Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Skip♦Beat!, vol. 6
The story: This volume starts off with Kyoko and Kanae being hired for their first-ever commercial and their celebration of sorts that afternoon. As Kyoko and Kanae enjoy what Kyoko thinks "normal" girls would enjoy, Kanae's rival and her lackeys are doing their best to get Kanae injured so the rival can substitute her place in commercial. An inspiring confrontation between the two eventually occurs.
Once the commercial finishes filming, Kyoko is then asked to become Ren's substitute manager when everyone at LME becomes ill with a debilitating cold. Of course, touching moments between Kyoko and Ren ensue!
Reaction: The first chapter in this volume is a hoot, especially since the "errand boys" of Kanae's rival are so idiotic. Every time they think they've got Kanae cornered, Kyoko just runs off with her to go check out something she's entirely too excited about. I especially enjoyed all of Ren's flashbacks to when he and Kyoko were children; Kyoko's so precious in them, it's almost hard to believe how different she is today. Of course, her true personality continues to shine through, drawing Ren ever closer to her. Lastly, it was really interesting to see how culturally specific some cold remedies are -- when Ren gets sick, Kyoko gives him a cooling gel pack for his fever and shreds daikon radish with honey to soothe his throat!
Deep thoughts: Kyoko's overexcitement at experiencing new things is very childlike -- throughout this volume, she's marveling at all the things normal teenage girls do that she's now allowed to do, too. It certainly makes for a depressing background story. Because of her past devotion to Sho, Kyoko was never able to experience things like wearing a school uniform or having a best friend. But, there's more at work here, too, considering Kyoko's lonely childhood at the hands of her absentee mother.
Artwork: Kyoko's getting less and less ugly to me, but that may be because her attitude is slowly changing for the better. Or, Yoshiki Nakamura could just be getting better at drawing the character. Additionally, Kyoko's increasing (and subconscious) affection for Ren is illustrated wonderfully without the heavy-handed use of the usual shojo tools -- like sparkles and gracefully falling flowers. Instead, Nakamura shows it in little ways, mostly via Kyoko's facial reactions to whatever Ren has said. Of course, Nakamura still goes for the laughs by using chibis and endearing the reader to Kyoko by frequently showing her as a child.
The verdict: Highly recommended. This story is beginning to deepen in interesting ways and there are more connections being drawn between Kyoko and the people around her. This manga could easily bog down the reader with Kyoko's sob story, but, instead, Nakamura chooses to show the love, humor and determination that is all Kyoko. Skip♦Beat! is available in the U.S. from Viz.