Skip Beat! (Shoujo) by Nakamura Yoshiki – Rating: 9/10
Synopsis: Skip Beat! is a hilarious romantic comedy that tells the story of 16-year-old Mogami Kyoko and her struggle for vengeance against her childhood friend and former love interest, Fuwa Shoutarou (Sho). Kyoko and “Sho-chan” grew up together in the Kyoto Prefecture, but Sho who does not want to inherent his family’s Japanese inn, moves to Tokyo to become a pop star. He asks Kyoko to follow him and, being as in love as she was she left behind everything, her school life and her home and worked to help him reach his goal…. Not long after Sho reaches the peak of his fame, Kyoko finds out that he has betrayed her in the most cruel of ways. Heartbroken, embarrassed, utterly humiliated and ashamed, Kyoko completely changes her old, plain look for a newer, flashy one and vows to get her revenge by entering the entertainment business and CRUSHING him in his own element! In her quest to become an actress, she meets several people, including Tsuruga Ren, a fellow actor and Sho’s main rival in the business, who Kyoko begins to work rather closely beside, despite being a rookie. Will Kyoko succeed in bringing Sho down? Will she be able to heal her heart (with some help, fufufu)? Will she be able to regain the compassion that she lost thanks to Sho’s treachery?
Mood: Skip Beat! is hilarious! I absolutely LOVE Kyoko. She is my hero. At first I thought her kind of annoying because she literally lived for Sho. It was absolutely revolting (you’ll see what I mean when you read). However, after the huge betrayal and growing up a bit, as horrible as it was, she really gained some brilliant character traits. You can always count on Kyoko to lighten the mood with her ridiculous and downright odd behaviour but also deepen and darken it. Also, her little “dark spirits” or whatever they are that fly around her when she’s being particularly vengeful = PRICELESS. They crack me up every time. Despite the massive heartbreak she suffered, she is still really innocent and polite to a fault, but is also brilliant (she’s super smart) and calculating at just the right times. Dark Kyoko, as I like to call her little evil transformations, has many faces, all of which normally have me grasping my sides due to laughter. The picture below really shows Kyoko’s style and attitude (as well as her little spirits and her little angels which are constantly at battle LOL). I tell you. I’m in love with her. She just has so much depth and substance when she finally gets a reality check. Thankfully, said reality check doesn’t take very long at all! (I seriously love that evil spirit)
Also Fuwa Sho, even though he is an asshole, provides a great deal of comic relief as well, and he is definitely the one who everyone loves to hate. I seriously hate him. I want him dead. Throughout the manga we see him trying to unnerve Kyoko in several ways and actually, a few times he’s been JEALOUS (after what he did! wtf?!) His personal turmoil and confusion over his desire for Kyoko but still his repulsion of said desire (if that makes any sense) is the butt of most of his comic moments. However, if Kyoko EVER really goes back to him…well, we’ll save that for later. Tsuruga Ren = my life and my heart. He is an amazing character, great for comic relief as well and just sooo sweet and SEXAY!!! Whenever he scolds or threatens Kyoko it is just so funny. Also there are times when Kyoko reads the calmest expressions on his face in the most sinister way…I die of laughter every time. These three characters ARE the drama in this manga basically, they really make everything come to life and I couldn’t imagine it without them. However, more great, irreplaceable characters come in as the story moves along!
Artwork: Nakamura-sensei does some lovely artwork. A great deal of attention is paid to detail. The expressions on the characters’ faces, especially when they are acting are just chilling, it makes you feel as if you’re actually watching them filming. Also, the great transformation in the actors, especially Kyoko who has a lot of raw, innate talent, is just…amazing. Most of the time I’m wondering if it is really Kyoko, so drastic is her character change (with makeup and everything). It’s really neat to read. The way you really feel as if the characters are acting is something that cannot be pulled off with shoddy artwork so hats off to Nakamura-san. My only real big problem with the art is that at times I feel as if the characters’ faces are sooooo long and oval, just kinda weird to look at at first (you grow accustomed to it though) and also these people does have some endless legs (especially Ren and Sho). They just have these amazingly long legs that go on for ages and sometimes it just throws you off but…that’s just how it is sometimes, especially in manga about actors, dancers, models etc…they are just incredibly long and lanky people.
Consensus: YOU MUST READ! If you don’t, you will never fill that hole that seems to be missing in your life. Seriously. Skip Beat! is one of those shoujos that is enjoyable for everyone. I have guy friends that absolutely love it, near worship it in fact. It is not your typical girly, I’m-going-to-puke, shoujo in the least. At times it does get a little cheesy, I admit, but it is tolerable and it passes relatively quickly and gets back into the good, uncheesy stuff rather quickly. Kyoko is an amazingly strong character, whenever she gets “the look” it just sends chills down your spine. Though romance is a huge part of the manga it is not overly done in a way that will drive away most people (especially boys). It is more focused on Kyoko’s development as a person and an actor as she tries to regain her humanity and compassion with a massive dose of laughter and silliness thrown in. It’s just great fun to read. And, when the romance finally starts to become a huge issue and the drama starts to really churn in that aspect it is just so wonderfully and beautifully done it’ll have you at the edge of your seat, begging for more.
Status: Ongoing. 175 Chapters, about 28 volumes. (This manga should be released bi-weekly, however that is sadly not the case. New releases take quite some time 😦 It makes me very sad.)
Year of Release: 2002
Age Rating: 13+
About the Anime: There is an anime adaptation of the manga which was directed by Sayama Kiyoko. There is only 1 season that is known of and that consists of 25 episodes. It is more or less faithful to the beginnings of the manga, and really gives you a good idea of what to expect. I highly recommend that you watch it. It’s just as gut-busting (you WILL laugh a LOT) and is a nice intro to the manga if you should choose to watch it first. It’s really up to you. I actually watched the anime first before reading the manga. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip manga pages! There are very important details that are skimmed over (as usual). My biggest problem with the anime is that the end was really anti-climactic. It really left me wanting more…and it just really seemed abrupt and out of place…but again! That is what the manga is there for! ❤
Random Rant Time: In an effort not to spoil all the wonderful surprises that are in store for you should you decide to read (and you WILL decide to read), I shall only say this: How hot is this picture? Ren + Kyoko for LIFE!! They need to cut the drama and hurry up and kiss, do the dirty, get married, and have wonderful, sexay kids together. Up yours to all Kyoko X Sho fans…and yes, I sincerely mean that :p