Skip Beat

September 13, 2009

There are many reasons why one decides to go into the world of acting whether it is theatre, the big silver screen or television release only. Some say it is the money and some a lifetime dream of theirs while others may want to achieve worldwide fame and glory. Then of course there are others who are inspired by versatile and wonderful actors and actresses and perhaps it is their goal to rub shoulders with the biggest and famous names of Hollywood. So how about revenge? Say what? Going into show business for revenge? Sounds like a plot straight out from some serial drama doesn’t it?
 
That’s right. Taking up acting just to get revenge is the case for Kyoko Mogami in Skip Beat. I am sure that nobody in this world would enter such a glamorous profession with such a goal. So for her to use this as her reason to enter the world of acting, it is definitely an eyebrow raiser for those who would come to know of this. Having said this, the anime series which is based on the Japanese manga of the same name isn’t gloomy or filled with purely intense hatred. It is more like a drama romance comedy and I’m sure most viewers would find it suitable to watch this series even if you know nuts about acting. Like me.
 
So why is Kyoko seeking revenge and on whom? As seen in episode 1, Kyoko is your typical plain Jane girl. Not that anyone would notice her for being the next big star of the film industry but even if she is a little klutzy and low self-esteem, at least she is loyal to her boyfriend, Sho Fuwa, who is the new rising star in the country’s show business. Who wouldn’t want to be with this hot hunk? Or is it? Kyoko has been with this guy ever since they were kids so she’s some sort like a care taker to him but the unfortunate thing is that Sho is an arrogant, spoilt and ungrateful bastard. You heard me right! He takes poor Kyoko for granted and you’ll learn that he is just using her to get what he wants. Stupid jerk! But I suppose having great charming looks help cover it up, eh? I don’t really know how Kyoko can stand it all this while. She follows him to Toyo and does all the chores from cooking and cleaning and even took up several part time jobs just to support this guy (including emotionally), all in the name of love and her feelings are definitely genuine. And what does she get in return? So this is the turning point for Kyoko. One night when she decides to pay a surprise delivery to Sho’s agency, she overheard her talking to his manager, Shouko Aki, how he is saying Kyoko is just her maid and he has never cared for her all this while! To add salt to injury, Sho tells it directly to Kyoko’s face when they find out about her presence. Unlike other weak girls who cry heartbrokenly, Kyoko is engulfed in rage and vows revenge to bring him down in his own game. Through acting. But cocky Sho is unfazed and even challenges her because he really believes a girl like her can’t do it. And that’s when the Pandora Box is opened and Sho better be watching his back because soon Kyoko ditches her plain Jane style by dying her hair orange and cutting it short as she plots her revenge on him.
 
Thus in each episode, viewers will get to see how a beginner like Kyoko, new to the acting world, goes about in her trials and tribulations just to get her revenge on her ex-boyfriend. It is going to be tough because there are other naive fan crazy girls out there and to declare all out in public would be as good as writing a death wish. Though Kyoko may be an apprentice, you’ll notice that she has a hidden talent for acting such as being able to come up with lines and portray strong and convincing emotions in crucial parts whereby one needs to improvise fast with time not on one’s side. So will Kyoko be the next big thing in her journey to get her revenge? Like killing 2 birds with 1 stone, eh? Another ‘fun’ thing about Kyoko is that due to her utmost hatred for Sho, everything that she imagines or thinks which directly or indirectly links to Sho, she’ll get real upset and angry and this is eminent with her little devilish imps floating around her while giving out a very dark and deadly aura. Enough to give everyone around her the creeps and even make the Devil himself shiver in his pants. Just hilarious every time she goes into this mode. Even so, you can’t help but root for Kyoko to go on even if her cause may be morally wrong.
 
In episode 2, Kyoko is currently living at the restaurant where she works part time, Daruyama. To start things off, she needs to find an acting agency who will take her in. What better way than to start her vendetta by applying for a place in a rival agency of Sho, LME. She approaches the talent manager of LME, Takenori Sawara but he kicks her out upon hearing that she has no interest in show business. However Kyoko isn’t going to give up and stalks him day and night till he gives in! Way to go! Kyoko gets her first audition and on the way she bumps into LME’s number 1 star, Ren Tsuruga, who is also another famous star. Now Ren is currently on the top list of the hottest stars and is the person whom Sho really wants to knock off. Call it fate, eh? But when Ren hears Kyoko’s revenge cause, he tells her it is useless to join LME. Another start of another love-hate relationship? Though Ren may treat Kyoko cold at times but I feel that he is indirectly teaching her valuable lessons in which Kyoko learns and appreciates through time. You can’t be spoon-fed all the time, right? Because of this approach, Kyoko doesn’t really go down well with Ren and sometimes is in a dilemma to kill this guy just like Sho. Another person to hate. Ironic to know that this girl hates good looking boys. Or is it just coincidence? How about any romance blossoming between them? Don’t hope for it. She just endured a heartbreaking break-up. However Ren is a very good and skilful actor and is able to influence the moods of others around him, on and off stage. So when he gets angry with just a piercing stare, even Kyoko knows where she stands. During Kyoko’s first audition, she notices a lady Kanae Kotonami who impresses the judges by memorizing a whole book and its exact lines and pages in just a short time! Then it’s Kyoko’s turn as she takes out a knife and daikon (white radish). Oh no. Hope she doesn’t have Sho on her mind and taking this ‘killing him’ act out on stage, is she?
 
