Skip Beat! Book 1

An interesting premise is undermined by a thoroughly unlikeable lead character and what I saw as the creator’s superiority complex over the genre she’s working in.

Throughout the book appear author’s notes, which is normally a great feature, letting the reader know more about the creator behind the work (or at least, the image they want to project). In this case, though… it’s the first thing the reader sees, and the first note goes something like “if you liked my previous series, you might not like this so much.” Then the creator starts writing about how she doesn’t care for the usual shojo manga heroines, that they’re “ordinary” and how she wants to create someone “a little like a wild beast”.

Skip Beat! Book 1 cover
Skip Beat! Book 1
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If that’s what she wants to do, I fear she’s working in the wrong genre. I get the impression (and maybe I’m reading too much into it) that the author was making concessions she didn’t really believe in in order to get her work into a particular magazine. She talks about how what she really wants to do won’t appeal to the general public, showing how she’s thinking about becoming popular first. Starting off this way left a bad taste in my mouth.

Then I met Kyoko, the lead. First, she’s a doormat, dropping out of school to support a spoiled rich boy who wants to be famous. Then, when she finds out that he despises her (an opinion I was beginning to share), she turns into an idiot, determined to become a celebrity herself for revenge, even though she has no talent beyond whining and guilt-tripping people.

In the right hands, I’d be sympathetic for the girl, rooting for her to discover herself and win out over the jerk, but here, I just thought “eh, she deserves it if she’s going to act like that.” I suspect part of that is because the author goes on to say in her notes that she doesn’t have much interest in showbiz (choosing that setting only because she was told she couldn’t do the one she wanted first) and has never been the kind of passionate fan she’s writing about. That disinterest came through the story for me.

Kyoko’s reactions are cartooned as extreme, which I found pathetic instead of funny. The storytelling can be near-incoherent, with rapid changes in mood, setting, or action shoved together on the same page, sometimes in different styles that don’t mesh. I feel as though I’ve seen some of the key images before elsewhere in a more appropriate setting.

This material could be great if the psychological ramifications were explored, which would mean a different audience and approach, but it’s all used for more direct, slam-bang attempts at comedy. Come to think of it, Kyoko has some of the same problems that I see demonstrated in the author’s notes.

About halfway through the book, sleep became more interesting to me, so I quit. If there’s a radical improvement after chapter two, all the better for the readers who could continue. I did notice that the were cultural notes included in the back, a welcome addition that I hope Viz includes in more of their titles.

37 Comments

  1. Actually, this author does problematic starts to her manga not just this once, the upside to her work is that when you read the manga back to back there’s a real storyline and character development and resolution, which guilty pleasure shoujo mangas often can’t show off. This particular series did start too slow for me, it becomes more interesting after volume 4 (the author is not afraid to introduce major characters in volumes 10 and following, heh).

    If you can get scanlation (since it hasn’t been licensed in English OR in German, which would help me personally, yet) of Tokyo Crazy Paradise (which is 17 volumes long), you might look forward to what she’s doing with Skip Beat there.

    Skip Beat runs in the German (yes, Germany did the first non-Japanese shoujo-only monthly anthology with articles on Japan and manga-related things) prototype for ShojoBeat called Daisuki, with quite good results (the chapters eventually being collected in tankubons).

  2. Wow, thanks for the history. I don’t think I’m going to make it until the fourth book…

  3. Fair enough ^^. If Tokyo Crazy Paradise ever gets licensed, do give her another try. That series is superior, I think.

  4. I read Skip Beat Volume 1 and it is really funny!

  5. this was a awsome book i loved it!!!!!!!!! it was totally dramtic!

  6. Wow, I totally agree with you on just about everything you wrote here. This series is pretty popular and a lot of my friends find it funny, but I don’t see how. What they find “funny” I find “annoying”. I had higher expectations because I usually love all ShojoBeat titles, but this series isn’t that great. =/

  7. well im waiting 4 book 3 2 come out now… i got impatient and ended up searching “Skip Beat Scanlations” and had no luck… TT___TT
    but i like it alot so far!
    and ill try 2 find “tokyo crazy paradise” if i can!
    onemore thing if u like anime, go 2
    Youtube.com and type in an anime in the search bar!

