Saturday, January 20, 2018

REVIEW: Skip Beat! (manga, vols. 37-39) by Yoshiki Nakamura, translated by Tomo Kimura

I'm almost done with my vacation reading posts - only one more to go after this. Then I'd like to publish a "best" and "worst" of 2017 post.

If I had the shelf space, I'd start working on buying the entire Skip Beat! series so that I could periodically reread it. It's so good. Whereas other long-running series leave my feeling impatient, Skip Beat! just keeps working for me. I'd be perfectly fine with it not ending any time soon, which I suppose is a good thing, since it doesn't seem like it's going to. Here's hoping that it continues to be translated into English until the very end.

The three volumes I read during my vacation included the series' first on-page glimpse of Kyoko's relationship with her mother, along with a flashback to Kyoko's mother's past. Great stuff, especially volume 38.

As usual, there are major spoilers past this point.

Skip Beat! (manga, vol. 37) by Yoshiki Nakamura, translated by Tomo Kimura - Kyoko fills in as Chiori Amamiya's manager. She and Chiori share the belief that everything in their lives could potentially be useful to their acting, but it still comes as a shock to Kyoko later on when Moko says Kyoko's Natsu character is very similar to Kyoko's mom, who Moko has just met. Kyoko briefly runs into her mother, who ignores her. She manages to keep it together, until she sees a TV broadcast in which her mother says she has no children. Sho tries to comfort her, but Kyoko pushes him away. The one she runs to in the end is Corn...or rather Ren, who she mistakes for Corn.

Poor Kyoko. She could tolerate being hated by her mother, but not being erased by her. Did Kyoko's mom (Saena) really not want her? And why isn't her dad in the picture? Did Saena prefer her career over having kids, or was this all due to something else?

Watching Ren fret over Kyoko was nice. A perfect opportunity for him to have kept his natural hair color, but oops, he got it dyed because he had no idea what was going to happen.

Skip Beat! (manga, vol. 38) by Yoshiki Nakamura, translated by Tomo Kimura - Kyoko's talk with Ren gives her the level of positive energy she needs to decide to approach her mother - because approaching her without warning is likely the only thing that'll work. Kyoko almost chickens out but is forced to go through with it by Mr. Todoh, Saena's colleague. It's then that we get glimpses of Saena's past through her eyes. She fell in love with Mr. Misonoi, who seemed to understand her when no one else did (such as her habit of frowning, which didn't mean that she was mad but rather that she was just concentrating on a trivial decision). Unfortunately, little things here and there have her wondering if he's really a corporate spy, using her to win against her in a big court case.

Ohh, this volume was good. After an entire series of only catching glimpses of Kyoko's relationship with her mother, and only from Kyoko's perspective, we finally get to see things from her mother's perspective. I still think she was overly cruel when she said that she didn't have a daughter, but here we at least got some kind of explanation: she thought that Kyoko had quit school and run off to elope with Sho (which she kind of did, only Sho ended up just using her instead). Saena's decision to completely cut Kyoko off was due to her own guilt and inner turmoil about having made a similar bad decision herself when she was younger.

It was nice to learn a little about Saena's past. I'm looking forward to seeing more about how things worked out with Mr. Misonoi. Was he really a corporate spy, or did Saena's suspicions turn out to be false and destroy their budding relationship? It sure did seem like he'd drugged her to get at the disks.

And, oh man, it turns out that Saena has resting angry face.

Skip Beat! (manga, vol. 39) by Yoshiki Nakamura, translated by Tomo Kimura - Kyoko learns the rest of her mother's story. Mr. Misonoi was indeed a corporate spy. He left without a trace and Saena has lived with the guilt of her actions ever since. She'd even have gotten an abortion if she could have. Despite this revelation, Kyoko leaves with a lighter heart and a desire to do her mom proud. Meanwhile, everyone else is still worried about her. Kyoko checks in with Moko, Ren checks up on Kyoko, and Kyoko even stops by to see Sho. Kyoko decides to audition for a role in a drama called Lotus in the Mud. (A funny moment: Ren could have gotten the role of the ronin that Kyoko's character falls for, but Yashiro didn't think it'd fit into his schedule. Poor Ren!)

I was hoping for a larger chunk of this volume to be devoted to the rest of Saena's story, but it's nice to know that Kyoko could potentially run into her dad in a future volume (even if she never realizes it!). The last part of Saena's story was a bit frustrating. If she had truly suspected Mr. Misonoi, she should have brought home fake disks that last time. Why bring home the real ones?

I was a little surprised at how positively Nakamura wrote Saena's revelation that she'd have aborted Kyoko if she could. Kyoko was very understanding and took it all very well.

Some visual problems I ran into while reading this volume: Moko looks an awful lot like Saena. Also, I was a bit taken aback by Sho's new haircut. He looks younger and more vulnerable. Weird.

This volume felt a bit scattered and anticlimactic after the awesomeness of the previous volume, but not bad. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Lotus in the Mud stuff goes. But doesn't Kyoko still have her school bully drama to do? I suppose it could be that there's room in her schedule for more.

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