Beauty Pop Volume 8
After my mixed reaction to the previous volume, I’d put off reading this next book for a bit. I hoped that a fresher start would keep me interested, but my approach was fresher than the storylines here.
The last chapter of volume 7 sets up Stage 2 of the series, where a teenage Hollywood hair and makeup artist challenges the Scissors Project makeover group. That story gets into full swing here in volume 8.
Billy, the young professional from America, is boarding at Kiri’s house and secretly trying to force the group to disband. Billy’s teasing everyone, especially Narumi, Kiri’s local haircutting rival, by pretending to have a crush on her. Aside from his jealousy, Narumi’s also having problems with his arm. He’s supposed to stop cutting for a month to let it rest, but he can’t go that long without practicing his art.
Now that Kiri’s stopped fighting membership in the group, the story lacks spark. She’s no longer as unique as she was. Instead of going her own merry way, she’s become an inspirational manga heroine, helping out the neighbors with minor hair issues and consoling schoolmates. Where’s her individualism gone? And the story now is more about school politics than about magical makeovers that change people’s lives. What I liked about the earlier volumes has been downplayed or removed.
In the margin notes, the author Kiyoko Arai says that Stage 2 will “bring out the ‘love’ part that was almost non-existent in the first stage.” That might account for why this feels more standard — the story’s going to more typical subjects. In addition to the forced love triangle, there’s also an heir refusing to follow the life his father has laid out for him.
The plot points are not only tired, but exaggerated. It’s not just the club’s existence on the line in the latest contest, but Narumi’s future, everyone’s possessions, and Kiri’s father’s salon. It’s overkill, piling on consequences to attempt to replace the feeling that’s missing.