By Julie Opipari
This week I am going to talk about one of my favorite manga series – Skip Beat! Author Yoshiki Nakamura has come up with a great premise, and though there are a few times when the series doesn’t feel like it moves along swiftly enough, the comedy and the characters far outweigh the occasional pacing issues.
In Skip Beat!, protagonist Kyoko starts out as a doormat for Sho, the boy she has loved since childhood. Sho is on the fast track to superstardom, and as his star climbs ever higher, Kyoko’s admiration of him rises as well. She has even developed an irrational dislike of Ren, Sho’s rival in show biz. Everyone knows that Sho is far more handsome and talented than that poseur Ren.
When Kyoko discovers how Sho really feels about her, her life is torn apart. He only asked her to come to Tokyo with him to wait on him hand and foot, and to pay the bills so he could concentrate on becoming the latest and greatest celebrity in town. Kyoko is a quiet, mousy girl, who doesn’t care about her appearance because cosmetics and trendy clothing will only eat away at her and Sho’s meager finances. She is already working from dawn until dusk to ensure that Sho has the best of everything, so she has nobly sacrificed her dreams for him. They are soul mates, aren’t they, and after Sho is the biggest idol in Japan, he can start taking care of her.
Things don’t quite work out that way, and Sho unceremoniously dumps Kyoko. She isn’t glamorous enough for him, and she’ll only slow down his career. When Kyoko finally realizes that Sho is only using her, she snaps. Absolutely, completely, and frighteningly goes mental. Say goodbye to the nice, sweet Kyoko, because that weak, pathetic girl is gone forever. In her place is a crazed, demon-exuding nutcase who is going to have her revenge on the pompous Sho. How? Kyoko is going to become a bigger star than Sho. That will show him, right?!
I love Kyoko. Though she is doing everything for the wrong reason, she throws her heart and soul into the world of show biz. She gets a make-over, hits the trendy stores, and becomes someone else entirely. No longer the passive, doting admirer of Sho, she is now a raging beast determined to bring him to his knees. She will have her vengeance, or by God, she will die trying. Kyoko now has tunnel vision, and nothing will do but to become the Number One Idol in Japan.
Kyoko’s journey through the cut throat world of show biz is chronicled with humor, romance, and beautiful, expressive artwork. The character designs are long and lean, with lots of attention paid to fashions and hairstyles. Everyone is gorgeous, everyone has clothes to die for, and everyone has beautiful hair. Just so you don’t think I’m totally shallow, emotions crackle off the pages, enticing the reader to follow along for the 20 volumes that have been released in the US so far (and it is still ongoing!). There is a frantic energy that is addicting, and I look forward to each new volume with a giddy sense of glee.
If you are looking for a fun read with engaging characters and a lot of energy, give Skip Beat! a try. Kyoko is a unique heroine, one who is about one step from going over the edge completely. What is it that Khan said? Revenge is a dish best served cold? In Kyoko’s case, it’s a dish best served kicking and screaming, with little Kyoko demons shooting out of her body. Good luck, Sho, because you don’t stand a chance!
When Julie Opipari isn’t mucking around the barn, she can be found trying to make a dent in the massive pile of manga that keeps following her home from the bookstore. Not wiling to admit she has a problem, she blissfully continues to anticipate the latest releases despite the cries of agony from her credit card. She cheerfully blames her addiction on the stresses of college and post traumatic work disorder, and is grateful that her family grumbles only occasionally about the amount of time she spends buried in her books. In addition to reading Your Manga Minute every week, you can read more of Julie’s work on her blog, Manga Maniac Cafe.