Personally I rather dislike Shoujo anime, so when my fiancé and I sat down to watch Skip Beat! Last winter, I was not particularly enthused. I had found the anime on this site, and saw it well recommended, so I figured, if I had to suffer through a Shoujo, at least make it a good one. Boy was I ever pleasantly surprised by this anime.
The story and how it was told were clear strengths. The story itself centers on a 15yo girl whose life has been ruined by a childhood friend, and who subsequently swears revenge. This is an anime which is driven by the characters, their development and their interaction with each other. Since its characterization which moves this story, the pacing and the narrative techniques become rather important. Some of the things Skip Beat! Manages well, is building suspense, creating comedy, building tension, and generally making an anime in which 99% of the anime is dialogue entertaining to watch. If there was a weakness with the story is that by adhering to an ongoing manga faithfully, this anime comes to an incomplete end.
The animation style was fluid; however the artwork style was dated. I understand the studio was being faithful to the mid 90's character design style, however, they probably could have updated the background art, or even the color palate a bit. Throw in a number of panning still shots and its overall not an overwhelmingly good style of animation. That said, the facial expressions said 1000 words, and they largely made the anime far more enjoyable then it should have been.
The soundtrack was the worst part of this anime. While the Opening and Closing themes were fine, they recycled 2 or 3 background tracks for pretty much all of the soundtrack. That said the VAs were largely excellent and saved this score from a far worse score then 6.5, for while I might have found the background music repetitive and annoying to a fault, the VAs produced a series of solid to great performances, particularly Inoue Marina who brought Kyoko to life.
The characters are what make this anime come alive. Mogami Kyoko stands alone as a singularly unique type of Shoujo anime character. In reality, she's a Shounen action hero trapped in a Shoujo Anime; complete with Dragonball Z style power-ups and bold declarative goals, statements and claims. Really, this anime is all about Kyoko's revenge against her childhood friend Shoutarou, who once she was in love with. The Supporting characters range from deep (Tsuruga Ren) to shallow (Takarada Lory) with some who stand out nearly as much as Kyoko, like her best friend "Moko" (Kotonami Kanae) who not only proves to be deep, but colorful.
This anime is clearly better then the sums of its parts, with a very non-standard and clever spin on the Shoujo genre, with a very non-standard and powerful lead character in Kyoko. Really, this anime should be on every anime fan's watch list just because of the unique nature of the story, and its protagonist. Throw in the easy to watch story... the light comedy, the solid drama and pacing, and you have an enjoyable watch. Is it the best Shoujo anime ever? I don’t know. I do know I hate the genre, and this one made my top 15 favorite anime of all time. So in my eyes, yes, this might very well be the best Shoujo ever.