In episode 3, Kyoko impresses the judges by using her swift knife skills to turn the daikon into a rose (more like a cabbage actually). One of the judges, Lory, the president of LME is truly amazed because this skill is hard to master. Now viewers may think that Lory being the head of LME allows him to be weird because he dresses in whatever theme like currently some Arabian clothing and even comes in on a camel! Anyway Kyoko passes the 1st test. The 2nd audition has the successful applicants needing to act out their emotion based on the message from a handphone. Though many applicants play out happy emotions, Kanae’s turn stun the judges when she shed tears. Finally it is Kyoko’s turn but when the voice on the other line reminded her of how Sho dumped her, her murderous aura starts appearing and freaking everyone in the hall! She throws the handphone to the floor in her rage, breaking it. Bad news, the handphone belongs to Lory and he is saddened that it is broken. Likewise, Sawara is in a panic because if Kyoko gets kicked out, he’ll be in deeper trouble (remember the stalking from Kyoko?). Later Sawara informs Kyoko that she didn’t pass the audition. Back at Daruyama, she is ready to give up but the owners gave her a good lecturing so she’s back into it again. Meanwhile Lory tells Sawara that he can’t let a good talent like Kyoko go to waste though she failed the auditions. Yeah, he needs her. Hooray!
 
Kyoko is working as a petrol attendant in episode 4 when a car carrying Sho comes in to fill up. Kyoko goes into enraged mode but her colleague is a fan of his. Though Kyoko doesn’t want to meet Sho face to face, her colleague makes her meet him. Then Sho didn’t recognize Kyoko’s new look and soon off they go. Call it a blessing or insult, depending how you look at it. Unfortunately for Kyoko, she’s pissed. She thinks he has forgotten her so fast already. However Sho has his reservations about her but dismisses her to be Kyoko thinking that she still has long hair. Kyoko decides to try at LME again and bumps into a famous actress, Kamio, and ends up carrying her bags. She also meets Ren as he explains LME’s new section called Love Me whereby it is to house potential talents but lack the X-factor. Under this section, trainees are subjected to any jobs without question. So when Ren says that Kyoko will be the first trainee under this section, Kyoko is extremely shocked and drops Kamio’s bags, resulting in Kamio’s fury. She gets even angrier when Kyoko allows Ren to help her with Kamio’s bags and this resulted her into getting a penalty stamp. Part of the rules of Love Me is that trainees are given stamps which could increase or decrease their points in a little book based on their performance. But Kyoko gets infuriated further when she gets to know that Ren had tricked her in the sense that even if he had offered to help her with Kamio’s bags, she should’ve insisted and refused. Really another guy to add on to her utmost hate list. Only second to Sho, that is. And oh yes. Lory has been waiting for Kyoko to arrive for the new opening of his Love Me section, all dressed up in some royal outfit and doing some mock sword fighting with another guy. But Kyoko is slow to turn up… Keep on waiting, pal.
 
In episode 5, Kyoko meets Lory as he gives her a little pink book to record her stamps. The more stamp points she gets, the closer she’ll get to appear in her debut. He asks if she is capable to love others and of course we know the answer after her fallout with Sho. But she vows to get back her that lost attribute. However working under the Love Me section has another downside. Trainees have to wear a very obvious pink jump suit with the section’s name front and back. Quite embarrassing and attracting unwanted stares actually. Meanwhile, a short confrontation between Ren and Sho and the latter tries to outdo the former with some ego thingy but it backfires. Kyoko’s first job is to clean and wax the hallways but her sheer determination makes it too slippery causing some to slip. Then while being dejected on the stairs, an LME idol bumps into Kyoko. She is Ruriko Matsunai and wants Kyoko to do a job for her. Ruriko wants Kyoko to protect her while doing her shoot up in the mountains. You’ll notice Ruriko’s spoilt attitude and she’s like a total b*tch. But that won’t stop Kyoko from trying harder. The car breaks down halfway and the girls have to walk to their location but Ruriko lies to her about her sensitive skin to UV rays and has Kyoko carry her all the way to the shoot. Kyoko sprains her ankle badly and selfish Ruriko walks herself to the location. She even forgot to get help for poor Kyoko who is laying there unable to move an inch. There are so many of such people in this industry. However a saviour comes to Kyoko in the form of… Ren! Of all the people… Can’t think about that now since she has fractured her bones so Ren scoops her up and carries her in his arms. What message does this send us? Nah. Don’t hope for it.
 
Ren carries Kyoko back to the house, the setting of the shoot in episode 6. Ren’s manager, Yukihito Yashiro, help bandages Kyoko’s ankle and Kyoko refuses to be whisked away to hospital, still thinking about her job to protect Ruriko. However Ruriko is filled with extreme jealousy when she saw Ren carrying Kyoko back to the house. One bad turn deserves… Coupled in with her spoilt attitude and throwing tantrums during the filming (she got tired of ding retakes due to her inexperience unable to meet the director’s expectations), she decides to play reverse psychology by calling it quits. Plus, Ruriko declares her hatred for the Love Me section. She even suggested for Kyoko to replace her role. But her plan of being pleaded by the director to stay backfires because everyone else seems to take up her suggestion and let both girls act out in a competition to see who shall get the lead role. Ruriko has no choice but to go along. Kyoko gets dressed up and is excited since she looked so pretty in make up for the first time in her entire normal life. But I’m sure Kyoko’s ‘gratefulness’ to Ruriko is seen more like a sarcastic insult. It isn’t just Ruriko who could put up her f*cked up attitude. Don’t forget Kyoko too has her dark side. She’s picking with the wrong girl to mess. The catfight escalates when Kyoko learns that Ruriko isn’t sensitive to UV rays but rather scared of getting dark. Ruriko starts off first by acting a tea ceremony scene with Ren and as usual gives lots of excuse for her mistakes. But Kyoko isn’t going to give up without a fight yet.
 
