Beauty Pop Surprise

Beauty Pop Surprise – Our thoughts from the monthly Mangaforum 

This month we read “Beauty Pop”, written and illustrated by  Kiyoko Arai; A Shojo manga of the highest degree, it focuses on the life of Kiri Koshibaa, a high school student with a begrudging talent for cutting and styling hair, and her confrontation with the “Scissors Project” (SP), a group of boys with unparalleled popularity due to being the elite hairstyle makeover team in the school, providing carefully selected girls with the opportunity to transform and get the guy they desire. Any girl who lacks a properly balanced ‘Beauty Factor’ will be refused a makeover with no second chances to receive the prestigious honor of getting work done by the S.P. The drama develops as it becomes apparent that the SP have a talented rival (Kiri), and as much as Kiri tries to shy away from the spotlight, ambivalent to all the importance and hype, she finds herself drawn into the world of hairstyling.

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So, What we all thought in a nutshell;

  • Trust me, it’s better than you think
    • It’s not Good good, but, against all the odds, it’s not a shit read…i mean the story is SO DUMB but it’s not a shit read.
  • Just Enjoy it – Don’t think about it, don’t try and rationalize it. Just go with it
  • Return to form for Lex; But it’s not a sugary nostalgic rabbit hole; So if your more like me (not a shojo-fan-girl) it’s just a fresh, light read

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What we liked

So there are so many aspects to touch on but over all, we see another example of the complementary phenomenon of simplified stories having the opportunity to develop decent characters in a consistent and “believable” world. Similar to Assassination Classroom – Let’s put the actual plot to one side.

The characters are light with multiple dimensions whilst also being defined in them selves.  The SP are obviously meant to be the stereotypical unattainable popular boys but the three of the guys interact with each other quite nicely; they have have comedic slip ups and even have some cutting one liners, that give them a truer teenage boy angle. Kiri is completely apathetic about their hype unlike her immediate friends and the rest of the school, while at the same time, knowing her talent surpasses the SP’s but not going out of her way to undermine their bravado either (at least in the first volume). She has absolutely no interest in competing, challenging or even engaging with them, which I found surprisingly refreshing.

Basically, they story doesn’t have to sell you the characters; You buy into them quite naturally, and it’s through them, that you find yourself wanting to read further.

I certainly would. It’s such a decent and lighthearted escapism, which certainly is targeted to the teen-girl audience, but that I genuinely think us older readers and even men, would appreciate the escapism too, with the universal the tongue in cheek mellow-drama, along side the self-aware stoopidness of the set up.

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What we disliked.

So although it IS fun, there is something that is a bit off – But let’s put the actual plot to one side.

I initially thought it was an 80’s print but it was published in 2003 – This surprised me because I thought manga had moved on from this kind of limp high school drama setting after the 80’s happened??

And then, I’m just going to say it – The premise of the SP makes me uncomfortable, and it’s not just the cheesy name. The focus on “Beauty” and these men judging women on their looks… Shogo Narumi (head of the SP – ‘Naru-Naru’ to Kiri)  is a legit misogynist (as in, the story later goes into that he is physically repulsed by women and bursts into hives every time women touch him…) I acknowledge that Kiri Koshiba’s character is meant to be the counter weight, asserting that beauty comes from the inside (etc), but the angle coming from her is comparatively weak.

There is also the scattered use of the world “Tard” as a derogatory nick name for one of the characters; This was in my physical book, so not a scandelous scanlation – Some editor should have perhaps picked up on this, as it definitely made the whole thing seem more dated.

Finally, Lexa can see the shipping between Kiri and Naru-Naru, “ITS A SHOJO LARA!! OF COURSE THEY’LL GET TOGETHER” Lex screams knowingly at me, while I cringe at the thought. I guess for me, the first volume sets their dynamic up as 2 individuals with potential rivalry but ultimately learning something from each other (more Shonen-typical plot perhaps?), so the idea of the progression of the story falling back into those carbon-copy shojo romantic-comedy-conflict romps, makes me despair.

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Anyway – This post is a bit later but tune in  for our next review on http://www.twitch.tv/mangaforum on 23rd July, where we’ll be joined by our new friends, SWRU (https://swrumanga.wordpress.com/), the epic manga writers, they themselves also looking for the great manga formula, and together we’ll be reviewing their recommended read “A Silent voice” written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ōima- YES, MORE FRIENDS.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter and Youtube too, where we’ll posting our thoughts and faces- https://twitter.com/themangaforum.

As always, We look forward to hearing what you think so comment below!

Lara and Lexa

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