Revenge at the core of love: Skip Beat impressions

I think there may be such a thing as a reverse tsundere show, much the same way as there’s a reverse harem. I’m no expert on harem and shoujo. I’m not an expert. Nonetheless I theorize that the root of violence and vengeance on the part of Kyouko towards Shou is love. We may not see any further dere-dere (but I think we will), but this is something like, if not already is a trope that I’m seeing in anime.

Yamato Nadeshiko to Tsun Tsun Monster in under 10 seconds

Tropes are not necessarily bad or cliche, it’s shorthand that allows the creators to concisely communicate certain if not important aspects of a show, which allows them to add a variety of other elements, Related to this idea is a good treatise on how visual presentation is matched with a character’s ideology. It may be too early for me to make these statements about Skip Beat, especially since I’ve never read the manga but here I go anyway.

I’m not a follower of shoujo titles, though I find myself watching/reading them because well, the waifu. Us men can be influenced, and she watches some mecha anime with me anyway (now if only I’d get her to see that GAR >>>> Bishonen).

Kyouko is, or would have been easily pigeonholed as a martyr. She’s made her whole life about the success of another person: her rabu-rabu object Shou. To this end she entered the work force and did massive toil to put up Kyou who would have been a starving artist (see Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad). I don’t want to demonize Kyou immediately for this (as I myself am a beneficiary of similar largesse at some point in my life), but it does turn out that Shou is a major asshat.

Pre-transformation

Pre-transformation: Yamato Nadeshiko

She has dreams of happily ever after with this guy

Shou so far, is quite the jerk

Burning righteous RAGE approaching critical levels

What 30,000 Yen will get you in a hair salon

The 30,000 Yen Makeover

Shou is a scion of hoteliers in Kyoto who look to him to take over the family business and marry the yamato nadeshiko childhood friend. He has dreams of celebrity and sees Kyou as plain and boring. He cons her to come with him to Tokyo to pursue his dream with him, but really just needs her to work for him as a maid who also provides for upkeep.

Kyouko overhears him expose this to his manager and confronts him. Shou frames her dismissal in terms of the impossibility for her to enter his world (and therefore she will never be a match for him). She vows to become his rival and beat him. This is the plot contrivance that allows for the showbusiness setting of the narrative.

I’ve been watching Special A with the waifu and see a similar dynamic between its two leads. Hikari is oblivious of her own attraction to Kei and is hell bent in defeating him in anything and everything. Kyouko while not oblivious of her devotion to Shou, she has probably convinced herself that he’s undeserving of her generosity and love and has decided to crush him. But I doubt that she has indeed given up all that love, as immature as it may be (given their respective ages: 16).

The devotion to support has just been realigned into a devotion to destroy – but there are problems to this: Kyouko doesn’t really want Shou to to fail, she just wants to be better than he is. A more efficient revenge would be to undermine his career, perhaps through malicious gossip, etc. But a makeover doesn’t truly change the yamato nadeshiko (a frequent trait among mary sue tropes), she’d rather just inflict physical damage, and beat him in his own game. She doesn’t really want to harm him – since physical damage from tsunderes has no real effect (see Akira and Tadashi in Special A, Taiga and Ryuji in Toradora!), it’s a convenient code for (repressed) rabu-rabu.

Not related to my thesis, but something I find equally interesting is the morality of Kyouko, particularly in Nietzchean discourse. I recently praised Michiko to Hatchin for portraying Hana beyond the tradition of suffering martyrs when she pwnd Maria in a full mount, ground-and-pound TKO victory. At first I thought the similarity of Kyouko and Hana is superficial: they just stood up for themselves. Now I think Kyouko’s is far more awesome.

Slave morality in Nietzsche’s discourse re-values the values of the masters. If Kyouko went the slave route she could’ve dismissed Shou and everything he’s about, particularly the pursuit of (superficial) celebrity as beneath her. This value of his would make him less of a person in her eyes. Instead she acknowledged the actual jerkassery of using and mistreating her, and not his goals as the reprehensible acts.

She then embarks to become a celebrity herself, and avoids the pretensious morality that could easily have entrapped her. If she did it would be awfully hypocritical anyway, even if she only got into celebrities and showbusiness because of Shou in the first place.

