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May 3, 2020

Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino ~ a Review

by MK French

Nina Kamiyama had been an idol in the group Pure Club when she was assaulted by a fan. Afterward, she dropped out of sight, shunned all signs of femininity, and began dressing as a boy while attending high school. Her classmate Hikaru Horiuchi recognizes her despite her efforts to keep to herself. What other secrets is she hiding?
 Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

May 2020; VIZ Media LLC; 978-1974715169
ebook, print (176 pages); mystery manga
Idol culture in Japan is a very huge moneymaker for the creative teams, and it's a very fine line for those girls to walk. They have to remain virginal yet exude sexuality so that boys could imagine that they could date her. We see plenty of that in the opening, with TV footage of Pure Club and its new front liner getting heckled by boys that do nothing but comment on their legs and want to touch them. In high school, the boys all comment on the girls' skirts and feel that Nina is a weirdo for only wearing pants and hiding her figure. She has no intention of flirting with boys to make them like her, though there is plenty of commentary from both the boys and girls in the class about appearance, being "girly" enough, and how "ugly" girls are the only ones that worry about getting groped and should take it as a compliment.

The book definitely delves into identity politics as well as gender ones. Nina had a stage name, and currently enjoys the thought of being seen as a boy. She's not transgender, it's more that she feels safer that way because the man that cut her was never caught. Femininity is a double-edged sword in society, and the book certainly gets into that both in the case of idol culture in Japan as well as socially in schools and public spaces. This is definitely a fraught topic and one that will lead to a lot of conversations.

Buy Not Your Idol at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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  1. This reminds me of this Netflix movie about a pop star going on hiatus and striking up a romance with a stranger who is not familiar with his work.I think it's called 'the fan' or something..