skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
I've spent the past several weeks zooming through a massive reread of Skip Beat!, my VERY FAVORITE manga about HIGHLY IMPLAUSIBLE SHOWBIZ HIJINKS!!!!

Skip Beat! stars sixteen-year-old Kyoko, who ran away from an emotionally abusive mother who doesn't care about her to go to the city with her childhood crush Sho ... only to find out that Sho ALSO is an asshole who doesn't care about her, and has just been using her to support him and cook and pay the rent so that he can Make It Big In Show Business!


"Yeah, good luck with that," says Sho, "I am now a super famous pop star, you cannot get anywhere near me."


However, as Kyoko attempts to launch herself against show business, she starts to love acting for its own sake -- and she also starts to develop goals that are about herself, and liking herself, and doing things for her own sake, rather than as an emotionally neglected kid's desperate attempt to please other people. Developing and embodying different characters becomes a way for her to embrace and come to terms with different pieces of herself!

Kyoko's character arc of self-realization and self-acceptance is incredibly satisfying, and the value of it is in no way diminished by the fact that the profession of acting, as envisioned by the author of Skip Beat!, appears to be mostly centered around incredibly method improv that leads to ACTING BATTLES!! (You win an acting battle if your acting is just so convincing and your line readings so well-calculated that the emotional impact of the scene always ends up where you want it to, regardless of whatever your scene partner thinks they're doing. Definitely normal acting stuff, right? Is this not ... how acting works .....?)

Kyoko's incredibly judgmental mentor in the SUPER SERIOUS METHOD IMPROV technique is Japan's Most Famous Heartthrob Actor, Ren Tsuruga. Alas for Ren, Kyoko has Sworn Off Love Forever Due To Her Past Traumatic Experiences, and is therefore completely oblivious that Japan's Most Famous Heartthrob Actor spends most of the series pining for her.

As a result, their romance progresses mostly through various rounds of Method Acting Chicken, which is all fun and games until the THIRTY-CHAPTER ARC when someone instructs these children to roleplay incestuous siblings as part of a job and forgets to teach them about safewords first.

(Meanwhile, as soon as Kyoko starts evidencing signs that she might have a life outside of obsessing over her hatred for Sho, Sho promptly becomes counter-obsessed with her and dedicates her life to making sure they are FOREVER NEMESES.)

Kyoko is probably one of my favorite all-time fictional characters. She's sweet, polite and respectful; she's a seething bundle of furious resentment who terrifies small children that cross her path; she loves fairies and princesses and flowers! ... and also voodoo dolls and curses; she's completely naive half the time, and completely cynical the other half the time. The only constant is that whatever she's doing, she is doing it at ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY PERCENT!!!! She's completely over-the-top in twelve different directions, but the bundle of personality contradictions at the heart of her makes her feel incredibly human.

I also love the fact that there are literally no unsympathetic female characters in Skip Beat!. Kyoko really does eventually befriend EVERY WOMAN. Her rivals are inspired by her terrifying determination! Sho's female managers LOVE HER and just want her and Sho to get back together! Her agency director's spoiled granddaughter bonds with her over curse dolls and then follows her around like a duckling! The two-faced costar who launches a vicious Mean Girl sabotage attack against her (ironically, while Kyoko is playing the villainous role of Mean Girl Natsu) -- well, Kyoko is just going to befriend her anyway:

And then, of course, there's Moko -- Kyoko's agency rival-turned-reluctant-best-friend who might actually be the real series love interest. (Moko defeating Ren for Best Giver Of Birthday Presents To Kyoko might be my favorite scene in the whole series.)

Even Kyoko's terrible mother -- well, I will talk about Kyoko's mother briefly in a spoilery follow-up post. The point of this post is, I love Skip Beat! There was a period of time when it seemed like it was going to be Ren's manpain forever when I thought I might eventually fall out of love with Skip Beat!, because Ren's manpain is super not what I am here for, but I am happy to report that is not the case. Please go on for another 300 chapters, Skip Beat! I'M ON BOARD. I'M READY.
skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
I love small fandom exchanges because it means I can actually get through the archive and make recs posts BEFORE REVEALS.

. . . in this case probably like five minutes before reveals, I'm pretty sure, but whatever, STILL MADE IT.

Anyway I have to start out with my own glorious Parallels gift:

More Cowbell, Revolutionary Girl Utena

GUYS. I have been BLESSED BY THE UNIVERSE with a NANAMI VID. So many twirls and ho-ho-hos of triumph! It is everything I could possibly want and I will be watching it approximately five million times over, interspersed with screenings of Total Eclipse of the Heartsword.