It is Kyoko’s turn to act in episode 7 and though her ankle pain is killing her, she holds it back and puts on a convincing smiling face. This is all thanks to her mom when she told her to always smile to their guests no matter what. But Kyoko is surprised that she is being influenced and led by Ren’s acting. Though Kyoko performs well, she collapses halfway during the shoot. This causes Ruriko to reflect upon herself on Kyoko’s determination and perseverance. Back then, Ruriko was like her. So she pleads to the director to have her role back and promises to work harder, in which the director agrees and says that was the original plan. We find out that it was a setup by Lory for Kyoko to help Ruriko improve her attitude and that he had never any intention to let Kyoko to act in the film. Later Ruriko gives Kyoko a full 100 points as gratitude but still maintains her obnoxious attitude in front of her. If that isn’t shocking enough, Ruriko even says that she likes Kyoko a little bit more now (notice Kyoko’s hilarious agape mouth!). At the backstage, Yashiro asks about Kyoko’s tea ceremony making skills and Kyoko tells him about her training from Sho’s mom. This causes Kyoko to fall into depression again because she now thinks all that training was just to be Sho’s future wife. Then Kyoko refuses to remove her make up since she’s looking quite pretty but after knowing a whitening cream that Sho uses on a TV ad will lead to bad skin, she reluctantly agrees. Back at LME, when Ren learns that Kyoko’s motivation to act is still Sho, he gives her a minus 10, leaving her bewildered and upset. She just can’t understand him, eh?
 
In episode 8, Kyoko bumps into Kanae and learns that she is also in the Love Me section. How did she end up here? During her final audition, though her acting was good, Lory was disappointed in her lack of feelings in her heart and is sent to Love Me so that she could learn it. But Kanae is quite embarrassed and in denial to be associated with this section or Kyoko, even if the latter is happy to know that she has a partner. Hehe. Kanae has no choice but to be her ‘partner’ because Kyoko’s demons bind her from escaping. It’s like she has no choice, be her friend or else… Furthermore, Kyoko likes to call Kanae "Moko-san". I don’t know how that name came up. In this episode, Lory requests for the Love Me girls to help his granddaughter, Maria (the little girl Kyoko sarcastically ticked off for crying to gain sympathy in her first auditions) because her pranks now has cause some to be injured. If Kyoko can successfully open Maria’s heart, she will be exempted from studying fees at LME. Of course upon hearing this, in denial Kanae makes a sudden u-turn and supports the section. Kyoko tries to use a chibi Ren doll to lure Maria out in which she is successful. Maria tells Kyoko that they are the same in the sense that she wants to give Ren her little cursed doll so that she could make him her eternal slave. Twisted little girl. Lory then comes by and wants Maria to apologize for the troubles caused but she refused saying that she wants the agency to stop a show production called "The Angel’s Words" because the plot reminded her of her tragic past. Because Kyoko agrees with the weak plot, the other unhappy and offended actresses challenge Kyoko to act out a sisterly-hate scene. Kyoko is in a bind because the scene isn’t in the script.
 
Kyoko takes up the challenge in episode 9 and Lory is looking forward to seeing her performance first hand. Of course Kyoko is at a lost at first and needs some ‘help’ from Kanae to get back on her feet. But Kyoko is pissed when the other actresses accuses her of using her parent’s money to achieve her dream. I think that’s when she snapped and I know I’ve said this too many times, they picked the wrong girl to mess with. Be wary of her scary mode. You’ll live to regret it. I’m not sure the storyline but Kyoko improvises by using a different emotion for her same lines in the script. This causes Maria to remember her past whereby her mom died in a plane crash and she responsible for her death. She also felt that adults are liars when they said nice things to comfort her just because she’s a child. Even when Ren told her that her dad didn’t hate her for her mom’s death, she refused to believe it. Back to the acting, Kyoko’s acting has led to her and the other actress in reversed roles! Maria gets emotional and interferes with the act. It’s like she’s taking out her past here. In the end, Maria realized her dad’s true feelings and she herself has been the one coming in between herself and daddy as she breaks down. Later as Kanae talks to Kyoko about her acting, she is impressed of her ahead thinking and interpretation. Be wary of another future potential rival. And yeah, Kyoko and Maria are good pals now. But unfortunately, both Love Me girls will have to pay for the fees seeing that Maria interrupted the act.
 
Maria takes the first step in getting back with good terms with her dad overseas in episode 10 by writing a letter and learns of Kyoko’s own parents abandoning her when she was a child. Compared to Kyoko, Maria has it better, right? As Kyoko sits on the stairs, she takes out a blue precious stone called Corn, which she uses in times of despair. Since she is lost in her thoughts, Sawara’s appearance startled her as she drops Corn. She frantically tries to find it but Ren picks it up. They learn that when she was young, Kyoko met a boy named Corn at a riverside who gave her the stone to reduce her tears. Now if you ask me, this Corn boy resembles a lot like Ren! It is definitely him because as Ren gives the stone back to her (much to her relief), he asks her if she is from Kyoto seeing that this stone is only available in that area. But all that mood is spoiled when Ren says those who deceive are wrong. Back to square one. When Kyoko meets up with Kanae later, she remembers the time when Sho had lots of girls flanking around him and because of that, Kyoko has no other friends as they are jealous of Kyoko’s closeness to him. Deadly aura cue. So Kyoko’s new job is to be a chicken mascot named Bo on a variety show. The thing is, Sho is making a special guest appearance. Oh the horror! Disguised Kyoko then hatches a plan to ruin Sho as part of her revenge. Is this a God given chance? Kyoko’s plan starts off by rigging fan questions by putting in those which Kyoko and Sho would only know. Like his real name. I don’t know why it’s a bad thing since Sho’s real first name is Shotaro. Sho is taken aback and starts panicking in his mind but he comes up with an answer to avoid it by saying that the day his real name will be revealed is the day he will retire from stage. All the fan crazy girl audiences then plead for Sho to stay on and that they don’t mind his real name. What amazing psychological answer! With that, Sho’s coolness has increased, much to Kyoko’s dismay. But it won’t be fun to win at first try as there will be more opportunities coming by. Yeah, Kyoko is relishing to give Sho a hell of a Q&A time.
 
