There are times when you come across a novel or manga that you just can’t believe you’re reading. It might begin great, or even have a very plausible plotline to begin with. But something draws you back. And for this, Yoshiki Nakamura’s Skip Beat!, it is the protagonist that drew me in. I love complicated characters, just as I love characters that are well-rounded and have a sense of justice or character. I love characters like Shirley Marr’s Eliza Boans from her book Fury and Richelle Mead’s Rose from Vampire Academy or her Sydney from Bloodlines. Characters like these make me want to know more about them.
It really is something when a character is formed so well that it is the character that drives the story on. As for Skip Beat!It has the kind of storyline that draws you in. What I love about Nakamura’s work is that she puts a lot of effort into researching the specific ‘area’ of her manga. Like with her previous manga – Tokyo Crazy Paradise – which was focused on Yakuza, Skip Beat has a sense of authenticity to it.
Kyoko Mogami is the main character. Her story begins with her discovering her childhood friend and love, Shotaru Fuwa betrayed her. Not wanting to take over the family business and wanting to pursue a career in music, he persuaded her to go with him. In Tokyo while ‘Sho’ is living it up as one of the most popular male celebrities in showbiz, Kyoko worked multiple jobs to support him. But when she discovers, because she overheard him complaining about her to flirt with his manager, that he used her and is still using her, Kyoko’s Pandora’s box bursts open. In that moment, she lets her anger and rage at Sho’s mocking (he tells her that she can only get revenge if she becomes a bigger star than him) fuel her desire for revenge.
As the series progresses, Kyoko, even if I disagree with her initial reason for joining showbiz, Kyoko grows on me. She has a determination and honesty, a type of character that can be admired, that grows on the reader. When she gets into acting, and her relationship with Ren Tsuruga (Or Tsuruga Ren in the Japanese style), you realise that she really does love acting, and that she’s not just doing it for revenge. While she does begin her journey in showbiz under a specially created division by the President called ‘Love me’ – a division for those that have potential but need to learn how to be loved by the audience, something Kyoko lacks because of her past experience with Shotaru Fuwa – she eventually gains a foothold in showbiz as an up and coming actress.
This manga, originally beginning with revenge develops into something more. Having read quite a large amount of shojo manga, this is one of my favourites. Like Ouran High School Host Club comedy is a large factor. Romance surfaces every so often, but like the kinds of stories I enjoy, it’s slow, and not the main attraction. The main attraction to this series is Kyoko’s journey, her growth as a person, as a ‘Love me’ member and as an actress is fascinating.
I truly love Nakamura’s work. I love the story telling, and the artwork grows on me over time. I guess, some of my more favourite panels are those that depict Kyoko’s feeling the most. My favourite arcs are when Kyoko is given the task of discovering a new acting role. Her roles, ‘Mio’, ‘Natsu’, ‘Kuon’, and ‘Setsu’ are all amazing. I love how she transforms as much as I love how she struggles to find her character. Really, it’s so hard these days to find a novel or a manga where the character works real hard to succeed. While I loved Nononono by Lynn Okamoto – where the protagonist is already very good, and is cocky because of it, but she learns to overcome different aspects that are a weakness, like fear, something she’d forgotten – in Skip Beat, Kyoko begins at the bottom. She has to work hard to move forward because, even though she is talented, even she needs to smooth out those rough edges. And thus why her story is so engaging.
Recently I reread the series again, in my head, I’m screaming, “I want more!” I just can’t enough, and yet, I can’t help it since I’m reading scanlations, therefore, I have to wait until more are uploaded. I want more, but I can only read what’s there. And believe me, I totally get why this series is popular, it attracts in every way – a bit of romance, a bit of drama, quite a bit of humour and definitely some growth (by this, I mean character growth). For sure, I cannot wait until the end, I feel it will be dramatic!
- Skip Beat! / Не сдавайся! / スキップ・ビート！/ 華麗的挑戰 (mahrimbor.wordpress.com)
- Skip Beat (ranjaniramblings.wordpress.com)
- Skip Beat 28 (slightlybiasedmanga.com)