  8. in my own opinion…i love the manga despite its imperfection and it just happens to be that we are all different people. that’s why though i’m bit hurt due to your review, i still respect you. =)

  9. I’ve survived volumes 1-5. (Oh my, the horror)

    I thought the story was pretty decent, and it being boring, I kind of disagree. Well, Kyoko, in the first place, was already imaged as a “boring girl”, and things fell into a place where you could tell he wasn’t into her.

    But the story gets a little better, since her consistant cries to get what she wantson the verge for revenge seem to work for her up to a point, where her want of ‘revenge’ would not get her anywhere. At least it wasn’t, “She was GREAT!” kind of thing, and let her go through all the way.

    Maybe the thing that bored you was that you read the author’s comments, hich I have no tolerance for, unless it discusses a character.

    I think you were more annoyed by the author’s choice of words than the actual story, so that basicly ruined your good thought towards the story.

    I may be wrong. =D

    Have a great day.

  10. Ich liebe Skip beat.Kein andere Manga ist so toll und so geil wie Sb

  11. Skip beat is co cool,I love it.

  12. I’m afraid that I really can’t agree. When I first picked up Skip Beat! by recommendation I loved it.

    Sure, she thinks that revenge can get her through anything. Sure, she was used as the typical girl-gets-tossed-out-and-goes-after-guy thing. However, she does so not out of love but out of hatred (and I’m serious, she hates the guy but not without the occasional, oh right, I used to like him, things).

    While she thought that revenge could get her through anything she changes her mind (but not until a few volumes later) and realizes that somewhere along the way she fell in love with what she was doing.

    Kyouko isn’t exactly normal with those demons but more so that she refuses to love and promptly freaks out whenever the word is mentioned. Shou left a deep mark on her in all the wrong ways and she’s determined to fix it.

    Though I agree about the author’s notes, I never read them until several times through the book. Ah, the author isn’t exactly self-confident to begin with.

    Her love for show-biz (or rather, lack there of) is remidied later in the series as she obviously puts more effort into what she does.

    I don’t really think that she thought the series was going to go as far as it did.

    All in all I hope that you pick the book up again one day and try to get through it once more.

    Though I might be just a little (sarcasm doesn’t reach online very well) biased all things considered. Skip Beat is, and will remain for quite some time, one of my favorite shojo series.

  13. I completely agree with what you have to say about this series and I’m glad I’m not the only person in the world who thinks this series kinda reeks.

  14. I actually love this manga! I’ve read up to volume 10 so… it’s really interesting so those who have little faith, keep at it. I think you all will end up liking it.

  15. The problem with that approach is that there are so many other titles out there! If one doesn’t work for me, I’d rather try another one instead of sticking around hoping things improve.

  16. I really love this manga. Well, actually I didn’t interested in it when I saw it for the first time. But I fell in love when I read it. The story is very interesting and funny. I’ve bought and read it up to volume 10. You have to read this manga and I guarantee that you won’t regret if you read this manga..

  17. This is one of the best books that I have ever read. And that’s saying a lot because I only read this series and Vampire Knights. I love reading manags period. But if I had to reacommend any series, I would reacommend this series to a beginner.

  18. I absolutely loved Skip Beat! I agree that the story does start out pretty slow, but it gets progressively better as the series moves on. Skip Beat is one of my absolute favorite mangas!

  19. I think this is a really good manga. I couldn’t stop reading it. I agree that she starts off as pretty weak, but Kyoko is just hilarious, especially her demons. And I love the mangaka’s use of chibiness, just so cute (especially Ren).

    Although a bit slow, the story progresses quite well (and it gets quite sweet and dramatic as well). The exploration of acting is pretty interesting. Overall, it’s quite a positive manga.

    After reading this, I found all the other manga I’ve read kinda boring (and the heroines in them annoying as well).

    Maybe you should read a few more chapters.

  20. Sorry, I meant all the manga I’ve read after this seemed kinda boring.

    (Although I have to admit it took quite a while for me to get use to the LONG faces of the guys)

  21. I feel inlove with Kyoko.
    In the first volume she annoyed me. I thought, “Well… here we go again. Another manga heroine looking for a prince to save her instead of getting of her ass and slaying her own damn dragons.”
    However, I decided to stick it out after she released all of her grudge demons. I thought that was funny, and I knew things would become more interesting.
    They have.
    Kyoko is now in shobiz for herself–not Shou. She says she’s in it to make a new version of Kyoko and that she really enjoys acting. (A side benifit would be knocking Sho out of the spotlight.)
    She even has to work with Sho in a music video in volume 7 (7 or 8).

