Idol, Burning (originally published as Oshi, moyu in Japan in 2020) is an intense psychological novella about the curious psychology of “unhealthy” parasocial relationships. This edition was translated into English by Asa Yoneda, beautifully illustrated by Leslie Hung, and sent to me for review by the wonderful folks at Canongate (via Allen & Unwin).
Teenager Akari is obsessed with pop-star Masaki Ueno, one-fifth of the Japanese boy band Maza Maza. He is her idol, her hero and her totem. In Idol, Burning, her world falls apart when Masaki is publicly accused of assaulting a fan.
Her blog is flooded with comments, social media lights up with conspiracy theories, and Akari is forced to reckon with reconciling her “real” life with the man on the screen who feels more real to her.
Idol, Burning is a very interior novella – the dialogue is sparse and infrequent, and the ‘action’ mostly takes place in Akari’s mind and online. It makes for a fascinating coming-of-age story about obsession, and a vivid insight into otaku culture.
I couldn’t help but wish it had been longer, though, and/or evolved further. While it was an interesting glimpse at the life of “stans”, and made some great points about the benefits of this kind of obsession (especially for kids who struggle with their mental health), it didn’t seem to really go anywhere. I was left impressed, but wanting more.
Buy Idol, Burning on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)