“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” could be Kyoko Mogami’s motto. Kyoko has devoted most of her life to her handsome neighbor Sho Fuwa, so when Sho asks her to drop everything and move to Tokyo with him to help him become a famous singer, Kyoko doesn’t even blink. She skips high school and begins working two jobs to support him, only to discover Sho has been cruelly using her all along. Her evil side unleashed, Kyoko decides to get revenge on Sho by becoming more famous than he could ever be and making him sorry he ever crossed her.
Skip Beat is one of my all-time favorite manga. Clever, funny, and compelling, Skip Beat is a story I can read over and over. Kyoko is a hilariously adorable character. She is vengeful and scary, while still being silly, gullible, and desperately wanting to help people she believes deserve that help. She is strong while still being girly. Her dearest dream in the world is to have her make-up done, and when that actually happens, you’d have thought someone had given her a million dollars and a vacation home in Fiji, she’s so happy.
All of the characters are interesting and well fleshed out. Sho is a jerk, but you can also tell he is a little lost and a lot spoiled by everyone around him. Ren, Kyoko’s co-worker at her talent agency and the hottest male celebrity in Japan, is a consummate professional. He is strict, kind, and very dreamy, but may have a dark and dangerous past. The president of the company is, by far, the best character. He always appears in lavish costumes, sometimes riding an elephant, and comes up with grand, bizarre schemes (which is how Kyoko ends up working for his company in the “Love Me” section wearing a hot pink uniform).
The overall story gets a little convoluted, however. Kyoko is thrown into the “Love Me” section of the company, which means that until she starts to desperately want to please people and make them love her, she can’t debut as an actress. This plotline is a fun idea, but takes away from the main story with Sho, who just suddenly stops appearing in the story. He does reappear in later issues, but it takes so long that you almost forget why Kyoko started this whole thing in the first place. Also, Kyoko has a sweetness about her and is very kind to everyone she meets. It is only when they cross her that her anger is unleashed. It seems odd, then, that she would be placed in the “Love Me” section at the company, when she really does want to get along with everyone around her and be helpful.
Nakamura’s artwork takes a little getting used to, although I love it now that I have. Skip Beat is drawn in a traditional shojo manga style with some quirks. Kyoko is drawn to look pretty average, but her appearance is surprisingly adaptable. The men in the story, at least Ren and Sho, are drawn extremely long-limbed and with incredibly wide shoulders. They are disproportionate, but it lends something to making them feel larger than life – like super famous celebrities. Kyoko’s chibi angry spirits really help illustrate her anger and frustration with those who take advantage of her and help tell the story so well.
This 3-in-1 edition of Skip Beat is a good addition to any YA room. My only complaint is that in combining these three volumes they took out the title pages. This makes is difficult to finding a stopping point and makes the reader miss out on some cool illustrations from the other single volumes. It is still a nice, cheaper way to introduce the series to a library and the awesomeness of Kyoko to your teens.