I’ve never been one for romance. Books, manga, anime, it doesn’t matter. The leads were destined to be together, the heroine is always a klutz and has a habit of chasing guys who aren’t interested, until he is.
Which is why, after dropping the series over and over again after the first chapter, I picked it up one summer afternoon, and then I couldn’t find it in me to put it down. Despite the agony of waiting for a whole month for a new chapter, the pain of reading a series that never ends, Skip Beat’s hold on me turned out to be stronger than I could ever imagine.
From the start, Skip Beat is the type of series you either love or hate. Though, the hatred probably has more to do with slow pacing than any problem with the character or storyline.
Currently at 38 Volumes, Skip Beat is probably one of the longest running shoujo manga out there and for good reasons. Skip Beat! follows the journey of one Kyoko Mogami as she tries to make her way in the Show Biz industry after being jilted by her childhood friend turned musician Sho Fuwa. Brutally used by Sho as a maid, and thirsting for revenge, Kyouko decides to beat Sho at his own game by joining LME(where Sho’s rival actor Ren Tsuruga works) , with the sole dream of having Sho begging at her feet.
From the synopsis, Skip Beat sounds surprisingly simple. In fact, Kyoko sounds like another stupid girl, which is one of the reasons I couldn’t look past the first chapter. Kyoko was every other hard working girl whose sole purpose is to uplift the man in her life and while it is perfectly fine to do that out of a well informed choice, it is stupid to waste your time on someone who doesn’t appreciate it.
I first started reading Skip Beat! when I was thirteen, and I think it shaped a lot of how I view the world, or should I say it reinforced my belief on how relationship works. While it doesn’t portray Sho as an absolute bad guy, Skip Beat! makes it abundantly clear it is not nice to treat someone like trash. Even if it is a guy pulling the hair of a girl he likes, abuse is abuse, and Skip Beat! doesn’t try to glorify it like a lot of Shoujo does.
Romantic progress on the other hand is frustratingly slow. A male lead like Ren Tsuruga, and a female lead like Kyoko, fast romance is a far fetched dream . However, what little progress we have got, is the kind where you are certainly going to start screaming, doesn’t matter whether you are male or female.
The romantic aspect is also quite realistic, as it is understood that while it is easy for Ren to fall in love, someone with a broken heart like Kyoko is bound to take a longer to time.
Ah, but romance isn’t everything. What Skip Beat is about its characters and acting. Skip Beat is about Kyoko. You could probably remove all the characters from Skip Beat and just have fun watching Kyoko enjoy acting, doing crazy things, and try new things to understand herself- which isn’t to say the side characters aren’t fun, they are lovely. Kyoko is smart, crazy, funny, hardworking, and a little bit broken. She is emotionally as strong as she vulnerable, which makes it a delight to watch her grow as a character.
Then, we have Ren. Ren who loves Kyoko, Ren who is the biggest star in the Skip Beat world and after the initial misunderstanding is removed – guess what- isn’t a big jerk to Kyoko. Ren is a character who believes in doing nice things for the person he loves, who for the most part respects others boundaries and is the slightest beat childish. This isn’t to say Ren is perfect, he has his flows, is somewhat broken himself, a master manipulator and quick to anger. Ren is human and we love him for it.
The side characters are well developed people themselves, with their own ambition and goals. Kotonami Kanae, who in most series with her character design would have been a villain, is Kyoko’s best friend, and is probably the most lovely Tsundere out there.
Oh, and did I mention how funny it is?
At its heart, Skip Beat is a story about love. A story about learning to love yourself.
I think everyone, especially teenagers should give Skip Beat a try. There is also an anime of the same name which you could check out, however, it is way behind from the story right now.