Skip Beat! 20 by Yoshiki Nakamura: B

Kyoko takes a break from acting jobs in this volume to focus on throwing a fabulous non-birthday birthday party for the boss’s granddaughter, Maria, who refuses to celebrate the occasion since it’s also the date of her mother’s death, for which she feels responsible. What follows is possibly the most shojotastic volume of manga ever, filled with warm expressions, bright smiles, avalanches of flowers, swarms of shimmering butterflies, an emotional reunion between Maria and her absentee father, and a surprise celebration for Kyoko’s 17th birthday.

While I don’t like Maria enough to find the easing of her family troubles particularly moving, it’s still nice to see Kyoko at her best, giving her all for the benefit of someone else and wishing hard for their happiness. We also get a really sweet, if unfortunately curtailed, moment between Ren and Kyoko when he gives her a rose for her birthday and she goes all sparkly over it, which I suppose could be counted as progress.

In the end, this is a rather non-essential volume in Kyoko’s journey toward stardom, but it’s worth it to see how she unknowingly wins hearts just by being herself.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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