Manga Review: Beauty Pop by Kiyoko Arai

Beauty Pop, Vol. 1 (Beauty Pop, #1)Beauty Pop, Vol. 1

by Kiyoko Arai

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is about a girl named Kiri, a skilled yet passive hairstylist who performs her magic on those who need it to bolster their feelings. She attends a high school with a group of boys, the sons of huge beauty product companies, who plan to take Japan by storm (after they graduate) as a huge beauty conglomerate. Until then, the boys have formed a “scissors project” club. Essentially they are a flashy all-beauty club which does make-overs on selected girls.

While Kiri is not ambitious, and tends to hide her personality and her skills, the boys are obnoxious and ambitious and she quickly gets pulled into competition with them, and later directly into their club. Though rather reluctantly.

It’s a romantic shoujo comedy which follows some of the usual pattern of reverse-harem manga (1 girl, lots of boys). I guess the easiest reference for most would to think of “Ouran High School Host Club”.

The heroine is confident/passive/kuudere. CHECK
The side characters types usually include:
1. The cool/megane. CHECK.
2. The happy/kawaii. CHECK.
3. The stoic/cool. CHECK.
4.The neurotic/okama. CHECK.
5. The sporty(competitive)/tsundere. CHECK.
ll questionable to me whether Kiri has stronger feelings towards Narumi than she does for her other friends.

The passive character of the heroine is a recurring theme in reverse-harem manga. And she is often paired with either the neurotic/cross-dressing character or the competitive/tsundere personality. Both of whose personalities are built out of a fear of getting close. They can stay close to the character that they love, but they’ve built a wall which makes it difficult for the two to get together.

In this story, Kiri is paired with Narumi who is the “hairstylist” in the scissors club. His personality: Tsundere. He can’t help but call her names, pick on here, and be competitive. But, in the end he cares for her. Unfortunately their relationship is rather strained throughout and there is little development in showing Kiri as more active, or Narumi as less abrasive. They end up together (it’s not a spoiler if it’s totally obvious, right?) but it’s dissatisfying.

I probably rate the story 3 out of 5. At 10 volumes it gets a bit labored. There are some interesting stories, and arcs. But, generally when the main character goes through little development the story gets tiring. I often stop reading at about book 3, and get back to the story around book 7. I don’t always want to read a story full through if the middle doesn’t lend itself to the development of plot or character.

The art style is both light, and solid. There is a clear style by this artist, but the story doesn’t get weighed down by the art. And the story is cute, if a bit predictable. I still think it’s a series worth reading, but I would say borrow it from your library before you decide to buy.

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