Beauty Pop is a high school Shoujo with a beauty industry theme. In a certain high school there is a group of 3 boys (pictured below, left to right: Ochai, Narumi, and Kei) that have formed a group called the Scissors Project (SP for short). They each come from families that own respected businesses in the beauty industry. SP selects an attractive girl from the school and makes them over in front of the rest of the school. It’s said that a girl that is made over by SP has a 100% success rate of confessing and being accepted by their crush.
Shōjo, shojo or shoujo = When talking about manga this typically means a series that is primarily aimed at (younger) females and is unlikely to have much action.
The ultimate goal for SP isn’t to make girls more beautiful, it’s to practice and perfect their skills so that when they graduate they can be giants in the beauty industry. They intend on making a salon that will have the best of the best from every aspect of the beauty world and surpass their parents/families. The heroine, Kiri, comes from a family that has a humble beauty salon and happens to be a first year at the same school as SP, one day she spots an old elementary school acquaintance named Kanako being humiliated by SP. Kanako had a crush on Ochiai and simply wanted to give him a book cover as a kind gesture. Ochiai interpreted the gesture as a bribe to become the next SP candidate and told her her overall beauty balance was bad, Narumi then added on his input (see panel below) and Kiri interrupted.
Kiri criticized the group and told them it’s because they don’t have the skills/confidence to give her a make over and took Kanako to lunch. After school Kanako visited Kiri and was given a makeover at her salon. Kanako approaches SP, who are completely blown away by the skill of her makeover, and Kanako tells Ochiai that she will have better judgment about people in the future. SP continues to turn down the requests of unattractive girls and each girl they turn down suddenly receives a miraculous makeover from some unknown person (Kiri) and Narumi sees it as someone challenging his skills. Narumi is determined to locate this individual and beat them at styling hair, while Ochiai wants that person to join their team.
Kiri is a very mellow individual that rarely gets mad or smiles and doesn’t care about how she looks to others. But despite this she cares about the feelings of those around her and can’t help but support those in need. Although she possess amazing abilities as a hair stylist she has no desire to actually enter and compete in the beauty industry. She can often be found napping or lazing about with an indifferent/silly look on her face. She is often mistaken for a male when she wears her casual after school clothes.
Narumi has a huge ego about his skills as a hair dresser and is obsessed with being #1. He gets great grades (although he isn’t as competitive about grades) and is VERY allergic to females. If a female touches him (family included) he breaks out into hives. Narumi is the rightful heir to his family’s 1st class salon, but Narumi is determined to carve his own path in the beauty industry.
Ochiai is very studious and calculating and is always looking for a way to expand SP’s assets, this includes soliciting Kiri to join SP, much to Narumi’s dismay. His family owns a cosmetic corporation that is considered 2nd class, his goal is to make the world see his family’s business for the 1st class products they produce.
Kei always behaves like a small child and has a huge weakness for sweets. He turns everything into a joke and I’ve yet to see him serious in this series, he is pretty much an excited puppy…that also happens to be a top notch manicurist. Kei is arguably the best character in the series, his antics bring the most humor to the story. He balances out Ochiai and Narumi well.
Kanako is a sweet and shy bookworm that was friends with Kiri in elementary school. After bumping into Ochiai once in the library she has been smitten with him. Although she was rejected by him and told Ochiai she will have better judgment on people in the future…it’s still hard to get over a crush.
Kiri’s (plain) long time friend that just loves gossip and dreams of being a star hair stylist member of SP someday…despite having absolutely no idea how to cut hair. His family owns a cheap convenience store that he often helps out at.
Iori is a very flamboyant individual that just loves the attention of females. He is a great aromatherapist and will often use his scents to lure girls to him, although he isn’t a predator of females, he just likes to flirt a lot. Iori spent a lot of time overseas and talks with a thick accent and is protective over Kiri, Iori has a very odd infatuation with Kiri’s mom.
Seki is a humble and nice individual that has an incredibly relaxing and happy aura. If he is smiling and happy those around him can’t also help but feel happy as well. Seki is one of those special individuals that will wear sleeveless shirts without a coat regardless of the weather, he is also a top notch masseuse that is said to have “God’s Hands”.
After writing all the character descriptions I can’t help but realize that if you’ve read a lot of Shoujo that all the characters I’ve just described sound like typical Shoujo characters (the egotistical boy, the calculating boy, and the child-ish boy characters) . Despite this I think this series manages to be unique, although the summary of the character’s personalities sound like typical shoujo personalities their actions throughout the series somehow make them more special then your run of the mill shoujo characters. I have a special attachment to them all and want them all to be happy.
I’m a big fan of Shoujo series where the heroine is completely unaware of the developing (romantic) feeling of those around them. Because as a result the plot focuses more on humor and the character’s aspirations/goals, I dislike it when Shoujo series focus purely on the romantic relationships of the characters. The key to winning me over in a manga is to make me smile or laugh, and Beauty Pop makes me smile a lot because of all the cute faces everyone makes when something happens. I prefer a budding romance to be something in the background that slowly accumulates and finally later on openly catches the attention of all the characters, I like angst only in moderation. Beauty Pop is a series that fits this bill.
I’m a fan of this author’s art style, I can’t describe it exactly but I love how she draws everyone, especially Kiri. I’m ususally not a fan of boyish females but the author did an excellent job designing Kiri, she looks both boyish and beautiful at the same time. It also seems like a lot of effort goes into drawing Kiri’s hair.
This is one of the FEW shoujo manga series that I go out of my way to get the newly released volume the week it comes out, so I highly recommend it, if you like what I’ve said so far.
Similar Reading Suggestions
If you’re a fan of the type of heroine Kiri is then you might like Ouran High School Host Club and/or Skip Beat! Those other 2 series also make me smile/laugh about the same as this series.
Side Note: If you’re a fan of Shoujo in general I’ve found that you can’t ever really go too wrong with the titles Viz chooses to license under the Shojo Beat category. I’m 20 times more likely to buy a shoujo series from Viz then any other US manga distributer.