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REVIEW: Skip Beat! GN 36




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meruru



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 429
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:17 pm Reply with quote
I loved Skip Beat up until a certain point, and now I'm just praying it'll get back on the rails. But as it goes on, I just can't support the Ren/Kyoko relationship. Ren is quite frankly, manipulative and controlling of Kyoko, and I find it creepy. The whole meeting of Kyoko and Kuon just feels more like Ren is manipulating her to me. And the whole Cain Heel part felt like a contrived ploy on the author's part to get in some steamy scenes, but I just couldn't buy that whole part. It felt bizarre to me at best, and a bit non consensual at worst. To me, around here, or maybe a bit before, is a low point. It gets a little better beyond, but I also haven't read very much farther.

Last edited by meruru on Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1960
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:12 pm Reply with quote
While I do appreciate that Skip Beat! acknowledges that some of Ren's actions (like Corn needing a kiss to break his "curse") are manipulative, I wouldn't go so far as to label it non-consensual. Having read about 15 chapters ahead, there is a sequence that spoiler[focuses a lot more on how Kyoko feels about the whole thing which paints a new perspective. It did feel a little too close to "ret-conning" for me, but on the other hand, as Rebecca pointed out, Kyoko is a classic case of utter denial, so your mileage may vary on that point.] (I'm not sure I'd categorize the above as 'spoilery', but I guess it's a still a reveal in the "worst kept secret" sense, so I'm marking it just to be safe.)

Personally, while I get that this is a series about mending wounds, opening up, acceptance and whatnot, and that the whole romance angle is in service to that, Skip Beat! drew me in with its acting subplots, so I find my own interest flagging during parts like these. ^^;
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meruru



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 429
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:17 pm Reply with quote
So I should clarify, while on the whole, I agree Kyoko is in denial, and she actually is supposed to be interested in Ren, there are parts that I read as possibly non consensual, like spoiler[ the scene where she ends up making out with Ren while she's in Cain's sister's persona, came off to me as possibly non consensual, depending on how you look at it. The reason being is that the author has written this idea that an actor can be so deep into their craft that they are no longer themselves but their character, and they don't always have the power to snap out of it on their own. Ren is aware of this, and yet doesn't stop Kyoko from acting how he knows she wouldn't normally, in fact, he knowingly takes advantage. However, I find this part also bizarre and contrived because I don't believe that actors actually would be so out of their right minds that they would do something they would never consent to otherwise, yet at the same time, written as she is, I don't believe that Kyoko would have willingly made out with Ren other than having her normal judgement impaired somehow, such as if she were drunk. Thus it just came off as either really weird, or squicky depending on how you choose to interpret it, in my opinion. ]

spoiler[Also besides that, Ren does a number of things to her that are outright non consensual, such as kissing her, and taking control over her own decisions, and then emotionally manipulates her into going along with it, when he knows she wouldn't normally. It just isn't good, although the emotional manipulation is worse to me in these examples than the nonconsent. The very idea that his manipulating her like this to somehow "fix" her is pretty repulsive. ]

Skip Beat was just leagues better when it was about her acting challenges and dealing with her emotional issues without the "romance" and Ren's deep dark past. It's pretty bad too, because normally I like romances, and usually I like the main pairings in manga/anime, and Skip Beat had to work pretty hard to make me reverse my initial support of Kyoko/Ren. =\
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Touma



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
Posts: 2651
Location: Colorado, USA
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:04 pm Reply with quote
meruru wrote:
Skip Beat was just leagues better when it was about her acting challenges and dealing with her emotional issues without the "romance" and Ren's deep dark past.

That is how I feel about it.
For me the series peaked when Kyoko put together the party that was a combination New Years, Christmas, birthday, and a few other things, party. I think that was in volume 20.

My favorite stories were always those that had Kyoko and Moko together. One reason why I have not enjoyed Skip Beat! as much recently is a lack of Moko.

I still like Skip Beat! and intend to finish it, but I am not enjoying it nearly as much as I had been and that is rather disappointing.
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mandisaw



Joined: 12 Sep 2008
Posts: 140
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:45 pm Reply with quote
I generally don't comment on these single-volume reviews, as it's too constrictive to focus on a few chapters. But I want to voice a pro opinion for the later, darker Skip Beat.

To my mind, this series is about what it is that makes one a great actor. Not merely being popular, or beautiful, but truly acknowledged by fans and peers alike as great. A big part of that is channeling the emotional trauma in your life and finding some way to use it without having it destroy your psyche.

Whether they mostly work in comedy or drama, it seems like the majority of really amazing actors had some major life issues - so here we see Kyoko's & Ren's. They both have to go through the crucible so to speak, and then hopefully they will emerge as stronger actors, and maybe more mentally-healthy people.

On the romance side, Ren & Kyoko have been my favorite, most messed-up manga couple for years. They are both flawed people - Kyoko hides & denies her emotions, while Ren doubles-down by denying his emotions *and* his identity. He is manipulative and arrogant and occasionally controlling, but around Ren, Kyoko swallows that spitfire that she shows freely with Sho.

They both play roles and put forward "representatives" in their interactions as a defense mechanism - these later arcs are about getting to a place where they can drop the act.

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And as for consent, in that hotel makeout scene (steamy as hell, to me, at least) Ren starts off as the one out of control because he's gone *out* of character (arguably out of both Cain Heel and out of Tsuruga Ren). Kyoko is written as having her wits about her the whole time, and quickly gets Ren to calm down and play along.

She may well have gone further than she planned, but she stopped when she felt sexually uncomfortable. Ren followed/respected her lead, making a perfect end to what could've become a very cliche, very vanilla, very bodice-ripper sort of scene. There were shades of "no, no, yes", but from Ren IMO.

Kyoko had the typical guy role of, "she's being hysterical, so I'll kiss her" - once Ren calmed down, everything else that happened between them was 100% consentual.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1960
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:15 am Reply with quote
I don't really mind the darker aspects--I certainly thought the upcoming arc with spoiler[Kyoko's mother] was realistic in how it was handled (I was expecting more sugar-coating), but I admit to having a hard time remembering that Skip Beat! is more a character study and less of a spiritual successor to Glass Mask. In fact, I'd say the two are inverses of each other as far as the intermingling of acting and romance go.

And yeah, I admit, that's totally on me. Maybe if I went in with a different mindset, or maybe if the draw for me had been more "will they won't they", or maybe if I felt like the story threw me more curveballs than it does (the characterization feels consistent, yes, but I think we've all pretty much figured out what Ren's dark past consists of, yet it's still shrouded in "mystery"), I might end up feeling differently about this series. But for now, these character study bits, while fine in their own right, are the parts I tend to skim through on my way to the next fun acting bit.

I don't know if I'd chalk that up to a flaw of the manga though; I'm more willing to accept that this story and I just aren't a great fit for each other. ^^;
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mandisaw



Joined: 12 Sep 2008
Posts: 140
PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2016 12:37 am Reply with quote
I like the later/current arc too - it has been especially gut-wrenching, and starkly realistic, definitely a good dose of reality after all the fantasy in Guam.

As for the acting parts, I hadn't realized how much I missed that aspect until I watched the drama. It's been a long time, but hopefully now that we've gone through both the romance and the melodrama, we can come back to it.

I don't think the author really wants to drop either aspect of the story, it's just these year-long arcs mean something has to go on the back burner for a while.
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