Skip Beat!, Omnibus 1

Creator: Yoshiki Nakamura
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421542263
Released: March 2012
Original release: 2002-2003

The first omnibus volume of Yoshiki Nakamura’s manga series Skip Beat!, published in 2012 by Viz Media, collects the first three volumes of the original English-language release—all three of which were published under the Shojo Beat imprint in 2006. In Japan, the first three volumes of Skip Beat! were released between 2002 and 2003. Currently, Skip Beat! is the only manga by Nakamura available in English and it is the series for which she is best known. In addition to the original manga, Skip Beat! has also been adapted as a drama CD, a twenty-five episode anime, a live-action television series, and even a video game. Skip Beat! was selected as the topic of the June 2013 Manga Moveable Feast. I had previously read several volumes of the series and vaguely remembered enjoying them, but I was glad for an excuse to give the series a closer look.

Kyoko Mogami left home after graduating from junior high, following her childhood friend and love Sho as he pursues his career as an idol. Now living in Tokyo and working two jobs just to afford their apartment, Kyoko is happy as long as she can support and be with Sho. But then she finds out that he’s been taking advantage of her the whole time—he harbors no feelings of love for Kyoko and instead views her as a convenient if sometimes annoying maid. Betrayed, Kyoko is determined to wreak havoc on Sho’s life and take her revenge in the only way that he’ll deign to recognize: she has decided to enter show business. Kyoko has her sights set on joining LME, one of the biggest talent agencies in Japan and coincidentally home to Ren Tsuruga, and incredibly talented and successful actor who Sho hates. Kyoko doesn’t have a particular interest in show business, nor does she have any training, but what she does have is guts.

At the beginning of Skip Beat!, Kyoko’s life is consumed by Sho and her love for him. After his betrayal, her life continues to be consumed by Sho, but love has been replaced by hatred and vengeance. Sho’s a total jerk, so I can’t really blame Kyoko for her change of heart. At first Ren comes across as a jerk, too, but its really more that he can’t be bothered by people who don’t take show business seriously. This is why early on he and Kyoko don’t get along—he appreciates her guts and willpower, but dislikes her motivation to succeed. Kyoko is focused on making it big just to show up Sho. But as can already be seen in the first Skip Beat! omnibus, over time she starts to change. Initially she wanted to be a celebrity solely for the sake of revenge, but she is slowly gaining pride in herself and in her work for its own sake. Granted, getting back at Sho, and to a somewhat smaller extent Ren, is never far from her mind.

Kyoko is one hell of a character. She’s brash, stubborn, and determined. And she’s not the only one—Skip Beat! has many strong-willed and incredibly eccentric characters. I like Kyoko a lot. I appreciate a heroine who is willing to take control of her own life and work through her mistakes. Skip Beat! itself is a highly entertaining manga. With so many strong personalities involved there’s bound to be conflict and the results are very funny. The characters frequently end up in outrageous situations and their over-the-top reactions are priceless. Nakamura’s visual gags in Skip Beat! are great, too. Kyoko’s inner demons often make an appearance to spur her on and occasionally are even strong enough to affect those around her directly. All told, Skip Beat! is a tremendous amount of fun; I enjoyed the beginning of the series even more than I remembered.

Library Love, Part 5

Support manga, support your library!

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Dragon Ball, Volume 6 by Akira Toriyama. I think I enjoy this series most when there’s crazy fighting and battles going on. Compared to previous volumes, Volume 6 seems to be somewhat lacking in that department, which isn’t to say there aren’t any clashes. For example, Goku finishes his assault on the Red Ribbon army’s Muscle Tower to great effect, but unfortunately that’s about it. I didn’t find this volume quite as funny as the previous books either, although it does have its moments. I’ll probably still keep reading the series because it has been pretty fun so far and I have enjoyed it.

Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden, Volume 7 by Yuu Watase. Ah, no, not Soren! Watase has proven in the past that she’s not afraid to kill off characters, but it’s rather unfortunate that he was one of my favorites. But, it certainly makes for some emotional turmoil and I’m interested in seeing how his death continues to affect the others. Limdo in particular is understandably hard hit and I want to see what he does. This volume also reveals more about Urumiya—the twin brothers Hagus and Teg—which I was looking forward to, but I hope to learn even more. Watase’s art is much more consistent and even in Volume 7 than it was in the previous volume.

Naruto, Volume 1 by Masashi Kishimoto. For various reasons, I’m always afraid to start a ridiculously popular manga series, but I finally decided to give Naruto a try. I think I’ll probably end up reading at least a few more volumes, too, because I enjoyed the first book more than I expected. It’s got fighting and humor and interesting characters. The character designs are fun and their interactions are great. Naruto makes me grin as does his instructor Kakashi, who I think is fantastic. Although, I do hope that Sakura ends up being more than just a boy-crazy, token girl character which is how she comes across in this first volume.

Skip Beat!, Volumes 3-5 by Yoshiki Nakamura. Overall, I’m not particularly taken with the art style but Nakamura throws in some great glares and the visual gags are fantastic. Some of the plot elements are just plain silly but I really enjoy seeing the acting stunts Kyoko manages to pull off. It’s really a very amusing manga and I’m enjoying the series. There is a potential romance developing between Ren and Kyoko which I’m not all that interested in—I much prefer Kyoko’s spunky and over-the-top revenge antics, even when they blow up in her face. Plus, it looks like she’s starting to want to get into showbiz for herself now and not just to get back at Sho, which is nice.

Library Love, Part 1

Support manga, support your library!

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Godchild, Volume 2 by Kaori Yuki. I’m pretty sure that Cain is supposed to be this angsty romantic figure, but so far I think he comes across as an ass most of the time. He does truly care about his half-sister and Riff, though. I also like the fact that he collects poisons—something that fascinate me. This volume loads on more Hargreaves family mystery but doesn’t really go anywhere yet. The introduction of Japanese characters in the first story of this volume seemed out of place to me. But, I do enjoy Yuki’s costume designs quite a bit.

Hana-Kimi: For You in Full Blossom, Volumes 16-17 by Hisaya Nakajo. I enjoyed this series much more than I was expecting to, but I must admit that it’s now starting to feel like it’s dragging on and on. These volumes return to one of the series roots: high-jumping. There’s less silly antics and more Sano family drama going on. I think I’m supposed to be worried about the developing love triangle between Sano, Ashiya, and Nakatsu but the intensity just isn’t there.

Hikaru No Go, Volume 1, written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. I hardly know anything at all about Go (I should really fix that), but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the first volume of Hikaru No Go. I know Obata’s work from Death Note and while the designs are definintely different here, the art is still excellent. Sai is very pretty and Hikaru is fairly adorable. Their interactions are fun to watch although the humor can be rather juvenile at times. Even from reading only the first volume I can understand how this series sparked a Go craze. Now, if only we could get some of those mahjong titles licensed…

Skip Beat, Volume 2 by Yoshiki Nakamura. I don’t really care about show business, but the revenge plot is great and isn’t something I’ve seen much of in shōjo manga. This volume sees the creation of the somewhat bizarre “Love Me Section” which, as far as I can tell, Kyoko is the only member. The story gets a bit silly at times, but I love Kyoko’s over-the-top reactions, even when she manages to keep them in her head. She’s spunky and can be very enthusiastic to say the least.