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Title: Helter Skelter
Author: Okazaki Kyouko
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Baka Updates Summary: Through round after round of extensive plastic surgery and vigorous maintenance, Ririko has become the absolute manifestation of beauty, and becomes a wildly successful model, actress, and singer. However, soon, her body, unable to withstand the burdens of surgery, begins to crumble, and along with it so does her mind, as she plummets towards a frightening and inevitable end.

Review: I downloaded this (along with the other two) ages ago just on a whim, and they sat in my to-read folder until a friend recently messaged me on Facebook and asked if I knew anywhere to get free or used manga because this was being made into a movie and she wanted to read the manga. That prompted me to finally read it myself, and I really enjoyed it.

The focus on plastic surgery gone wrong here reminded me a lot of Morita Yuuko's Koi no Kiseki, which was written slightly before this, though while I kind of rolled my eyes a bit at Helter Skelter, it was nowhere near as over the top and ridiculous in that regard as Koi no Kiseki (no one's face melted off in a fire to reveal their pre-surgery face underneath!).

While this was originally meant to be continued, it was put on permanent hiatus due to a horrible car accident that has left the author unable to work even sixteen years later. However, I found the volume ended at a good place. It felt final enough to me, even as it ends on a "oh wow, reveal!" note. I'm definitely curious to see the movie.

While none of her manga has officially been released in English, this one has been fully scanlated (no guarantees of quality).

Title: Pink
Author: Okazaki Kyouko
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 4/5

Baka Updates Summary: Pink is a manga about a Japanese girl named Yumi, a beautiful girl in her early 20s. During the day, Yumi works as a regular office lady , but by night, she works as a prostitute. Yumi needs her two jobs to make ends meet. She also needs the extra income to feed her unusual pet, a crocodile, which she keeps in her apartment. Working in an office is quite normal for young Japanese women, but keeping a pet crocodile, and being a prostitute makes Yumi stand out.

Review: Based on the summary, this one didn't seem that interesting to me, but I figured since I had downloaded three of her manga (the only three I've been able to find online), I would read them all. It started out slow, but I did end up really enjoying it. It's basically a mess of tangled relationships involving Yumi, her step-sister, her step-mother, her step-mother's boytoy lover who becomes friends with Yumi and Keiko (and then starts having a relationship with Yumi himself), and the boytoy's girlfriend (who doesn't know about either his relationship with Yumi or her step-mother). Oh, and of course the crocodile. It's pretty over the top and quite fun, though with a tragic ending.

This one hasn't been scanlated at all, that I can find.

Title: River's Edge
Author: Okazaki Kyouko
Number of Volumes: 1
My Rating: 5/5

Baka Updates Summary: Haruna Wakakusa and Yamada become friends after she saves him several times from her boyfriend's constant bullying. Through him she gets to know Kozue Yoshikawa, a fellow student who also models professionally. The three emotionally stunted teens' lives briefly yet intensely intertwine for one semester before splintering from the aftereffects of one disastrous night. For both Wakakusa and Yamada, their emotional awakening fosters an unlikely friendship between the two battered souls.

Review: This was hands-down the best of these three manga, and also gets massive props for having queer main characters in a non-romance story. (Helter Skelter does as well, though I kind of had issues with how that was portrayed.) Although this had a lot of dramatic things happen, it was the most realistic feeling of the three (though still pretty over the top in a lot of places). Just a really, really good teen drama that is about relationships of all sorts (both platonic and romantic) and how complicated and fucked up everything can get. While there was a lot of issue stuff (pregnancy, disordered eating, queerness, rape, bullying & abusive relationships), it wasn't at all an issue manga.

Oh! I just realised that the younger model whom Ririko is competing with is one of the main characters in River's Edge! Now I kind of want to go back and read Helter Skelter, because wow, she had this total innocent image there and it seemed like it was genuine, but after seeing her in River's Edge, that's not true at all. (And River's Edge was written first, so it's not like the innocent thing being an act was a retcon.)

This one also appears to be fully scanlated, and I highly recommend it.


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