|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 wanted to write a comprehensive review of the Skip Beat! anime, but it turns out that my First Impressions review actually covered a lot of the major elements. So I’m only going to talk about stand-out aspects of the last twenty episodes. Unlike First Impressions (which was a brief run-down of the anime), this review focuses on character stories, and is full of spoilers.
Fuwa Shotaro: I’ll admit that I never expected to like Shotaro at all. When we left off, Sho was a class-A jerk. From what I hear, he doesn’t really “redeem” himself (at least a little) until the manga, when he starts to sound less insensitive and more like an… actual person. However, even though this redemption isn’t explored in the anime (primarily because the anime hadn’t even gotten to that arc in the story when it ended), I actually did feel like I understood his character better. Episode 17, when Kyoko was offered a role in Sho’s promotional video, delved deeper into his relationship with Kyoko. He was still an ass, I won’t deny that (in fact, he said something ridiculous about Kyoko always belonging to him), but I couldn’t help but get the impression that part of him was deeply hurt (and not just his pride) that she had really thrown him out of her life that easily.
It’s strange because you don’t see it at the start of the anime at all (and then Sho’s basically a taboo to bring up, unless someone directly or indirectly reminds Kyoko of the things he did to her), but I think that he and Kyoko actually were friends when they were younger. When Mimori kept asking him what his relationship to Kyoko was, he stumbled between saying, “strangers”, “someone I used to know”, and “a childhood friend”. And then when Kyoko, surprised when he was actually able to comfort Mimori and dry away her tears, mentioned how she was wrong – he had experienced some growth as a human being after all – he seemed legitimately hurt that she thought he had been insensitive all those years he couldn’t handle her tears. It felt like it hurt him to see her cry. Or at least, it sort of implied that? By the end of the anime, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Sho. He was still a jerk in need of much growing up, but I was able to understand his history with Kyoko a little more. I don’t believe (though I guess I won’t know unless they make another season or I read the manga start to
finish current chapter) that he’s been using her his entire life. (I think she was someone who put others’ happiness before her own, and he got into the douchey habit of taking advantage of that, until he pushed her too far and forgot that he once cared for her, even a little.) I can see how this story can (it’s vaguely implied, but unconfirmed in the anime) turn into an actual love triangle, and why Sho would stand a chance.
Tsuruga Ren: Tsuruga Ren currently owns my heart. I don’t know how it happened, but one episode, he was just that famous actor, number one enemy of Sho, who misunderstood everything Kyoko said.. and in the next, I loved him. He started off wanting to help Kyoko with her acting. But the more he spent time with her, the more he wanted to understand her, especially because her initial motivation for entering show business (revenge) made him uneasy. Then he started to actually respect her. We discovered that he and Kyoko used to know each other, that he met her in Kyoto, where she’d run away to a place to cry whenever she was feeling sad (so she didn’t upset Sho) and he’d listen to her and give her advice. They became friends, and because he was only in the area for a while, he told her he was a fairy prince, trapped under his father’s wings, unable to fly on his own (all of which were euphemisms for Ren’s own personal issues). He gave her a stone to place all her sadness into, telling her its magic would aid her whenever she needed it (for the record, it was just a pretty stone that shone in the sunlight). She kept the stone and relied on it whenever she felt sad.
Though this story is only a small part of the anime, I fell in love with Ren somewhere in the middle of its full telling. It’s expanded upon in the manga (and that’s how I know that the reason she calls it the “Corn” stone is because Ren’s real name sounds like “Corn”, which is why she has no idea that he was her childhood fairy prince friend), but even the bits in the anime were enough for me to love that Ren was her first real confidante. She talked to him about her (terrible) relationship with her mother, her anxiety over exams, her loneliness in general. He talked to her about the pressure he felt beneath his father’s success (albeit, in “fairyland”), and tried to make her feel better about herself. Their friendship makes me smile, and what Ren did for her (Kyoko loves fairytales, and I think it is beautiful that she still can believe in them after everything she’s endured) is one of the most amazing things I have ever heard.
I also love how her passion and enthusiasm and dedication inspired him, even though he was already a famous and respected actor. And I love how he was in denial about his feelings for her, and so clueless with girls and relationships that he couldn’t even recognize that he was falling in love with her. And I love the way he finally did.
It is such a shame that he never kisses her. (Or ever comes close.)
Mogami Kyoko: After watching all 25 episodes, I can still say that Mogami Kyoko is one hell of a heroine. She’s still strong, but I love that she evolves as a character, able to find a love in acting for more than revenge. I love that she isn’t one of those characters who assumes feminism means a woman has to be hardheaded and ignore good advice (in this case, Ren’s), or that a woman has to be rash and act on instinct. I truly enjoyed watching her become the actress she is in the end, and though I hope she still puts Fuwa Sho in his place, I want to see her succeed for herself.
(Can I also add how hilarious and adorable it is that whenever Kyoko needs to talk to herself to find an appropriate solution or a conscience, she turns to her miniature Ren doll, chastising herself into making the right decision? I find it hilarious that she’s dubbed him her personal voice of reason, and I’m amused because I can see Ren-before-he-started-to-respect-and-like-her saying everything Ren!doll says.)
The End: The ending is frustrating. I already think I’ve spoiled too much, so I won’t go into details, but I felt so… blah after I finished (because it stops right when it looks like THINGS are about to happen) that I had to read chapters from the manga. It’s not a cliffhanger though. It reminded me a lot of the Fruits Basket, Gakuen Alice, and Ouran High School Host Club anime endings. But still… I wish it had received a second season.
Skip Beat! is a surprisingly addictive anime. Kyoko’s journey for self discovery (and vengeance) is one many can relate to, and Ren is the kind of adorkable pretty boy every girl should have in her life. It is definitely worth watching.