Anime Review: Skip Beat Collection

By Drew Hurley 14.03.2018

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Skip Beat Collection (UK Rating: 15)

While most Shoujo stories are dedicated to a starry-eyed, cute, demure beauty, pursued by a host of bishi boys, Skip Beat goes for an entirely different approach. Kyoko Mogami has grown up doing everything for her childhood friend, Sho, going so far as to drop out of high school to support his dream of becoming a rock star idol. While she thought they were in love, Sho saw her as basically a slave, making her work numerous jobs just to fund his life, but when Kyoko realises the truth, she becomes a whole different person. Skip Beat Collection comes courtesy of MVM and is available from 26th March.

In the first episode, Kyoko is shown to be pretty pathetic. She is absolutely obsessed with Sho and throws away her own happiness to make his dreams come true; working numerous jobs, barely sleeping, living off cup Ramen, all to fund his dreams. In that same first episode, though, she accidentally overhears him talking with his manager; explaining that he sees her as a maid and assistant, not to mention a sugar mama, that he sees her as pathetic, a tool to be used and basically a joke.

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Kyoko loses it, and finally tells Sho she's going to take from him the thing that matters most: his fame. She vows to beat him at his own game and become more famous than him. It's a considerable challenge considering he's the seventh-ranked male idol in Japan, while she can't sing, can't dance, never had a single acting lesson, and dropped out of school… but she has her determination and hatred to drive her along. With this in tow, she heads straight to the talent agency of Sho's biggest rival, Ren Tsuruga.

What follows is a story of Kyoko learning to become an actress, taking on jobs and ultimately finding a love for the craft outside of her revenge. Her background learning how to serve Sho, being taught how to please as an old-fashioned Japanese wife, helps her for her first roles and then she begins to understand the heart of acting. She begins to completely throw herself into each role, almost becoming a different person each time, and as the series progresses, her natural talent really begins to shine and it's easy for the audience to become invested in her mission.

This is a shoujo series, though, so romance is obviously a big part of this story. It doesn't get far enough to really craft the love triangle that is hinted at. Kyoko begins to fall for Sho's rival, Ren, who initially has nothing but disdain for her, seeing her as someone who doesn't respect his vocation, but he becomes more of a mentor to her, then a friend, and then something more. Meanwhile, Sho begins to get interested in Kyoko's new strong attitude, even coming to appreciate how awful he was to her.

This new release comes thanks to a hugely successful IndieGoGo campaign where fans finally had the chance for an English dub. The original release of this anime ran almost ten years ago but a dub has been nowhere in sight. Best of all, thanks to the success of the crowd-funder, the dub has brought in some superb talent. There are some serious veterans here with some memorable and recognisable voices. The star, Kyoko, is voiced by the celebrated Caitlin Glass, best friend Erika has prolific star Christina Vee. The renowned Robbie Daymond is Ren. The glorious Grant George is Sho. Yukihito is played by the venerable Vic Mignogna. Maria is the magnificent Mela Lee. These stars are not just providing the voices, either, as this dub takes the extra step of recording all of the songs in English, too. The quality of dub is absolutely top tier and even sub-only anime fans should give this one a chance.

This new release is also home to a host of brand new bonus features, although they are all disappointingly short. There are interviews with various members of the main cast and staff on the project. There are also behind the scenes slideshows, videos showing some of the English songs being recorded, along with clean openings and closings. All of these featurettes are between two and five minutes (mostly two), with a message to visit the official site to see the full interviews… quite the waste if these "exclusive interviews" are longer online than on the actual release; a foolish decision.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Skip Beat Collection is one of the best shoujo series in recent memory, and one that has been made even better thanks to the fantastic new dub. The series is popular with good reason and is still running to this day, almost sixteen years after it first launched. Of course, that means the complete story isn't going to be told here. The anime adapts the first 13 volumes of the current 39 available, but leaves out a great deal, and those who enjoy it would be wise to grab the manga from Shoujo Beat! Which has kept up to date with the Japanese releases, with them landing just a month later in English.

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