    You begin to find out how strong this character truly is as more of her past is revealed. And you see that the author knows the nuances of the characters past because she is piecing things together slowly–instead of the big flashy revelations many mangas have when an author decides he or she wants to do something to a character and that the author didn’t really think it through.

    If this passage doesn’t make sense I apologize. I’m rushing because I have to get some hw done so my prof doesn’t fail me on the spot. I just wanted to catch a glimps of ch 129 raw scans when I stumbled upon this review.

  22. You really need to look into the series more.
    Kyoko wasn’t exactly a doormat. She’d do ANYTHING for Sho, in the begining. She’d known him since she was a child. She thought he was her friend. He told her to come to Tokyo with him,to get away from an arranged marriage, and she was estatic! The guy she loves chose her to come with him!

    But, he is never home. She works two jobs to afford the apartment she lives at, and cannot go to school,or afford the same clothes and makeup as other girls her age.

    The is devoted for him, and the discovers, that, he finds her incredibly unattractive. That SHE was the girl he wanted to get away from, the plain girl who doesn’t wear makeup. She finds out she means nothing to him. That the all the jobs she works mean nothing to her.

    Later on in the series, you see she never had any friends before, ever. The other girls in her class hated her for living with Sho.
    Her mother just plan got up and left her with the Fuwa’s. Nothing was ever good enough for Mommy.

    That, and, she can’t give Sho is well deserved revenge! So, she goes into show business!

    She does start to love it. After awhile, we see just how talented and amazing she is. She changes.
    Kyoko is terrified of the prospect of “Love”. She doesn’t want it, she is afraid of it.

    You really need to read EVERYTHING before denying a book of any and all crediblity. The series has a lot of emotion, and story.

    And,what is wrong with having a little VARIATION in Shojomanga heroine. Everything is the same story, with a different front. I need something unique! I need a girl who is strong and independent! A girl who isn’t bubbly gaga over some “Bishie”.

  23. Skip Beat is one of my fav mangas! I love Kyoko’s determination!!!!

  24. I’m not trying to bambard you with my complaints. But, I was wondering if you read a Viz translation or someone else’s because what I read was slightly different then yours which in my opinion made the meaning completly different. From the author’s note, that I read, she said that it might be unacceptable to those who read Tokyo Pardise because the main lead is not a righteous hero nor is she a “healing hands female character.” She felt that if the main lead was that kind of shoujo manga character then it would make her ordinary. Also, another thing about what you stated is that you thought of her as a doormat. The reason why I liked her was probably for that reason. The innocence, that undying love for someone you care about is something I admire. You may take her as an idiot, but I took her as someone who just trusted someone. I think you should give Skip Beat another chance, but this time with an open mind, instead of thinking of her as idiot, just think of her as someone who without a thought works hard for someone she loves. And if you still don’t, I think you should try and keep reading because a lot of the stuff clears up as they show her past. In my opinion there was much more to it then actually meets the eye. Oh and maybe, if you read the Viz translation, read a different translation, it could make all the difference.

  25. Oh also, American translated versions take out a few pages. In my opinion, every page counts. Sometimes the smallest bit makes all the difference.

  26. You’re suggesting I go to an awful lot of trouble to continue with a series I didn’t like. :) If there’s an official translation of a work available, that’s the one I’m going to read. And I’m not sure why I should keep putting money into buying a series I didn’t enjoy when there are so many others out there that I do.

    I appreciate that others thought of the series differently than I did, or saw different things in it.

  27. Skip beat is wonderful, in my opinion. I love how Kyoko isn’t like other shojo heroines. After a while that kind of girl gets annoying. I adore her quirkiness and eccentricity and her demons. Skip beat was the first manga I’ve read that made me laugh out loud all through the book and I can’t wait to find out more- which was a problem since I was reading it at Barnes and Nobles. I don’t buy manga since I don’t have a big income. Instead I read them at Barnes and Nobles.