In episode 11, Kyoko gets another shot for revenge by playing badminton onstage. Kyoko is to unleash a secret winning technique only known to Sho and Kyoko but the shuttlecock got stuck up in the ceiling and Kyoko lost. The show takes a break and Sho is starting to wonder if Kyoko is underneath Bo. Backstage, he tries to take off Bo’s head and give sarcastic unfeminine remarks. Obviously Kyoko is mad and wants to strangle him but is caught by a staff and is placed in a cage and banned from the show. As Kyoko dejectedly walks around, she encounters Ren who is having difficulty expressing a line in the script. Luckily she is still wearing Bo so Ren doesn’t recognize her. He asks to borrow her handphone, in which she doesn’t have. The duo engage in some chat about that line in the script and Ren blushes when Kyoko laughs out that he misinterpreted that line. But when Kyoko indirectly tells of her recent sacking, Ren proceeds to recount his many past failures during his early acting days. Kyoko also uncovers a little of Ren’s feelings towards her. Soon Ren goes back to reading his script and as Kyoko leaves the building, she has a more positive perception of him.
 
Though Kyoko blushes when she thinks of Ren’s recent words, in episode 12, she frantically walks away in panic whenever Ren walks close by. Kyoko then tells Ren and Yashiro that she is taking a drink commercial audition of another agency and Ren encourages her to take whatever chances that comes by. Upon reaching the audition, Kyoko is surprised that Kanae is also there to audition. But she spots a pensive look. It seems a blonde twintail girl, Erika Koenji, who hails from a super rich and influential family, doesn’t like Kanae and is always trying to outdo her. Yeah, another b*tch. She is far worse than Ruriko, I tell you. Using her connections, she tries to influence the judges and the other kiasu auditioners try to follow suit. Kyoko learns that since during Kanae’s schooling years, Kanae beat Erika to some lead drama role and ever since then, Erika is always holding a grudge on her. Still holding on to it after all these years? Obviously Erika is here to continue crushing Kanae’s dreams of becoming an actress so much so Kanae even thinks of giving up and running away so as not to cross her path. But Kyoko gives Kanae encouragement like saying money can’t buy talent and even literally slap some sense into her. So the duo form an unlikely alliance to do something better for the audition. Unknown to them, the commercial director, Kurosaki, has eavesdropped their conversation and finds them interesting. The next day as they come in their embarrassing pink outfits, the usual sarcasm from Erika but this fires up the Love Me girls even more. Kurosaki decides to change his intention of using 2 girls for his commercial instead of the original 1.
 
In episode 13, we see bratty Erika trying to bribe Kurosaki with money but that smart guy ain’t buying (he should’ve kicked her out too!). A lot is drawn for the pairings and as fate would have it, Kyoko and Kanae gets paired. In this audition, they are to act out a 60 second scene whereby both girls are good friends but like the same guy. However that guy rejected one of them because he has feelings for the other. Having only 20 minutes to think up of a scene, as usual Kyoko doesn’t know how to go about. Kanae keeps mum on what to do and just tells her to follow her lead. When it is their turn, Kyoko is still in the dark. After a 10 second blank stare showdown, Kanae suddenly starts off by slapping Kyoko in the face! Is it an indication of taking out her frustrations on her or just purely acting? Of course Kyoko’s natural reaction in person or acting is to slap back but when she sees Kanae suddenly going into weeping mode, Kyoko apologizes. This stuns everyone. They have some time left although their acting is done and they’ve gone by with only a single word. Not wanting this to be just a fluke, Kurosaki decides to retest the pink ladies and Erika’s team. This time the act is supposed to be reconciliation and Erika is seen eavesdropping on Kyoko when Kurosaki comes by. Kyoko accidental slip of her tongue makes Kurosaki known her intention to use the drink bottle, Kyurara, for her reconciliation act. Erika is still eavesdropping from afar and decides to use Kyoko’s idea since her team will be going first. And that is what happened. This leaves Kyoko in utmost shock but you know, a girl like her won’t give up that easily.
 
Thankfully Kyoko has come up with an improvise in episode 14 and this time it is Kanae’s turn to be in the dark. Kyoko starts off by splashing the drink on Kanae as retaliation! She then sticks out her tongue and says that she’s just kidding. But Kanae decides to splash the drink back but finds the drink flowing out instead when she opens her bottle cap. Her flustered reaction makes Kyoko laugh and soon the duo and everyone else starts laughing before they made up. Kurosaki is impressed and even more amazed by the fact that Kyoko only came up with this a few moments ago. In the end, Kurosaki chooses them both for his commercial. Congratulations! In the evening, Kyoko hangs out with Kanae and they ‘commemorate their friendship’ by eating ice cream. Kyoko offers to be Kanae’s friend upon learning that she too had no friends just like herself back then. Though Kanae is reluctant, she agrees to do so since there’s no reason to turn her down (actually her inner demons would be a very good one). However Erika is still sore over her loss and confronts them. Since she can’t have her way, she is going to scar Kanae’s face so that it will put a stop to her acting for good! OMG! How can she think of such hideous things! This time Kanae stood her ground and gives Erika a good ticking off. She tells her to use her talent instead of money to influence people. Though Erika gets the message, she still displays her arrogant ways so as not to lose face and leaves and will be waiting for the day Kanae will be her worthy rival. See, violence doesn’t solve anything. Kyoko and Kanae take a bus home and while Kanae rants about herself, she is disheartened to find tired Kyoko asleep. Yeah, wasted all that breath, eh? But Kanae gives a 100 stamp point to her trustworthy partner. Finally the commercial is out as Lory and Maria watches it.
 
