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The Knockout Makers: Volume 1    by Kyoko Hashimoto Amazon.com order for
Knockout Makers
by Kyoko Hashimoto
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2008 (2008)
Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Kyoko Hashimoto's The Knockout Makers is a fun manga that is perfect for light reading. Since each chapter stands on its own, it is an easy book to pick up whenever the reader needs a little pick-me-up, plus it is full of advice on beauty.

The Knockout Makers is a secret group of three male stylists Toshihio Sayuma, the make-up expert; hairstyle specialist Nobuo Shirakawa; and fashion guru Ryouhei Matsuda. Every night for ten minutes around midnight, they take requests from girls desperate for a makeover, only choosing the neediest cases. Before they complete the outside transformation, however, they always help the girl see the beauty on the inside.

So many things make The Knockout Makers stand out from other shojo manga. The main factor that makes it stand out and helps gets its theme across is Hashimoto's artwork. She is great at drawing the bishonen popular in modern shojo, but she also does a fantastic job depicting plain girls. Even after the girls have had their makeover, she does not make them total knockouts, like many shojo heroines. Instead, the reader can see that they are still the same person, just with a different style and much more confidence.

It is amazing how well Hashimoto can draw this inner confidence that seems to radiate from the character and this is essential to the stories as giving the girls better self-esteem is what the guys in The Knockout Makers are all about. Also, while each story is similar in revolving around a girl who wants a makeover - and then gets one while learning how to be happy being herself - the circumstances surrounding each character's need for a makeover are completely different and completely believable, making it easy for readers to relate.

Aside from helping the female characters see their inner beauty, the boys who make up The Knockout Makers are full of good beauty advice such as the best hairstyle for different facial shapes, the best type of clothes for a particular body type, and little make-up tricks to accentuate various features. These add a little something extra to a manga series that should be a must read for girls everywhere. I hope Kyoko Hashimoto can keep up the awesome work throughout subsequent volumes of The Knockout Makers.

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