After finishing volume one of “The Knockout Makers” years ago, I had dismissed it as glamorizing the external over what lies within. I, as I usually am, was wrong. Knockout Makers emphasizes loving your true essence, while applying your outward appearance to bring out the full glow.
Three hot babelicious dudes run a special salon that turns beauty-deprived ladies into dudelicious babes. The catch? Only one lucky gal can apply for the treatment. At midnight, applying is permitted on their website for ten minutes. I’m getting Hell Girl vibes for some reason. The trio of beauticians keep the women in an underground facility for some time to complete the process of boosting looks, love and life.
The main issue for me is that the manga doesn’t follow its own rules. The KOM only accepts clients at midnight, but they receive a text at 11:23 AM for a client. Sometimes the subject of the chapter doesn’t seem to know who the KOM are. Do they Makers cheat the system sometimes and take on a nearby distressed damsel? One does in one story, but most of the time, the girls are surprised.
One big draw is, as mentioned, the emphasis on loving yourself. This could mean dieting for yourself instead of your boyfriend or, like all of the stories, drawing benefits from the negative attributes. Not to be ignored is the cause of each story. They aren’t all for the “I want a boyfriend” standard, although most are.
However, the trio of Knockout Makers succeed because they never face a real complication of artificial beauty. Fat? Diet. Bad skin? Oils. Weird bone structure? Cover with hair. What if the girl in question had braces, or creepy eyes, or weird mannerisms? Bet they couldn’t fix that.
Alright, that’s a gimme. That’s another thing, though. Excluding the dieting story, it’s always a simple fix. “Here’s oils for your oily skin!” “Your hair looks like Bach’s? We’ll cut and form it!” “Here’s a cute outfit!”
Yes, there’s confidence and the drama and realization. But, like Sue/Eden, it’s never an issue because they don’t have any permanent damage. They look awkward, like teens are expected. Eden Sher’s Sue Heck, America Ferrera’s Ugly Betty, Katy Perry’s Kathy Beth Terry. They made a manga about the ending of 80’s movies. It’s a great manga, but I wouldn’t have requested it.
Sometimes the art changes to accommodate a made-over client. A girl with small eyes has big eyes without explanation. For the most part, the art doesn’t manipulate, as a flat girl is still flat.
Let’s talk about the boys, the titular “Knockout Makers.” They jes’ fine. We have three boys, each with a specialty, maybe. I think the tall brunette, Nobuo, specializes in hair treatment. He restores a Bach-girl to hair extraordinaire. He also dyes a girl’s hair to look like her teen idol, who, in a great and quiet twist, had her hair treated by him before she was famous. Also, huge flirt, because that’s mandatory.
Toshi, short, 16 and fresh off the stove, works with the makeup and whatever paints may apply. He has an origin story, I guess, where he replaces the previous makeup specialist. Apparently, if you fall in love, you need to have a ready apprentice. He’s unusually uninterested in women, his age or otherwise.
Finally, Ryouhei wheels and deals in skin and treatments such as baths and exercise. He’s cold, but phases in and out, unlike Toshi. Anyway, they all seem to fit the three hottie dynamic necessary for a manga like this. Nobuo the Id, Ryouhei the Ego, and Toshi the Superego. What do you expect from a manga about love and the inner self? Freud’s all over this.
I was disappointed to discover that I didn’t hate The Knockout Makers like last time. Disappointed in myself, I mean. Maybe I was knee-jerking or just making an excuse, but I never gave it a proper chance. Definitely buy this one. It has a good balance of humor, heartbreak, and mascara. Heck, I think I might buy the other two.
Although there’s one thing I can’t understand. Why don’t the KOM want the girls to tell anyone where they are? Hanging out with three hot single guys underground for days on end doesn’t seem like a now I get it.