The Junkyard presents a review by Daz of the anime series Glass Mask. Contains some spoilers:
Recently I felt that I was doing myself wrong by overlooking the longer shows. Some of these shows have been on my watch list for a very long time yet I always just scroll past them when searching for something new. I make excuses about time or how I could have watched two or maybe three shows in that same space of time. This just simply isn’t cool so I decided to pick one and stick with it. I mean, it isn’t like I haven’t watched longer running anime before. Monster, Dragonball and Hajime No Ippo are long and I enjoyed them greatly so why hold myself back from something that could be the best thing I’ve never seen?
I decided upon a show called Glass Mask and what an amazing experience it was. Never have I seen a show quite like this one. It’s about a young girl called Maya who wants to be an actress. You find her mimicking lines from TV shows in her bedroom or even at school. Acting out scenes by herself gets her instantly treated as a weird girl and it isn’t appreciated by her mother at all.
This typical negative behaviour towards the arts (music, dancing, acting, etc) is something that I have had to deal with and it’s confusing and hurtful: constantly being told to do “normal” things yet watching as they idolise the very people they tell you you cannot be. Maya fights against this and I’m truly glad she did. It’s something I wish I had the power to do when I was a kid. Hey, if I ever find myself in a situation where I can go back in time, I know what to do.
Maya and her mother work in a ramen shop where her mother is very critical and ashamed of her daughter, always treating her like a let down and never giving her praise. This creates a situation where everyone treats Maya the same way, like she’s nothing. A nobody. Especially to the daughter of the people that own the shop.
One day Maya sees an advert for a play that’s happening in her area starring a very talented young actress called Ayumi Himekawa. She is absolutely delighted by this but doesn’t have the money to get a ticket. Upon finding this out, the daughter of the shop owner decides to be spiteful and buys a ticket and shows off to Maya. At that point, a snow storm happens. Maya’s mother is very ill yet they still need deliveries going out. The daughter then tells Maya she can have the ticket if she makes ALL the deliveries by midnight.
Her eyes open wide at this opportunity and she sets out immediately. She cuts it fine but manages to do it. As she meets outside to get the ticket, the daughter is so shocked and angry that she throws the ticket into the air and it blows towards the sea front. Maya isn’t about to let this pass her by and runs off the pier into the sea and gets it. Already I know I’m in for a good show. The drive of this kid is phenomenal. Even when faced with near impossible odds, she manages to come out on top through her own sheer will.
She watches the play and is blown away by it. It’s everything she’s ever wanted and more. There and then she decides she is going to be an actress.
Walking home she starts reciting parts of the play which gains her the attention of a mysterious woman who previously saw her dive in the sea all for the sake of a ticket. The woman confronts her with a proposition… Will you let me make you an actress? It turns out that the woman was an old starlet who just happens to be looking for somebody to star in her play called “The Scarlet Angel”.
Maya agrees and is whisked away to an acting school where she is immediately mocked by the students there for not knowing what to do and having no acting background except for one…
The girl from the play, Ayumi Himekawa. She notices the raw talent and natural ability that Maya has and instantly puts the students in their place and vows to keep an eye on this unknown prodigy.
What we get next is the gripping story of a young girl with an amazing natural ability trying her best to make it and her rival who has all the skills to make it to the top. Who will get there to win the role of the coveted Scarlet Angel?
This had me gripped from that very first episode and writing it all out makes me want to watch it again. It’s that good. The writing is excellent. There is never a dull moment. As you are whisked through their lives, you see and feel it all. The acting performances they give are amazing and the way the scenes play out just amps it up to the max.
The name “Glass Mask” refers to the fragile mask that actors have to wear each time they become a character. One tiny mishap can shatter the moment and ruin the Illusion. I never hear or see anybody talking about acting in this way and it’s great to get inside the minds of people that pretend all the time. What do they do to become somebody else? How do you come back from that? How much of themselves do they lose? It’s all very fascinating stuff.
One gripe I had with it though is the weird love angle that occurs between Maya and the owner of a studio. The first time he lays eyes on her, he becomes infatuated and makes sure she can be all she can be. He puts her through classes, he sorts out living accommodation, he makes plays available to her but he does all this through the acts of a fan… He sends Maya a blue rose every time she is in a show. She has no idea and uses her “fan” as a way to motivate herself. All the while, she actually hates this guy. He is horrible to her and creates some true heartache in their actual lives, and yet he’s winning her over secretly. I found this super creepy. This is grooming. It’s not cool to watch and would make my skin crawl every time he was on screen. I wasn’t a fan of that angle at all. There are boys her own age so there’s hope that she ends up with them. Fingers crossed…
This leads me on to my other gripe with this show: the ending was poor. I couldn’t believe it. How could something this amazing have an ending like this? Well you see, it doesn’t really have an ending. It’s left open in what’s another case of “manga wasn’t finished yet”; something else ruined by this strange need to adapt things with no ending. It will never make sense to me. It’s still enjoyable though. The ending was not about to put me off. It just stopped it from being a masterpiece.
This show gets a 9/10 from me. It’s absolute top drawer. Some of the episodes are amazing: 38 & 39 in particular, as Maya and Ayumi show off their skills once again but on a bigger scale. I could quite easily watch those two over and over.
Glass Mask was an amazing 51 episode ride that is well worth the time even if the ending is a bit off. And oh yeah, let’s not forget the groomy bit…
Actually let’s. DT