Manga-ka: Yoshiki Nakamura
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: May 2009
Synopsis: “Kyoko Mogami followed her true love Sho to Tokyo to support him while he made it big as an idol. But he’s casting her out now that he’s famous! Kyoko won’t suffer in silence–she’s going to get her sweet revenge by beating Sho in show biz! Kyoko hasn’t had a Love Me Section job in a while, and this newest assignment is pushing her limits. She’s now the personal assistant to Koo Hizuri, a Japanese actor turned Hollywood star, and everyone knows how assistants are treated in Hollywood! Can Kyoko see past Koo’s meanness, or will his nastiness just make her demons worse?!”
A character in the TV show ‘Slings and Arrows’ once argued that only smart people can be great actors. I’m willing to bet that the manga-ka of Skip Beat would agree with her. The cast of Skip Beat might not be mensa members, but they are smart enough to take a good hard look at themselves before trying to be someone else.
Kyoko has been assigned as a personal assistant to a diva named Koo Hizuri. What Kyoko doesn’t know is that Koo has a specific reason for requesting her assistance, and it has to do with her fellow actor Ren Tsuruga. Though Koo and Kiyoko don’t get along at first, eventually Koo agrees to help her with her acting. He challenges her to act out a role totally foreign to her: the part of Koo Hizuri’s son.
Though Skip Beat! is a great comedy, the dramatic moments also work perfectly. Kyoko never had a happy childhood, so playing the part of a spoiled son makes her deal with feelings she never had before. When Koo shows some kindness to his ‘son’ it’s enough to make the usually tough Kyoko break character and start crying. It’s a bittersweet moment in what is usually a pretty hyperactive comedy.
Though this was an enjoyable volume, Ren Tsuruga gets a bit of the short shift here. He’s still present in this volume, but it felt like the Koo got more page time at Ren’s expense. This means that there isn’t too much development as far as Ren’s growing feelings for Kyoko goes, but since the romantic part of the series has never been the driving force that’s not such a big deal.
Speaking of Ren, I’m starting to get a bit frustrated in regards to his back-story. There are lots of juicy hints here, they’re just that: hints. I’m a little tired of being strung along at this point, and I hope the manga-ka just gets everything out in the open soon.
The artwork in Skip Beat! isn’t that unique, but it’s light and fun. The art is great at conveying the atmosphere no matter what’s happening, whether it’s a heartfelt confession or a comedic grudge match. While the story is often fast-paced, and more than a little crazy, it rarely sacrifices clarity or detail in the artwork.
One thing that this volume did right was Kyoko’s costume. When Kyoko is playing Kuon (Koo’s son) she looks like a young boy but at the same time she’s still recognizable as Kyoko. There have been other times in the series where I felt that Kyoko’s costumes made it easy to lose sight of Kyoko herself (it doesn’t help that most of the female characters have the same face). It was nice to see a costume that was a little more toned down, making it easier to keep track of who’s who.
Skip Beat! continues to be an excellent series that juggles comedy, drama and romance. My only complaint is that the next volume won’t be out until October. Luckily, if you haven’t started reading Skip Beat! yet, that should give you plenty of time to catch up.