Analyzing “Skip Beat” by Yoshiki Nakamura

The manga Skip Beat, by Yoshiki Nakamura, was released in 2002 and is still ongoing, unlike my other review of “Naruto” which is completed. It is increasing in popularity being 62nd on Manga Fox’s list of most monthly viewings.

The genres that encompass Skip Beat are: comedy, drama, romance, shoujo, and slice of life. As mentioned previously, shoujo is a genre written to specifically cater to female readers and is almost always associated with romance. I decided to review this one because it is practically the exact opposite on the spectrum to the manga Naruto. The plot of this manga involves a young girl who skipped going to high school to follow her childhood crush to Tokyo to help support him while he makes it big in the music industry. When he eventually does make it big, he ditches her and claims that he only brought her along to be his maid anyway (this after she worked three jobs just to pay rent for both of them since he wasn’t paying it). The main character, named Kyoko, becomes infuriated and vows she will join the entertainment industry at a rival company and become more famous than him in revenge. She actually does end up joining the rival entertainment company and she becomes an actress. Along the way she meets a super famous male actor who becomes very angry at the idea that Kyoko is only acting for revenge, but his mean behaviour toward her (which she doesn’t understand for a while) fuels her passion and she vows to become more famous than him too. Kyoko eventually does fall in love with acting and decides to use it to better herself, and that’s just where the manga starts getting good.

Skip Beat follows the typical shoujo style manga where romance is constantly involved and the main male characters are very good looking. This manga also encompasses some small forms of fantasy too, though I’m not sure why it isn’t listed with the other genres. This manga has a lot of inner thought moments and spends a lot of time with Kyoko getting to know her inner self. There are also a lot of infuriating moments when something obvious is happening but Kyoko doesn’t get it, but I’m sure Yoshiki Nakamura did that on purpose since she depicted it so well by showing the side characters’ confusion as Kyoko’s air headedness. The drawing style for the characters is very different from anything I’ve seen before and it is very unique. The faces are drawn quite angular though as the manga goes on you see the artist try to correct that a bit. The older male character’s faces are very angular whereas the young boy’s faces are rounder to show their age, the same goes with the female characters thought the older female character’s faces are definitely not as angular as the male’s. There are many dramatic moments in the manga and almost always, without a doubt the artist uses most, if not all, of a page (or two pages put together) to portray these moments. For example, in typical shoujo style, when a woman appears from a room looking different from usual and absolutely gorgeous, most of a page is used, at least, so the artist can show the impact it made on the other characters and add as much detail as need be. Also, I have read a lot of shoujo manga that depict women as needy and who look to men to save them from troublesome situations. I rather like that this manga did not follow that theme and instead went with a main character, and several side female characters, who do everything themselves and are very much independent of men. This is most likely (in the main characters case definitely) attributed to past trouble with men. This manga shows that there is nothing wrong with being independent, whether you’re a man or a woman.

This is one of my all-time favorite manga’s and I highly recommend it if you’re into romantic comedies, though the romantic part takes a long time to kick in- which I like because it is much more realistic than many other shoujo manga where the characters fall in love instantaneously after meeting once and hardly speaking. Though don’t forget, this manga is ongoing so if you decide to read it, prepare to wait a long time for new releases.

Analyzing “Naruto” by Masashi Kishimoto

The manga “Naruto” just recently completed after being ongoing for 15 years (it was released in 1999). It has been one of the most popular manga worldwide since its creation and now that it’s over, I’m going to briefly review and analyze it.

This manga is classified under the genres: action, adventure, comedy, drama, fantasy, martial arts and shounen. As mentioned in a previous post, shounen is a genre written specifically to cater to boys and is usually tied in with action and martial arts- as seen in Naruto. The author/artist of this manga is Masashi Kishimoto and this manga is ranked 1st on Manga Fox for the most monthly views. The story follows a young boy named Naruto Uzumaki who has a demon fox sealed within him, which causes others to shun him. He trains to become the best ninja who ever lived so that people will acknowledge him and he can become hokage (country leader) one day. Along the way he fights many foes both verbally and physically and learns something new from each foe. This manga teaches some good lessons, one being “never give up or go back on your word”.

This manga is drawn like the typical shounen style, with simplified art so that the outfits and backgrounds aren’t too detailed to take away from the action, and women are over sexualized with plenty of comedy relief added in. One can see right away that closure plays a very big role in this because it is an action manga that has a lot of fight scenes with dramatic attacks, throwing kunai, etc. Many of the panels depict someone throwing a ninja star, then the next panel depicting the ninja stars spinning through the air, and the next is them either hitting or missing their target. The sense of movement is very important in fight style manga. In comparison with the anime, the manga actually moves a long a lot quicker than the anime adaptation because in the anime fight scenes, the artist adds extra attack moves that you don’t see in the manga. The use of sound is also effective since the manga artist adds plenty of sound effects for everything from attack moves, to the trees rustling in the wind.

Personally I think the last few volumes became a little too ridiculous considering the plot, but I won’t say what happens because I don’t want to spoil it. All in all I really enjoyed this manga over the last fifteen years and I hope to read another one that is just as good someday.

Manga Genres

I touched on this topic a little in my previous post but here I will more information about manga genres, what they are about, and some of the differences between them.

