Grow Up, But Don’t Give Up What You Love
- Mangaka : Aoi Mito
- Publisher : Kodansha
- Genre : Comedy, Romance, Shoujo
- Published : March 2022 — present
“Having something you like makes you happy. Gender and genre has nothing to do with it.”
This line, from close to the end of Otatomo ga Kareshi ni Nattara Saikou Kamo Shirenai (Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend is the Best!)’s first volume, perfectly summarizes the core message of this gorgeous shoujo romance. This series follows two adult coworkers who are equally obsessed with Japanese idols; and when the pair begin dating, they realize that their mutual love of otaku hobbies makes them stronger together.
Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend is the Best! is more than just a romance, though. It’s a poignant reminder that growing up doesn’t mean giving up the things you love. So often we associate manga, gaming, idols, and other otaku hobbies with the freedom of youth. There’s an unspoken societal expectation that growing up means growing out of those obsessions, but more than ever, society has been pushing back on that narrative.
Today on Honey’s Anime, we’re reviewing Otatomo ga Kareshi ni Nattara Saikou Kamo Shirenai (Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend is the Best!) Volume 1, and talking about the joys of otaku relationships!
Akari is an otaku girl with a love of all things idol! For the uninitiated, Japanese idols are talents who typically belong to a particular group and do everything from singing to dancing, acting, modeling, and fan meet-ups. They’re heavily marketed individuals with collectible standees, limited-edition merch, and sometimes have promotional food at cafes!
Onda is the almost-thirty-year-old head chef of the cafe Akari works at. He’s grumpy, irritable, prone to frightening people off with his cold glare… and he’s utterly obsessed with idols! His cold “tsun” personality flips and he turns into a blushing mess whenever he meets his favorite idol. This endearing “gap moe” personality (as Akari is fond of calling it) helped the pair form a fast friendship when they started working together.
The status quo of these otaku friends is turned upside-down when Onda confesses his love to Akari, and the pair begin “trial” dating to see if they can turn mutual interests into true love! Cue a whole series of cute dates and almost-moments as Akari and Onda continue working, going out to idol meet-ups, and sharing their idol hobbies together.
Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend is the Best!’s artwork is the perfection of modern shoujo art style. There’s just the right amount of special effects without overwhelming the pages; the lines are clean and the characters have the perfect amount of blush. Akari is particularly expressive, and she wears her heart on her sleeve, leading to some hilarious visual gags (and more than a few accidental miscommunications)!
Why You Should Read Otatomo ga Kareshi ni Nattara Saikou Kamo Shirenai (Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend is the Best!)
1. Positive Relationship Goals
Akari and Onda are the perfect match, both as friends and as a couple. They support each other’s hobbies and interests, and even after they start dating, neither of them want the other to sacrifice their hobbies just for the sake of the relationship. So often romantic stories unintentionally have characters needing to change parts of their lives, but Akari and Onda accept each other’s loves and work together.
2. Positive Gender Roles
As a guy, Onda struggles with the typical assumption that only girls like male idols. He’s too shy to approach his idol or visit the meet-ups, and relies a lot on Akari to give him courage. Throughout the first volume, Onda becomes more confident in expressing his love for his male idol, especially when he meets other otaku equally obsessed with idols.
Onda does fall into the “tsundere” trope, but seeing his unabashed love of a male idol is incredibly gender-affirming for male readers. It reminds us that men can love whatever they want to love, regardless of what society says.
Otatomo ga Kareshi ni Nattara Saikou Kamo Shirenai (Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend is the Best!) is a sugary-sweet romantic comedy shoujo about idols, otaku culture, and finding someone who accepts you and your hobbies.
The story and its characters are a pure celebration of, well, loving what you love. Perhaps later on we’ll find a little more conflict as the characters face society’s judgment, but for now, this is a simple and honest read about two geeks finding love together.
What do you think about idols and geek culture? Do you think you’ll pick up Having an Idol-Loving Boyfriend is the Best!? Let’s talk down in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading!