Manga-ka: Mizuki Watanabe
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: May 2009
Synopsis: “Talentless, shy Tsubasa has just been accepted to the prestigious Seiko Academy. Right away, he gets mixed up with the most popular kids in school – and the entertainment world! Forced to join the pop idol group RINXS, Tsubasa finds himself stuck in a cross-dressing comedy of kidnapping, blackmail and mistaken identity.”
Days of Cool Idols is a one-shot story about a young boy trying to start new life for himself at a new school. When he finds himself among the school’s elite and being asked to perform a great favour to both them, the entertainment industry and all its fans, he begins to believe he may’ve finally found a place where he belongs, even if the book itself struggles with that particular point.
Tsubasa is in his new school no more than a few moments when he’s asked to play the role of a female pop sensation who, after issues with a stalker, has locked herself away from her job and her fans. A little hesitant, but eager to please, Tsubasa agrees, bolstered by the other elite students in the school he finds himself partnered with in the charade. Conveniently they’re all members of a popular boy band called RINXS so they have their share of experience in show biz.
As far as acceptance goes, Tsubasa has it in spades. He puts up with most of what’s tossed at him with little critical thought and much of it stems from a strong lack of self-esteem. His new friends continuously shower him with support and kind words, prompting him to continue his new life of late nights, live performances and cross dressing. Naturally he’s a natural, not only incredibly comfortable with it his first time but it’s also consistently noted how much better at singing, dancing and performing than even the starlette he’s standing in for. Why? No explanation so just lucky I guess. It’s one of the many things about the story that requires a fair share of suspended belief.
There isn’t much to say for the other main characters, most of whom blend together in a way that doesn’t make remembering their individual names all that important. Suffice to say they’re all kind, loyal and willing to stick their necks out for Tsubasa with nothing but kindness and admiration. For a bit of drama’s sake, there’s the leader of an all-girls band who is in love with one of the members of RINXS and takes her jealous frustrations out on Tsubasa, and a couple other envious-types rear their ugly heads across the story to cause trouble as well.
Mizuki Watanabe’s art style is a pleasing part of the book, easy on the eyes and will strong appeal to fans of modern shoujo style. The characters all fall under either cute or pretty-boy handsome, definitely crossing the line to overly feminine at times. I really like how solid the art style is, showing a strong level of consistency and a good grasp on pacing for both the semi-dramatic and humorous scenes. The chibis were very entertaining and the whole book is inked with an especially appealing look, well utilizing ink for shading and depth while stilling maintain an overall light visual style.
One of the things that stood out most to me about the book however was Go Comi having Days of Cool Idols listed among their boys’ loves titles. Despite the all male-protagonist cast, I must admit I don’t find it an accurate standing on the book’s genre. Honestly, while I was reading it I did think numerous times that it had the potential to be a yaoi, though not because it actually contains any boys’ love, but simply because it stars a largely pretty-boy cast who are somewhat ambiguously supportive of each other, boys who could then suddenly act out romantically with each other without it being too far a stretch. That said however, the main male character could’ve been made a girl with a single line of dialogue and the execution of the plot itself would’ve barely been affected in the slightest, and with a lack of any romantic interest, there’s a substantial lack of corroborating material for those looking explicitly for boys’ love. In fact it falls sharply to Go Comi pandering to the boys’ love audience who have proven to be a strong buying audience and I imagine that was the result they hoped to achieve with this label.
While this one-shot falls flat on delivering on its yaoi-label, it could still prove an amusing read for those fans none the less. It’s a shallow but cute story about this young man finding a place for himself in the world of over-glitzed show biz, and the solid art style, one that fits neatly in Go Gomi’s overall repertoire of titles, helps bolster a story that lacks much substance on its own. Days of Cool Idols isn’t especially memorable, and likely won’t hit many re-read lists, but it manages to be a fairly enjoyable read for its 200-page run.