Skip Beat 26
January 8, 2012
Yoshiki Nakamura – Viz – 2012 – 29+ volumes
It would be hard to top the excellent Valentine’s Day story we’ve had in the volumes before this. Skip Beat has its work cut out for it. Luckily, after 26 volumes of some of the most awesome shoujo manga I’ve ever read, I know it’s up to the task.
This volume is a little underwhelming, though, since it’s mostly exposition for the next storyline. But it’s exposition that will pay off in a big way later. As part of a Love Me assignment, Kyoko is paired up with Ren, who has to remain in character for a difficult role in an upcoming movie. Ren and Kyoko are, in real life, walking around as a pair of super-goth and very intimidating siblings. Better still, in character, the two are supposed to dote on one another.
This is about as great as it sounds. Lory is the instigator, of course, and even with only a couple chapters of in-character story at the end of the volume, we’ve already been treated to a hotel room with one bed and a round of clothes shopping, not to mention Ren’s inner commentary about how astoundingly difficult this all is.
As much as it sounds like a regular shoujo manga set-up (and it is), it’s Skip Beat’s sense of humor that makes all this far better than it should be. There is a little romance, of course, but most of the pleasure here comes from the fact that Kyoko is absolutely flabbergasted by all this. She’s dressed in a short leather skirt and plunging neckline, has to be mean, and has to fawn all over “big brother” Ren. She’s… a bit unsure of her acting ability in all this.
In a strange scene towards the end of the book, she is interpreting what appears to be Ren’s frustrations as exasperation with the fact she is not acting little sister Setsuka properly. The story is told from Kyoko’s point of view at this point, and it appears to be correct in context. But just before this, Ren is having trouble keeping his inner “kind of the night” in check, and I was reading his frustrations as more… anger at the fact that Kyoko has to dress and act this way at all. It’s a little strange. But from either point of view, it’s very funny stuff.
Oh, Skip Beat. I can’t even imagine all the great places this story is going to go. I can’t wait until the next volume.