  28. I love Skip Beat. IT is the best series ever…!!!!

  29. When I first read Skipbeat I certainly did think that Kyouko was pretty pathetic. How could she not tell that Sho was playing and using her. How could she be so focused on giving him the best of everything and leaving nothing for herself? I really felt that she was an idiot for sacrificing herself for someone who acted soo spoiled. However after she accidentally hears what Sho really thinks of her, I begin to like her, because FINALLY she has awakened from her romantic daydream that had no basis in truth.
    The fact that she wants revenge actually feels like something I would want to do if someone I loved and trusted betrayed me in such a way. I can begin to relate to her in her drive for revenge whereas in her devout Sho follower stage I could no even begin to understand what could motivate a person to sacrifice so much for someone else.
    Her venture into the world of acting may have started as a reaction to that betrayel, she does actually begin to like and respect the industry. I also quite enjoy the fact that everything is not easy to her, that she had to begin from the bottom and didn´t achieve her goal right away and has to work her way up because it gives her an opportunity to grow up and mature.
    All in all SkipBeat is actually one of my favorite Manga and I am always looking forward to translations.

  30. i loved the books it was good my friends were ewwing the part when sho sat on the gir

  31. Her rise through the “Love Me Agency” gave me the impression that anyone with the tiniest scrap of acting ability and dog-like determination could become a star, but she is shown (or touted) to have a lot of actual talent later in the series.

    Reading old reviews of the first volume or two seem to have the ridiculousness of LME and Kyoko’s lack of any talent whatsoever as part of their argument against Skip Beat, which I do agree with – the first two or three volumes are terribly inconsistent, outrageously absurd, and full of plot holes. Even so, when she actually starts to act, after a three-volume-long delay, I enjoyed her journey much more.

    You shouldn’t continue with a series you don’t like, but with 150 chapters and a span of nineteen officially translated volumes, I think the series changes slightly as she gains credibility. Picking up a title after you drop it and after it runs for a few years can be a good thing if the story changes. Of course, if you truly and utterly dislike it, choosing to avoid Skip Beat despite its popularity is also fine (Naruto, for example, is something I cannot stand). Without different/opposing views, there would be no objectivity.

    On an irrelevant note, at least for the titles I’ve read, I find author’s notes to be useless. They expose the author’s insecurities & negative thoughts about their own work, or they promote their merchandise, or they contain the author’s preferences about random things (the author’s favorite video games dominated Fruits Basket’s Free Talks for a few volumes).

  32. That makes a lot of sense — thanks for explaining how the series changes as it goes on. A lot of people I respect enjoy this series, so I knew there must be something I was missing.

  33. That’s a shame, Skip Beat! is my all time favorite shoujo by far. I picked up the first 4 volumes on impulse a few years ago because the cover art attracted me. I was a complete obsessed zombie reading the series until I caught up. I’d say this is the only series so far that you’ve reviewed that I don’t feel I see eye to eye with you on. I’m often surprised how often I like the manga you suggest, when you “recommend” a series I take it pretty seriously when considering what to buy next. So yes 20+ manga matches and only 1 mis-match, that’s pretty damn good.

  34. Wow, that is a good track record. You’ve made me more curious about Skip Beat! now. Why do you like it? What got you involved in it/obsessed?

  35. Hahaha well I feel a bit odd describing what got me hooked, because the things you disliked were the things I LOVED and really hooked me in. I love the art style, and especially the over exaggerated faces the characters sometimes make. I adore Kyoko as the heroine. I like that she is focused on figuring out who she is, and living her life how she wants to. Although her reasons for getting into acting were extremely shallow she begins to realize how much she loves it. To me, Skip Beat! manages to have all the most positive aspects of a typical shojo story without any over girlie or sappy stuff that sometimes makes me cringe. ALTHOUGH! I agree with you on the mangaka’s notes…I wish I had never read them, I dislike knowing what influenced certain scenes from being put in.

    PS – I both love and shake my fist at you for introducing me to The Kindaich case Files! The manga is soooooo good! But I want more!

  36. I personally love this manga! I’m up to volume 27. Though I do agree that the story was a little boring at the beginning…….Otherwise I find it funny and entertaining!

  37. Never read it in order started on book 12 read allof them up to book 28,But books:1,2,and3 ,I cant find them!!!! AHHHH!!!!TT__TT

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