Skip Beat! 11 by Yoshiki Nakamura: A-

From the back cover:
There’s trouble on the Tsukigomori set, and surprisingly it’s not Kyoko’s fault. Ren is having difficulty acting the part of a love-struck suitor since he’s never really been in love before. Stressed by his sudden acting impotence, Ren goes MIA. Kyoko is determined to help her friend, and joins forces with Ren’s manager. But as Ren sees the two of them getting close, he realizes he might know more about serious emotion than he thought!

Ah, Skip Beat! Where else could one find the heroine administering love advice to the hero while garbed in a chicken suit? On top of that, she doesn’t realize that he’s talking about her (and I swear this is not the oblivious cluelessness of some shoujo heroines) and he doesn’t realize who’s in the suit. And it’s not some stupid gag scene, either, because I’d hate it if it were.

This is yet another volume where I prefer one half over the other. The first half, dealing with Ren’s difficulties portraying a man losing control in love when he’s never experienced that, is certainly good. It’s kind of nice to see someone other than Kyoko messing up for a change. There’s also some great stuff where Sho freaks out over Kyoko working with Ren. How come I suddenly enjoy Sho’s appearances so much?

But the best begins in the middle of the volume when Kyoko, wanting to help Ren but feeling unqualified to give him advice as herself, runs into him at the studio where she works on the variety show (as a chicken) and remembers having previously talked to him in costume. Another conversation ensues, and from there on out there’s many great moments between them to enjoy. I continue to be happy that Ren is restraining his feelings because Kyoko’s still in high school, which is something some other manga characters ought to consider but don’t.

Y’know, I think I am going to erupt in a geyser of squee once these two really do get together. Their building relationship has been very well-handled, and I have to commend Nakamura for her skill in pacing a story. This is a series that every shoujo fan should be reading!

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