A Doctor at a small clinic in a quiet town in the country has the random opportunity to help one of Japan’s rising idol stars deliver her secret children so her career won’t end. But, as the moment comes for her to give birth, the doctor is slain by a crazed fan. One moment, his eyes are closed in pain and blood. The next, they opened again to discover he had been reborn as one of the idol’s twin children. How can this be? Why does he retain all his memories and knowledge from his previous life? Where will this second life take him in Oshi no Ko Episode 1 from Doga Kobo?
When I read the synopsis for this series about a doctor being reborn as an idol’s child, I thought this would be a farce of a story that would lean heavily on weird loli jokes and not much else. While there are a few moments that deal with the weirdness of a child with a grown man’s mind being tended to by his teen mother, it happily isn’t often, and the focus of the episode is on far better things.
In this hour-and-a-half pilot episode, Oshi no Ko Episode 1 follows Aqua and his twin sister Ruby, also a reincarnated person, as they follow their mother’s career as an idol through the early years of their lives. Seeing the two interact with each other as well as those around them, leads to some genuinely comical moments. After all, they are supposed to be babies. But when they participate in fan dances and outtalk some of the adults around them, things often end with chuckle-inducing results.
Even while these light-hearted moments of humor and genuinely warm moments with them and their mother, Ai fill much of the episode’s runtime, there is also a lot of serious commentary around Japan’s idol culture, the demands and expectations of fans, and just how much it does to the young women who choose to walk this path. How Ai internalizes what she has to do and say to be loved by the public, and how these things affect her relationship with Aqua and Ruby are the first emotional pulls the episode delivers to the viewer. They are far from the last.
All of these emotional moments are captured wonderfully through the episode’s animation. The warmth, love, and pain that the narrative conveys are always delivered with all the force mustered thanks to Doga Kobo’s skillful visual delivery.
While Aqua and Ruby are clearly the stars of this story and have their own powerful moments during it, Oshi no Ko Episode 1 is truly Ai’s episode. The young girl who seems woefully unprepared to be a mother, her story of how she got there, and how she wraps up the final moments of this episode are nearly flawlessly delivered. She brings to light concepts and aspects of stardom I had never before considered. As well as how those interactions can shape a person even when they are off the stage.
While the emotions throughout this story blew me away, Oshi no Ko Episode 1 does have its failings. The implications that Aqua in his previous life was a loli and jokes about Ruby gloating over getting to nurse on her starlet mother’s breast feel just wrong and unnecessary. They are light enough and infrequent enough that it doesn’t ruin the tale, but the series would’ve been better served if it could’ve just left those things out of it.
When all is said and done, Oshi no Ko Episode 1 delivers an emotional introduction and a heart-rending final few minutes as it sets the stage for its larger narrative. If you go into this one blind, be warned. If you think you know what the story is about, you won’t truly know until the last few minutes of the episode crash into you an emotional freight train.
Oshi no Ko Episode 1 is streaming now on HIDIVE.
Oshi no Ko Episode 1
Oshi no Ko Episode 1 delivers an emotional introduction and a heart-rending final few minutes as it sets the stage for its larger narrative. If you go into this one blind, be warned. If you think you know what the story is about, you won’t truly know until the last few minutes of the episode crash into you an emotional freight train.