Beauty Pop 4 by Kiyoko Arai: B

bp4From the back cover:
Kiri steps in to help the injured Narumi in a Scissors Project beauty battle. But before Kiri can complete her magic, reminders of an incident in her past make her too fearful to continue with the cut.

For a minute there, this series was on the verge of improvement. Here’s what it did that pleased me:

1. A new character is introduced who’s actually not annoying. Seki, called Ken-niisan by Kiri, is a masseur who, in addition to being mellow himself, has the ability to mellow out others around him, even the volatile Narumi. I also really like that Kiri seeks out his presence; he’s the only boy she’s ever done that with and, currently, the only boy of the cast I can actually see her becoming romantically involved with.

2. One of the Scissors Project boys begins to develop feelings for Kiri, and it’s not the one you’d expect.

3. Once Ochiai unveils his plan for the Scissors Project club to carry their talents into the professional realm, and urges everyone to begin practicing their skills, there’s actually a kind of sports manga vibe going on that’s quite fun. Also, Narumi’s challenger in the competition is fond of calling out the names of his haircuts, like “Condor cut!” which is totally a sports manga thing.

Alas, by the end of the volume I was irritated again, because Narumi’s very annoying young sister appears, and we are apparently about to sit through a tiresome story where she won’t go away while she searches for her prince (a guy who helped disentangle her hair from some shrubbery and who is actually, of course, Kiri). The thing about Narumi getting a rash whenever he touches a girl is also pretty dumb. Sigh.

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