Skip Beat Review

skipbeathdr16apr2014

Ever so often in life we face a terrible truth.  The ones that we love and adore aren’t always who we think they are.  Such is the unfortunate truth that Kyoko faces in this story of heartbreak, rivalry, and perseverance that sadly may not be on everyone’s radar.

chibifacekyokoStory
Kyoko Mogami, works hard to provide a stable anchor home for her unrequited love interest and childhood friend Shotaro Fuwa. Which is not surprising as she left with him to Tokyo when they were young in order to support his dreams of becoming an idol. Unfortunately he has no interest in her and takes advantage of her affection. She ultimately overhears a conversation between him and his manager referring to her as boring and using her because she worships him.  Kyoko snaps, vowing to get revenge on him. Though Shotaro reminds her this would be rather difficult as the only way she could accomplish this is to become an idol and she is rather plain.

Although this show is a romance comedy, that doesn’t mean that the show focuses on the romantic elements surrounding the protagonist and the love interest. Quite the opposite actually. The romance itself is generally explained as a backdrop. The show focuses more on Kyoko’s transformation from a fan-girl, to a scorned lover, to a budding actress. As she accepts her feelings more and more, she becomes the exceptional actress that she has the potential to become.

A main shining point to this show is the character designs. The building of each character creates for very believable interactions. Each has their own lovable trait that makes you desire to see what will happen as the story progresses. While it does seem like some characters have archetypal traits, it’s kept strictly to personal traits and doesn’t define the character in any way. For example the main character has a certain genki feel about her and a friend leans towards tsundere, but these attributes are never relied upon.

scornedkyokoThis grows even further as each character is very dynamic. If you’re open to reading the manga, even some of the less explored characters have some deep growth in their own right. However back to the show itself, aside from Kyoko’s growth which is obvious, usually any character that has regular contact with her will start to shine themselves. This will even start to carry over to characters that don’t seem to have any effect on the main plot. This is not to say these extra characters are useless, rather each one of them contribute to the overall feel of the show.

Of course with the synopsis given earlier, rivalries are a big part of this show and the main driving force. If I had to point out a show that truly made me understand rivalry and why the Japanese love it so much, it would be this show. As a plot device, rivalries tend to be cliche and poorly used. However if used well it can push character dynamics to great bounds. If used in the trope sense, it is just a matter of a shonen protagonist getting stronger to beat his or her arch rival. This show capitalizes on the respect that rivalries inherently contain. It uses it to push the characters to better themselves in great ways.

On a more lighter note, this show does contain some laughs. The comedy oddly works well. None of it feels forced and most of the time I just feel like I’m watching people ad lib their own lives. There is no real “level-headed character” that points out the crazies. Instead each character tends to point out logical fallacies and the show does an excellent job of going from light-hearted to serious. That said, the show tends to be more dialog heavy so logical fallacies are the main comedic device. Occasionally it will have a slapstick event, however these are fairly rare and light.

kyokobrokelegactingAnimation
When it comes to the overall visual quality, the character designs is what I enjoyed the most about this show. Just keep in mind that this is a shojo (young girl) show that is about idols. The men tend to lean a bit towards the bishounen (feminine male) side, however they don’t look overly pretty. This adds an element of elegance and glamour that comes with idols and the like. However this is mostly in acting sequences and their normal street clothing are much more toned down while still looking good.

One issue that some may have with this series is the use of chibi characters during comedic points. While I didn’t care for them, I also didn’t feel like that took away from the experience. Rather just added to the story. However I can see how some might not take a liking to them at all.

Sound
Skip Beat thankfully has an excellent sound track to fit the storytelling. Mixing soft and simple music that undertones the situations well. However there is an annoying repeating sound to add to comedic routines that, while amusing, can be distracting. The voice acting on the other hand is great. While only having issues when it comes to inner dialog. They chose to place it within a chamber effect to emphasize that it’s internal. It’s annoying but forgivable.

Conclusion
While Skip Beat may seem visually dated, it still looks good. I enjoyed everything about this show and had fun watching it. The tension when Kyoko was pushing through some painful situations had me engaged the whole time. I enjoyed that it featured no fan service, but instead gave every ounce of its time to developing the story it had to tell. It’s tone even feels humble in a way as it just asks your to listen to its story.

It’s a story that just begs to be told. Even when going back to double-check things, I found myself getting stuck at random spots just getting sucked in. Aside from a few issues that are easily forgivable, this show has the ability to be a timeless show that will be hard to forget. It truly is a gem.

THUMBS UP!

THUMBS UP!

REVIEW VERDICT:
Highly Suggested

Pros:

  • Characters, dynamics, and interactions
  • Excellent and believable story telling
  • extremely fun and memorable
  • Easily rewatchable
  • No Fanservice

Cons:

  • Inner dialog chamber effect
  • Chibi character comedic events
  • Some distracting background music
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. Chris has been a fan of anime for over 20 years. Once amassing a huge collection of DVDs during the DVD boom, he's consumed hundreds of shows and isn't looking to stop any time soon.