Readers may recognise If My Favourite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die from its anime adaptation back in early 2020. Three years later the original manga has started being released into English thanks to Tokoyopop, but does it prove entertaining? Let’s find out!
Our story follows Eripiyo, a fan of the underground pop group ChamJam and in love with one of its members, Maina Ichii. Unfortunately, Maina is the least popular member of the group and doesn’t have any fans besides Eripiyo, which leads our protagonist to spend all her money buying merchandise and event tickets to support her favourite – leaving her with no money for anything else!
Eripiyo dreams of seeing ChamJam perform at the Budokan, a famous Japanese venue. To do that the group needs to become a lot more popular but with dedicated fans like Eripiyo and her friends Kumasa and Motoi behind them, maybe they could make it.
So If My Favourite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan is part romance, part idol series and part comedy. The series is largely told from the perspective of Eripiyo, but we sometimes swap to that of ChamJam where we see what the idols think of their passionate fans. It turns out that Maina is quite fond of Eripiyo, but because she’s so shy and Eripiyo can be overwhelming, she’s struggled to convey her feelings. This is an ongoing theme within the series as Eripiyo worries that Maina finds her actions creepy and doesn’t want her as a fan (although that certainly doesn’t stop Eripiyo…).
It’s not difficult to imagine that given some time to talk away from idol activities, everything would be cleared up and Eripiyo and Maina might even start dating, although as Maina’s an idol, that has plenty of other problems associated with it. But that certainly doesn’t seem like it will come to pass in the short term, so if you’re looking to read this manga for the romance angle, I don’t see it delivering.
But as far as stories about rookie idol groups go, this one is an entertaining read. Both Eripiyo and her friends are believable representations of idol fans (even if a little extreme in Eripiyo’s case) and ChamJam is quite realistic too. Mangaka Auri Hirao does a good job of balancing showing us the idols performing and also engaging in other activities associated with the job, such as meet and greets and also taking part in a fashion show.
This release opens with colour pages in pastel shades that suit the characters well. This also helps you get a sense of who is who since some of the ChamJam members look similar to one another in the usual black-and-white art, not helped by Hirao’s tendency to draw a lot of small panels per page.
The art can sometimes be overwhelmed by the amount of text on a page too, which is a shame because when that’s not the case this first volume looks great. I think Hirao does a great job of capturing the idols during their performances as well as the enthusiasm of Eripiyo, so I wouldn’t say the art is bad by any stretch, it’s just held back. Hopefully, things will balance out more, going forward.
As previously mentioned If My Favourite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Tokoypop and has been translated by Claudia Takizawa. The translation reads well with no issues to note.
The series is ongoing in Japan with nine volumes currently released. Volume 1 is available digitally with a print release scheduled for June. Volume 2 doesn’t appear to have a digital release date at the time of writing but a physical release is scheduled for August, so I doubt it’s too far off.
Overall if you enjoyed the anime for If My Favourite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die then you’ll certainly want to pick up the source material. Even if you’re a newcomer to the series, there’s plenty to enjoy here as long as you’re not wedded to the idea of the idol romance progressing anytime soon.