(Everyone has already seen "Total Eclipse of the Heartsword", right? I don't need to rec it again, right? If not: sidebar from Parallels recs, GO WATCH "TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEARTSWORD." RIGHT NOW. And then move on to shati's other VVC premieres from this year, Hope on Fire, an awesome tale of rival queens who WANT IT ALL, and Follow Me, an awesome tale of one lady beating up everyone. OKAY SIDEBAR OVER MOVING ON.)

Anyway this was a good year for Nanami because there was also an amazing Nanami fic, not written for me but it might as well have been:

Lovely Exorcist Nanami

"Nanami-san's incredible! Ohtori is already much less haunted than it was this morning."

It's basically a perfect Wacky Nanami Episode in fic form, complete with unexpectedly poignant stab in the heart at the end, and I love it and want to cherish it always.

(. . . another sidebar: there were also a ton of amazing Nanami fics from last year's Yuletide that I never got around to reccing. YOU SHOULD GO READ THEM TOO.)

Other stuff I really liked from this year's exchange:

Some Songs That Aren't About Love, Chihayafuru

Kana tells them about the cards, yes, but she knows other things too. How difficult it is to start, how precious every word of encouragement; how it feels to keep losing, and how important it is to have a reason to play.

Did I mention I watched Chihayafuru? So I saw Chihayafuru and this fic feels like the reasons I love the show -- the affection the kids have for this game, for all the weird reasons they have affection for the game, and for each other, for all the weird reasons they have that too.

Biding Time, Legend of Zelda

Outside, in the daytime, Zelda is a boy named Remmy, with scruffy brown hair cut short and a gap in his smile, because Zelda just lost a front tooth.

This is a really cool, thoughtful exploration of Zelda's seven-year timeskip, and the shifting of identities that eventually leads Zelda to transform into Sheikh. Amazingly, it both feels like the game, and makes the worldbuilding and characterization of the game feel genuinely real and genuinely kind of horrifying.

The Life and Death of Setsuka Heel, Skip Beat!

"Mogami-san," said Tsuruga-san with infinite gentleness, "That's a cleaning cupboard."

I'm not going to lie, I have my issues with the Sexy Incest Siblings Arc, but this fic rapidly won me over heart and soul by having Ren and Kyoko actually TALK HONESTLY ABOUT THEIR ISSUES in a way that felt super plausible! And have their issues not magically go away by talking about them! And move towards romance in a way that allows them to remain respectful of each other and the high value they place on their friendship! SO MUCH APPRECIATED. And also it features my favorite thing, which is more of Skip Beat!'s kind of of glorious over-the-top telepathic method acting; and also it is hilarious.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
Every time I write a fic, I'm like, "this is it! This is the most self-indulgent fic I've ever written. Sorry for everything, world."

BUT NO. NO, this is it FOR ALL TIME, I'm fairly sure. Here it is, you guys: the most self-indulgent fic I have ever written.

Title: Five Times Kyoko Did Not Expect Fannish Shipping Explosions
Fandom: Skip Beat!, with forays into Utena, Harry Potter, Portal, Labyrinth, and Princess Tutu
Characters/Pairings: Kyoko/Ren and Kyoko/Kanae (says fandom), with Yashiro, Lory, and various OCs
Summary: Kyoko deals with the challenges of playing roles in a number of different adaptations.
Note: Warnings for the fact that fandom will ship anything, including incest, teacher/student, and human/killer artificial intelligence. Management would like to state for the record that this fic is not meant as endorsement of any of the things that fandom and/or the entertainment industry do within it.

1. Utena: Extravagant Adolescence )

2. Magical Boy Wizard Harry )

3. Portal: Aperture of Blood )

4. Labyrinth of Shadows )

5. Princess Tutu )
skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
YULETIDE YULETIDE YULETIDE! I got all my stories (two full-length and a treat) finally tweaked to my satisfaction and uploaded in complete form late last night, and in return I was lucky enough to receive two INCREDIBLY DELIGHTFUL stories! Both of them are warm and fuzzy and make me want to wrap myself up in Yuletide joy.

One, Two Three, and Four, Skip Beat!

Big sister’s friend had a very big presence sometimes, strong and vibrant and electrifying-- not as good as Kyoko’s, which was much purer--but when she scowled Maria could almost see the blackness behind her. Ah, it was great, but why was she projecting it at big sister?

Maria! And Kyoko and Moko! and SPONTANEOUS ARABIAN DANCES! This story is ridiculously sweet, guys, it is all about ladies having careers and being friends and tiny dark-aura-loving little girls hanging out with their fake big sisters. Also Lory rides a camel, but that's not exactly new, I guess, just an example of how well this author captures the wacky feel of Skip Beat!

