Skip Beat! Vol. 39

Skip Beat! Volume 39 by Yoshiki Nakamura

This shortish storyline dealing with Kyoko’s mother is one of my least favorite Skip Beat! episodes, perhaps because Nakamura is so good at portraying Saena as cold and distant in a way that would damage anyone’s psyche, that the efforts to humanize her by detailing the events that led up to her abandonment of her daughter still fall short of making her a character that I feel any sympathy for. But part of what makes Skip Beat! so entertaining for so long is the way many of the characters have been emotionally damaged in different ways, and there’s no easy fix for getting over trauma.

As Kyoko progresses through the series it is fascinating to see how her reactions to setbacks both change and stay the same, but the end result is that she becomes a stronger person. Kyoko’s control and composure when confronting her mother demonstrates how much more resilient she’s become, and her response to the encounter is to dedicate herself to becoming successful with her own goals.

One of the reasons why I like Skip Beat! so much is that Ren Tsuruga often is placed in what is sometimes a more feminine position for shoujo manga tropes. In this volume in particular, he’s left waiting and worrying about a terse text from Kyoko, and he ends up pretending to casually drop by to check on her. Patient waiting is the best way to deal with Kyoko when she’s still so emotionally fragile, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they are both ready for a relationship.

While Kyoko has come pretty far, it is clear that maintaining her rage at Sho is her safe space. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that after the confrontation with her mother, she ends up in a confrontation with Sho. Seeing how gently Kyoko and Ren interact with each other is certainly a big contrast to all the yelling and shin kicks that occurs when Kyoko and Sho are in the same room. As the volume seems to be setting up another acting challenge for Kyoko, I’m looking forward to seeing what she is able to accomplish next with all the emotional turmoil behind her.

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