Manga-ka: Yoshiki Nakamura
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: July 2006
Synopsis: “Kyoko knows she’s not plain and uninteresting, no matter what Sho says. With the help of a little makeover, Kyoko’s ready to exact her revenge. But first she needs to land an audition, and she sets her sights on the agency where Sho’s lead rival works. Her persistence pays off, but her broken heart turns out to be a disadvantage. Kyoko has lost the will to love anybody, let alone fans she’s never met. Can the agency see past this problem to Kyoko’s true star potential?”
Skip Beat, volume one, begins the story of Kyoko, a small-town girl who follows her childhood friend to Tokyo as support on his road to fame. While her friend, Sho, steadily reaches his goal of success and popularity, Kyoko discovers that she was asked to tag along as a housemaid over any sort of emotional or romantic support. Heartbroken and angered, Kyoko decides to get vengeance on Sho in the only way she thinks would really hurt him: become a celebrity and become more popular than him.
I have to admit, I was a little sceptical when I started reading Skip Beat based on the synopsis. A girl wants vengeance on her once friend and idol by suddenly becoming famous to upstage him? While the story feels a little shallow and has its weaker points, I found myself pretty entertained throughout. Kyoko’s spastic reactions were amusing and you can’t help but admire her tenacity.
The artwork left me a little disappointed while reading this first volume of Skip Beat. Though I enjoyed some aspects of the shoujo style, such as the detailing and panel layout, the character designs did little for me. At first I really enjoyed Kyoko’s appearance but after her makeover, I found her much less attractive and less consistently drawn. The two lead male characters also seemed out of place amongst the rest of the characters with their exaggeratedly sharp facial shapes. While the art gets the job done and has some good physical humour, I wouldn’t recommend it as this book’s selling point (nor do I think the image on the front cover is very eye-catching either).
Overall, I didn’t find this first look at Skip Beat all that unique or refreshing but none the less by the mysterious power of shoujo manga, you (like me) might get hooked all the same. I’m looking forward to seeing what direction this series takes, especially with twelve volumes set for release.