Urayama Minoru is a care free boy who has no interest in the idol group AKB48. On the other hand, he does worry about Yoshinaga, his fellow classmate. She wants to become a member of the group and auditions for a spot, so Minoru goes undercover as a female in order to help Yoshinaga with her stage fright. Words of encouragement can only go so far however, and the web Minoru finds himself in is getting bigger.
The story center around a high school boy, Minoru Urayama, joining the Japanese idol group AKB48 in order to support his crush, Hiroko Yoshinaga. He enters the group under the name Minori Urakawa and tried his best to survive in the whole female idol group. During this mess he became more and more involved with the group as he also slowly began to change.
This isn't a classical gender swap or harem story as the plot rarely goes into that direction. Instead it focuses its romance as something more of a motivation and should be classified as more of a shounen trope filled with struggles
in the idol world.
I would like to give it a 10 if it wasn't for the early art style. Reiji Miyamura is an example of the evolution of a mangaka as time goes on. His early art style makes it difficult to tell each character from one another, but later on his art improved to a whole another level. The art is by far one of the best in a more modern manga art style and the later art is simply just a breathtaking. His incorporation of some of the chibi art style was perfect in providing comic relief within the story. His detail to the character needs to also be mentioned as there are many references to real life AKB48 members and he capture them perfectly.
Minoru and Hiroko are the main protagonists of the story. They are very well developed as each of their motivations and dreams are clearly presented throughout the story. As the story progress they began to change and simply grew into characters that the fans love. There are many side characters that could use more development, but for a large cast of an idol group it is enough. The necessary characters are well developed for the story to progress and also for us to feel for them. The characters from the real life AKB48 also had their characteristics be flushed out in the story.
I read chapter 200 something on Weekly Shonen Magazine and I was immediately hooked by the story. I had no idea of what AKB48 was but I immediately went on to check out the first chapter. I finished the 200 or so chapters within 2 days and longed each week for the new chapters. Each week I would even search for the raw version and translate them myself just to catch up to the story. (I read the chinese translations after the raw was translated)
This is by far not the perfect manga, but its enjoyment level is off the roof. Despite its early art being not the best, it transformed itself as the story progress. All in all, I would say that you don't need to be an AKB48 to enjoy this story. It is after you read the story that you will truly appreciate the idol group as we learn about the true hardship behind the spotlight.
This story revolves around a high-school student who pretends to be a female in order to support his love interest from within the audition, however what he did not expect was to be one of the candidates to pass, so he continues to support his love interest from within the group as Minori as well as from outside as Minoru. The synopsis, along with my short description, would lead you to believe that this story lacks an actual story and that it is just another one of those manga's that starts off interesting enough
but quickly getting boring because the only thing they have going for them is the secret... HOWEVER I'm extremely happy to say that is not the case! The story starts off simple enough yes, but it quickly turns into something more as it depicts the life of an idol as well as the trials and tribulations of following your dream. There is very little if any perverted humor and the story focuses more on being an idol than the gender bender which I am happy about that. Stories like "Idol Pretender" start off with interesting premise but quickly lose the majority of the audience due to the lack of a story, while this on the other hand this is more of a "Birdy the mighty" since the gender bender is still present + the secret identity etc, it is not the entire story but rather, it is only a small fraction of it.
Art & Characters -
Art is fairly meh, you may struggle to tell characters apart from one another from time to time but as you get used to the art you are able to distinguish who is who, this by far is the weakest point of the manga imo.
Overall enjoyment -
I am really liking the story I've never read anything quite like this. The closest thing that I can think of is the Sun-ken Rock idol arc where it went into extreme details of life of a kpop idol, and managing a group...
Is your loved one struggling to reach her dreams? Well, man up! Dress up as a woman and help your darling to become part of the top idol group. At least that's what our main protagonist Urayama Minoru did. And is it working out? well.. that's for you to find out, or you can get a glimpse of hint by reading this review.
STORY 7 - Well there is this one girl Yoshinaga and her wish is to become a part of AKB idol group. The guy Minoru is her secret lover. Cute right? And then there were auditions or something along those lines. And because
Yoshinaga is so insecure, Minoru went to help her out. But oh-my-couldn't-predict-it-at-all they both get accepted.
Surprisingly, Minoru himself is doing quite well. And maybe he is a better idol than the person he tries to help. Yet, there are always those ''but'' parts of the story...
He can't stay forever as a female.. Right.. so this is why the story intrigues me. I really want to see how this mess of hiding your own gender turns out in the end of this story. And for that i am ready to read it until the revealing happens, even if some arcs get too long and predictable at times.
ART 9 - Art is really great. I like the details, characters look nice and beautiful, etc. Nothing bad to say.
CHARACTER 7 - Characters are ok. Minori is quite strong-willed and i quite like ''her'' and i think ''she'' is the best character of the story. Anyways, this manga has many female and some other weird characters in it and i guess they all fit into the plot. They haven't impressed me much though. But there might be characters that some of you might really like.
ENJOYMENT 9 - So far this has been very enjoyable. I just really want to see how Minoru will end up after all that mess. The excitement got a new push at chapter 119 so lets see how it turns out.
Overall I'd rate it 7. It has its ups and downs but overall quite enjoyable gender-bender manga. Even if you do not know all that idol system you can understand what is going on. Tip: if you happen to get bored just skip few chapters, but there might not be a need to do that. For now, this hasn't been a let-down and if you are interested, give this manga a try.