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Manga / Beauty Pop

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"I'll help you add... a little magic."

Beauty Popnote  is a shoujo manga series by Kiyoko Arai, which ran in Ciao from 2003 to 2008. It was published in English by VIZ Media under their Shojo Beat label.

Kiri Koshiba lives out her days in peaceful lethargy, having fallen into an easy rhythm of working at her father's beauty shop and attending school. So calm are her days that she has no idea of the Scissors Project (alternately known as the "S.P."), a trio of popular boys who aspire to become the top name in Japan's makeover industry that frequently give the girls of their school makeovers... with exceptions. Any girl who lacks a properly balanced 'Beauty Factor' will be refused a makeover with no second chances to receive the prestigious honor of getting work done by the S.P. When Kanako, Kiri's best friend, tries to confess to one of the members, he rejects her while simultaneously accusing her of trying to bribe them into doing a Project on her and to Kiri, that makes it personal.

You see, Kiri's got a knack for bringing out the inner beauty of people and as she repeatedly trounces the Scissors Project by taking plain girls and transforming them into knockouts, the Scissors Project comes upon a decision:

They have to have her on their team.

Thus begins the saga of Kiri and the Scissors Project, climbing up the ladder of makeover excellence, one satisfied customer at a time.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Accidental Kiss: Narumi and Kiri accidentally fall on top of each other and bump lips during a competition.
  • The Ace: Kiri inherits this from her father. She's Always Someone Better to Narumi, she's pretty much responsible for Scissor's Project making it so far in competitions, she demonstrates secret techniques (that Narumi hasn't mastered) while sick.
  • Afraid of Blood: Kiri, ever since she accidentally cut her mother's ear while giving her a haircut. It is severe enough that seeing blood causes her mind to shut down and freeze her in place.
  • Allergic to Love: Narumi bursts out in hives whenever women touch him due to the memories of the extreme repulsion he felt as a child when women would pat him and kiss his cheeks almost nonstop. For whatever reason, he doesn't seem affected when he touches women while doing their hair.
  • Always Someone Better: A running theme. Narumi is always someone better to Niida. However, Narumi is second to Kiri. They inherit that from their parents.
  • Anime Hair: Whenever Kiri cuts a boy's hair, this is the outcome.
  • Beautiful All Along: A great majority of Kiri's clients have what would be considered not insignificant flaws such as being overweight, having nappy hair, wearing tons and tons of makeup, but after they've been under her scissors they come out looking as fine as can be.
  • Berserk Button: Stoic as she is Kiri does have some. Breaking her scissors makes her mad.
  • Bifauxnen: When Kiri is dressed as 'X', she has been mistaken for a male several times, likely due in no small part to her Pettanko body type and her fondness for baggy clothes.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ozawa. Narumi used to idolize him up until he insulted him, broke Kiri's scissors and refused to help two girls.
  • Butt-Monkey: Narumi is the butt of jokes, pranks and general irreverence from everyone including the universe. The height is a side chapter where he coincidentally ends up being the victim of vicious pranks aimed at Kiri. It's partially Break the Haughty but mostly because he hilariously overreacts every time.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Narumi, once he realizes he likes/loves/has emotions besides irritation for Kiri.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Kiri has a hair cutting version. She's incapable of not beautifying people who need help. At one point, Ochiai exploits this to try to get her out into the open.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Kiri and Narumi are hair cutting genius aces who could (and do) easily win competitions and metals. To add drama and suspense, they end up sick, afraid of blood, breaking their arm, dealing with cheaters etc. during almost every match in every competition.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Kiri's cool personality has caused a number of female characters, including Narumi's little sister Chisami to fall in love with her.
  • Happily Married: Emi and Seiji, Kiri's parents, despite their long-distance relationship (one in Japan, one in California). Post timeskip, one assumes that Seki and Kanako and Kiri and Narumi also count.
  • Harmless Villain: Those guys who 'kidnapped' Kanako and Chisami, who were terrified of Chisami's RAGE and who were handily dispatched.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Although Emi (Kiri's mother) works in America, she and Seiji are very lovey-dovey with each other, and send mushy emails to each other everyday.
  • Love Bubbles: Assorted characters get this while thinking about or talking to the object of their affections; Kiri gets this while she's "in the zone" and styling hair, and in one case while thinking about a 'high-class meal.'
  • Nerd Glasses: Ochiai, who serves The Smart Guy of the Scissors Project, wears opaque glasses that often makes him look older than he really is.
  • New Transfer Student: Always a rival or someone with a grudge against the leads. Billy takes the cake. He moves in with the Koshibas, from America, specifically to sabotage them in a competition.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Seki is a very polite Shrinking Violet, who is quick to try to help others, and is constantly apologizing for any perceived mistakes that he made.
    • Before the Scissors Project start to acknowledge Kiri and her friends, Kei is the only one who is not actively mean to any of them. He amicably greets them as friends, while Narumi tries to insult/taunt them instead, and actually demands the latter to apologize to Kiri when he accidentally threw a box at Kiri's head.
  • The Rival: Both Narumis consider their Koshiba counterpart their rival; it's not certain if Kiri considers Narumi a rival, and Narumi's dad assumes that Seiji considered him the Unknown Rival until the very last chapter. Prior to that, Narumi's dad apparently became a Rival Turned Evil (or at least exceptionally ruthless and petty). Niida considers Narumi his rival because Narumi always bests him, and Junna considered Narumi his Arch-Nemesis because Narumi's dad used to buy his wins.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Gender-swapped: Narumi is both Hot-Blooded and prone to spazzing out, while Kiri is perpetually calm and could probably sleep her way through an earthquake.
  • Security Cling: Kiri does this to Narumi when we find out she's afraid of A: the dark and B: cockroaches (though possibly she was just startled by the second one).
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: The Distant Finale shows us that Chisami and Iori end up engaged, although their constant bickering stays the same.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Kazuhiko Ochiai when he develops a crush on Kiri. He chases after her, is shown secretly watching her from behind without her knowledge, and even has Kiri's picture, which she doesn't know he took, as his cell phone's wallpaper. In the end, although Narumi and Kiri have married, he still refuses to give up on her, even teaching Kiri and Narumi's kids to call him "daddy". He also often schedules appointments after hours for Narumi to prevent him from going home to Kiri so that Ochiai can gladly go in his place.
  • The Stoic: Kiri herself as well as Seiji, the latter in anything not involving Emi. Of course, both let the mask crack when they think no-one's looking.
  • Unwanted Harem: Kiri sort of ends up like this, with several boys competing for her, but she remains indifferent about it. Possibly to the point of being Oblivious to Love, since Kiri doesn't seem to fully understand that Narumi even likes her until he literally confesses at her bedside.
  • When She Smiles: Due to short hair, no makeup, and dressing like a boy, Kiri's femininity usually only shows up - you guessed it! - when she smiles. People who are being helped by her or who are warming up to/crushing on her usually get helped along by one of Kiri's rare smiles.