|Original Release||March 18, 2017|
|Arc||A Lotus in the Mud arc|
Survivor Combat is the 246th chapter of the Skip Beat! Manga Series.
Meanwhile a frighteningly complex combat routine is shown to the Momiji contestants by the stuntmen. Most can't remember it. Kimiko merely looks smug. Kyoko however closes her eyes during it! The contestants then remember some of the unbelievable rumors surrounding Kyoko. Could they actually be true?
Ren has arrived back in Japan early. He is being driven back from the airport by Jelly in her RV. He receives a text back from Yashiro saying that he was surprised to hear that he was back already. He had filed some vacations days on Ren's behalf because he thought he might be tired so take some time off and relax and he will see him tomorrow. Ren informs Jelly that Yashiro will see him tomorrow. Jelly nods at this then says they should head over and see 'her darling' first. Ren agrees and thanks her for the ride. Thoughtful Ren looks down at his phone, thinking inwardly that Yashiro didn't say anything about it but he did seem busy with something since he wasn't able to meet with him today. Ren stares at the date that is displayed on his phone screen. He thought, as he stares out the RV window, that he wouldn't make it back in time due to his schedule but right about now, Kyoko is probably right in the midst of her audition.
Ren is right for back in the gymnasium at the Momiji audition things are heating up. The stuntmen are, at that very moment, acting out the demonstration of the stage combat test for the Momiji participants. It entails multiple armed combatants coming at Momiji in a complex pattern. Kimiko looks on confidently at the display whilst the other audition participants are starting to feel uneasy. Both Yashiro and Kimiko's manager look on, they are also taken aback at how hard the test is. Kimiko's manager asks incredulously if they really expect the girls to do this?! Yashiro also looks momentarily worried, then he seeks out Kyoko who is watching with the other Momiji participants. She looks unconcerned even bored, and seems to be looking at something beyond the test. The stunt still continues with the stand-in Momiji swapping furious blows with her assailants. The audition participant with shoulder-length hair standing beside Kyoko gives up on trying to memorize it all, it's just going too fast. She sighs inwardly thinking she had confidence that she could've memorized it but it's too fast for her. If only she could see it again... She glances over at Kyoko and gasps when she sees that her eyes are shut! She doesn't seem to know what to make of it. Yashiro also sees Kyoko and wonders silently however he is distracted by the approach of someone. The staff member in charge of the Chidori audition along with the Chidori finalists have arrived. All the Chidori finalists including Kanae are attired in beautiful kimonos. She asks if the stage combat test has already started. She peeks inside the gym and sees that it's not yet an audition participant. Kanae and Yashiro notice each other and swap a nod of acknowledgement.
Inside the gymnasium the stunt demonstration is still going. The stand-in Momiji slices at an assailant sending him to the ground. Koga exclaims in appreciation saying how amazing the pros are that they understood it all with just a rough sketch and a brief explanation, and yet they are acting it out perfectly. Jouji murmurs his assent at this. Futahashi looks on silently. The stunt demonstration ends with all the stuntmen on the ground and the stand-in Momiji still on her feet. Kuresaki compliments them for such excellent work and to keep that same pace for the following exhibitions. He offers them time to rest but they decline stating they can keep going for which Kuresaki thanks them for if too much time is left the audition participants might forget the routine. Most of the participants are filled with dread for they couldn't even remember it from the start let alone remember it enough to forget it!
The staff member in charge of the Chidoris hails Kuresaki saying that it seemed like it was going to take awhile for him to come over so they came here. Kuresaki apologises for this. She continues asking if the Chidoris could stay and observe the audition? Kuresaki doesn't see a problem with this. Kyoko catches sight of Kanae in amongst the Chidoris. She is riveted by the image Kanae presents dressed in a kimono. It is beauty that cannot be captured in a painting! Is she gazing upon Otohime-sama?! If Kanae becomes a beautiful Otohime-sama then she shall triumph and become a splendid Momiji for her she thinks as she shakes with joy!! Kanae's face goes dark with irritation as she watches Kyoko's weird expressions knowing that she is definitely thinking something that would send chills down her spine so its best not ruminate on it too much. Kuresaki then announces that it's time for the Momiji participants to perform the stage combat test. This was all created to judge her skill level so they will start with Kyoko. Kanae is annoyed because she knew it! The 'unique Momiji', of course it was going to be Kyoko! Kuresaki then tells the rest of the Momiji participants to leave the room and to decide amongst themselves what order they wish to take the exam in.
