Oshi no Ko episode 4

Rating: B+

The writer for the source manga, Aka Akasaka, is probably even better-known as the creator of the acclaimed Kaguya-sama: Love is War source manga. That manga series got a live-action adaptation in 2019, prior to its highly-regarded anime form, and that first adaptation is widely-regarded as a bust, with an IMDb rating of only 5.6. Given that Akasaka started work on Oshi no Ko just a few months later, it’s impossible to watch the depiction of the live-action adaptation of “I’ll Go With Sweet Today” without positing that a large chunk of both last episode and this one is based on the creator’s bitter personal experience. That leaves me curious about whether Aqua’s effort to give the series-in-a-series here a strong finish is also based on personal experience or just the creator’s wishful thinking.

Regardless, the much stronger first half of episode 4 details Aqua’s efforts to elevate the source material’s famous climax, with a little but welcome segue into Kana’s viewpoint to show how frustrated she personally is about the production coming out crappy. This makes for an interesting contrast: she has the acting chops to pull off something better but not the angle, ability, or insight to force the production to get better through a bit of ad-libbing. Aqua, meanwhile, may not have the acting chops (or at least he doesn’t think that he does), but he does understand how to take advantage of circumstances and directorial intent. Because of that, he’s able to manipulate the tone and presentation, thereby getting the best out of the weakly-skilled male co-protagonist and giving Kana the opportunity that she’s been desperately seeking to really show what she can do. But I think it’s also pretty clear that Aqua is under-rating his own ability.

As interesting as seeing that sequence is, it is mere set-up for the more impactful scenes during the after-party. One is the manga-ka for “Sweet” being satisfied with the final episode and the other is Aqua’s conversation with the producer, whom he has now officially checked off his “father or not” list. A revelation this big – that the producer not only knew about Ai seeing a guy on the sly, but actively facilitated it – is a bit surprising to see come up this early, but it does show that the series is not going to drag its heels on Aqua’s Father Quest and establishes a hook for having Aqua move forward with his own media presence; the episode conspicuously cuts off that scene before Aqua replies to the producer’s proposal, but how could he turn something like that down? And given that the producer does know that Ai was secretly seeing a guy, and that Aqua has features which greatly resemble Ai’s, is he already putting two and two together on who Aqua might really be? (That he specifically brings up how much Aqua looks like Ai twice seems suspicious, especially in a series as astutely-written as this one.)

The rest of the episode is far more ordinary, even if it does catch the series up to the final scene of episode 1 and move past it. It also represents a decidedly more light-hearted shift as new recurring characters get introduced and the foundation gets laid for Ruby’s eventual turn as an idol herself, as well as a shift to focusing on Ruby after focusing on Aqua for the last episode and a half. Not sure why Kana being the redhead in the idol trio in the OP did not click before, but that does look like her (see the screenshot below) and she would be a natural fit for a number of reasons; even if singing isn’t her specialty, she’d certainly be able to act the part, and that would fit with the series’ ongoing theme about lies being at the core of the idol industry. Given that she’s showing inclinations of a romantic interest in Aqua, I cannot imagine her turning down the offer even if it wasn’t for the OP spoiler.

A few other random thoughts about the episode:

  • The use of music during the filming of the climax scene is especially sharp in driving the intensity and drama.
  • How much of Kana’s tears was pure acting and how much was relief that she was given a chance to do the scene justice?
  • The subtitles list Minami (the busty pink-haired girl) as a “pin-up girl,” which I suppose is a fair translation for “gravure” (what Ruby actually says), a class of female idols who model for pictures that are often provocative and suggestive, albeit in a more playful rather than aggressively sexual manner. Yeah, having a high school girl do this is a bit skeevy, but this can be seen even with preteens in Japan. Have to wonder how much Ruby’s fixation on Minami’s chest is meant for comedy vs. making a subtle poke at that side of the industry.
  • And is it just me, or does anyone else see Demon Slayer‘s Mitsuri when looking at Minami?
  • The OP and ED are now subtitled! Hurray! The OP carries so much more meaning when you have the lyrics.

Overall, the latter part of the episode drags the grade down a bit, but this is still solid entertainment fare.

One thought on “Oshi no Ko episode 4

  1. Great post! I also wonder how the portrayal of Sweet Today reflected Akasaka’s experience with the Kaguya-sama live-action movies. I didn’t even think about how Akasaka would have started working on Oshi no Ko shortly after the first movie’s release. I think it might be more likely that the mangaka’s emotional reaction to Sweet Today’s final episode might have been based more on Akasaka’s reaction to the anime rather than the live-action movie.

    I also completely missed that Kana was part of the idol group in the OP since I don’t tend to pay attention to that. Great catch!


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