Thank you to VIZ and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC.
Not Your Idol is a manga that follows Nina Kamiyami, a former idol who gave up her life in the spotlight after being attacked by a fan. She has cut off her hair, changed her name and thrown out all of the girly fashion staples that she was so well known for. And it’s working for her. She’s finally settling in, realising that she prefers the comments about being the only girl in slacks than being everyone’s property, when everything starts to go wrong once again. There’s a sexual attacker on the loose in the area and, as well as bringing back terrible memories, he brings back the fear for her life that she was so desperate to give up.
This is a tough read in terms of content and an incredibly easy read in terms of format. It only took me a few hours to get through and I found the layout to be very clear and readable. In addition, it really helped that the artwork was so incredibly well-drawn and beautiful to look at. The hard part was dealing with the troubling content. This manga tackles issues of stalking, sexual assault and harassment, all whilst shining a spotlight on the troubling Asian pop music culture that has risen to popularity in the past few years. At the moment, there is a lot of discussion over the mistreatment of idols, and this book provides a fascinating first-person insight into the struggles that real idols are constantly going through.
I liked the characters in this book a lot. Even though she is largely absent, Kamiyami’s best friend, Sara, is a truly supportive character. When Kamiyami is going through tough times, Sara is always there to support her through it. Likewise, I was impressed by how quickly I grew attached to Hikaru’s character too, as I knew so little about him and yet still enjoyed reading the sections that he is in. Kamiyami herself is incredibly strong as a protagonist, with a personality that shines through in both the flashbacks and the present day sections.
The story was very easy to follow and it really makes an interesting change to the light-hearted, sweet manga that I’ve read in the past. It took a surprising turn at the end and I can definitely say that because of that, and the easy-to-read format and important content, I would read the second volume.
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