Cover-to-Cover is a column where I’ll choose my favorite cover from a particular series. This time around it’s Skip Beat! The art in Skip Beat! isn’t exactly something I pay as much attention to as, say, Kyoko’s crazy ‘grudge’ ghouls or her relationship with Sho. However, one thing I appreciate about Skip Beat! is that each cover almost always reflects what’s going on during the storyline of that particular volume. For example, volume twelve’s cover is of Ren and Kyoko portraying Kazuki and Mizuki, who are characters from the drama they’re filming, while volume fifteen’s cover features Reino, Sho’s music rival, who had just been introduced to the story. But right away I knew exactly which cover I wanted to choose: volume seven.
First, I’ve made it clear that I prefer Kyoko and Sho as a couple over her and Ren, so it makes sense that I’d choose one of the few covers with Sho on it. The fact that I love Sho’s costume doesn’t hurt, either. Artistically speaking, I also like the pattern on the borders of the cover (which works well with the feather in Sho’s mouth). But I think the main reason I like this cover so much is because I love the story arc that starts with this volume. In it, Kyoko acts in the promo for Sho’s album, and thus this is the first time she and Sho directly interact with one another after she enters show business. In the promo, Sho is a devil (hence the costume) who falls in love with an angel, and Kyoko, who is playing the angel’s best friend, must kill Sho. Sho realizes how good of an actress Kyoko has become and begins to see her as more than just his childhood friend, and this is apparent to everyone around him. His manager notices the way he stares at Kyoko while Pochi, who plays the angel who falls in love with him (and has a crush on him in real life) is jealous of their interactions. Because this was the point in the manga Kyoko and Sho’s chemistry first became apparent to me and eventually became my favorite story arc in the series, volume seven’s cover makes me think of all of the things I like about Skip Beat!
I know a lot of people out there who have read Skip Beat! love Ren Tsuruga and Kyoko Mogami. I know there’s about a 99% chance that Ren and Kyoko will end up together. And I know that there have been many romantic scenes between them, several of which I’ve really liked, such as when Kyoko was acting as the character Mizuki from Dark Moon and she and Ren ended up on the floor together in volume 12. Yet despite all of this, I love seeing Kyoko and Sho Fuwa together. I’m not alone in this – there are otherSkip Beat!fans who also root for (or at least wouldn’t mind) Kyoko and Sho dating, but I think they do so for slightly different reasons than me. I think my stance with this is interesting because I don’t have a problem with Ren and Kyoko as a couple. It’s just that I think there’s something about Kyoko and Sho that feels very equal. While Kyoko looks up to Ren as an acting mentor, and Ren hides his true self around her, Kyoko and Sho are completely true to themselves around each other (even if that means they’re constantly fighting). I also feel as though Sho’s childishness and hot-temper goes along well with Kyoko, who keeps him in check with her ‘grudge Kyokos.’ What I love most is seeing the gradual change in Sho’s feelings. At first, he views Kyoko as just a childhood friend who is disposable, and she vows revenge upon him for using her. This may suggest that he doesn’t care about her (especially not romantically), but this may not be the case – the reason he feels this way is because he thinks she’s his.
My favorite story-arc in Skip Beat! so far (I’m up to volume 18 of the manga) has been of Kyoko acting as the angel in the promo for Sho’s album in volumes seven and eight. During this arc, Kyoko portrays the angel who kills the devil (none other than Sho) who her best friend has fallen in love with. When it is time to film the scene when Kyoko chokes Sho, he can’t stop looking at her, and they have to refilm it because it looked as though he was in love with her instead of her best friend. And in-between shooting, Kyoko and Sho’s bantering makes their costar Pochi, who likes Sho, feel jealous, and makes Sho’s managers realize that there’s a goofy side of himself he can only show to Kyoko because he’s always ‘Mr. Cool.’ Even little things like Sho and Kyoko having the exact same thoughts reinforce how in-sync they are with one another. This story-arc makes it clear that there’s something about Kyoko and Sho being together that makes people think the two of them are in love with one another.
There have been several story-arcs where Sho doesn’t show up, but he’s definitely in the back of my mind – I always anticipate the next time he and Kyoko will have the chance to go at it again. However, during the Sho-centered story-arc from volumes 14 to 16, I would probably have forgotten completely about Ren’s existence if it wasn’t for his narration expressing his fears that Sho may steal Kyoko’s affections. Ren’s narration, however, makes it clear how close Kyoko and Sho are to each other, and he believes that the two running into each other in Karuizawa is proof that they “must be bound by some sort of fate.” When the band Vie Ghoul steals Sho’s songs, its lead singer Reino decides to pursue Kyoko as well, pissing Sho off. What I love about this arc is not only does it make it clear (to both the audience and to Sho himself) that Sho is in love with Kyoko, but also that Kyoko’s feelings for Sho are stronger than she’d like to admit. When Reino ‘attacks’ Kyoko in Karuizawa, the first person she thinks of to rescue her isn’t Ren – it’s Sho, and Reino even says that he feels as though she’s pretending to hate him. When Sho sees the two of them, he promptly beats Reino up at the risk of his career. And when Reino asks about the nature of their connection, Kyoko declares that she’d never get into a relationship with him that involves love and Sho huffily hides his disappointment. Both Reino and Ren realize that Kyoko’s hatred for Sho is stronger than her feelings for anyone else, which is why Reino wants Kyoko to hate him so that she’ll never forget him. Ren, on the other hand, is hurt to see that when the two of them are together they “create an atmosphere” that no one can interfere. And when Sho decides he won’t concede defeat to anyone but Kyoko in show business, Ren remarks that to him, Sho’s ‘challenge’ sounded more like a declaration of love. All of these things establish how strong the connection between the two of them is, and that bond feels much more natural and passionate than the one between Kyoko and Ren.