As they depart the gymnasium the girl with the shoulder-length hair who watched Kyoko during the demonstration wonders if Kyoko will be able to act it out to the end. All except Kimiko look at her with interest. She continues saying she doesn't know if it was in the middle or right from the beginning but the whole time she was watching Kyoko she had her eyes closed until the very end of the exhibition performance and wasn't watching at all. The participant with the high ponytail lets out a sound of shock at this and wonders if that means she gave up? It's very possible responds the participant with shoulder-length hair who first spoke for even she couldn't memorize it at all. It was too much. Kimiko smirks at this and turns away. The participant whose hair is in high bun recalls that Kyoko was that girl who played Mio in Dark Moon right? Takako adds that she's even playing the role of Natsu in Box "R" right now. It's a completely different type of villain role compared to Mio. The participant with the low ponytail chimes in saying that this surprised her, for the difference is incredible! Kimiko overhears this discussion and spins around, inwardly flabbergasted. Wasn't that girl a no-name newbie?! The girl with the shoulder-length hair informs them all of a rumour that she heard about Kyoko. Apparently right off the bat on the first day of shooting Dark Moon, Iizuka starting picking at her acting like crazy but it turns out that that girl was able to shut her up with her acting. The participant with the ponytail agrees that she has heard of Iizuka's harsh attitude towards younger people. The girl with the high bun looks shaken for she's been costarring with Iizuka this whole time and she's constantly telling her what a lousy actress she is but that girl was able to shut her up?! That Iizuka?! The other girl continues with her rumours stating that also on that same day the girl changed Mio's already determined hairstyle from long to short on her own. And because the short style suited the Mio she acted out, they went along with the flow and made it permanent... All the Momiji participants exclaim at this. It sounds too far-fetched to be real, they had already begun shooting and everything right? The girl with the shoulder-length hair agrees that she thought it sounded exaggerated too. Both Kimiko's manager and Yashiro are listening in on the girls gossip. Kimiko's manager realises Yashiro probably knows the truth of the matter since he was there as Ren played Katsuki right? So what really happened? Yashiro doesn't answer, he merely smiles and closes his eyes leaving Kimiko's manager looking confused and intensely curious.
The five girls are still discussing Kyoko agreeing that the credibility of the rumours are questionable but in the event that the Iizuka story is, at the very least, true then she doesn't seem to be the type who would just say "I couldn't memorize it" and abandon the test halfway. Takako wonders if this means she'll ad-lib her way through it...? This causes Kimiko to recall the swiftness in which Kyoko subdued Kuresaki in the reaction test. Suddenly both worried and curious she dashes off again for the mezzanine level of the gym with her manager calling after her. The other participants see her go and rush after her too leaving the manager calling uselessly after them. She wonders if it's alright to let them go like that, don't those stairs lead to the second floor of the gym? Yashiro doesn't seemed too concerned and reasons that anyone would be curious in this position especially if they were an actress. Let's hope that Kuresaki doesn't find them though. Kimiko's manager thinks he seems quite relaxed at the moment, is it because he is confident that Kyoko will win the role of Momiji? Yashiro answers that he isn't sure for he hasn't really delved enough to ascertain something of that extent. But there is one thing that he is certain of. He recalls Kyoko with her eyes closed despite being in front of the demonstration. He has no clue what Kyoko is about to pull out her hat but come judging time there won't be any bare minimum score for her to simply pass especially when she is up against someone like Kuresaki. The judgement outcome will most likely either be zero or 100. In other words it's black or it's white. Pass or fail.
Kimiko and the other five participants scramble up on to the gymnasiums second floor, ducking to keep out of sight. Kimiko's face is filled with avid curiosity as she grips the rail and peers over.
In the gymnasium below Kyoko readies herself and with her eyes closed she draws in Momiji's spirit by grasping it with a fist and pulling it to her heart. She opens her eyes and her expression is more focused and intense. Barefoot she turns to the stuntmen and slides into a fighting posture, her hands on her katanas and her face set. Kuresaki then leans into the microphone and tells them to begin.
Characters in Order of Appearance