Monday, August 17, 2009

Skip♦Beat!, vol. 8

The story: Kyoko is singularly focused on getting revenge on Sho when she stars in his latest music video. The only problem is, she can't seem to focus enough to actually do a decent acting job. When she finally succeeds, she's excited and gets a phone call from Ren, whom she had originally called for advice. Just as she's trying to backpedal over the phone, Sho snatches it from her and boasts to Ren about the video they worked on together. Of course, this leads to conflict between Ren and Kyoko. But, that's quickly forgotten when Kyoko learns that Kanae is keeping a big work-related secret from her.

Reaction: Watching the "light bulb" go off in Kyoko's head when she's acting is fun to watch and illustrates her creative process. Of course, I also liked watching the interaction between her and Sho, and her and Ren. Neither of the pairs realize that they're attracted to each other, and that it only fuels the rivalry between Ren and Sho even more. And it's so fun watching Kyoko's sometimes-misplaced determination, like when she's trying to get to the bottom of Kanae's current depression. It's funny, but also shows the caring side of Kyoko, which is important considering she's still giving off those hateful spirits.

Deep thoughts: Kyoko and Maria have a certain penchant for cursing people, with voodoo-like contraptions. While I won't go into why a child is practicing voodoo, it is interesting to me that there's enough knowledge of it for a Japanese mangaka to include it in a story. In the U.S., very little widespread knowledge of SanterĂ­a is available outside of pop culture references in television programs or via the media because of recent court cases.

Artwork: The opening page of this volume features an illustration of Ren in a costume similar to Sho's character in the music video. It's more dark and depressing than it is fantastical and whimsical, but it sets a mood for the first chapter. While Kyoko plays an angel in the music video, there's nothing that can be done about her sharp and mostly unattractive features. Otherwise, the panel composition keeps the reader moving along quickly and is unconventional throughout. By mixing it up so much, Yoshiki Nakamura makes it almost too busy and difficult to read along, as I found myself backtracking and/or second-guessing where my eyes were supposed to go next.

The verdict: If only... While this volume is one my least favorites thus far, I did like the non-romantic growth in the relationship between Sho and Kyoko. Doing so takes the plot farther away from Kyoko's singular determination to get revenge and takes it into a story about her growth as a person and as an actress. Skip♦Beat! is available in the U.S. from Viz.

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