Author: Ryō Asai
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163902470
304 pages
13.6 x 19.0 cm / 5.4 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2015
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


The Budōkan?literally “Martial Arts Hall”?was built as the venue for the judo competitions at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and quickly became the place where all martial artists aspired to compete. National championships for various sports continue to be held there each year. When the Beatles visited Japan in 1966, they became the first rock group to perform in the hall, eventually leading to its role as a premier venue for large-scale concerts as well.

The six members of a girl group called “Next You” are working hard to build their fan base, with the goal of becoming big enough to perform at the Budōkan. Needless to say, it’s not all smooth sailing. Kyōka, one of their two “centers”?the most popular girls who take the center position on stage, in group photos, at publicity events, etc.?drops out to pursue independent opportunities on her own. Hana, who is an anime freak and plays it up in her public persona, is spotted downloading and viewing copyrighted material that was illegally posted to the web, and it sets off a firestorm of outrage that overwhelms online social networks. Aoi’s amateurish turn in a role in a television drama draws merciless criticism. Four fresh faces join the group. And so forth. Overcoming each new challenge and learning from their mistakes, the girls continue to build their popularity, and at long last the coveted Budōkan performance is scheduled for their third anniversary as a group . . . But a magazine reveals that Aiko has been secretly seeing Daichi, a boy she has known since she was little, in spite of the group’s “No boyfriends” rule, and it also comes out that Aoi, the group’s enduring “center,” has been seeing an older man. A major scandal ensues, and with the Budōkan event looming right before their eyes, both girls are forced to drop out. Twelve years later, the “Next You 15th Anniversary Reunion Concert” is held once again at the Budōkan. The story comes to a close with Aiko and Aoi standing together on the stage.

Author Ryō Asai does not settle for a run-of-the-mill tale of youthful angst and struggle that happens to feature young entertainment idols. He presents an at times harsh, at times highly sympathetic image of those idols and their circumstances that is unlike any portrayal we have seen before.