Skip Beat! 9 by Yoshiki Nakamura: B+

From the back cover:
Kyoko’s big chance is finally here! Her performance in Sho’s promo clip impressed some important people, and now she’s been asked to act in the year’s most anticipated drama! But Ren is the leading man and the character Kyoko is supposed to play is dangerous and scary! Can Kyoko overcome her fear of Ren and her shame about her demons, or will this chance of a lifetime slip through her fingers?

Structurally this volume is like the last, finishing up one story arc in the first half and starting up another in the second. The first half, while revealing more about Moko and her family life, is decently entertaining, but I can’t summon much interest for a petulant child star who’s upset at having been treated like a kid.

Happily, however, things pick up toward the end of the volume when Ren and Kyoko are separately approached to appear in the same drama. They are also separately prodded to consider that there may be some liking going on in their relationship. Kyoko, of course, is convinced that Ren hates her, so declares it impossible. I was happy to see Ren balk at the idea of a relationship with a high school girl, too. I also note that it’s taken until volume 9 for this possibility to be broached, and it hasn’t felt arbitrarily drawn out in the slightest.

Slowly, we’re getting to know more about the supporting characters, and I’m enjoying that. Ren and Moko both get some fleshing out here, and even Yashiro (Ren’s manager) starts to become more important. I also like the little subtle moments where Kyoko uses Ren’s tricks—in the last volume it was an acting technique and this time it was the use of a “gentlemanly smile” when about to administer a smackdown.

It does seem that the next volume will be more interesting, so while this one wasn’t really a fave, I am quite confident of great times ahead.

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