Idol Master, scourge of the manga industry, has claimed yet another victim.
Volume five already had me worried that he was being led astray, abandoning the hints at a larger mystery in favor of more conventional romantic comedy plotting, and this volume entirely centering on a The Prince and the Pauper storyline involving an idol singer that looks exactly like the mysterious girlfriend is not really qualming those fears.
Not that he does this in any normal way, of course. Urabe is completely against the idea of replacing the idol singer, obviously. And the idol singer herself wears a bizarre set of bondage gear under her skirt to prevent her from losing her temper and flattening people with a high kick. (She's gotten pretty good at undoing the spring.)
The early stuff works best, before the idol fetishism comes into play, and the scissors versus high kick fight is entertainingly id-riffic. But the whole idol thing has pretty much always left me cold, particularly when they aren't exploring how fucked up it is.
Even beyond the idol thing, however, this plot line feels like a tangent on what I really want out of the book. Even if she'd been a normal actress or something, I'd have still wondered why he was so obviously avoiding following up on the foreshadowing about Urabe's identity, and her family. Perhaps he started to actually break that storyline and it didn't work, or felt like too much of a departure from the twisted romantic comedy early on, but unless he cracks it soon, I'm worried the series will peter out.
Then again, the increasingly terrible Seattle Kinokuniya stocked a huge pile of it, suggesting this approach has boosted sales quite a bit. So what do I know.