Shotaro Fuwa was raised to be an innkeeper, and Kyoko Mogami was raised to become his wife. Bad boy Sho had other plans. When he left for Tokyo to become a singing superstar, he asked Kyoko to come with him. The gentle girl thought he cared for her, but reality isn’t always so sweet. The famous idol popstar now lives in Kyoko’s apartment, but he only stops by every so often to pick up a change of clothes. Of course, Kyoko misses his presence — and in Skip Beat’s charming first episode, the way she tempts him to stick around for a few minutes by offering him his favorite pudding is so girlishly amusing. Sho’s a pop idol, after all; he can’t just stroll into the convenience store to buy Japan’s version of Jell-O.
As he rises in the charts, Sho pays less and less attention to Kyoko, even though she works two jobs to support him (as if he needs support any longer), cooks his food, and washes his clothes. The writing is on the wall; the person who quietly dwells in the shadow of a rising star always gets left behind. LOVE TIP: a good girlfriend or boyfriend wants you to enjoy your life and do things for yourself. If you fill your heart with their desires and ignore your own, then you’ll feel empty when he or she leaves (and they will leave).
Spurned and angered, Kyoko abandons her pretty and gentle brunette appearance for a brash glam girl ‘do. I thought her long brown hair was cute, but a wild and crazy haircut is a good first step towards walking a new road. Kyoko vows to get into show business, to surpass Sho and make him suffer in her shadow — which is an exceptionally interesting vow — but she knows nothing about what showbiz really entails. She’s not particularly interested in singing, acting, or TV appearances. Kyoko manages to get an interview with a talent scout, who is naturally put off by her disinterest in anything that actually relates to show business. While being kicked out of the agency, she meets Sho’s rival — Ren Tsuruga — for the first time. But he’s not her savior. He has no interest in someone who lacks enthusiasm for the career he adores, and kicks her out of the agency with a “Don’t come here ever again.”
The difference in rejections is obvious; one rejected her for being too devoted, the other rejected her for lacking devotion. If Kyoko’s going to succeed in her goal (vengeance), then she’ll have to regain something she fears she may have lost; and no one is there to support her. Kyoko will have to finally learn to support her own ambition.
This is an anime series, so of course Kyoko happens to run into superstar Ren Tsuruga later, in another setting. She’s surprised to discover that Sho — the man who was, and still is, her everything — isn’t even on Ren’s radar. In Ren’s mind, Sho is just an annoying and untalented upstart. Ren seems like a decent enough guy, but Kyoko still finds herself irritated to hear Sho put down so casually. That’s the nature of the heart: if something is of earth-shattering importance to us, we think it should be earth-shatteringly important to everyone. This show demonstrates that sometimes other people just think we’re being silly.
The first three episodes erect some strong pillars for Skip Beat. There’s a villain to be defeated. There’s a rags-to-riches goal to pursue. And there’s a love interest — but it’s a love interest that must be impressed, as opposed to the “famous guy falls for the sweet girl” routine we’ve seen so many times before. The story is moving at the perfect pace, neither dwelling nor rushing; combine that with some humorous facial expressions and eccentricities (only possible in anime!) and I’m already hooked. Skip Beat is far more interesting than something like the Sensual Phrase manga, where the heroine and her hero were already embracing by the end of the first volume.