The unique storyline of Skip Beat! has caught the attention of many feminists for its feisty heroine, Kyoko. After spending years at the beck and call of Sho, the guy she’s head over heels for/superstar, Kyoko discovers that her prince on a white horse is actually a self-absorbed jerk who was only using her as a maid. Her heart may have been crushed, but rather than crumple to the ground and curl up into a ball, this heroine picks herself up and steels her mind on something else: revenge. With that Kyoko enters showbiz to become a more popular star than Sho. While her initial focus is pure revenge, she grows passionate about acting and changes from a girl obsessed with a jerky guy to an independent woman and a force to be reckoned with.
Interestingly, although Kyoko breaks from living life under the foot of a guy, throughout the thirty volume series so far she seems surrounded by men with a possessive nature. In between spasms of humor and (sometimes mixed up in them), nemesis Sho, coworker Ren, and singer Reino all have an interest in Kyoko and, whether their motivation is good or not, they all have moments of fighting to have some to a lot of control over her.
The worst offenders are Sho and Reino, which is depicted clearly when Reino makes his first appearance in the series. In this section of the story, Reino is the lead member of a new band trying to steal Sho’s fame by knocking off his work and style. Reino takes this so far that he decides to make Kyoko “his” simply because he believes that she’s Sho’s girl right now. In other words, he has no interest in Kyoko herself but is viewing her more as a thing to be stolen from his rival. This leads to a series of stalking incidents in which he eventually chases Kyoko into a forest and corners her. He tells her, “I’m looking forward to Fuwa (Sho’s) reaction when he sees you completely torn and tattered,” once again making it clear that he’s bothering Kyoko because he’s trying to hurt his rival, Sho. However, after coming face-to-face with Kyoko’s fierceness, Reino takes a personal interest in her (lucky Kyoko) and the dominance comes into play; he wants Kyoko to hate him so much that her mind and heart are filled only with thoughts of him. Creepy? Extremely. This section was disturbing on several levels, including the language used. Kyoko is constantly referred to as if she were an object to be possessed rather than a person with freewill and the word “dominate” gets thrown around as well.
Sho uses similar tacts, i.e. he tries to dominate Kyoko by getting her to hate him so that she only thinks of him. Later in the series, afraid that Kyoko might be interested in either Ren or Reino, Sho insults her repeatedly and then forcefully kisses her. Before this, while Kyoko hated Sho for having used her as a maid while caring nothing for her at the beginning of the series, her focus on her hatred for him had seemed to be dwindling. Therefore, for the sole purpose of stirring her up again and regaining his hold on her, Sho acted in this way.
Both of these guys are portrayed as jerks, although Sho gets moments where a better side is hinted at. However, even the “nice” guy in this story, Ren, has a bit of a possessive streak. For example, when Sho forcefully kissed Kyoko, she is distraught because that had been her first kiss. At first, it seems like Ren is trying to explain away the idea that her real first kiss could be stolen by essentially saying a real kiss is a mutual thing based on love, which was a nice thing to do. But he ends the explanation by basically threatening her that there’s no second chance and if Sho kisses her again, he’ll be angry with her. In a later incident, Ren gets angry at Kyoko because she allowed a guy to buy her a makeover. He makes a good point that a girl shouldn’t accept such gifts if she’s not interested in the guy because he’ll get the wrong idea, but it’s hinted that at least part of his anger is due to the fact that he didn’t want any other guys to know how pretty Kyoko could look. While some of his anger may be understandable as a guy who loves Kyoko, it strikes me as a bit possessive, especially when some things (like the kiss) were out of Kyoko’s power yet somehow the anger still falls at least partially on her.
What do you think? Is Kyoko surrounded by possessive guys or is Ren’s position justified?