The "Zero Requiem" of revenge plots

What revenge looks like: watch out

The waifu likes the anime, which means I will follow this series. Did you see what I just did there? I just avoided taking responsibility for liking this show. I’m getting the hang of this tsundere business.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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6 Responses to Revenge at the core of love: Skip Beat impressions

  1. mechafetish says:

    You make an interesting point. Come to think of it, perhaps this character type has already been latent in some of the stronger female characters in anime.

    One example could be Haman Karn of Zeta Gundam. If she had been better written, she would have come across as a reverse tsundere for Char. Although this does not define her character since the betrayal happened longer ago, and she moved on to better things, like domination of the earth sphere.

  2. Crusader says:

    Ozma Lee is roleplaying as the tall dark and twenty love interest, the only thing more awesome than that is to have him eat pineapple cake again, and live!

    In Shoujo the heroine cannot do anything as “vile” as destroy Shou utterly in such an overt manner though the lout certainly deserves it. If Kyouko were a mecha pilot I am sure she’d be using her robot to crash all of his concerts with Fire Bomber and have all f those fans squealing for Basra-sama instead. No, here because deep down Kyouko is a good girl her dalliances with the dark side will never be that deep, so there can be no final solution to the Shoutaro question. Proving her superiority is about as far as she can go, after reading the manga revenge eventually falls to the way side so that Kyouko can forge an identity of her own.

    Leaving Shoutaro heart broken at the end (with any luck of course, story has not ended after all) is about as poetic justice is going to get. There is nothing wrong with shoujo, given the lackluster quality of primary role mecha pilots (my Alto-hime aside) these days, at least a Kyouko is not flinching from the challenge nor wasting a whole episode to deal with “emotional” turmoil, not in the manga at least once she gets into the hot pink coveralls of the Love Me section.

    Comrade, this stuff that some sources sling around about Kyouko wanting out of this challenge, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Kyouko loves to fight, traditionally. All real people love the sting and clash of battle. Kyouko is here today for three reasons. First, because she is here to defend her honor and reclaim her life. Second, she is here for her own self respect, because she would not want to be anywhere else. Third, she is here because is a real woman and all real women like to fight. When Kyouko was a kid, she admired the champion fairy, the highest jumper, and the most talented actresses. People love a winner. People will not tolerate a loser. Mecha fans despise cowards. Kyouko plays to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Kyouko has never lost nor will ever lose a challenge; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an Kyouko.

  3. usagijen says:

    Kyouko is a born fighter!! As much as I want to defend Kyoko and provide a counter-argument to your impression of her, Crusader already took the words out of my mouth, so there’s no more need for that.

    Revenge is what initially drove her to showbiz, but it evolves into something much much better. I don’t want to sound spoilerish (though every spoiler I can mention will all be praises lol), so I just want to say… prepare for more awesomeness throughout the ride of this series. By then, you’ll probably see how SA is not worth comparing with the gem that is Skip Beat. It redefines “shoujo” :3

  4. ghostlightning says:

    @ mechafetish

    Haman can indeed be read as reverse tsundere – though the lack of quality interactions may have prevented the typical behavior from manifesting. That said, Zeta Gundam is nowhere near being a rabu-rabu anime, so typical tsundere behavior has no place.

    @ crusader

    RAWR YEAH! Nothing like a mecha anime reading of a shoujo anime. This is my kind of derailment. One thinks of Graham Acre… when Kyouko reaches the point where she finds an engine that makes the best use of her talent, she will find herself in a dogfight with Shou and say “This… IS LOVE!”

    @ Usagijen

    Just finished SA and was completely underwhelmed. I really do hope Skip Beat is everything you say it is. When do we ever want an anime we’re committing all this time for to fail? I found all those fags who XwhinedX kept whining about code geass last season to utterly insane. That said, I will be looking forward to going “Kya!” with the waifu from here on end.

  5. Pingback: The Scrumptious Anime Blog | On Skip Beat Episode 2, a Close Look at the True Believers and Naysayers, and a Challenge!

  6. Pingback: Frontier of Hot-Bloodedness: It ISN’T Manly (DUN DUN DUN) | We Remember Love

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