Part of me feels inherently bad when I am unable to go through a 25 episode series within a week. Afterall, at most it would be a 8.5 hour long session that can be broken up by watching three episodes thrice, sandwiched in by sour sessions of four. I mean, I can spare up to three hours for a game, why should another medium be limited towards one or less? Maybe I just dislike marathoning stuff I like, because I didn’t want it to end. Or maybe it is just how I am dreading what I have to do next, and even the most mediocre stuff shines in comparison, let alone something I find to be wonderful.
Skip Beat! Anime Review
Studio: Hal Film Maker and TV Tokyo
Length: 25 episodes
Availability: Free at CrunchyRoll, and just CrunchyRoll
Skip Beat is one of those names that makes me believe that I am missing something. I think there is a subgenre for anything that can be referred to as “beat”, although what would one gain from skipping it, or is skip another form of slang? Regardless, the show, at least the animated version, centers around a happy go-lucky girl named Kyoko Mogami. A high school dropout who has devoted the past few years of her life to being the financial provider, housekeeper, and a friend, in the loosest sense, to a young man named Shotaro. Or Sho, because Japan loves to shorten things. However, after coming to terms that she had devoted her life to an ungrateful brat who valued her as much as he did his lunch, if that, he told her to piss off, and caused her to channel the power of satan.
Seriously, I am not joking here. It is not the main story, even though that would be pretty rad, but one of the recurring bits is how Kyoko can summon spirits and use them to hold people back. And said spirits change based on how she sees herself. Meaning that if she’s in a chicken suit, she summons chicken ghosts.
But in terms of the actual plot, she decides that she will get revenge anyway possible, by beating him in his own game, showbiz! So after spending all the money she worked hard to get for him, getting a room from a nice restaurant owner, and a new short red haircut. She goes off to learn the true meaning of love, and starts becoming a celebrity, seeing as how the show just kinda stops.
Throughout the course of the twenty-five episodes that were made, before the company behind this merged into another, and the story was too far along to reboot other than a Taiwanese drama, no, really. The show actually does change the main objective around quite a bit. Although it is able to be summarized as a young girl going at a life she never got a chance to live, learning all about people, friendship, affection, and acting. Still, it seems very odd how her initial position as something akin to an intern, barely comes up in the last quarter, if at all. All while maintaining a very healthy blend between more dramatic parts, and Kyoko being utterly adorable, to the point I took about a hundred pictures of her facial expressions alone.
It is not even just Kyoko living and learning all about life in often comedic situations with some of the most serious stuff. Especially in the unfinished final arc, sending shivers down my spine, instants before making me verbally laugh as Kyoko’s voice actress continued to do an amazing job in pretty much every single scene. Granted, the other characters in the show do suffer a bit from her hogging away the spotlight and stealing everything but the costumes along with the show. No, the wardrobe is stolen by the company president after her is just kinda in a masquerade ball mere meters away from a set. Yeah, no reason, he’s just having a party. And I love how the show operates on the same strain of logic as I do.
However, it is not like they are notably under characterized. With the lead male in the series, a twenty year old actor/model Ren Tsuruga having a very interesting way of handling social situations when offset, along with being some sort of mentor for Kyoko. While, as is the case, the situation will eventually get reversed, or at least I think, half-ending and whatnot.
Still, there are a lot of minor characters, like the people who offer Kyoko a room to rent, the president of the agency that Kyoko works for, a little girl who lost her general innocence, and the first friend Kyoko ever had. All of them are interesting, but they are either very easily forgotten, or just not given a lot of screen time. I believe this is more an issue with the adaptation, seeing as how the manga this is based on started about six and a half years before the show aired. Granted, this is hardly a major negative that makes the product less fun to watch, and they do give certain elements plenty of time to set in, just long enough for you to be engrossed in the story arc, but short enough for it to not drag on.
Although, and I know this might sound odd, mostly when you consider this was never released in the west other than Crunchyroll. But I found the writing in this show to be wonderful. As in, “There were times when I wanted to take a small screen cap of the dialog so I would have a copy of it”, wonderful. Yes, a few lines sounded kinda odd, but that is pretty much a given with translating languages that are very loosely connected. And maybe it was hearing the voice actors do a stellar job at showing their expression in their voice, because that is the only way I can judge the work. But I can’t even recall the last time a subtitled product made me want to quote it.
And to ricochet back to a topic I addressed about seven weeks ago, this is how you do a story about a person and an artform, without having one overtake another. Yes, the show is about acting, and acting is a major part of the plot. Characters talk about the art of expressing emotions on the fly, and give at least one designated style that does make a lot of sense in the end. “Find something from your own life to use as a reference point in portraying the same emotion.” That seems nice and universal, with the only debatable part being the portrayal of characters, which is one of those conversations that really got me thinking in terms of modernization, and those who say, “The remake of X betrays the character of Y.” Because there’s no better feeling than thinking deeply about something, with a smile on your face.
Also, as I stated prior, I absolutely adore the expressions in this show. Feel free to call me immature, or childish, because I am, but to me the best way to express oneself is often leaving the element that would make one appear to be human. Yeah, there is nothing wrong with traditional expressions, and I would look pretty dumb if I said such a thing. However, for a reason I can not explain to this day, I just find little drawn characters to look far more appealing than a fleshy human. Which, looking back, is probably why I don’t give two shakes about films as a medium. But skipping back!
I just find it instantly appealing to see such overreactions on the same caliber as the one provided by this show. Even when they use the normal faces, which look alright despite being pretty static in comparison, they still complement the performances in making conversations feel direct or like someone is in control. Although, there were some growing pains when I had to adjust myself to the standard early to mid 2000s anime style, because pretty much every style that I can designate a time period to, looks relatively bland.
And I the expressions do only help out the designs, which are pretty much just people with perhaps a bit more flavorful hair choices, but that hardly makes it bad. Yet I can’t recall many times where the actual animation was overly impressive when using the more traditional style, with there being a lot of conversations that are carried out by the voicework. It might sound like I am complaining, but I’m really not. I actually really appreciate it when I find some shortcoming in a product, that is negligible by one area being strong enough to carry it that segment by itself.
Granted, I do find it weird how they would choose to allocate it this way, but it works well where it counts. Especially if what I heard about the studio behind this show being only a handful of individuals is true. Who I am kidding? I’m surprised someone could even make a show like this with only 13 people, if Wikipedia is to be believed.
Although, my gripes about certain pacing and outlining decisions, and claim that the studio was probably pretty small, don’t mean a whole lot. When judging the show as an entity within itself, it really does not need many excuses, because I feel as if it could stand on its own. Oh sure, it does feel like the show “Skipped” a few “Beats” with minor characters and not making the default artstyle in the same caliber as the more expressive stuff. Yet the strong character focus, engaging voice cast, and welcomed tonal shifts all help advance the show a bit further than I would have expected. I have noticed a pattern with my anime reviews being relatively bipolar, so my recommendations don’t mean a lot. But trust me when I say that this is one Beat you don’t want to Skip… I made two title puns, and they were both awful while being pretty much the same! Yay!
An exceptional product that suffers from very few issues, to the point where they are barely worth noting for this superb title. Definitely worth both your time and money.
//Or in this case, just your time, because it is free!