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A Machiavellian undertone turns what might have been a run-of-the-mill shojo title into an interesting and unsettling study of just how much children—and, by extension, adults—judge books by their covers. Three boys using the name the Scissors Project give highly coveted makeovers to "ugly" girls at their school: "in the hands of those three, a girl becomes beautiful... she gets the guy of her dreams...." But first-year student Kiri, herself talented with a pair of scissors, doesn't care for the way they manipulate girls into subservience. While the boys of the Project continue to rule the school, a mysterious figure begins giving "magical" makeovers in secret, threatening the Project's power; this leads to an inevitable showdown battle, with scissors replacing swords, and an even more inescapable cliffhanger. The book's visual design is appropriately elegant and pretty, with lots of open panels and atmospheric, graphical elements—and it polarizes the world of the story into sharply drawn halves, the pretty characters very pretty, the ugly ones very ugly. Young readers may have trouble discerning where the vapid shallowness ends and the satire begins—if in fact it does. The message does indeed seem to be that beauty matters above all, and the only thing left to determine is how best to acquire it. (Sept.)
English translation of the Japanese manga Beauty Pop.