From the Tiniest Ripple, Pumpkin Scissors

"It beats killing people, that's for sure. Am I right, Randel?"

He blinked and glanced at Alice before nodding at Oreldo. "You're right."

I was surprised to see two stories in my Yuletide waiting list; I was EXTRA surprised to have one of them be Pumpkin Scissors, which was one of my last year's requests that I was super sad not to have room to request this year! WHICH SOMEONE MUST KNOW, sooo I have my guesses about who the mystery author of this one might be. Anyway, Alice & Team plant a community garden, FOR THE PEOPLE, and it is exactly as adorable as it sounds.

Happy Yuletide to everyone! And happy holidays, too, whichever those might be.
skygiants: (wife of bath)
Oh man, I have been looking forward to this one. [personal profile] kd7sov asked me for my top five love songs I associate with specific characters! This is my favorite way to listen to music, because I am an enormous dork with thirty vids in my head that I will never acquire the technical skills to make.

Cut for what turned out, unsurprisingly, to be long! )

YOUR TURN. Share with me the songs that you associate with your favorite pairings! Or anti-pairings or friendships or whichever, really. Anything goes!
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
Wow, it has been over a month since I did one of these Top Five posts! At this point I'm just hoping I get all of them answered less than a year from the time I originally did the meme.

Anyway, [ profile] lacewood asked me for my Top Five Awesome Ladies, which aside from being impossible to narrow down also has to be distingished from Top Five Badass Ladies (and also Top Five Cross-Dressed Ladies, and also Top Five Villainous Ladies, etc. etc.)

Under the cut! )

skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
what have I become I don't even know

SO UH. Skip Beat fic! ~2000 words, Yukihito Yashiro/Aki Shoko. YES, YOU HEARD ME.

Shipping Wars )

(In other news . . . as you may have intuited, I have read all of Skip Beat? MORE ON THIS LATER.)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (bring it)
I was going to say, 'so I started reading Skip Beat . . .'

But uh since I just chewed through volumes 4-8 yesterday at a terrifyingly rapid clip and am now currently SCOURING THE LIBRARY SYSTEM to see if I can get my next fix from any of the libraries within walking distance on my lunch break without having to wait for them to be sent to me, I, um, I guess 'started' is not the right term anymore?

Anyway: all of you who recommended me Skip Beat, you are clearly excellent and wise, because I am already in love with so many things about it. SO MANY THINGS.

Skip Beat is about Kyoko, a sweet and hardworking doormat who dropped out of school and ran away to Tokyo to support her childhood friend super-hot budding idol Sho - except in the first chapter it turns out that Sho has just been using her while he climbs to the top, and her whole life has revolved around someone who doesn't care anything about her.

So of course Kyoko promptly swears that she will become a super-famous idol just so she can STOMPLE SHO INTO THE GROUND.

Obviously it is not so easy, but on the other hand Kyoko is a ridiculously terrifying Determinator. She will work harder than ANYONE to rise up from the top and achieve her goal! She will stalk the managers and hover menacingly in their direction until they give in! She will wear hideous uniforms! She will dress like a giant chicken! If you tell her to clean up a spot on the floor, dammit, she will polish the WHOLE HALLWAY UNTIL IT SHINES! Everyone in the industry who meets her is like, "Dang, that girl has serious guts and talent! Shame that she's basically a seething ball of vengeance-driven demonic hatred."

(Kyoko does not actually look like a chicken most of the time. BUT SHE WILL WEAR THE CHICKEN SUIT ALL THE TIME IF THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES.)

The most hilarious thing about Skip Beat is that it's basically a shonen sports story . . . about ACTING. There are rivalries and challenges and ACTING BATTLES; multiple times, people are like "the show must go on! So I will act . . . THROUGH THE PAIN OF MY BROKEN LEG!" and "I will destroy you by being SO MUCH a better actor than you that you will have no choice but to react the way I want you to in this scene! OWNED!"

Also, with all the show-biz-leveling-up exercises, I keep having highly enjoyable flashbacks to all my summers of drama camp. (I was terrible at drama camp, for the record. BUT I LOVED IT ANYWAY.)

And meanwhile there is the heartwarming story of Kyoko realizing that she's starting to love acting and show business for herself, and not just because she wants REVENGE, and also going back to school, and also: MAKING FRIENDS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. Kyoko's ways of making friendships are unorthodox, and are mildly spoilery! )

But all this hilarity aside, the basic thing is that I just really really love stories about girls who have been living for other people figuring out how to live for themselves. (Kyoko and Yoko from Twelve Kingdoms should start a CLUB.)


skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)

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