Because Yashiro is out with a cold, Kyoko has been reluctantly assigned to be Ren’s temporary manager in episode 15. Being Ren’s manager is a tough job because Ren is a workaholic and furthermore, it is Ren who is protecting and apologizing for Kyoko’s mistakes. During a dinner outing, Ren learns that Kyoko never went to high school as she dropped out because Sho’s parents think she is fit to be Sho’s wife and nothing more. When Kyoko reiterates her revenge on Sho, this thought disgusts Ren. It is then Kyoko realized that this may be the reason why he is cold towards her. Kyoko then receives a call from Lory saying that she has a chance to enter high school provided if she passes the entrance exam. She is happy to accept the offer. The next day as Ren is shooting one of his scenes, Kyoko notices that Ren may be coming down with a fever though he himself dismisses it. True enough, Ren gets sick and he apologizes for not listening to her. However he continues to act in his worsening condition and to make matters worse, the actress alongside him fumbles her lines many times and the scene is a rainy one. Ren still manages to keep his professionalism and politeness and continues with his work even if worried Kyoko tells him to postpone his shooting. Back in the dressing room, all these factors have aggravated Ren’s fever as he collapses onto Kyoko.
 
Obviously Kyoko can’t just shove off Ren’s heavier body. So in episode 16, Kyoko recite a play line and instantly as though as it’s some kind of reflex action, Ren got up and continued his work. At the end of the day, Kyoko continues to nurse Ren back at his apartment. For once, her skills for Sho like making soup are put to great use. It’s that pissed off feeling again. Yeah, almost everything seems to remind her of Sho. Due to her nursing Ren, she hasn’t had much time to study for her entrance exam. One day she finds him sitting on the stairways having trouble memorizing his lines. Kyoko helps out and Ren is impressed of her improvement. Though Kyoko says that revenge is still on her mind, she also realizes her passion for acting and wants to reborn herself into something new. Ren believes her. That night Kyoko continues to study hard so Ren advices her not to push herself and neglect her own health. Kyoko is embarrassed to take a bath in his place but after he sarcastically says he’d rather die than peep at her, Kyoko goes take one. Haha. Next morning, Kyoko and Ren are running late for their shoot since there is a traffic jam. Kyoko then gets out of her car and forcefully ‘borrows’ a passer-by’s bicycle (don’t want to fight with her demons, eh?). She decides to peddle him to work and better hurry because the crowd has spotted them. Ren thinks of giving her 100 points if she can pull this manager job off.
 
In episode 17, Kyoko passes her entrance exam and is relishing her lost schooling years. On her way back, she heard a couple of passer-by commenting on her drink commercial. Something about how they prefer the long black hair one (Kanae) to the ordinary plain short hair one (Kyoko). Control your anger, girl. Back at LME, Kyoko meets Ren and he gives her 100 points for being her manager but deducts 10 points upon hearing that she’s doing this just because it’s her job. Another bewildering moment for Kyoko. Just when she thought he’s a nice person, it’s back to his cannot-comprehend-his-action-and-thinking ways. Meanwhile Sho is watching the drink commercial and is suspecting this girl to be Kyoko. Kyoko receives shocking news from Sawara that she is being offered to act in a promo video with Sho! Gasp! At first Kyoko vehemently refuses but after learning Kanae has gotten herself a role in a drama series, Kyoko accepts the offer and use Sho as a stepping stone to success just like how he did it to her. Yashiro is accompanying Ren to his next shoot and thinks something must have happened between him and Kyoko since he is acting a little kinder to her. You’ll notice how this guy indirectly tries to play cupid with Ren and Kyoko. Ren thinks Kyoko shouldn’t see Sho at this time and since he didn’t know of her promo offer, it’s too late.
 
Yeah, Kyoko is waiting for a long time in a room at the shooting scene. Feeling impatient, she decides to get up and investigate only to come face to face with Sho at the door. In order to hide her identity, Kyoko pretends to act out stuff that Sho would thought Kyoko would never do like shaking his hands. She did a perfect job acting as an obsessed Sho fan. On their way, they bump into the promo video’s producer, Haruki Asami and it seems Sho is trying to flirt unashamedly right in front of Kyoko’s eyes. Hate metre rising! In a room, Kyoko is introduced to another ‘protective’ fan girl of Sho who clings on to him the instant and is jealous of Kyoko. She is Mimori Nanokara and is also cast to play alongside Kyoko in Sho’s promo video. Asami reveals the plot in which Sho plays the devil who is in love with 1 of the 2 angel sisters played by the girls. More accurately, Mimori is the angel which Sho falls for and since evil angel Kyoko can’t stand the sight of it, she has to kill him. A role which Kyoko immediately volunteers to do because she had always wanted to kill the ‘devil’ with her hands. Haha! How fitting! As they sit together eating lunch, Sho shows his unappreciative side to Mimori when she offers him her bento. However she made sweet omelettes, something which Kyoko knows that Sho hates. Too late, he puts it in his mouth already. Just as he is about to spit it out, Kyoko without thinking flicks a pack of salt to him and in this instant, Sho confirms his that this girl before his eyes is indeed Kyoko.
 
