|Lotus in the Mud|
|Character/s in the cover||Kyoko Mogami|
|Original Release||March 19, 2016|
|Arc||A Lotus in the Mud arc|
Lotus in the Mud is the 234th chapter of the Skip Beat! manga series.
Kanae mentions that she saw Ren that day and he looked troubled, which makes Kyoko worry. Kyoko debates whether to call him or not... As if summoned Ren appears.
Whilst walking through LME to the Love Me Section, Kyoko recalls the puzzling conversation she had with Sawara about the stolen role and the corresponding drama thinking that the keyword is "low-brow" like the "low-brow" job the President forced on Kanae. However Kanae has never mentioned a female ninja before as she doesn't like talking about the job probably because she doesn't like her character's backstory. To be precise Kanae never really liked talking about herself at all. Kyoko continues to muse about the stolen role revenge request thinking it silly and fake so she's already lost interest.
She arrives at the door to the Love Me lockers, smiling she bursts into the room while calling out enthusiastically for Kanae. She's greeted by silence, glancing at the clock she realizes she's at least over an hour early. For Kanae's text requested to meet her at 19:00, and it's currently 17:40. Only twenty minutes or so later Kanae makes her way toward the locker room thinking she's a little early. Entering the room she's instantaneously greeted by Kyoko's over-enthusiastic welcome to which she coldly slams the door on and walks off. Kyoko scrambles after her crying at how mean she is, they haven't even greeted each other! Kanae tells her she's done what she needed to do so she's going home. Kyoko exclaims at how rude this is for she was the one that asked for the meet and if she keeps treating her like this she'll become addicted to her cold ways and get even worse. Kanae shudders at the unintentional threat that Kyoko will become even more clingy. She cuts through the playful atmosphere with a more serious question that since she's behaving just as stupid as always she must not have a single worry on her mind right? Kyoko gives her a happy grin and reassures her that she is worry-free at the moment. Kanae could see this by her attitude but is relieved to hear it. She figures (incorrectly) that Ren's sullen face was probably not about Kyoko then so his importance drops in Kanae's estimate.
Kyoko then mentions to Kanae that she had a chat with Sawara which is bothering her so won't she come inside for some tea to talk about it. Kanae deduces that it's actually not bothering her at all for her "professional mask" has appeared indicating she's lying. Kyoko explains about the stolen role and the request for the Love Me Section to avenge it and that both her and Sawara took it for a distasteful prank. However some of the details regarding the drama stuck with her such as a "ronin" and an "upperclass daughter" for it sounded similar to the "lowbrow" job the President gave Kanae. Kyoko asks if there is also a female ninja role in the drama which Kanae confirms. She tells Kyoko that the role of the ninja was previously set but apparently had to be redone. She heard some of this from Manager Matsushima. Kyoko gasps and wonders if that fishy story was actually true then?! The fact that she'll never be able to walk on her own two legs again...?! Kanae isn't sure about that and apparently Matsushima was also curious since if the chosen actress could not have played the role they should have already chosen an understudy during the original audition but for some reason they announced a re-audition. Kanae wonders if perhaps the role was so boring the actress didn't want it just given to her for free that's what she had thought of the role of Momiji, the female ninja. However the re-audition has been decided on so Kyoko doesn't know what she means by the role being "stolen" from her, perhaps she can't make the audition? Kanae says she's not sure but something seems to occur to her. Kyoko asks her if it reminds her of something. Kanae tells her there was a terrible girl who tried to forcibly take the role of Chidori during the audition but she ended up failing. Kyoko is confused, who is Chidori? Kanae explains that she's the lowbrow daughter of an upperclassman. Kyoko is shocked that the role wasn't already set, Kanae had to start with an audition?! Kyoko had gotten the impression that she already had the role despite being quite dissatisfied with the character. Kanae tells her she could not toss away a role that the President had specifically picked out her as she recalls Lory's angry face saying "no take backs!" So since she decided to do it she would definitely seize the role no matter how much she hates Chidori's stalkerish ways and now matter how lowbrow the story is. At the moment of her capture (by Lory) the role was already decided in her mind. It is then that Kyoko recalls Chidori's backstory as a dumb girl who continuously served the same guy and getting thrown away. Kanae says all she has to do it pass the next round of auditions and the role is her's in reality too. To prepare she is studying under Kotetsu Uesugi, for while Chidori stalks the protagonist she learns some swordsmanship. Kyoko recalls that name and asks if that's Hiou's grandfather. Kanae confirms that she asked Hiou for a favor since she felt she wasn't going to stand out enough with just LME's training. Kyoko remembers Tano-P, Yappa Kimagure Rock's Producer, describing Kotetsu's martial arts as nothing short of artistic. Now she really wants to see Kanae's artistic swordsmanship! Kanae brings up the subject regarding the "stolen role" again, saying that if the girl who tried to forcefully take the role of "Chidori" is now going to be auditioning for the role of "Momiji" then maybe that scary sounding revenge story might not just be nonsense at all... Kanae's seriousness is cut off when Kyoko gleefully asks when the Momiji re-audition will be, her happy expression striking Kanae dumb.
