|Character/s in the cover||Kyoko Mogami|
|Original Release||February 20, 2017|
|Arc||A Lotus in the Mud arc|
Survivor Combat is the 245th chapter of the Skip Beat! Manga Series.
Due to Kyoko's status as a talent and a Love Me Member, Kuresaki is torn between his principles against non-actors and her obvious skill as the President predicted. One last test is suggested in order to put this dilemma to bed. Meanwhile, Yashiro receives a text from Ren that he will be coming back two days early. Will he be back in time to witness some of the audition?
Yashiro proves his thoroughness as a manager having visited Lory to ask if Kyoko could move into the Acting Section. He reminds Lory that the Producer for A Lotus in the Mud is Yuki Kuresaki. Lory realizes he is that Kuresaki, the one who is known for being quite pedantic about favouring only actors and not using talents or comedy regulars in his dramas. His belief being that if he uses incompetent stooges that have no sense of passion or meticulousness then the quality of his production will fall. Yashiro confirms that this is the case so it might be best to transfer Kyoko to the Acting Section, with her in the Talent Section she will be heading straight to failure at the resume inspection. Besides she is more well-known for her acting work than her talent work anyway. Yashiro pauses to wonder if Kyoko has actually done any talent work? Lory frowns down at some of his paperwork as he says that Kyoko is still doing something that she got through the Love Me Section. He won't reveal the specifics but he was told by Kyoko herself that she still has jobs scheduled that relate back to the Love Me Section. Yashiro muses that this is true for she told him when he became her manager with an expression that looked like she would rather die than be found out. Perhaps it's a top-secret job like Setsuka... Even if this is the case she can still work Love Me jobs even if she transfers to the Acting Section, like Kotonami does. Yashiro looks at Lory suspiciously as he asks why has he got that expression on his face.
Lory is smirking and unabashedly admits that that was exactly what he was thinking. How could he tell? Annoyed Yashiro tells him its written all over his face! Is he really going to torture another promising young talent by making them walk barefoot down a thorny path just for his own entertainment?! Lory smiles and tells Yashiro to hear him out at least. What does he think would happen if a person who heavily looks down on talents and calls them complete amateurs just because they do not possess the title "actor" has his toughened common sense and principles smashed to smithereens? Yashiro blinks at the question but answers that he would probably be quite shocked for he would be certain that his principles were right and to have them shattered in front of him, it may take him a long time to accept that he was wrong depending how much pride he has. Lory continues posing the possibility to Yashiro that they force Kuresaki to discard his principles by pushing him into a position where he'll want to use Kyoko so much he would even put aside his principles and common sense. Yashiro gasps realising the plan, for if he did this would make it the first time Kuresaki has ever used a Talent and that would increase Kyoko's value as a performer! Smiling because Yashiro has caught on Lory says that his world will also expand. Yashiro looks puzzled, does he mean Kuresaki's? Lory says he does, for isn't it sad? Anyone could be hiding talent for acting whether they be a comedian or talent and to overlook them because they hold a certain title is silly. So if they can smash through the castle that's restricting his field of vision then they can help give birth to another one. To another creator in this country that is more than capable of rising to the level of geniuses. Lory looks at Yashiro confidently whilst saying Kyoko might just be able to pull that off. Pensively he tells Yashiro that to give birth to a star you need a collision, an explosion and a shock-wave. No other way to go about it. It's best to make it happen in a bold and resolute manner. No matter how tough and hardened a star, it won't be able to keep its original shape if it takes on an impact as great as the big bang.
Yashiro recalls all this as he stands outside the gymnasium and overhears Jouji inquiring into Kuresaki's principles and if they are still the same as he reveals Kyoko's status as a Talent. Kimiko, who is still hiding on the second floor of the gymnasium, is stunned at the announcement. She's amazed that Kyoko isn't an actress and yet still had the gall to crash the audition. How shameless! She realizes why her Uncle was playing on his phone and that was to look up Kyoko's information. She's impressed with her Uncle's canny, especially since Producer Kuresaki takes the idea of only using actors very seriously. So if this girl doesn't have the title of actor she will fail just like before!
Down on the gymnasium floor, Kuresaki looks back at Jouji after this reveal. Jouji adds more fuel to fire by adding that it seems that she's involved in some other nonsense activities. Kuresaki looks at the phone display and reads out in confusion the Love Me Section...? Kyoko's looks at the ground to hide her despaired expression at hearing the name. Kuresaki looks at the display for a beat before asking if she is working as a comedian. Kyoko furiously denies this. While it is true that Love Me does unique and different jobs but comedy is the smallest genre in the industry. Koga interrupts asking that one of them did appear in Are you serious? It had popped up on his twitter and he couldn't get the name or the jumpsuit out of his head. Trapped Kyoko with a defeated aura admits that as long as there is a request the Love Me Section will carry it out with pride and self-confidence. Koga is intensely curious about the Love Me section and excitedly asks what do they actually do. In her mind's eye Kyoko recalls all the things she's seen and done as a Love Me Member. Some would be damaging to her, some would be damaging to others like Chiori, Ren and Ruriko and others are just embarrassing like Bo. She can't tell them about anything! Instead she glosses over everything to the point where it sounds boring saying she merely prepared meals for a certain actor (Kuu) and acted as a temporary manager for another actor and actress. The judges all assume that she's basically a gopher. Koga is confused, does an entertainer really go out of their way to act as a manager for other people and such. Maybe her position is even lower than a comedy regular? But didn't she star in Dark Moon even before Box "R"? What type of talent is she? How in the world are they using her?