Though Sho knows that this is the real Kyoko, he intends to make her reveal her identity in episode 18 as he dangerously flirts with her. Unfortunately jealous Mimori breaks them up. Kyoko’s identity is known when Kyoko refers to a cosmetic make up with a name she once thought up during her childhood years. The cat is out of the bag. However Sho doesn’t intend to fire her because he is confident it will not affect him and wants to see how far she can go. Make sure he eats those words, Kyoko. Yeah, after putting up all those make-up and costume, Kyoko looks stunning! Wow! Unrecognizable at first. It’s a total makeover. Now that guy’s speechless. She kicks him in the shin and tells him how the pain in her heart he caused is incomparable to anything else in the world. Elsewhere Yashiro and Ren are talking about Kyoko’s 10 point deduction and Yashiro thinks Ren may have some feelings for her but that guy dismisses it as some responsibility for the Love Me section. Yashiro is dumbfounded that though Ren may be a good actor, he is clueless when it comes to love. Back to Sho, he somehow can’t help but stare at Kyoko, which infuriates Mimori who thinks he is looking at Kyoko more than her. As filming starts, Asami is impressed with Kyoko’s acting and could even lead on Mimori even if the latter hates her. She advices Sho to be on guard. Now the scene that Kyoko has been waiting for has arrived. The part where she gets to kill the devil. She is supposed to strangle and push him off the wall (don’t worry there are wires attached) but Kyoko got so into her killing mode and let her devils took over, that she nearly suffocated him. Several times and takes! Yeah, you can say he had a near-death experience. I think Kyoko would be happy to repeat this scene but considering her acting career on the line, the team takes a break as Kyoko tries to recollect herself. Sho then goes up to her and mocks her once more to give him a more beautiful performance due to her incompetent and inability to surprise him any further other than her appearance.
 
In episode 19, Kyoko calls Kanae for advice. Since she didn’t pick up, she hesitantly tries Ren but reaches his mail box. Then Kanae returns the call. Kyoko is in a dilemma on what to do for her scene so Kanae says that if she ‘kills’ her lover, she herself will hate ‘Kyoko’ since by killing her lover is as good as hurting her. The retake starts and this time tears stroll down her eyes as she slowly puts her hand on Sho before pushing him off. Kyoko’s eyes then turn devilish like as though she has turned into the devil herself. Sho is stunned so much so he forgot to do his part, which is to close his eyes while falling. This has Sho recalling his past like how Kyoko was always crying and he felt helpless to do anything (is this to make viewers feel that Sho is not a total jerk?). After the shooting, Mimori continues to be jealous and saddened that Sho looks at Kyoko more so Sho gives her a hug and literally melt that girl’s heart. This caught Kyoko’s attention as she tells him she doesn’t know of his ‘powers’ to stop a girl’s crying. She continues that when she was young, she didn’t want to trouble him further since he’s so useless just standing around and thus went to a special place of hers to cry her heart out. This was where she met Corn. Back in real time, Ren notices his handphone message and Yashiro is stumped because Ren has never returned a call during work. Kyoko soon receives a call from Ren and the duo chatted away. She is delighted that Ren is showing concern for her. However upon knowing that the person on the other line is Ren, Sho snatches her handphone away and sarcastically tells Ren how she did well before hanging up. Kyoko is totally pissed and an argument ensue. Unleash your little devils! It’s hell time. Ren on the other hand realizes it is Sho on the other line.
 
Back at LME in episode 20, Kyoko apologizes for that incident with Sho but Ren says he is not mad. Until she mentions she entered his promo video not for revenge which causes Ren to get mad. Yeah, can’t understand him either. One minute he’s all sweet and nice, the next he is giving off that scorning aura. Because of this, Yashiro tries to blackmail Ren into giving details of his relationship with Kyoko or else he’ll destroy his handphone. But you know, Ren is stubborn as a goat even if he gives an excuse that an old guy like him could date a young high school girl like her. Also, Kanae finds out about Kyoko’s revenge and gets her to spill the beans. Initially reluctant, Kyoko has no choice but to let her know everything since Kanae threatened to break up their friendship. Kanae concludes the reason Ren hate her is because she lied to him about the revenge. If not, he may be jealous… I think Kyoko will stick with the first one. Later Kyoko then receives good news from Sawara that she is selected to play a lead role in a remake of a famous 20 year old drama series called Tsukigomori, as Dark Moon. A reason Kyoko is being selected because the director for this series, Hiroaki Ogata, fell in love with Kyoko’s acting after watching Sho’s video promo, courtesy from Asami. Afterwards Kyoko thinks of going to apologize to Ren but she sees him and Yashiro too soon when she got out of the lift. A little weirdness occurring like shutting the lift door before it reopens and we see Kyoko begging for forgiveness on her knees. Kyoko gets a ride home from the duo. She tells them about her revenge and sincerely apologizes to Ren. However Ren’s mind is occupied with his earlier meeting with Lory. He told Ren he isn’t fit to play the lead role in Dark Moon because he knows Ren is lousy when it comes to acting out love scenes (due to his many years of bachelor-hood and probably the reason why he has no girlfriend all this while. I know, he may be oblivious to love too).
 
In episode 21, Kyoko learns she will be playing a rich girl Mio but gets disheartened to find out that she isn’t the kind of rich girl she hopes to play. Instead, that rich girl has inferiority complex, deep hatred and a hideous cover across her side forehead. I’m not sure what the story is really about except that Mio holds deep grudges for several characters in the show like her cousin Mizuki and teacher, Katsuki. Kyoko also finds out that Ogata is troubled that Lory doesn’t want Ren to be in the series. Ogata wants Ren to act in the series in order for the remake to surpass the original. At the same time, Ren is talking with Lory and the latter comments on his cold attitude towards a girl’s love. In the end, Lory reluctantly gives Ren permission to act in it since Ren vows to outdo the original. Though Kyoko thinks of turning down her role, after learning Ren is staying to act, she decides to stay on to watch Ren in action. Filming soon begins and Kyoko is having trouble about playing her character. Though Ren gave her some advice, she still blunders. To make things worse, the actress who played Mio 20 years ago, Iizuka, is there to watch and she is bloody strict on how Kyoko will portray Mio. She is also acting in the remake as Mio’s mom. She is upset Kyoko’s inexperience will ruin Mio’s reputation and is even demanding Ogata to remove her! Yeah, she’s like bossing around. I think she’s the one causing lots of trouble here. She calls Kyoko and asks her several questions on Mio to see if she is qualified to play the character and if she makes 1 mistake, she wants her to step down immediately. So far Kyoko has answered her ‘interrogation’ well until the one why Mio hates Mizuki has Kyoko stumped because the answer is not as straightforward as it seems to be. With that, Iizuka tells Kyoko to step down from the role.
 
