Monday, June 8, 2009

Skip♦Beat!, vol. 3

The story: Things get even more interesting for Kyoko in this volume as her acting skills are tested not once, but twice! As her personal story unfolds, it seems that Kyoko's acting is a reflection of the hardship she endured as a child. At one point, she's devastated that her desire to please Sho's parents provided her with the tools to succeed. An unexpected side of Ren is also unveiled as he helps pick Kyoko up from the depths of despair over her realization.

Reaction: Kyoko's Cinderella-like story is sad, but it's downright depressing when she realizes that she's "completely empty inside." Thankfully, the rueful moment ends quickly enough with a joke. And that's what great about this series so far -- despite the dark moments Kyoko faces, Yoshiki Nakamura makes sure readers don't frown too long and provides much-needed comedic relief.

Deep thoughts: The beginning of this volume features the tea ceremony, with which I'm particularly fascinated. It seems like such a simple task, but it takes years of training for people to perform the ceremony perfectly. And, on top of knowing the ceremony, there are other expectations of servers, like knowing flower arranging and calligraphy. In many ways, its beauty is in its simplicity.

Artwork: I'll be honest, Kyoko looks downright ugly in some scenes. In one panel, her features are particularly exaggerated and, when she's supposed to look fierce, she ends up looking even more drastically pointy-chinned and her squinty eyes do her no favors. But, in some ways, it really matches her ugly attitude, like when she's thinking of revenge. Thankfully, other scenes and characters make up for this -- whether it's the agency president, Lory, or Kanae, the newest member of the Love Me section.

The verdict: Highly recommended. Despite my opinions on the art, the storyline more than makes up for it. And, in this volume, we're treated to some character growth on Kyoko's part as she finds something worth working towards -- acting. Skip♦Beat! is available in the U.S. from Viz.

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