Idol Dreams Volume 1 focuses on a 31-year-old office worker named Chikage Deguchi. She feels she’s lost touch with her femininity and that she’s missed her chances at love and success.
Volume 1 sees Chikage being bullied at work, yet looking forward to her class reunion. She hopes a guy named Haru will be there, because he had confessed feelings for her at graduation and she’s had lingering feelings for him all these years. Unfortunately, another classmate says something embarrassing about Chikage in front of Haru, and she runs off, embarrassed.
From here, things go from bad to worse. Chikage overhears her co-workers calling her a loser behind her back, and she discovers that Haru and the classmate that embarrassed her at the reunion have started dating. Chikage decides she wants to die and tries drowning herself in a nearby river, but she’s rescued by Tokita, another classmate.
When Chikage explains her problems to Tokita and wishes that she was 15 again, he says he can help her. Tokita works for a pharmaceutical company, and that the company had been working on a drug they had to stop research on. This drug has rejuvenation side effects, and Tokita believes it could actually make Chikage younger. He offers to let her take it, and explains that it only works for five or six hours. She agrees to be a research subject, and it turns out the drug makes her look like she’s 15 again.
Unfortunately, this leads the now 15-year-old Chikage to be mistaken for a model, and she ends up working alongside a male teen idol named Hibiki. As luck would have it, Hibiki has a strong physical resemblance to Haru back when he was 15. Chikage, who goes by the name of Akari when she’s 15 years old, starts a career in show business. The first volume culminates with her opening up for Hibiki’s band, Valentine.
Since Idol Dreams is a shojo manga, there’s obviously going to be romance involved. Chikage has her feelings for Haru, and we learn that Tokita had a crush on Chikage back in school but never confessed to her. Even though Tokita has a girlfriend, it’s blatantly clear to the reader that Tokita still has feelings for Chikage. And it looks like Hibiki may be starting to become interested in Chikage when she’s the 15-year-old Akari. It appears that there could be quite a convoluted love triangle to come out of this story, and it’ll be interesting to see where Tanemura takes it.
In her author’s note, Tanemura describes Idol Dreams as a “magical girl manga for adults,” and I can see where this description would come from. While it’s not a true “magical girl” story, Chikage still goes through a transformation that changes who she is with medicine instead of with magic. After reading Idol Dreams Volume 1, I think there’s a lot of potential for this story concept, and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen with Chikage and how she will cope with the two very different lives that she’s now living.
When it comes to the art, Tanemura relies on tropes that are commonly associated with shojo manga, such as “bishonen” (beautiful boy) male characters, patterned screen tones, and cute teen female characters. But even though she relies on these tropes, Tanemura still finds a way to make them visually interesting and stand out a little more from the generic shojo manga titles that I’ve read. It also helps that the story captivates the reader enough that it’s easier to overlook the tropes that appear in the art.
I think that Idol Dreams Volume 1 will have a strong appeal to the stereotypical shojo manga reader, even with the female lead being 31 years old. But the fact that this series features an older female protagonist gives it the potential to appeal to slightly older female manga readers, since they will be able to relate to what Chikage goes through as an adult.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media