[Anime] First Impressions: Skip Beat!

skip beat! anime

Kyoko followed her true love and childhood friend Sho to Tokyo so she could help him reach his dream of becoming an idol. She cleans, cooks, works three jobs and does nothing for herself because she loves him so much, but gets nothing in return. Still, she remains by his side.

But then one day she goes unannounced to his agency with a delivery, and overhears him talking about her; he reveals to his manager that he only took her with him as a maid, and that he doesn’t care for her at all.

Upon hearing this, Kyoko doesn’t just sit around and cry. She cuts and dyes her hair, changes her clothes and attitude and thus begins her journey to join showbiz and have her revenge against Sho.



I’ve only watched the first five episodes, so any speculation in this post is simply… speculation. Other than the premise, I knew nothing about Skip Beat! before I started, so any and all spoilers only apply to the anime’s beginning.

Story: Sometimes I feel like there are so many different anime about similar things that there is no possible way they can come up with anything original. But then they prove me wrong, and I realize the Japanese are way more creative than the creators of most American TV shows. I’ve seen several anime about “becoming idols” (singers, actors, etc.) that I didn’t really think anything of Skip Beat! when I first heard about it. (I thought it would be like Full Moon Wo Sagashite, which is a brilliant anime by the way, and focus on the characters becoming musical pop stars, but no, this isn’t really like that at all.) It wasn’t until several of my friends told me a little bit more about it that I became intrigued.

What’s important and awesome about Skip Beat! is that it’s misleading. When people think of shoujo anime, adorable characters, cute story lines, and slice-of-life themes come to mind. An anime focusing on show business, on the other hand, makes me think of all things flashy and glamorous. Skip Beat! actually is none of these things. No description (other than “AN ANIME ABOUT REVENGE!”) seems accurate.

The story begins with Kyoko, who works long hours to support herself (she has no family) and her childhood friend, Shotaro, who happens to be a rising star in the music industry. Though he’s never said it, she believes they’re in a relationship, one where he relies on her completely to support him, and she’s his number one biggest fan, helping him reach the top in any way she can. Her fondest memory is Sho-chan asking her to accompany him as he follows his dreams, and though she hasn’t seen that tenderness from him ever in a while, she knows he’s incredibly busy and stressed. The only thing that would make her happy is to see him happy.

Until she discovers that he really doesn’t care for her at all and only took her with him because he, as a pop star prince, couldn’t possibly be expected to take care of himself. When she finds out and screams at him incredulously, he tells her that she shouldn’t even bother being angry — there is no way she, a lowly commoner, could reach him, a celebrity. In fact, he specifies the only way she’ll ever be able to come close enough to even seek revenge is to become a celebrity herself, which, “for a plain and boring woman,” is impossible.

So Kyoko vows to enter show business and rise to the top, until she can finally have her vengeance.

“The greatest hate springs from the greatest love.”

Characters: Though I’m loving the secondary characters (the adorable-but-kind-of-scary president at LME, Sawara-san, her boss and his wife, Ren, and even Sho), the main character, Kyoko is the sole reason why this anime is a must-watch. I actually don’t watch too many anime with weak female leads (though I know many of them exist), but Mogami Kyoko is just… not one of them.

Kyoko (Skip Beat!)

This girl puts most strong heroines to shame. She’s so… crazy and ruthless, so determined in her vengeance that nothing — not even the fact that she has no conceivable talent, she doesn’t care for acting, and she prefers to listen to music rather than sing it — will stand in her way. I’ll admit I was a little terrified of her at times (once the veil is lifted in from her eyes, she is scary and angry and you do not want to cross her), but I also couldn’t help cheering her on. I liked the fact that she seemed to be… a real person. She wasn’t “plain” and “boring” because of her strong feminist characteristics (post Sho-stupor), but because she had been working so hard to help her “friend” that she had no money for fancy clothes or make-up. However, she was also quite feminine, even if she couldn’t afford to spend that much money or time on her appearance (cosmetics seem to be her weakness — she loves them a lot, though she doesn’t own many of them). And yes, watching her through most of episode one is going to make you cringe a lot (she was Shotaro’s doormat), even though it’s easy to tell that there is a lot of strength in this character. (If it makes you feel better, once she realizes what is going on, she can’t believe she used to be “that person” either.) I hope she learns to love in the future, and I hope someone (REN!) loves her for who she is, but I don’t want to see her ever be that pitiable woman again.

