Idol Dreams Volume 6 by Arina Tanemura
Idol Dreams! The manga that I read compulsively but also dread a little bit every time I pick it up because I wonder in the back of my mind if something truly problematic is going to happen in this story of an emotionally stunted office lady who returns to her youth in the form of an idol singer with the aid of magic pills who then becomes romantically entangled with some of her teen contemporaries from the music world.
One of the reasons why I enjoy Tanemura so much is that she brings the melodrama in a way that few other manga creators can aspire to. In this volume alone, there’s a death, a pregnancy, and a wedding crisis. Few other series can hit these heights of melodrama in just six chapters. All of these things happen to friends of Chikage’s and it is interesting to see how she reacts as the people she is closest to suffer through some severe emotional trauma. The volume kicks off with an illness followed by a death in Hibiki’s family. Chikage in her Akari persona tries to support him as best she can, but the pressures of Hibiki’s idol career cause him to not take time off work because he doesn’t want to disappoint the fans who support him. He doesn’t have the luxury of taking time to grieve, and I wonder in some ways if his professionalism is a way for him to escape confronting tragedy.
In the adult side of her life, Chikage is way too invested in the success of Tokita and Hanami’s wedding. As I read this volume I was reflecting on the ways that Chikage has changed as a character, from having almost no emotional connection with other people, to now having far too much invested in seeing a particular relationship succeed. Part of this is due to the fact that she’s still repressing her own deeper emotions. There is a moment where she runs into Haru when she is actually able to relate to him as a potential friend without becoming flustered, which made me think that while she’s come pretty far in terms of becoming more self-possessed since her teen adventures. I left this volume wondering how Chikage is going to come out on the other side of these tragedies, but she’s shown enough personal growth that I’m hoping she continues to become stronger. Tanemura’s art is always best when she has an opportunity to be unabashedly girly, and the illustrations of many wedding dresses in this volume are a real treat, in addition to the dramatics of all the tear-stained faces.