Idol Dreams Volume 1 by Arina Tanemura
I was curious to check out this manga, mostly due to the fact that it is a slightly older skewing shoujo title. Also, the premise, about a 31 year-old office lady going back in time to relive her youth seemed interesting.
The hapless office lady in question is Chikage Deguchi, who is bullied at work. She’s let her 20s pass her by while she’s stuck in a style rut, repressed, and unable to find a boyfriend. Her humiliation is complete when she goes to a high school reunion. She’s humiliated even more at a high school reunion. She manages to make incidental conversation with a classmate named Tokita who happens to be a pharmaceutical rep, but her encounter with her high school crush doesn’t go well at all. Chikage is depressed and determined to end her life, when Tokita rescues her and tells her all about an experimental medication that will allow her to replay her wasted teenage years.
Chikage clearly operates under different human subjects rules than most people in the pharmaceutical industry, as he supplies Chikage with pills that transform her into a 15 year old and then sends her on her way, with instructions to check in often so he can gather data. Of course, as soon as teenage Chikage steps foot on the street, she’s recruited to be a stand-in model opposite the most popular member of a boy band, and thus her career as a budding teen idol begins!
Teen idol Hibiki looks a lot like Chikage’s old crush from her high school days, and she finds herself getting swept up in the life of a teen idol. She’s determined to master the social skills that she didn’t pay attention to as a young teen. The situation of a 31 year old woman in a 15 year old’s body and a 15 year old boy being paired up has the potential for a great deal of creepiness. I wasn’t taking this romance very seriously though, because it is clear that Tokita has an unexpressed crush on Chikage, and he seems to be one of the few men her own age that she can actually talk to without becoming self-conscious. So, even though there might be a bit of a wacky love triangle developing (like the original Amethyst Princess of Gemworld with reverse aging) I’m fairly confident that the romantic resolution to this manga will be non-squicky. We’ll see what happens in the next volume though.
Tanemura is always at her best when drawing super cute people, and the contrast between older Chikage and young idol version Akari is pronounced. I enjoyed seeing the friendship develop between Akari and the other boy band members, but I thought that Chikage’s occasional encounters with Tokita were much more promising in terms of any romance developing. Overall, I thought that this was a promising start to a new series, with the potential for the romance plots to derail and become off-putting. I generally enjoy Tanemura’s manga, and a series set in the world of teen idols is the perfect excuse for her to break out all the stops with the flourishes and detailed costumes that she does so well.