great lengths to track their targets online, gathering information to either harass them or engage in genuinely creepy behavior. In Oshi no Ko, we witness Ai's tragic fate, which is possibly attributed to a stalker. The same stalker may have even been responsible for Aqua's demise in his previous form. Stalkers can manifest in both the physical world and online spaces, posing a genuine menace to idols and stars. Their presence makes every meetup or event a potential danger to the safety and well-being of these celebrities.
While Oshi no Ko may begin with a seemingly outlandish premise, it should not be overlooked that once the main story unfolds, it delves into a realm far from fiction. The struggles faced by idols, young stars, and aspiring celebrities are numerous, making the narrative of Oshi no Ko all the more captivating for those unfamiliar with this world. Although not explicitly labeled as a horror anime, if one examines the darker aspects of the story, it can be interpreted as a macabre tale. One that is not fictitious, but rather disturbingly real.