Skip Beat Volume 30 by Yoshiki Nakamura
I continue to be an absolute fangirl over the current Skip Beat storyline about the Heel siblings. It says a lot that 30 volumes into this series I’m still so excited each time I pick up a new volume. Even with some of my other beloved shoujo series like Boys Over Flowers, I think I was starting to get impatient for things to wrap up around volume 30 but as far as I’m concerned I would be perfectly happy for Skip Beat to continue on indefinitely.
Nakamura is very clever about how she’s structured Skip Beat, because while there are plenty of shoujo series out there that use show business as a superficial setting, she really uses the idea of acting and the challenge of portraying other characters to highlight the inner psychological turmoil of her characters. I begin to get a better sense of why Kyoko and Ren are portraying the abnormally close punked-out Heel siblings. Ren playing a actor playing a role of a violent criminal gives him a certain amount of distance from the role in his new movie, a role that is dangerously close to the person he used to be as Kuon. This volume shows Ren’s legendary control slipping a bit as even with the protective layer of Cain Heel, the self he thought was buried starts to resurface.
Kyoko as Ren’s sibling functions as an important anchor for him, but she’s beginning to get a bit disconcerted by her physical proximity to Ren, and while she is attempting to carry out her real life role as best she can, she isn’t able to stay entirely in character. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Skip Beat is how visually dynamic it is. There’s an extended action sequence at the start of this volume, but there’s plenty of visual interest as Kyoko and Ren both just process their thoughts about their situation. Ren cycles through different aspects of himself as we see the violent and non-reflective Kuon from the past, the grim Cain Heel role, and then glimpses of present-day Ren slip through the cracks in his performance as he interacts with Kyoko. It is nice to be able to count on Skip Beat for a reliable dose of shoujo manga goodness.