Skip Beat Volume 27

Skip Beat Volume 27 by Yoshiki Nakamura

I feel that the latest volume of Skip Beat can usually be summed up as “Skip Beat – still great!” In many shoujo series around the 27th volume we’ve seen some plot recycling, the introduction of a sudden fiance or evil male model, or random fights that break romantic couples apart only to bring them closer yet again. The current Heel siblings arc in Skip Beat is enormously entertaining just because it places Kyoko and Ren in close physical proximity all the time, and seeing how they each deal with their unexpressed feelings for each other while maintaining their steadfast commitment to their roles as freaky goth siblings makes the whole series seem new and fresh.

Every experience Kyoko and Ren undertake is a method acting exercise. The relatively simple act of shopping for clothes becomes a tangled transaction involving sibling manipulation and far too many pairs of pants. When Kyoko gets hit on by some random guys, is Ren’s violent reaction due to his character’s feelings for his sister or his own feelings for Kyoko? Ren seems to be approaching an emotional breaking point, but his attempts to send Kyoko away are futile. While Nakamura might draw her characters with freakishly long limbs even by manga standards, her mastery of facial expressions really helps her add more nuance and layers of meaning into the story of Skip Beat. In the more emotionally intense scenes, the reader sees not only the reaction of the character the protagonists are portraying but also the internal feelings and struggles of the actors behind the characters. Ren shifts from shock to fury almost instantaneously when he thinks that Kyoko is threatened, and his posture and aura shift so completely when he’s in character that it is easy to see how his dedication to his craft brings out the best in Kyoko’s acting as well. I’m looking forward to more emotional torture with the Heel siblings in the next volume!

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