However in episode 22, Ren pleads for Iizuka to give Kyoko some time and thus she is saved from being fired. Ren gives some advice about her character but as usual it isn’t so straightforward and like a riddle which has Kyoko in stitches. Outside, Yashiro is trying to cheer Kyoko up (even telling her that Ren may be in love with her!) but she is in deep thoughts about Mio. Then she hit eureka and runs off. Yashiro tried to go after her but she outran him so he goes back to report to the rest. Though Iizuka thinks she has run away, Ren still believes in her and will wait. Three hours later, Kyoko’s return stuns everyone. She has toss away her wig and dyed her hair black again. The thing is, Mio uses her long hair to hide her scar but now with her short hair, it is so obvious. What has Kyoko thought about her character? Not only that, Kyoko is so absorbed in reading her script that when Ren tries to touch her, she ignores him and gives him that piercing stare! She is totally into the role of Mio! With that, the rest decides to play along. Iizuka is upset that this isn’t the original shy and introverted Mio she played but decides to test her while playing her mother’s role. I don’t remember what the conversation was about but Mio’s words provoked her mom and she uses her scar, which is the source of her weakness as a weapon to blame Mizuki! Initially Ogata decides not to use this Mio as it is too different and intense but decides he needs to in order to make an impact and to surpass the original. He realizes his need to create a new world for her to exist. Even if both Mios are portrayed differently, they both have the basic hatred. Iizuka concedes defeat and accepts this Kyoko after hearing Ogata’s plea. When Kyoko snaps out of her role, she apologizes to everyone big time.
 
The filming continues with everyone impressed with Kyoko’s acting in episode 23. Elsewhere, Shouko spots an advertising poster of Dark Moon and tries to hide it from Sho because Kyoko’s name is on it. Imagine what would happen if Sho finds out Kyoko has taken big advancement and may surpass Sho sooner than he thinks. Of course Sho eventually sees it but acts disinterested. Is he? With Kyoko’s portrayal of a new Mio done with, the issue now is on Ren. Remember Lory told him he was lousy with love scenes? Previous takes has Ren flawlessly living up to his abilities until now. Ogata wants him to do retakes because he doesn’t feel the impact of mixed emotions between Katsuki and Mizuki’s scene. Ogata nicely lectures Ren that he believes he can easily surpass the original but Ren is finding difficult even after last night’s watching of the original Tsukigomori and this time during the retake, Ren fumbled and forgot his lines! This is going to be a tough one.
 
In episode 24, Ogata tells Ren to take some time off after losing his ability to play Katsuki. Thus he is in depressed mode. A crisis looming? Meanwhile although Sho still acts disinterested with his newfound knowledge on Kyoko, he can’t help getting pissed off when he thinks about probably lovey-dovey stuff that may happen between Kyoko and Ren. Jealous? On the other hand, Kyoko has finished another role in her Bo mascot when she spots Ren sitting dejectedly. Deja vu? Initially she wants to run away but can’t help donning Bo and offer him some advice. Ren pours out his heart about what love is all about which has Kyoko in a fix because of her bad experience with Sho. Meanwhile Lory pays a visit to Ogata and finds the main star isn’t with them. He reminds Ogata of his purpose in directorship and if Ren can’t play Katsuki’s role in 3 days, he wants Ogata to find a replacement. Back to Kyoko and Ren’s talk, she finds that he is clueless when it comes to matters of love and the reason why he couldn’t play Katsuki well. A situation tougher than she had expected. So when Kyoko finally asks if he has ever felt sensations like how she may look pretty or cute when he stares at her, thoughts of Kyoko ran through Ren’s head and when he says he does, Kyoko points out that he has been in love. Oh my. So Ren unknowingly is in love with Kyoko!
 
The conversation continues in episode 25 and we learn Ren is having trouble accepting it all because that girl is still a high schooler. Kyoko tries to persistently persuade to grab the chance and go all the way, not knowing that it’s her he’s referring to. After another successful scene, as Kyoko prepares for the next, she overhears the actress playing Mizuki saying Kyoko’s acting is better than Ren because of the many disappointing retakes. Of course this is a praise but this made Kyoko feel very guilty. So she calls Yashiro to know Ren’s schedule. He will tell her on 1 condition, that is to have dinner with him. Ren is driving and his heavy thoughts have him pull over the side for awhile. That is when Kyoko comes up to him and off they go back to his place to make dinner. However Kyoko thinks he is mad because he has been awfully friendly and smiling! She doesn’t believe it! He’s always putting up such poker face till even Kyoko doesn’t know it’s his genuine one. Kyoko turns on the TV to quell the awkwardness and the talk show sees an interview between a professor and his student. Because of that, Ren notes he now realized things he shouldn’t have. With that, his act gets weirder like not spewing a word till dinner finishes and even when he drives Kyoko home. Kyoko says she’ll be waiting for him and his reply is to try his best. Later that night Ren gets a call from Lory that he’ll be watching him closely and if he doesn’t like his performance, he’s out. Of course Ren says he’s going to do it. Meanwhile Kyoko prays to Corn to take away Ren’s pain and worries. The next day, Ren seems to be confident as Yashiro drives him to the shoot while Kyoko is excited to meet the new Ren. As she peddles to her film, she notes how she has changed and will continue to change every day while we see the other characters going about in their daily lives.
 
