For anime, you’ve got no shortage of plots about dying and reincarnation. What if you instead wind up being reborn as your crush’s kid? Enter Oshi no Ko, an upcoming Spring 2023 show that takes a more unorthodox approach to a familiar premise and still strives to be entertaining in its own right. With a theatrical release of the first episode coming out well ahead of the planned April 12 broadcast, it’s certainly not the isekai you’re expecting.
Theatrical Anime "OSHI NO KO: Mother and Children" – Total runtime: 1 hour 24 minutes.
TV Anime's Episode #1 Special Advance Screening. pic.twitter.com/KvGW5pWpVg
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An adaptation of the ongoing hit manga by Aka Akasaka of Kaguya-sama: Love is War fame, Oshi no Ko follows the (after)life of gynecologist Goro Amemiya (Kent Itō, Yumi Uchiyama, Takeo Ōtsuka). One day, he finds the beloved, pure 16-year-old idol Ai Hoshino (Rie Takahashi) pregnant in his countryside clinic. Not long after the successful operation, however, he’s not only brutally murdered but reincarnated as his crush’s son, Aquamarine “Aqua” Hoshino. 16 years later — 12 after Ai’s also mysterious death — and a now teenaged Aqua and his twin sister Ruby (Tomoyo Takayanagi, Yurie Igoma) are on the cusp of entering the entertainment business. More than following their dreams, what ensues is a painful search for their “mother’s” killer, which in the often-cutthroat world of idols, producers, and fandom, brings its own share of risks.
While sharing a similarly tight and witty style to Kaguya-sama, even being set in the same universe, the tone couldn’t be any more different from its predecessor. Amid the drama, there’s a particular focus on hatred as an overarching motif, from its critical look into the idol industry and Japanese show business, to how fans could turn violent against the people they admire should their expectations be shattered. Yet, rather than being a cruel or mean-spirited ala Master of Martial Hearts, like the source material, you can expect this to also feature a more nuanced look at those trying to pursue their dreams without losing themselves and at how social media brings the best as well as the worst out of people. “All’s not what it seems” can work both ways.
Even with the clash between upbeat character art and dark themes, you could still see a whiff of whimsy and warmth shine through in the trailer. (Source: YouTube)
While it’s still too early to say the verdict, Oshi no Ko has a competent production crew to back its substance up. Doga Kobo, a distinguished studio (founded by Toei Animation veterans) that has made its mark with its slice-of-life and romance works, is handling animation duties with New Game! (2017) and Wataten! (2019) director Daisuke Hiramaki back at the helm. Takuro Iga, known for his work in other Doga Kobo shows and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017), is on board as the music composer, with J-Pop duo Yoasabi and J-rock band Queen Bee providing the opening and ending tracks, respectively. This is to say nothing of the strong voice cast, from up-and-coming Takeo Ōtsuka voicing the protagonist’s teenaged form to the ever-popular Rie Takahashi playing the role of Ai Hoshino herself.
An expanded theatrical production titled Mother and Children is set for a March 17 release. Sentai Filmworks will broadcast the show internationally through HIDIVE soon, and the Japanese premiere will be on April 12. You won’t have to wait long to see whether this take on reincarnation may be up your alley.