With shojo manga, there’s often a push to immediately start setting up the couple and romantic moments. However, what I appreciated about the new Viz series Tamon’s B-Side is that it starts more with character development for Utage and the potential love interest and pop star Tamon.
Which is funny, given how Tamon’s B-Side begins. It starts off by establishing Utage is a huge fan who adores Tamon, a member of the boy band F/ACE. Super fan is likely the more appropriate term, given her actions with her friends, dedication to watching, and collecting of his merchandise. We see overwhelming support for the performer she sees on stage.
Then she meets the actual Tamon when he’s off-stage. Her part-time job is to work as a housekeeper, and she fills in for his absent one. But because the name and the actual person are so different, it gives her pause. While his stage presence means he’s a flirty, bad boy extrovert, he’s actually a pessimistic, quiet, and even depressed introvert.
This leads to a really fun first volume of the shojo manga! Instead of jumping into Utage being flustered about being around her idol, though there is some of that, the vast difference between who Tamon is on-stage and in-person means that the apprehension or unrealistic devotion isn’t present. Instead, some of the initial part is Utage reconciling the differences.
With the rest, we get to see mangaka Yuki Shiwasu form the basis of a really fun relationship. Because Utage is such a fan, she knows everything about Tamon’s on-stage performance. As his manager even notes, she becomes adept at helping him become better at his job. Her support, insight into his persona, and assistance in getting him to participate in a fan event that he’d avoided before benefits him. Likewise, because of the connection, she ends up permanently being his housekeeper, gets to spend time with her idol, and comes away seeing how he’s a human being. I feel we see her start to snap a bit out of the love of the character he creates and instead appreciate the real him.
Of course by the end of the first volume of Tamon’s B-Side, we see this is laying the foundation for the “will they or won’t they” relationship in the shojo manga. There are clear moments where we start to see evidence of their feelings. In a way, it almost seems like this is one of those situations where Tamon is falling before Utage. Which again, makes it a really fun read. We’re getting this character development and seeing people learn about each other before immediately jumping into any kind of feelings, and the first volume executes it in a fun way.