Oshi no Ko episode 6

Rating: A-

“Egosurfing” (the apt title for this episode) is the act of looking one’s self up on social media to see what others are saying about you. While it can be a very gratifying experience when people are saying complimentary things about you, it can be crushing when they aren’t and positively toxic when people use the anonymity of the Internet to be cruel. Entertainers – whose very livelihoods can depend on tuning themselves to public whims – are probably among the most vulnerable classes of individuals for the more negative side, which requires any wannabe-star to either develop a thick skin or ignore it altogether. The first episode showed Ai getting caught up in that to some degree, while episode 4 showed Kana also having to deal with it. But both of them have/had their heads on straighter than Akane – the actress among the six dating show participants – or at least didn’t have the perceived external pressures that she did. Predictably, that leads to an epic meltdown, which is the focus of this episode.

After building the series around Ai, Ruby, Aqua and (later) Kana, shifting much of the episode’s focus to a character who had only barely been introduced before is a gutsy move, especially for this early in the series. However, the episode’s concept couldn’t have been done with any of the grounded, established characters. Akane is apparently a well-enough-known teen actress that Kana recognized her, but despite that, she’s decidedly lacking in charisma and presence compared to the others in the dating show. What’s shown here gives the impression that she has succeeded so far more by being hard-working and studious rather than a natural talent, which is fine when she’s part of a cast but not good enough when she’s in direct competition for viewer attention, as she is here. She’s completely out of her element and being overwhelmed by the circumstances, in addition to feeling pressure from her agency (even if it isn’t specifically directed at her), and that kind of thing can lead to mistakes. And the public can be very, very unforgiving of mistakes.

A telling scene here is that the much more savvy Yuki, who is the injured party in the accident, immediately picks up on what’s happening. She is very supportive and forgiving, and that doesn’t seem like an act; she may even realize that Akane is going in a desperate and dangerous direction and be trying to head it off. If so, she’s hamstrung by the restrictions on talking about behind-the-scenes publicly and cut off by the director deciding to use the scene anyway. (And why wouldn’t he?) Akane doesn’t handle it right to pitch it as a villain turn, and everything falls apart from there.

I had a sense of the ultimate direction this episode was going from early on, and that only became more certain as the episode progressed. Indeed, the heavy music in particular makes the intended destination obvious, despite the show’s typical levity about the topic earlier on. Thankfully, the writing does not go gimmicky with this; it makes a concerted effort to corner Akane emotionally, which allows the climactic scene to have real impact. I also especially liked the jarring shift between Akane’s serene face and the despairing one shown above, and how the episode showed that she hadn’t headed out with that goal; the attempt was a spontaneous moment of resignation, which is an all-too-common occurrence in suicide scenarios. This sequence was also beautifully-animated.

While the attempt was predictable, I actually wasn’t certain until the last moment if the show was going to allow her to go through with it or not. Aqua intervening makes sense in more than just dramatic flair, though. He’s both a former doctor (who doubtless saw a few suicide-related cases himself) and a more worldly individual than any of the others, and his experiences with social media concerning Ai could very reasonably have pushed him into action when Akane clearly seemed depressed and defeated. The bold actions on both their parts leaves me very eager to see how this plays out next episode.

Further Random Thoughts:

  • Kudos to HIDIVE for the Suicide Prevention notice as the end card for the episode.
  • Tucked in amongst the lighter content mid-episode are Kana’s insightful comments about how the changing nature of entertainment has made online marketing – and thus social media – impossible to ignore anymore if you want to get ahead in the industry.
  • Aqua also has some telling comments about how reality shows may not be as fake as he thought, which, ironically, makes a star who shields him/herself with lying unusually vulnerable. Given the way the episode climaxes, that seems prescient.
  • The opener make a point of featuring Akane in the rain, which now also looks more prescient than just a mood-setting device.

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