Kyoko and Kanae visit Manager Matsushima, Head of the Acting Department, at the LME Offices to inquire about the re-audition details. At first he is worried that Kanae wants to switch roles and she's almost through but she reassures him that it's in fact Kyoko who wants the information. Kyoko is in her fantasies imagining herself as Momiji protecting the frail and weak Kanae but also seeing the artistic Kanae in real life. Apparently Kyoko didn't receive the information regarding the audition because she's in the Talent Division and Kyoko wonders why for even Sawara was in the dark. Matsushima hands over a flyer that has all the details for the audition on it. Kyoko reads it and is transfixed for a minute by the flyer causing Kanae to ask what's wrong for she's staring pretty hard at one spot. Kyoko was actually staring at the kanji for lotus (蓮) which is the same as Ren's but she instead says she was wondering about the title of the drama and if was supposed to describe Chidori. Kanae wonders why?
Kyoko thinks this suits the beautiful and artistic Kanae playing a Chidori who would never bow down to earthly desires and no matter how much mud is piled on, a daughter of an upperclassman remains pure. Kanae corrects Kyoko's misunderstanding by reminding her that Chidori is a slave to love and a stalker so she has definitely chosen the dirty path. Kanae is surprised that the title had such a nice meaning and thinks it probably is referring to the protagonist Shizuma for there are various instances that present him in such a light. She offers to lend Kyoko the original series that it was based on which Kyoko jumps at however its at her house so if she wants it she'll have to come get it now for tomorrow and the day after she'll be acting on the Minamori Miyako series.
As they head out Kanae recalls she saw Ren. Kyoko is instantly all ears. Kanae doesn't know what he was working on but he looked troubled by something, his head was in hands and everything. It wasn't like him at all. Kanae muses that there may have been some trouble at work... She then asks Kyoko if she ever discussed the situation with her mother with Ren which Kyoko denies. Kanae thinks inwardly that Kyoko is definitely not the cause then of that sullen expression. However this makes Kyoko think back on her recent exchanges with Ren and her text message to him that she has calmed down. She berates herself for thinking she could just close the case with just the message. After last nights big cry, then the declaration and the report when she visited her mother she was intending to keep him in the dark however if he connected all three events he could figure out her mother had something to do with it. Even when he's busy he is still looking out for her, for Ren has since sent her a text asking to hear more about the situation. Even when he himself seems to be having trouble with work. She recalls Ren's despaired expression when he was discussing having an important someone. She wonders if something might have happened again. She wonders if she should call him but what would she say? Technically the only one who knows Ren's dark and estranged past is Bo. Kyoko diligently waits tables at Darumaya as she ruminates on the problem. That Ren likes to secretly take care of his problems on his own and because she knows that its a lot harder to call out to him. However if she were Bo, she would be able to ask him anything without holding back. The last of the customers depart and Okami-san thanks her for helping out until closing time so she can rest now. Kyoko exclaims she's not tired but then admits she may be a bit tired mentally since its been a while since she helped out. Okami-san tells her she really did help her out for there were a lot of customers tonight. Kyoko offers to bring the store sign in which Okami-san thanks her for. Taking down the lantern, Kyoko is still inwardly debating using Bo to root out Ren's troubles. She remembers that Ren is going to Guam tomorrow evening for the last stretch as Cain Heel. Is it okay to let him go with his mind unsteady? Unfortunately her own schedule is not very permitting for she has Box "R"'s final shooting tomorrow which everyone has to be there for and if she skips she'll be messing up everyone's schedules. It doesn't seem like there's any way she'll be able to fit it in as she stares at the lantern looking downcast. Kyoko is frustrated for Ren can so easily lift her spirits recalling the Love Me stamp but she... Kyoko is struggling to get the sign down for even with the pole she's a bit too short and it slips off the pole and starts to fall towards Kyoko's face. Flinching Kyoko closes her eyes but the sign doesn't make impact, someone caught just before it hit her face. Glancing backward she's shocked to see the very person who was occupying her thoughts. Ren! She stammers out his name in surprise and he sends her a gentle smile while greeting her.
Characters in Order of Appearance