Beauty Pop 1 by Kiyoko Arai: B

From the back cover:
Although a truly gifted hairstylist, Kiri Koshiba has no interest in using her talent to pursue fame and fortune, unlike the three popular boys in the “Scissors Project” at school. Determined to become the best makeover team in Japan, they give showy makeovers to handpicked girls. As much as Kiri tries to shy away from the Scissors Project spotlight, she finds herself responding to beauty’s call…

Kiri’s friend Kanako gives a present to one of the members of the Scissors Project. Her act of kindness is interpreted as a bribe to get a makeover, and they reject her out of hand for being too ugly. Kiri decides to help Kanako and give the boys a lesson in what true beauty is.

I’ve heard good things about this series, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed in this first volume. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t had inflated expectations, though. It’s not like it’s at all bad. It’s just that the boys in the Scissors Project are such common types. There’s Narumi, the tousle-haired lead guy; Kei, the cute and energetic snack-freak; and Ochiai, the second-in-command megane (guy with glasses) with a propensity for collecting data on classmates. Basically, he’s Kyoya (Ouran High School Host Club) and Inui (Prince of Tennis) combined. Oh, and Kiri also has the obligatory male friend from childhood, Taro, who will probably be revealed to have a crush on her at some point.

While the boys are kind of bland, Kiri herself is a great character. She’s aloof and unimpressed by the showy theatrics of the Scissors Project. As Taro puts it, Kiri is “pretty much always half-asleep.” It’s revealed that she once had a dream of becoming a beautician, but she claims not to care about that now, even though her dad (owner of a beauty salon) keeps issuing challenges to her, forcing her to improve her skills and trying to nudge her into pursuing them seriously.

Arai’s art is clean and cute, with delicate lines that work well for depicting precisely cut hair. I also love the way Kiri’s cat, Shampoo, is drawn, frequently stretching and lounging about, and how his simple affection is one of the few things that can make Kiri smile.

The situations in this volume are a little repetitive, too. The Scissors Project only makes over hand-picked girls, so when a few desperate girls are denied the makeover of their dreams, Kiri helps them out. Her identity’s a secret at first, and while Narumi freaks out at this unknown challenger, Ochiai puts things together and arranges for a face-off at the cultural festival. While the early chapters aren’t that exciting, the battle between Narumi and Kiri at the festival ends with a cliffhanger that makes me want to read more.

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  1. Melinda says

    Well, huh. I can’t decide if I want to read this or not. Though the, uh, makeover-off or whatever at the cultural festival sounds exciting. Hee.

  2. So far, I don’t think I’d recommend it, but it could always get better.

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