Beauty Pop 5 by Kiyoko Arai: B-

bp5From the back cover:
Narumi’s father, Yujiro, a world famous hairstylist with salons across the globe, has never been able to defeat Kiri’s father, Seiji, in a hairstyling competition. Will Narumi be able to surpass his father by winning against Kiri?

That’s a really strange blurb, considering that the challenge Narumi poses to Kiri, after hearing about their fathers’ rivalry, goes ignored by her. Instead, this volume offers a mixed bag of some good moments surrounded by some extremely annoying ones.

The bad:
* Chisami, Narumi’s middle schooler sister, is extremely irritating and spends the volume coming to the high school in search of her “prince.” There’s a very dumb chapter in which she gets kidnapped, too.
* The team makes over a wannabe model who is afraid of men, leading to a silly cross-dressing gag.
* Iori acts inexplicably stupidly regarding a doll in Kiri’s possession that ultimately leads to the revelation that it was she who bested Narumi in a competition back in elementary school, his sole defeat.

The good:
* There are some nice bits with Kiri and her father where she recalls watching a video of a competition he’d been in during the height of his popularity.
* I like how Kiri cares for the makeover recipients and how their utter happiness afterwards is one of the few things that can make her smile.
* I continue to love anything related to Ochiai’s feelings for Kiri and Aoyama’s (Kiri’s friend) feelings for Ochiai and her reaction to the knowledge that he likes Kiri.
* I still love Shampoo, and how he’s incorporated into the background of some scenes. There’s a really cute one where he’s sleeping on Ochiai’s coat.
* In one of her sidebar columns, Arai-sensei reveals that, to properly approximate the lack of Kiri’s drawing ability, she commissioned her five-year-old nephew to create the drawings that would appear in the manga as Kiri’s.

This series could be so much better, and it’s frustrating. At this point, I’m not even sure if I’m going to keep it after I finish it (I usually do). On the one hand, I can’t see myself wanting to read it again, but on the other, I’d be sad to lose all of Shampoo’s cuteness. I guess I could just hang on to it for the good bits.

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