Skip Beat! is a tribute to, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, and trust me, Kyoko is no woman you ever want to anger. (Don’t mistreat a woman in her presence either — she will not be pleased.)

Humor: The comedy in this isn’t like Ouran, where there are actual jokes and so many innuendos puns, but I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard. At first, it was everything Shotaro said because he was so arrogant and so… ridiculous that he must be living on a different planet (there is no way that ego fits on earth). But then, Kyoko’s murderous comments, how incredibly aggressive she is, stole the show. I will never get over:

“When you hear the word ‘love’, what is the first thing that you think of?”
“A prelude to destruction and despair.”


I can already tell this triangle of hatred (Kyoko hates Shotaro, Ren dislikes her because he doesn’t really understand/know her and he thinks she’s mocking his profession, and Shotaro hates Ren because he is clearly jealous) will be incredibly amusing. I also have a huge feeling it will turn into an actual love triangle, and even though I’m not a fan of love triangles at all, I doubt I’ll hate this one. Mostly because I can’t fathom how it will happen. (I can see Ren getting to know her and not being annoyed by her anymore, and I can see her almost liking and respecting Ren, but the Shotaro thing, if it ever does happen, will have to be one-sided on his end because this girl is too strong (read: too awesome) to go running back to him. Please tell me I’m not wrong. Or don’t — I guess I’ll figure it out when I watch the rest!)

Theme Song: Maybe it’s just me, but I have a thing for anime music, especially opening or ending themes. It doesn’t matter that I barely know any Japanese words — I love Japanese music, so much that if it’s catchy or the melody is beautiful, I will find myself humming (and attempting to sing) the song for weeks. While Skip Beat!‘s opening theme (“Dream Star” by The Generous) isn’t as infectious or attention-grabbing as Ouran High School Host Club‘s” Sakura Kiss” (KISS KISS FALL IN LOVE!), I feel like it’s the kind of song that will grow on me. And I thought the lyrics (once I looked up the translation) were fitting and the music beautiful. I don’t really know what to think of the ending theme, “Namida” by 2BACKKA. It reminded me of some of Bleach‘s themes, and the style seemed to be fast-paced and rap-like (though I don’t think it’s actually rap). It’s not really the kind of song that would leave any impression on me (other than the fact that it is so happy and upbeat), but then again, I rarely stick around for ending themes, unless they’re especially spectacular (Itazura na Kiss‘s “Jikan Yo Tomare”, Sailor Moon‘s “Kaze Mo Sora Mo Kitto”, and basically ANYTHING that was ever an ending song in Inu Yasha all come to mind).

Art: You’ll rarely see me review an anime with art that is especially disappointing (unless of course, I only checked it out because I loved the manga, and the anime’s animation wasn’t up to par). I’m incredibly picky about the anime I watch, and part of what goes into the choosing process is the quality of the animation (and sometimes the style). This one seems to be classic shoujo, and the style is one that I see in most of the anime I watch (Fruits Basket, Ouran), but I’m loving how… bold everything is, especially the eyes and the hair color. I do, however, have to say that I’ve seen some pretty weird things happen in anime for emphasis, but I don’t think any of it has been as strange as the random hand coming out of Kyoko’s mouth when she’s really eager to own something (like Sho’s poster in the first episode), or two huge, creepy eyes appearing in the background every time she’s eying someone enviously or angrily. Strange as it is, it definitely did add some comic relief (to an already hilarious anime), and I kind of just… got used to it.

Random Notes

I love that Kyoko doesn’t become a star overnight. There’s some realism here — she has talents, but none of them seem to be marketable, and the LME agency wants to see what she’s truly capable of, so of course they give her odd jobs until they can figure this out, and have her learn how to be a celebrity (to fake loving the audience enough that they believe it and love her back) along the way.

Ren’s kind of a jerk at this point, but with potential. Sho’s pretty, but I can’t stand his ego. I’m looking forward to seeing these two clash more.

There’s a huge bit in the beginning about a box inside every human, and how it takes a maginificent event to open the box and unleash its contents. I could be wrong, but I think this tae was refrencing Pandora’s box, and it’s kind of hilarious when it finally snaps open, and Kyoko’s no longer blind about Shotaro. It’s funny because it’s like, with the opened box, she herself has snapped, and in a way she has. She’s scary and insane, acting primarily for vengeance now, but in an… awesome way. Trust me, it’ll make sense when you watch it.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE POSTERS IN THE FIRST EPISODE. I swear one of them is a Harry Potter poster!

