Skip Beat!, Vol. 41

Skip Beat!, Volume 41 by Yoshiki Nakamura

There’s something about picking up a new volume in a long-running shoujo series that is the manga equivalent of comfort food to me. It is great to settle in to a story arc, even if the situations are similar to what has happened before, seeing how the characters have grown and evolved as they encounter new challenges still makes it rewarding for the reader.

Kyoko has a big audition in this volume, and even though this has happened so many times before in Skip Beat!, this was very satisfying to read simply to see the way she’s grown into her comfort zone as an actor. Also, Skip Beat! excels at serving up sweet sweet revenge as Kyoko proves people who underestimate her wrong with her unique skill set. In this case, Kyoko is competing for the role of the ninja Momiji against the spoiled niece of the director. Kyoko is able to bring something unique to the role due to her recent training in stage fighting, combined with her skills and instincts as an actor. One of the many things that makes Skip Beat! so special after 41 volumes is Nakamura’s gifts at drawing the process of acting. Kyoko’s body language and intensity utterly change when she’s inhabiting a role, and seeing her dynamic approach to her character’s demanding physical scenes makes it clear that the executives are crazy if they cast anyone else.

Kyoko is at her best when proving herself, and her agency isn’t afraid to pile on a little extra difficulties by manipulating the situation behind the scenes, in an attempt to improve the casting possibilities for all the actors who get started as “talent” on variety shows instead of the pure acting track. Rory’s oversight and machinations doesn’t just stop at Kyoko’s career. This volume is largely Ren free, but we get a hint at what might be happening in the next few volumes as Ren returns and Rory tips him off to a situation that might actually inspire jealousy in Ren! As always I’m having it hard to manage my anticipation until the next volume.

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