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Eripyo and Maina

Last night I finished watching “If my favorite pop idol made it to the Budokan, I would die”.

It wasn’t a great anime.  I didn’t feel like I didn’t want to leave the world it created, like I did with some anime.  It was actually just fair to middling, I even rated it 6 on MyAnimeList.

But I didn’t regret watching it, because it’s one of those anime that made me think.

Parasocial idol relationships are something that’s interesting to me.  Creepy, yes, but interesting as well.  There’s a lot of social interplay and consideration there that gets pushed under the “that’s a little disturbing” umbrella, but it’s really interesting to look at what story the anime is trying to tell.

In that anime (light spoilers, I guess) there are two main characters – Eripyo and Maina, along with a few supporting characters.  Eripyo is an unashamed Otaku (Wota), who spends all of her money (and I mean all of it) to support her favorite idol, Maina.  For her part, Maina is the least popular idol (by far) in an idol group called Cham Jam.  The great thing is how the anime shows you how things are in both Eripyo’s world and Maina’s world.  Eripyo, for her part, has a somewhat realistic expectation of what an idol/otaku relationship is, but she loves Maina anyway.  I mean, she really loves her.  You can quibble a bit about whether the love is genuine, one-sided, parasocial, whatever… but she throws everything she has and is into supporting Maina.  She goes to every concert, every handshake event, every photoshoot…  but the thing is, Maina notices.  Because Eripyo is one of Maina’s only fans.

Maina, for her part, is shy and insecure.  She can do the singing and dancing, but she really can’t say what’s on her mind, and it seems the thought of actual, personal social interactions terrifies her.  But she notices.  She has come to expect to see Eripyo at her events, and genuinely worries about her when she doesn’t show up.  For her part, Eripyo sends her friend to tell Maina why she’s not there, like when she’s sick or something.  And Maina genuinely freaks out when she thinks Eripyo has started supporting another idol.

It’s kind of a Romeo and Juliet story, but idol and otaku.  Two people who can’t interact with each other in anything more than the most superficial of ways… even though both of them would like for it to be very different.  The ending was not satisfying, but I guess it was an understandable ending.  These things don’t resolve in real life in a 12 episode arc.

And it made me think.  Which, I’ve said in the past, is what anime I really like does.

Idols are human, and so are otaku.  At the end of the day, that’s all they are.  They breath the same air, use the same food, use the same sewer system (though of course an idol would deny that… idols don’t poop!)  And at the end of the day, all anyone’s looking for is that human connection.  But these systems are in place to make sure people know theirs.  The idols stay aloof, are supposed to be non-human, an object of worship… and the wota role-plays as the adoring acolyte who worships everything their oshi does.  But at the end of the day, they’re both looking for the same thing.  Acceptance and love.

It’s corrupted, but it’s that age old story.

Eripyo just wants to be acknowledged by her oshi, and Maina wants Eripyo’s love to be genuine.  She thinks multiple time throughout the series that she wants to become actual friends with Eripyo, but she can’t.  After all, she’s the idol.  Eripyo’s feelings can’t be genuine.  All she is, is a walking, talking, handshaking wallet full of cash.


Of the two characters… I think Maina is the lonelier one.

And that…  that is what made me think.

How many of those idols we see singing and dancing on stage, looking all happy and cheerful, and giving the audience exactly what they want…  go backstage, find a closet or restroom… and cry their eyes out?

And could any of us blame them?

And… honestly, how many of us are the reason for the tears?  Waving “king blades” around and yelling out how much they love their oshi…  and they know it’s as empty as everyone else does.

It’s lonely at the top.  And that’s precisely because humans are meant to be loved, not worshipped.

And you know what the worst thing is?  The very worst thing?

You can’t tell them that.

You can’t say a word.

Because they – and rightly so – would assume that you’re just like everyone else.  And, at the end of the day… aren’t you?  I mean, you wouldn’t be curious if they weren’t an idol.  Right?

I wish I could meet an idol someday.  Not because I want to worship them, not because I want them to be my oshi…  But because…  I want to know if they’re as lonely as I think they might be.

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