Idol, Burning is a novella about a Japanese high school student whose obsession with a celebrity sustains her until he is accused of hitting a fan. Akari struggles at school, but she is dedicated to her oshi, Masaki Ueno, who is part of pop group Maza Maza. She runs a successful blog about him, is part of his fan club, and buys all of his merchandise. When news comes out that he has hit a fan and he faces backlash online, Akari’s obsession is threatened.
This short book, punctuated by blog posts and internet comments, explores teenage obsession and fandom culture, particularly in the Japanese idol world. From Akari’s perspective, the narrative combines her obsessive following of Masaki with what is going on in her life and her difficulties with school and work, especially as she devotes her time and energy to being a fan. The celebrity scandal element is never fully explained, as Akari never really knows what happened, which means the novella is centred much more around the experience of being obsessed, rather than reality, and you get the sense of Akari’s isolation from anything outside of her passion.
As the book is short, there’s not a huge amount of plot (and the ending isn’t as dramatic as I expected), but it really focuses in Akari herself and it’s an interesting consideration of teenage experience versus how it might seem from the outside.