On the second floor Kimiko is in hysterics. She can't get over how silly the name Love Me is. She wants to know what they do and why they exist but Kyoko apparently spoke to softly for the mic to pick it up. Kimiko guesses that since Kyoko was so hesitant to bring it that it can't be anything good or worth bragging over.
In the gymnasium Kuresaki is looking at the Love Me profile page pensively. A frustrated expression appears on his face causing reluctant awe in Kyoko for Kuresaki's furrowed brow gives her a sense of deja vu. For Kyoko never thought she would find someone whose forehead is as eloquent as their tongue as she recalls her mother with the same expression showing her avid dislike for tomfoolery. Kuresaki seems to be torn and Jouji notices this. He calls out to Kuresaki and tells him that he has a suggestion for him.
Outside the Chidori audition venue staff relay the message that the Momiji audition will take longer than anticipated. Apparently the Chidori audition were waiting on Kuresaki and the others but if its going to take more time they may as well bring the heroines who on standby, the Chidoris, and have them see with their own eyes if this unique Momiji passes or fails. There are three Chidori participants left including Kanae and each are attired in beautiful kimonos. Kanae blinks in surprise when they are all told to move to the Momiji audition venue. She wonders if that "unique Momiji" that is causing all the chaos, could it be her?
In the Momiji waiting room Kimiko's manager is looking up Kyoko's profile, trying to figure out where she knows her from. She finally understands it when she sees something on Kyoko's profile for she leaps up and rushes to the door. She pauses when she sees multiple stuntmen going into the gymnasium, all wielding katanas. Some are attired in kendo uniforms, others in casual wear. After they depart she hurries over to Yashiro and asks after the audition. What's all the fuss? Is it still going? Yashiro confirms it's still ongoing but apparently some unexpected developments have arisen so a mock test is about to begin. Kimiko's manager gasps in surprise. Yashiro adds that Kimiko announced that she was joining in too so she is also in there. Kimiko's manager is startled for she had been wondering what had been taking her so long. Both of them look into the gymnasium. Kimiko's manager is surprised to see the other participants. Yashiro explains that the test was originally meant for Kyoko but then Kimiko announced she was joining in so it was offered to the other participants if they wished. Kimiko's manager murmurs that of course they would agree to join in too. Yashiro agrees with her while frankly stating that he doesn't believe that they can afford not too because in actuality this mock test might end up determining who will get the part of Momiji. Kimiko's manager is stunned at that statement. She looks back at Kyoko, saying she had thought she had seen her somewhere before and she finally remembered when she searched her profile on the internet. She was the girl who appeared in the Curara CM right? Yashiro confirms that but muses that it's quite unusual way to recall Kyoko, most people recognize her as the girl who played Mio from Dark Moon. Kimiko's manager confesses that they haven't been in Japan that much. Both her and Kimiko have been bouncing between Japan and America since the beginning of last year and have based themselves in America for the most part. Yashiro realizes that this must be the reason since Dark Moon came out last year. The other manager continues saying she heard Dark Moon was a remake of Tsukigomori and it was directed by Director Date's son. It must have been a hot topic in Japan. Learning Kyoko was in such a big-time drama and on top of that, given such difficult role like Mio took her by surprise.
In the gymnasium the Momiji participants look on as the group of at least 12 stuntmen receive instructions via a white board that has position markers and movement indicators on it. All the participants look a bit taken aback except Kyoko and Kimiko. Takako can't believe that all of them are going to be their opponents, it's a lot more than she expected. Another participant understands that they will be testing memory, replication and application. She knew they were probably going to have to act out their stage combat skills in a routine but she and all the other participants are concerned about retaining the sheer volume of information. Especially since they are only allowed to read the script once apparently. Kimiko slants a look at Kyoko as she recalls a conversation with Uncle in the smoking room. She demands to know why he made the suggestion at all. If he had left it alone that girl would have been disqualified for sure! Since Producer Kuresaki was making a horribly unhappy face! Jouji is having a smoke while he asks how she know what kind of face he was making? Kimiko informs him she was up on the second floor watching from the moment the audition began. Jouji just nods at this, totally unperturbed by this admission. He explains that when Kuresaki made that face rather than lose his temper and dismiss her, it was more like he was conflicted. He didn't want to use her because she wasn't an actress but he came very close to throwing out that conviction. So that's he why gave Kuresaki a little reminder so that he doesn't falter in his decision a second time.
Kimiko smirks as she recalls this and thinks her Uncle is really wonderful. It's like he is controlling the leader of a dictatorship from the shadows, like an evil minister but he is the true boss! And he even chose a test where recollection makes all the difference! Just for her! As expected of her family and ally! Kimiko is smiling for she is quite confident about the test as this is her specialty. She is not good with being told to improvise and come up with something on the spot but is much better at memorizing a set routine and acting it out no matter how complicated it is. In fact the more complicated it, the more fun it is and she loves it. It's like a game for her.
Kuresaki approaches the participants and thanks them for waiting. The stage combat routine that all of them will be performing will now be demonstrated by the stuntmen. The stuntmen are all preparing behind him. They will have only one chance to memorize it so please memorize as much as they can and then reproduce it and act it out. If however they forget the routine they are still not allowed to retire, use their brains and do not stop the flow and continue acting until the end. This extreme announcement causes the other four participants to look a little uneasy. Kuresaki continues stating that he will evaluate each of them simply as a "performer". This announcement raises Kyoko's hopes and her expression sparkles with it for it implies that he will evaluate them all equally, no matter what their title is.
In the hallway Yashiro receives a text message. Dutifully he puts on his plastic gloves before reaching in to his jacket to take out his phone. He lets out an exclamation when he sees that it is Ren who texted and not only that but he has arrived back 2 days early!
Characters in Order of Appearance