Skip Beat 25 and Seiho Boys' High School 8

Skip Beat Volume 25 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat is so great. For all the gangly limbs and oddly proportioned characters that Nakamura draws she is an absolute master at nuanced facial expressions, as evidenced in a series of confrontational scenes in this volume of Skip Beat!. I was happy to see some events happen to propel the slowly developing relationship between Ren and Kyoko forward at last. Sho, the evil pop idol and former target of Kyoko’s obsession and revenge shows up with an elaborate bouquet and engineers a dramatic kiss right in front of Ren and some of Kyoko’s co-workers. Since Sho is a spoiled brat who can’t abide not being the focus of Kyoko’s attention, he has decided to steal her first kiss and act obnoxious in the hopes that she’ll start thinking about him again. Ren goes from amazed, to annoyed, to dangerously furious as he watches this scene play out. Kyoko is left in hysterics about not getting her first kiss back and Ren chooses to deal with the situation in the best way possible; he appeals to her professionalism. When he notices her unglued he points out that it isn’t anything to get wrapped up over and that “What feels like your first kiss counts as your real first kiss.” He can’t maintain his impartial facade for long and warns her that he doesn’t want to see a repeat of the situation and Kyoko’s response is “I shall risk my life to preserve my purity!”

Kyoko and Ren dance around their emotions, not willing to admit anything to each other yet. Ren’s reactions and the way he behaves towards Kyoko are carefully calculated, not because he’s manipulative but because he doesn’t want to cause her any more emotional damage. His measured approach and awareness of her emotional fragility stands in stark contrast to Sho, whose innate selfishness ensures that he’s never going to be a good match for her. Kyoko has Ren on such a high pedestal, that she isn’t capable of entertaining the thought that he has feelings for her. It is a rare series that manages to rack up so many volumes and still keep me entertained when the romantic protagonists have barely kissed, but Skip Beat always manages to be both fun and interesting in the way the relationships between the characters continue to play out.

Seiho Boys’ High School Volume 8 by Kaneyoshi Izumi

This was a not-so-guilty-pleasure series for me, because it was much better than I expected a shoujo manga set in an all boys high school to be. The romantic issues of the main characters get a certain amount of resolution in this final volume, but the well worn plot device of misunderstandings serving to drive some of the couples apart makes me glad that the series stopped when it did. Maki is hearing that his girlfriend Takano has been hanging out with school heartthrob Kamiki. At first he resolutely denies the possibility, but then runs into Takano and Kamiki on the beach. Kamiki and Takano are only talking. She’s going through some changes in her life that she’s hiding from Maki and Kamiki warns her “Once you figure out that I can’t make you less lonely, talk to Maki.” Maki sees them together and abruptly breaks up, but Takano was hiding the fact that she’s headed overseas from him. Maki and Takano manage to get a little bit of resolution, but Kamiki is left to deal with his own problems.

Kamiki’s white knight tendencies are coming in the way of him actually getting to develop a real relationship with Miaji. She calls him out on this personality trait, saying “I don’t want your pity, I want your love.” She rejects his help and enters into a stressful project – taking care of a stray dog with Maki. Kamiki ends up helping anyway, saying “I wanted an excuse to talk to you, Miaji. Pretty sneaky of me, huh?” The series ends with the general sense that the main characters are all going to be ok. Having a shoujo series with a more male centric point of view was refreshing, and Izumi’s art has an element of clarity that ensures it is easy to read. The one thing that threw off my enjoyment of this manga was the back-up story called “Reverse Guilt” that has an extremely icky twist ending that contrasted with the more peaceful conclusions of the main story.

Review copies provided by the publisher.

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  1. “It is a rare series that manages to rack up so many volumes and still keep me entertained when the romantic protagonists have barely kissed, but Skip Beat always manages to be both fun and interesting in the way the relationships between the characters continue to play out”

    Couldn’t agree more. This series is delicious. I love how well guarded the series is about slowly seeing the characters’ pasts, there’s such a huge emotional build up now that I have very high expectations. Particularly when it comes to Kyoko’s past, I’m hoping a few more things are explained about her family situation. As these volumes go on I’m beginning to wonder if what Kyoko felt for Sho was actually love, true she was incredibly loyal…but her love didn’t seem like it had any passion behind it. I almost (ALMOST) feel bad for Sho because the girl of his dreams was in front of him all along, but he was unable to recognize her because she always had a courteous mask on in front of him. By being such a loyal person to Sho I feel like Kyoko hid a lot of her true self from him so he never actually knew her (and she didn’t fully know herself). Well anyway I’m sure the mangaka will have great plans for her charcters’ stories.

    I was WILD for Seiho Boy’s High School in the first few volumes, but my excitment wore off a bit as it went on. Don’t get me wrong, I still REALLY enjoyed this series all the way through…it’s just the surprise at how such a scenario can work out surprisingly well as a shoujo wore off. I also wanted to shake some of them and stop telling them to be so complex about everything. But I really loved the humor in this series.

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