Honestly I have to admit because they make it such an open ending, the enthusiasm when I felt at the start of the series waned towards the end. It didn’t resolve anything much. What started out as Kyoko’s journey for revenge, took a slight detour at the end as it focuses more on Ren. Even so I thought it would at least solve Ren’s problem or give an insight on how he is going to deal with his Katsuki character. Due to that too, several other characters were left out like Kanae. Maybe she has secured her drama role elsewhere so there is no need for her presence. Same case for Maria as she is taking steps to get along well with her daddy and Sawara, he is still the talent manager at LME. I can say that there isn’t much character development towards the end. You can bet that Sho is fuming with jealousy over Kyoko’s rise and it serves him right for using her. Yeah, it is going to backfire on him if he doesn’t do some damage control.
 
Kyoko overall is still my favourite character because of her volatile personality. One minute she can be innocent goody-two shows and the next wrong move could send her into total u-turn and madness. It’s just crazy. Especially her inner demons which overrides every sane rational. Because of her background, I find her fit to play TV roles of characters with dark personality. She’d be damn convincing. Her evil piercing glance, her broken but twisted hearted and her soft but brooding voice makes her a very suitable candidate. Though initially she entered show business for revenge against Sho, but over time, she realizes her true potential and learns each step as not only a lesson in acting but life as well. They say revenge is a dish best served cold. But she doesn’t necessarily have to do hideous stuff just to teach Sho a lesson. Outshining him to be the greatest actress and role model in current time should suffice. That will be hurting his pride even more. So who says a popular star like Ren doesn’t have his own problems to deal with. His acting is so good that I think he had hidden himself from love underneath that poker face. Just like Kyoko, sometimes I find him hard to understand or what he wants. No doubt his actions are like riddles to make Kyoko think but sometimes I feel he just needs to be more direct. Just like his feelings. Such a promising chemistry that viewers would die to have them end up together. At least, if you are fans of them both.
 
Obviously the drawing, art and animation are drawn to cater to bishonen and bishoujo standards. Everyone (well, almost) looks hot and good. I guess in show business, looks upfront counts a lot. I can’t help but notice that Sho and Ren look almost familiar to Kyohei and Takenaga of Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge respectively. Likewise, Ogata resembles closely to Sanzo of Gensoumaden Saiyuki. But not all the time you will see the characters drawn gorgeous. When things get comical, the characters will be drawn in their chibi mode, especially their faces which become simpler. Even the backgrounds are given much exaggerations with the hiragana or katakana words as its sound effects. I also like it when the characters emit a dark aura, be it a killing intent or gloominess. It’s hilarious too. Another thing I happen to notice is that when the characters are thinking aloud, the voice in their head sounds somewhat a little muffled, though it’s not that obvious. It’s like speaking through an unclean microphone with some interruption. Perhaps it’s my sound player?
 
My favourite voice acting is still Kyoko by Marina Inoue (Kana in Minami-ke series, Tsukiumi in Sekirei) because of her versatility in voicing the many moods of Kyoko. Especially when she gets into hate mode, she’s damn convincing. Otherwise, don’t let her sarcastic mild pleasant voice fool you because behind it lies a scary tone. Her other voices made during profusely apologetic mode, super incredulous pitch, angelic manner or blur expression are noteworthy voice tones. Other casts include Katsuyuki Konishi as Ren (Amidamaru in Shaman King), Mamoru Miyano as Sho (Death The Kid in Soul Eater), Risa Hayamizu as Kanae (Takako of Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens), Kouji Ishii as Lory (Sebastian in Penguin Musume Heart), Hiromi Konno as Maria (Akira of Lucky Star), Ayako Kawasumi as Ruriko (Henrietta in Zero No Tsukaima series), Atsuko Enomoto as Erika (Misaki in Angelic Layer) and Masahito Kawanago as Yashiro. I don’t know but the seiyuu for Ogata, Yoshinori Fujita, made him sound so gay. Perhaps his past roles in which he played such characters like Ginka of Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, Masumi in Nodame Cantabile, Tomokazu of W~Wish and Kaoru in Ouran High School Hot Club made him such a suitable candidate for this gentle speaking character.
 
Initially I thought after the halfway mark of the series, there is going to be just 1 opening and ending theme. To my surprise, the producers decided to leave it late and changed both themes at the 20th episode. Which means 4/5 of the series is already gone by then. Normally I believe that for a short series like this, the halfway mark is a better ‘place’ if they ever intend to change its opening and/or ending. Anyhow, I still prefer the hip-hop 1st ending theme, Namida, by 2BACKKA as compared to the dramatic slow ballad 2nd ending theme, Eien, by Yuusaku Kiyama. Same case as I’m still prefer the upbeat pop rock 1st opening theme, Dream Star, by The Generous rather than the 2nd opening theme, Renaissance, also by the same group. On a trivial note, the next episode preview which is called "Next Target", is shown during the last few seconds within the ending credits. No speeches, only visual. Well, don’t want to ruin the music, eh? As each episode is named "Stage", I wonder how many stages Kyoko will need to go through in order to fulfil her goal.
 
So will Kyoko achieve her revenge at the end of it all or will she find something else more appropriate as her destiny? We won’t know how long she will take but it isn’t going to be an easy path. She may not get a big fat contract in Hollywood or win the Grammys but as long she is happy with what she is doing, in that sense she is successful. But just take a look at today’s film industry. With all the publicity and buzz surrounding it, do you think it is worthwhile? Well, that’s show biz. And the show must go on. For better or for worse.
 

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