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Manga Review: Beauty Pop Volume Two by Kiyoko Arai

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Beauty Pop Volume Two is a manga by Kiyoko Arai, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2006. The series is rated “T” for Teen, and I agree with this rating.

High school freshman Kiri Koshiba has a talent for being a beautician and giving makeovers, but she tries to hide this fact. Three popular boys at the school (Shogo Narumi, Kei Minami, and Kazuhiko Ochiai are part of a group called the “Scissors Project,” and they randomly give girls at their school makeovers if they feel a girl has potential. Through various instances that happened in Volume One, Kiri started doing makeovers as “X,” and disguising herself in such a way that it would be hard to identify X’s gender. This culminated with the Scissors Project challenging X to a makeover competition, and the first volume ended right before the winner was announced.

This volume starts out by revealing the winner of the makeover competition, and the results make it where some of the students would like X to give them makeovers. Meanwhile, Kiri’s life is complicated by the return of Iori Minamoto, a boy whose family worked closely with Kiri’s family. Iori comes across as an egotistical poseur, and Kiri really wants nothing to do with him. Unfortunately for Kiri, Iori messages Kiri’s mother (who has been working in Los Angeles and has been absent from the manga previous to this point), claiming that Kiri is being bullied. Kiri’s mother returns home and tries to meddle with her daughter’s affairs.

There’s a rumor going around school that one of the male teachers will be marrying the school nurse. The Scissors Project learns that the nurse feels like she’s too old to wear a wedding dress and have a proper ceremony, and they end up offering to give her a makeover. Meanwhile, Kiri learns that the teacher is having doubts, and Kiri’s mother offers to have the family’s beauty salon give him a makeover. On the day of the makeover, Kiri’s parents disappear before the teacher arrives, and Kiri is forced to take on the X persona and do the makeover. Once again, Kiri finds herself pitted against the Scissors Project.

This volume also includes a “bonus story,” which is essentially some background on how the three boys in the Scissors Project became friends. While I was appreciative to get this kind of character development, I was disappointed by the fact that it had to be included as a “bonus story,” instead of being incorporated into the narrative of the main story of the manga.

There’s nothing terribly remarkable about the art in Beauty Pop, and I really didn’t see any progress from the art that appeared in Volume One. I also felt that while the plot of the story may have advanced, I really didn’t find much in the way of development in the manga storyline to help me care any more about there characters than I did in Volume One. Reading the “bonus story” helped me to understand the character of Ochiai a little better, but it wasn’t enough to truly make me want to care about him.

If you’re a fan of Beauty Pop, then you will probably enjoy how the series progresses. However, if you’re a fan of the shojo manga genre who prefers to have more substance in the characters and stories, then this series probably isn’t for you.

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About Lesley Aeschliman

Lesley Aeschliman is a freelance writer who began writing on a full-time basis in 2007. She has served as the Anime editor at BellaOnline.com, and she also writes and maintains two blogs: Lesley's Musings... on Anime and Manga and AeschTunes.