Spotlight: Not Your Idol Manga Series

In this Spotlight post, I will be discussing a new manga series called Not Your Idol by Aoi Makino.

I have to mention that this is a dark series and when it was announced for licensing by Shojo Beat, I was quite surprised. If you’ve picked up any of the other titles of the Shojo Beat line, in tone, this one is drastically different. I was used to the romantic comedies and nostalgic high school dramas so this one settled like a ton of bricks .

I am going to mention some items that all readers should know about going into reading this manga, especially if the content is a dealbreaker for them.

Trigger warnings (TW) for Not Your Idol include: sexual assault, violence against women, stalking, PTSD.

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Title: Not Your Idol Vol. 1
Written and drawn by: Aoi Makino

What It’s About: After that day, she stopped being a girl.

In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.


Title: Not Your Idol Vol. 2
Written and drawn by: Aoi Makino

What It’s About: Heartbroken Nina Kamiyama is a former idol. She’s decided to keep her past identity a secret for her personal safety, but the dangerous situation intensifies when another discovers who she really is. Who can she trust?

I am highlighting this series because while heavy, it brings up topics I feel need more focus like the problematic aspects of the idol system, how young girls interact with femininity and misogyny, and how trauma can change a person. I do listen to Kpop a lot but I am also very aware of the realities the young women and men face in that industry and some of the dangers as well.

The characters are interesting and infuriating and the pace of the story is okay so far. I am very interested in Nina Kamiyama learning to grow and define herself away from the idol persona. I’m invested in her healing and the thoughts she voices are pretty powerful. With a mystery, you want everything at once but this one is taking a bit more time to ask those hard hitting questions of its readers.

While I think bringing up these topics are important, especially centered around current Japanese culture, I do believe that the structure of the story, character development, and their execution will matter most in judging the series as a whole. The series is currently on hiatus so I don’t know when volume 3 will arrive. It feels like the series is at a tipping point and I am wary of it. It could either be a needed commentary on society or it could devolve into a painful and offensive mess. Right now, I am giving it the below rating as I am a bit stuck on how to rate it without getting the full picture of this series and where it is going.

Let’s see what happens.

On a Theme: Figure Skating Novels

I have been watching a lot of the anime Yuri!!!On Ice lately because I really miss watching figure skating competitions. I miss the music, the choreography, the sparkle of the outfits, and the landings on each jump. It’s always different and exciting. Goodness, I really do miss it so much.

To share this love of figure skating though, I made a small reading list to help get others excited as well. I hope you enjoy these stories!

(Side note, I can’t actually skate. I have tried. Several times. I have terrible balance and zero grace. The only thing I am on ice is a complete disaster. )


Title: Every Reason We Shouldn’t
Written by: Sara Fujimura

What It’s About: Sixteen-year-old figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She’s bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of trying to live up to expectations of being the daughter of Olympians Michael Kennedy and Midori Nakashima…until Jonah Choi starts training at her family’s struggling rink.

Jonah’s driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying. and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby, figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia’s got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?


Title: Bittersweet
Written by: Sarah Ockler

What It’s About: Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances, a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life—and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last….


Title: Ana on the Edge
Written by: A.J. Sass

What It’s About: Twelve-year-old Ana-Marie Jin, the reigning US Juvenile figure skating champion, isnota frilly dress kind of kid. So, when Ana learns that next season”s program will be princess themed, doubt forms fast. Still, Ana tries to focus on training and putting together a stellar routine worthy of national success.

Once Ana meets Hayden, a transgender boy new to the rink, thoughts about the princess program and gender identity begin to take center stage. And when Hayden mistakes Ana for a boy, Ana doesn”t correct him and finds comfort in this boyish identity when he’s around. As their friendship develops, Ana realizes that it’s tricky juggling two different identities on one slippery sheet of ice. And with a major competition approaching, Ana must decide whether telling everyone the truth is worth risking years of hard work and sacrifice.


Title: Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword (Peasprout Chen #1)
Written by: Henry Lien

What It’s About: Peasprout Chen dreams of becoming a legend of wu liu, the deadly and beautiful art of martial arts figure skating.

As the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout and her little brother Cricket have some pretty big skates to fill. They soon find themselves in a heated competition for top ranking.

Tensions rise when the dazzling pearl buildings of the Academy are vandalized and outsider Peasprout is blamed for the attacks by her rivals … and even some friends.

Now, she must uncover the true vandal to ensure peace between Shin and Pearl – all while becoming a champion.


Title: The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel
Written by: E.L. Shen

What It’s About: Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn’t concerned, however-she”s determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?

Set in Lake Placid, New York, this is a spunky yet stirring middle-grade story that examines racism, female rivalry and friendship, and the enduring and universal necessity of love and support.

I wanted to end this post with a figure skating video I really love. It’s from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and features so many of the talented skaters that competed that year. They were such an amazing group and I remember tuning in and being so invested in everyone’s success.

Shoma Uno! Cha Jun-hwan! Keegan Messing! I hope to root for them the next time they skate. I am hoping to see them again soon.

Currently Reading: P.S. I Still Love You

What It’s About: Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

I must start this post with admitting that I am in a bit of a reading slump. This is not because of the book! Not one bit! I’m just finding it incredibly hard to concentrate on a book right now. I am hoping I can kick this slump and jumpstart my reading again. If anyone has any advice either, please drop me a comment. I would appreciate it.

I do have initial thoughts though as I start the book so I will share them here.

Again, I must reiterate that I have not watched the Netflix adpatations of this series. I know, I know! Do I live under a rock? It’s a definite possibility. I picked up this novel because I had finished the first novel and really wanted to continue the series. I was desperate to see what Lara Jean would do next. I mean…Peter! What happens next with that?! I must know on the double!

I do love that the book starts with us meeting extended family and how the Song sisters are the only ones that show up to a family gathering in full hanbok. One of the things I really liked about the first novel was the family dynamic so it’s interesting to me to see this interaction. It’s also hilarious that in a moment where Lara Jean wants to escape, Peter stops her and just knows she has a letter with her. I think it shows just how well he’s come to know her.

We’re starting out hopeful here, folks. I fully expect to cry further down the line in reading this book.