IMG243 Picture to the left was taken with my phone, so I hope it’s not too bad. I decided to give the 3-in-1 edition a go with Skip Beat and my experience with this edition is mostly positive. It definitely took awhile to get through the thing as it’s pretty long being really 3 volumes. But I loved the story, so it was definitely a good thing to have more of it in a single volume.

Summary


At first glance Kyoko Mogami seems to be an average girl, but she has a secret. Her special prince charming is none other than the famous raising star in the Japanese music scene, Sho Fuwa. Kyoko has been deeply in love with Sho since a child and did not hesitate to follow him to Tokyo to help him achieve his dreams by working part time jobs to support the both of them.

However, now that Sho has gotten a big break, he seems oddly distance and moody. In an effort to cheer him up, Kyoko decides to bring him some food from her part time job. In the process, she overhears him bragging about how he brought her along as a maid and nothing else. He even declares to send her packing if his manager promises to “take care” of him (in other words, let him live with her and be bed partners). Surprisingly, instead of crying her eyes out, Kyoko snaps and vows revenge on Sho. Sho only sneers saying she can only have her revenge if she makes it into show biz (since a regular person can’t touch a star); but he is confidence she will be unable to make it.

Kyoko sets her heart on the rival agency to Sho’s, LME, but even when she blackmails pesters the Talent Section’s chief into letting her audition, Kyoko is unable to make the cut in the end. Fortunately for her, the President of LME notices something unusual about her and decides to let her join a special section made for someone like her (who lacks a desire to love and be loved): The Love Me Section. Thus starts Kyoko’s trials and tribulations as she must take on any and all requests from the staff at LME in an attempt to gain points and earn her debut. However in the process of joining LME, Kyoko also accidentally irks the biggest star in LME, Ren Tsuruga, by admitting to him she wants in on show biz for revenge, which is something the serious and professional Ren does not approve of; and he often gives her negative points to express his disdain for her motives. Kyoko is also later joined by Kanae Kotonami, who acts as another rival, in the Love Me Section; much to Kanae’s dismay as the Love Me section is seen as a joke inside LME.

In her first major job as a Love Me member, Kyoko must help the idol Ruriko during her first movie shot. What starts as a simple task of being an assistant soon spirals out into a competition between Ruriko and Kyoko to snag the part Ruriko was suppose to play after the idol had announced she quits during the shoot. While the director never had any intention of giving the part to Kyoko, he recognizes Kyoko’s talent and is very grateful that with her (unintentional) help, he was able to cure Ruriko of her spoiled nature. For Kyoko though, this was a good learning experience as she witnesses Ren’s coercive acting, through which he manipulates her into reacting the way he wanted. This irritates Kyoko to no end and she vows to raise up against him from this point onward.

Given her success with Ruriko, the LME President, Lory, decides to ask Kyoko to help him with Maria (his granddaughter), who is attacking trainees at the LME training school. It seems Maria has some sort of grudge against the play, The Miraculous Language of Angels. When Kyoko sides with Maria in saying the character of the elder sister is unnatural, the trainees grow upset and demand she play the elder sister as someone who hates the younger sister but still has her realize their father loves her. Kyoko is unable to refuse and finds herself in another hard spot, bringing the first omnibus edition to a close.

My Thoughts


I think the omnibus edition is a good idea, especially since the story doesn’t really start rolling until Kyoko becomes a Love Me member and that happens in volume 2 in the regular edition. The set up is super important, of course, and I definitely enjoyed seeing a sweet Kyoko turn into a vengeful woman. Her stalking Sawara (the Talent head) was hilarious and the audition was interesting and introduced 2 key characters: Kanae (aka Moko) and Maria; as well as framing one of the running themes for Skip Beat and that is Kyoko and her coming to terms with what Sho did to her and regaining her lost heart. Nonetheless, nothing got me quite as excited as seeing Kyoko finally getting to act. So it was really good that I didn’t have to wait for another volume to see that. The acting bits are my favourite, and I can’t deny that’s what I look forward to in Skip Beat. I do think it’s partly because they are reminiscent of shounen battle manga where the underdog has to rise to the challenge and prove his/her worth. The other reason is because I think Kyoko shines the best when she is determined and she usually only shows that when she is acting (although her stalking Sawara is an exception).

