BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Helter Skelter: Fashion Unfriendly by Kyoko Okazaki, translated by Vertical, Inc.

Helter SkelterMeet Liliko, a supermodel of such perfect proportions as can only be … artificially manufactured – with the latest scientific (illegal) enhancements, no less! In spite of all her glamour, fame, and fortune, she’s actually the puppet creation of “Mama,” in whose image Liliko was created (carved, sculpted, assembled). While Mama might have ultimate power, Liliko’s no malleable, voiceless shell – she’s determined to enjoy her publicly adored status to the absolute max, using and abusing as many others’ bodies along the way. Perfection can only last so long … and then what’s a desperate girl to do …?

In this seductive morality tale of the destructive pitfalls of our fickle celebrity-worshipping culture, readers will, no doubt, find much of the story all too familiar. Like the proverbial train wreck, however, you won’t be able to turn away. But before you get too comfortable shaking your head over Liliko’s overindulged, masochistic tendencies, expect the unexpected when the volume ends with quite the “TO BE CONTINUED”-twist. I can’t say I saw that coming!

The other closing shock appears as a “Note from Shodensha Publishing’s Japanese Edition (2003)” on the penultimate page, which explains that creator Kyoko Okazaki was struck by a drunk driver in 1996 just as the serialization of Helter Skelter was completed. The note reads like a rather surreal apology (?!): “Ms. Okazaki has been slowly but surely recovering, and we sincerely hope to publish a more nearly perfect edition in the future.” Rather gets you wincing with tragic irony, no? Surely one for the ‘you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up’-files!

Speaking of those unreal real-life moments, remember misdirected Heidi Montag who announced (advertised?) in 2010 that she underwent 10 – not a typo; yes, ten! – plastic surgeries in a single day? With today’s obsession for physical perfection, going under the knife and buying Groupons for Botox treatments seem like everyday ‘normal’ fare.

Talk about life imitating manga: perhaps someone should send Montag a copy of this prescient Helter Skelter? Although it’s just appearing Stateside in English translation, it’s 15 years old in its native Japan; a live-action film of the same name debuted last year. Unless Montag is fluent in Japanese (uhm … unlikely scenario?), she probably hasn’t seen this parallel version of her roller-coastering career (at least as it’s been portrayed by the media): limited talent, public jealousies, has-been status, oh my. Should someone warn her about what might be coming next?

Readers: Adult

Published: 2003, 2013 (United States)

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