Idol Dreams Volume 2 by Arina Tanemura
I liked the first volume of Idol Dreams, with a few reservations so I was eager to check out the second volume to see how the story would develop. I was pretty convinced after seeing how the story was set up that the body-switching heroine Chikage is going to end up with the supplier of her youth idol pills, Tokita. The second volume starts out with a flashback of high school days told firmly from his point of view, showing how genuinely nice and popular Chikage was when she is a teenager. Her current repressed personality and the somewhat forced teen idol disguise really stand in contrast to Chikage’s natural charm back in the day. After reading the flashback, I’m more convinced than ever that Chikage is going to end up in an adult relationship, despite her newfound habit of hanging out with various teen boy band members.
We see some painful reminders of how socially awkward it is to be a repressed over 30 office lady, but Chikage’s idol adventures as Akari are not without peril as (say it with me!) A RIVAL APPEARS in the form of polished teen idol Yuko, who is nursing a mad crush on Hibiki. Akari learns some interesting facts about Hibiki’s home life that put his hustle, drive, and habit of appropriating boxed lunches into perspective. Truly, not since Tamahome have I seen a shoujo hero this dedicated to frugality. Akari and Yuko have to duke it out for the honor of singing Hibiki’s next single, and Akari needs plenty of extra training because she’s never performed for a studio audience before.
There are quite a few funny moments along the way, but one of the things I liked is how much support Chikage is getting to change her life. Tokita comes along on an extended teen idol outfit shopping trip, and when the outfit accidentally gets ruined, Akari’s fellow teen idols leap at the opportunity to help her out, instantly offering up their own clothing to save the day. Idol Dreams is fun and frothy, but I’m much more invested in the few scenes between Chikage and Tokita than any of the other men in her life. Tanemura is always good at shifting between more introspective moments and comedic effect freakouts from the characters, and that was definitely on display in this volume.