From the back cover:
Kiri is undecided about what career she wants to pursue after graduation, but for Narumi it’s plain and simple—he’s always wanted to become a professional hairstylist. Can Narumi’s passion help persuade Kiri to face her dreams?
The Beauty Pop series is actually split in two parts, and this volume sees the conclusion of the first part, a smattering of bonus stories, and then the resumption of the series as Beauty Pop, Stage 2.
The conclusion to the first part of the series hinges on Kiri finally admitting that she does want to be a beautician after graduation. It’s time for the second-year students to fill out their career choice forms and she dallies over it a bit until Narumi’s passion for cutting hair, and recollections of the happiness of her former makeover subjects, prompts Kiri to make her decision. After talking to Narumi, she actually smiles at him, which, of course, causes him to go “b-bmp,” just like happened to Ochiai after he caught a glimpse of the same rare sight. Even the imposter from the last chapter ties in with the whole “go for your dreams” theme, even if his motivation for impersonating Narumi is totally ridiculous.
The bonus stories are not very good—surprisingly, the one featuring Chisami is the best of the lot. In “Twisted Typhoon,” most of the cast is contrivedly visiting Los Angeles at the same time, and Kiri saves the schedule of a movie shoot her mother is working on by correctly interpreting the drawing made by the temperamental child star who insists on a particular hair style. In “I Want to Be a Prince,” we see Chisami through the eyes of her childhood friend, Takeda, and discover that she’s a lot more lonely than she lets on. There’s one panel of her just waving and smiling sadly to Takeda that single-handedly goes a long way toward making her more tolerable. “Extra-Curricular Daydreaming” is the worst of a lot, about a dog who has returned as the ghost of a human boy to repay Kiri’s kindness to him in his canine life, an aim that he accomplishes by stealing pencil cases and snacks for her. Hana-Kimi did this—randomly inserting a story about the supernatural into its school-based narrative—and I disliked it then, too.
Stage 2 starts with the rather subtle revelation that Kiri has finally joined the Scissors Project. She’s been resistant and apathetic all this time, but now we see her sporting a certain bracelet and then are introduced to the significance of that bracelet a little later on. It seems that Ochiai is getting more serious about marketing the group, and Kiri even seems to be seeking out people to practice on rather than simply stumbling upon folks in need. A Scissors Project performance, with Kiri as a willing participant, ensues, but is interrupted by yet another famous stylist who, for some reason, enjoys interfering with the efforts of amateurs. Yawn.
I’m happy to see the change in Kiri’s outlook and that she is both participating and having comparatively civil conversations with Narumi. But with only three volumes left in the series, I hope the story quits introducing these tedious rivals and starts devoting more of its time to her character arc.