Mika has always dreamed of achieving stardom with her best friends Kay and Naomi. They even won a nationwide singing contest, but when a record company comes with a contract offer, it’s only for Mika. She’s caught between reaching for her dreams and keeping her friendship with Kay. Then she meets Ken, former boy band idol turned music producer who offers to help her achieve her goals. The problem is that he’s given up on everything but her, pouring the last ounce of his life into the art he loves before he gives up on life completely.
This shojo title was a mobile manga hit in Japan and that shows in both good and bad ways. Good because it is a fast, engaging read; bad because it relies a little too much on flash and soap opera drama to keep readers interested, rather than developing a fully fleshed out plot. Things do begin to turn around by the end of the book as characters gain more depth, which bodes well for future volumes. The biggest weakness is Yashiro’s art, which is so sparkly sweet that it begins to sicken you, like eating too much cotton candy. All of her characters look very young and several are confusingly similar in appearance. Their gigantic eyes and flowing hair, all backed by shojo sparkles galore, are reminiscent of the work of Arina Tanemura (Gentleman’s Alliance+) and Natsumi Ando (Kitchen Princess).
J-Pop Idol is not really a bad addition to the large selection of manga about stardom, but don’t expect it to break any new ground. Millenni+M and Yashiro mostly just rehash the same old “fight for your dreams” pep talk of so many other titles. Perfect if that’s what you’re looking for, but tiring if you’ve been-there-done-that already.