The fact that her agency created a division for her called LOVE ME! cracks me up. I would hate to advertise the fact that I’m difficult to love (now that an idiot boy has crushed that part of me) or that it’s difficult for me to love, or the fact that I have insecurities about love in the first place. All three of these things apply to her.

I have a thing for Mamoru Miyano. Maybe because his name is Mamoru (Sailor Moon‘s Chiba Mamoru will always be my first love), or because he voiced Riku in Kingdom Hearts and Tamaki in Ouran, but I have to see things that feature his voice. Sadly, his voice belongs to Shotaro in this anime. So I have feelings when I listen to him speak before I actually read the subtitles and see what jerkish things he’s actually saying.

“YES! I STOLE A FAN FROM THAT GUY. HOW COOL AM I?” – I will never get over how hilarious this quote is. Oh Shotaro, someone needs to kick your pretty face badly.

Can I have some Kyoko/Ren soon? Please?

Basically, if you’re a fan of incredibly strong female characters (this better mean everyone), shoujo anime (or shounen – my friends tell me that this is the one shoujo anime that appeals to the masses), original storylines, and watching a woman (hopefully eventually) kick a jerk’s ass, Skip Beat! is the anime for you. Seriously, I’d recommend this even to people who don’t watch anime. It’s that awesome.



Aimee

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. megtao
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 11:12:58

    I’ve read some of the manga of this one and didn’t realize that it was also an anime. WANT!!!

    Reply

  2. she who was not here (@paisleyblu)
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 21:22:57

    Is it kinda bad that I find Sho more attractive than Ren? Not that I find Ren ugly or anything, but compared to Sho – who’s like a teen hearthrob god – he’s a bit more on the average side. (Yet I still have a strong urge to strangle Sho and his ego, which makes me feel conflicted.)

    (Also, I find it uber adorable and kinda weird that the thing that makes her win at the audition is that she can make a rose out of a radish!)

    I also really love the ending and opening themes though I’m like you and don’t find many spectacular. (I think the songs for Skip Beat resonate so much with me because they do seem to fit the theme of the show very well and have pretty melodies.)

    Reply

    • aimee
      Jul 06, 2012 @ 23:14:05

      I adore Ren, but I totally understand – I’m more attracted to Sho too. If they were one person (Ren’s personality, Sho’s appearance), I’d be in love.

      But haha, yeah, I fight the urge to throttle Sho every time I see him too. I’m curious how he is in the manga. I wonder if his personality improves at all…

      AND YES. I was so confused about her talent when I saw that knife, and then she made that rose/cabbage and they were impressed and it was both really weird and endearing.

      The Skip Beat! opening theme is really growing on me. I like it enough when I hear it and I can understand/read the translations, but it hasn’t gotten stuck in my head or anything like that. The one thing I remember about Fruits Basket and Ouran High School Host Club was that even when I couldn’t watch an episode that day, the theme song would haunt me, as if WANTING me to marathon the anime. But then again, I love Gakuen Alice and Itazura na Kiss, and I didn’t care for their opening themes at all. (But I love pretty music, so awesome music is always a plus.)

      I’m so glad you’re watching this too! (How far are you now?)

      Reply

      • she who was not here (@paisleyblu)
        Jul 07, 2012 @ 22:38:42

        Hahahaha, Ren’s personality and Sho’s appearance coming together to form one perfect guy would be AWESOME.

        I just finished episode 11 and then am gonna take a little break from marathoning the series (I don’t want to go through the series too fast and I have other tv I was thinking of catching up on this weekend).

  3. Samantha
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:33:21

    Please tell me hot, brooding guy in the corner is Ren and not Sho. Because he’s all hot and brooding and I’m shipping him with the red-head (who I’m assuming is Kyoko already). Of course, I’ll change my mind if I’m wrong and it’s not Ren but… please tell me he is?

    Reply

    • aimee
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:53:22

      The one with the dark hair? Because YES, that is Ren, and ughhhh, I ship it so much. (SAM, YOU MUST WATCH THIS. IT’S SOOO GOOD.)

      Reply

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