To start with a few, there is a short list of manga genres that are specifically gender related (aka: for either boys or girls). These are: Shounen, Seinen, Shoujo, and Josei. Shounen and Seinen manga are written to cater specifically to boys/men, whereas Shoujo and Josei are written to cater specifically to girls/women. Each individual genre has its own definition, for example, Shounen is written for boys and is tied closely with other genres such as action, adventure and/or Martial Arts, whereas Seinen is written for young men 18-30 involving male heroes, slapstick humor, and sometimes explicit sexuality. The differences are similar with the female manga genres, Shoujo is written for young girls between the ages of 10 and 18, and while it covers many different genres, it is very closely tied to romance, and Josei targets women from 18 to 30 and tends to be a more realistic version of Shoujo manga, though it is also tied closely with romance. The boys/men’s comics are usually encompass fighting and “manly” things, and the women are most often overly sexual looking when drawn whereas the girls/women’s comics usually involve romance of some sort and the men are portrayed as overly handsome (the main male character usually) and perfect.

There are many other genres of manga, many of which speak for themselves as to what they encompass such as: action, drama, supernatural, adult, horror, mystery, sci-fi, tragedy, adventure, fantasy, comedy, martial arts, mature, romance, and sports. The other genres that may require some explanation are:

Historical- Usually set in the past or set in a world that does not have any modern technology and lives similar to the people from the past.

School Life- Pretty basic, most of the story is set on a campus at a school, though this does not necessarily mean that it is a realistic story.

Mecha- Futuristic society that involves robotic machines-usually piloted by people.

Ecchi- Borderline hentai, sexy but no over the top nudity.

Shounen Ai- Non explicit genre about gay males.

One Shot- Usually a short story within one chapter.

Slice of Life- Portrays a cut out of someone’s life; usually associated with fantasy and sci-fi.

Gender Bender- Usually involves a male disguised as a female or the reverse. Sometimes the characters are simply dressed that way out of habit or for fun.

Psychological- Involves disturbing sequences and characters who are insane.

Smut- Offensive contents, sexual and/or profane.

Yaoi- Homoerotic or homoromantic relationships between men.

Doujinshi- Fan art inspired by published anime or manga.

Harem- Most often a male character surrounded by females who are not, or less than obviously, attracted to him. The opposite is called a “reverse harem”.

Shoujo Ai- Non explicit genre about gay females.

Yuri- Homoerotic or homoromantic relationships between women.

This was just a short summary of manga genres. There are more out there but these are the basic and most common themes in manga.

Brief Introduction to Manga Fox

One of the most popular websites to read Manga scans is <>. Although it is highly recommended for manga readers to actually purchase the hard copy to support the author/artist, this website provides thousands of different manga that are not always available in hard cover copies, in your country of residence, or even in your language, so it still allows manga fans to read manga’s that are otherwise unavailable. Manga Fox also allows readers to test out a manga series to see if they enjoy it before they decide to purchase it online or in a store. This website is run through scanlation groups who scan, modify, translate, edit and proof read before submitting the manga scans on the website (usually they provide for multiple websites). Essentially, every time a new chapter of a manga is released in, let’s say Japan, these groups take the time to translate the chapters and upload them so the rest of the world can read the new releases much sooner than they normally would- though once again I reiterate, websites like Manga Fox also highly recommend buying the manga (if you like it) when it eventually gets sold in your country so as to support the authors and artists you like so much. Personally I’ve had times when I’ve read a few chapters from a manga on Manga Fox and wasn’t able to buy the hard copy until it was distributed months later. For those who don’t like waiting to find out what happens next this is a good way to distribute the work as soon as possible, though it also means that authors and artists lose out on money when they aren’t bought in stores.

Manga Fox provides all different genres of manga. In the “advanced” tab it lists all the different genres you can pick and choose from such as: Action, Drama, Historical, Mecha (robotic machines), School Life, Shounen (primarily for boys), Supernatural, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Tragedy, Adventure, Fantasy, Shoujo (primarily for girls), One-Shot (short story-one chapter), Seinen (primarily for men 18-30), Comedy, Gender Bender (female dresses as male and reverse), Doujinshi (usually newcomer fan art), Mature, and Romance, just to name a few. The website allows you to mix and match these genres so that the search results will provide only the genres you are looking for. Among the other customized search options you can choose if you want a list of Japanese Manga, Korean Manga, Chinese Manga, or all three, and you can search by the year of release and the star rating on each manga. For those like me who do not like waiting for new chapters to release, there is also an option to search for either ongoing or completed series. New manga are constantly being uploaded to the site so there are a lot of ongoing series. If you happen to like a certain drawing style or writing style, you can also search by artist or author- because these two are different for some manga creators. After picking a manga from the list that looks interesting, you are taken to that manga’s home page with a picture of the front cover of the hard copy, it gives a brief description of the plot, a list of all the languages it is available in (in hard copy), the artist, the author, year release, list of genres, star rating, ongoing or continued, ranking among all the manga on the website, list of scanlators, and a list of chapters. There is also a small section which readers can post their own comments on the manga as they read (usually includes spoilers).

There’s a lot more to this website but this has just been the basics to get you started. I highly recommend Manga Fox to any first time manga readers who aren’t sure if they would enjoy reading them or not. If you do decide to use this website, don’t forget to support the author and artist and buy a copy when it gets distributed to your area!