I also definitely liked that Kyoko didn’t breeze through the audition. It’s nice seeing her stumble and run away and then get back up again. You don’t see this a lot in shoujo manga. Rarely does the heroine have to do things herself only to fail, and then have to pick herself up (with no guy to help her) and try again. And it honestly is such an important life lesson. I wish more manga would inspire us with heroines that keep trying against the odds for their dream job.1 I also liked that she wasn’t just magically able to out-act Ruriko, but that her training at Sho’s traditional Japanese Inn was what allowed her to pull off a convincing ojou-sama. The manga is definitely hinting heavily that Kyoko is going to be a dark horse no not that Dark Horse, but I still appreciate that Ms.Nakamura isn’t making her god-like at acting right off the bat.

Speaking of Kyoko, I’m rather curious how she was originally envisioned since Ms.Nakamura made a passing remark in one of the side bars stating that the original Kyoko was much darker because she was created when Ms.Nakamura was holding down a part-time job and miserable. Honestly, I’d love to see a really creepy and morbid Kyoko, but hey, I realize I’m in the minority here. My tastes don’t exactly coincide with the mainstream.2 Not to say the Kyoko we got was bad, oh no, I like her a lot. She’s fierce, determined, and has a goofy side too. It’s more that I would love to see what sort of character she was originally because we don’t get all that many dark female heroines. As for the other characters, Kanae (aka Moko) is pretty interesting and she serves as the perfect foil to Kyoko. Lory is just too flashy and loveable to not love and Sawara is hilarious, especially in his reactions to Kyoko. Ren is mostly a mystery now and Sho is, well as you’d expect, a spoiled brat.3

As for the omnibus edition, it is for the most part good. The paper quality is noticeably lower and the pages are pretty thin, but the space and money you save in turn is a good pay-off. I think my only real problem is that you lose the variety of covers you see in the standard editions. Looking up the omnibus covers on Amazon, they don’t have as much variety as the regular covers. At this moment, there are only covers featuring: Kyoko, Kyoko and Ren, and Kyoko as Mio. I really wished the covers had more variety. At least one with Moko and Sho (even with Kyoko) would have been nice since I think they are pretty important characters too. But alas, I already own 2 volumes of the omnibus edition and given that Skip Beat is looking to be a monster in terms of length, I’m going to stick with this edition.

–SW


Notes:

1 — You mostly see the heroine never giving up on snagging her guy, but I find this problematic because you cannot force emotions in another person. Furthermore, you should respect another person’s boundaries and decisions. So the message is not so good in this case. The other setup in romance oriented series with “persistent” heroines is where the guy is verbally (and in rare occasions physically/sexually) abusive to the heroine, but she sticks it through to change her man and get her happy end. I think it goes without saying why this is problematic. Whereas having a persistent heroine that strives for work-related goals is much rarer, yet this setup avoids all the problematic aspects in romance related goals, so I’d love to see more of these.

2 — I’m someone who loathes Fruits Basket, which is like the shoujo manga most people recommend to newcomers. Conversely, the shoujo manga I love to death, Basara, wasn’t all that popular and as such didn’t get a reprint and is now out of print. The other ones I love to death all can’t seem to get licensed either: Tokyo Crazy Paradise, 7 Seeds, and Matsuri Special. Only exception seems to be Sailor Moon, which I love to death and is crazy popular. But I think the timing of the Sailor Moon anime has more to do with that than anything.

3 — Having watched the anime and read ahead due to curiosity, I already have set opinions on these two, but in order to keep this as an impression of the first omnibus edition, I will be only expressing my opinions of the characters as they are presented in the volume I am discussing.

Credit to John from Pirates of the Burley Griffin for the idea of using footnotes to expand on relevant points without bloating the main paragraphs.

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