By Yoshiki Nakamura. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz.
We left off last time with Ren and Kyoko posing as siblings – and all of the awkwardness that comes from this, including having to share a room. Volume 27 does now pull back on this at all, but makes things a whole lot worse, as we get to see, for once, Ren lose control rather than Kyoko.
Before that, though, we have some highly amusing scenes in which Kyoko finds, once again, it’s hard to act method when you have no idea what something is like – in this case, being spoiled. You can tell Ren is having an absolute ball with this, and Kyoko’s faces throughout as a picture – especially as she realizes that seeing Cain acting like a petulant child is actually sort of a turn-on for her/Setsu.
This cuteness is just a setup, though. The real meat of the volume is what happens next, where Kyoko is accosted by a gang of young guys looking for “a good time”. She, naturally, sics her “brother” on them, which is fine, as Ren is quite good at dodging, and these thugs are nothing special. At least until they start pulling out weapons. When one of them knocks Kyoko to the ground, the sight of Ren losing control is rather scary. If not for us (we’ve had flashbacks spoiling us for Ren’s traumatic past for some time), then certainly for Kyoko, who is stunned. It’s made worse by the fact that she can’t break character, but has to break up the fight. Strong stuff here.
Afterwards, in the hotel room… well, we’ve done comedy. We’ve done drama. Now it’s time for some romance. Well, quasi-romance, that is – it’s only Vol. 27, after all, you shouldn’t expect any real development just yet. But Kyoko gets into character too easily, which means that if she’s worried about her brother drowning in a tub, she’s gonna walk in on him. What follows is both hilarious and sexy, showing the depth of feeling Ren has for Kyoko (and his complete misinterpretation of her reaction), as well as Kyoko’s growing love for Ren – which she’s oblivious to, of course. The highlight here has to be Kyoko upset that she didn’t see “all” of Ren… so that she could make her doll more realistic.
Meanwhile, just because Kyoko’s doing Setsu doesn’t mean she’s not also still involved in Box R. Indeed, her two roles are bleeding into each other, and it can be hard to switch. I like the way that Skip Beat! shows us that, even though Ren and Kyoko are prodigies, acting is still a difficult profession – and that even if you’re method acting, you still have to keep your head in the game. Which is definitely something Ren is having trouble doing. He begs Lory to have Kyoko “fired” as Setsu, as he worries he won’t be able to control himself around her. Lory agrees – provided Ren fires her himself, saying he “doesn’t need her”. Oh Lory, you’re such a wonderfully manipulative ass. XD
I mentioned this volume is Number 27, so it seems appropriate that it ends with everyone realizing just how much Kyoko has grown up recently – and how gorgeous she’s becoming. Poor Ren. He’ll have rivals before you know it. In the meantime, one of North America’s longest shoujo series continues to show why it’s so popular. Lots of fun.