In a world where â€œBooksâ€ are the crystallized forms of the dead, Tonisu has his memory erased and a bomb implanted in his chest. Books are stored in the Bantorra Library where anyone who reads a book can learn their past. Bantorra Library is maintained by Armed Librarians who wield psychic powers and their enemy is a religious society known as Sindeki Kyoudan. Tonisu is ordered to kill the most powerful armed librarian Hamyuttsu Meseta. However, he falls in love and is caught up in the ongoing battle of the library.
Here’s a link to one of the promo trailers.
I’m around midway through the series now, and I continue to be entertained by the amount of over the top drama in Glass Mask.
There’s Soul Shattering Death! Tsukikage turns Maya over to the Daito Corporation and Hayami begins the work of turning her into a star. She’s acting in a supporting role on a TV drama and has a role in a movie. Unfortunately she’s surrounded by saboteurs who delight in spiking her food and booby trapping her sets. Maya’s mother is now blind and tubercular, trapped in a hospital with no contact with the outside world. Hayami is paying off the hospital because he wants to engineer a touching mother daughter reunion for the media at the premiere of Maya’s new play. Maya’s mom figures out what’s going on, escapes the hospital, and hitchhikes to Tokyo in the rain in an attempt to find Maya. She ends up dying alone in a movie theater, listening to her daughter act in her first movie.
There’s All About Eve Shenanigans! A mysterious girl named Norie shows up and starts acting like Maya’s personal assistant. Unfortunately she is studying Maya’s every move so she can take over her roles. Norie tells Maya that Hayami was preventing her from seeing her mother. Then Norie pays off a motorcycle gang to take Maya to a beach and ply her with drugs. Maya goes along with it, as the recent events have left her a total zombie. Maya passes out on the beach and misses her first performance. Norie steps in for the role. Maya’s fledgling career is shattered.
There’s Revenge in the form of Acting! Ayumi is disturbed by her rival’s abrupt fall from grace and does some investigating. She discovers that Norie is responsible and maneuvers her director father to cast her in a supporting role as a vampire in Norie’s new play. Ayumi destroys Norie with the power of acting, turning her vampire supporting character into the lead role and blowing her off the stage. Maya is left on her own to rehabilitate her career, and she does so by putting on amazing one woman shows at her high school.
There’s Romance! Maya’s first love ends up being not the patient and long-suffering Sakurakouji but her teen idol television co-star Satomi. They go out on a couple dates, but Satomi’s manager decides that they can’t date anymore after Maya’s fall from grace. Hayami gradually realizes that he’s in love with Maya and he’s appropriately creeped out at himself for entertaining feelings for a girl 11 years younger than him. Even though he keeps paying for Tsukikage’s hospital bills, he still exhibits plenty of his old traits as a heartless bastard. He forces Maya to go on stage after the death of her mother, and even kidnaps her from time to time when she has pneumonia and needs medical treatment.
Glass Mask is a shoujo classic that I wish was translated into English, but since the series is so long and unfinished (although new chapters are starting to appear again) I guess there is a slim chance of it ever reaching the US. Glass Mask is a 43 volume manga about a girl struggling to become an actress. It started in 1976! I think that’s an example of what makes manga awesome. While we might not be able to read the manga, Crunchyroll is streaming the 2005 anime version of Glass Mask, so at least that’s one way to experience the story.
Maya Kitajima is a girl who is remarkable for being undistinguished. She doesn’t perform well at school and she isn’t particularly pretty. What she does have is an insatiable appetite for drama. When she sees a dramatic TV show or catches a glimpse of a movie, she’s mesmerized, memorizing all of the dialog and gestures of the actors to perform the story later to the neighborhood children as her own one woman show. Maya is raised by a single mother who is constantly lamenting about her useless daughter. Maya tries to help out at the restaurant where her mother works, but whenever Maya delivers ramen near a movie theater she disappears for hours.
A mysterious woman whose overgrown Veronica Lake hairstyle hides horrible scars on half of her face spots Maya in one of her impromptu performances. She decides that Maya is the girl she’s been searching for, the Girl of 1000 masks. She’s Chigusa Tsukikage, a legendary actress who retired after her face was scarred. She has the rights to the play that produced her signature role, the Crimson Goddess. Tsukikage is determined to prevent the play from being performed until she finds an actress worthy of the role.
Tsukikage starts an acting school and Maya runs away from home in order to train. Maya is almost savant-like in her acting abilities, having instinctive reactions on stage that showcase her natural ability. Tsukikage’s training methods seem to involve much yelling, all night acting sessions, and the occasional violent backhand blow to the face. Tsukikage is under stress because she doesn’t really have the money to support her new school and the Daito theater corporation is after her to relinquish the rights to the Crimson Goddess.
Other people in Maya’s life include the man who is the heir to the Daito corporation, Masumi Hayami. He appears to be fascinated by Maya’s fresh enthusiasm for acting and Maya herself. Hayami anonymously sends Maya purple roses for each of her performances, but doesn’t reveal to her that he’s her fan. Instead he allows her to use her hatred of Daito and him as a goad to improve her acting. Daito has an acting school of its own called Ondine. Two of the students at Ondine are important to Maya. Sakurakouji has a crush on Maya but is constantly frustrated in his romantic ambitions by Maya’s obsession with acting. I guess it is hard to date a girl when she just wants to watch plays, run lines, or learn how to play the piano for a role. Ayumi Himekawa is a young woman with all the advantages that Maya lacks. Her parents are rich. Ayumi’s father is a director and her mother is a renowned actress. Ayumi has grown up with the intensive training that Maya lacks, and she’s Maya’s main rival for the role of the Crimson Goddess.
So since It might be a long time or never before the manga of Glass Mask is translated into English, I recommend checking out the anime if you are interested in the story. It seems to me that the character designs are mostly slightly modernized versions of the characters in the manga. The anime version has many amusing touches, like a magical girl transformation sequence where Maya puts on the mask of the character she is about to portray and Tsukikage seems to always be accompanied by ominous organ music wherever she goes.
The final episode! I’ve been drawing out my viewing of this anime because I didn’t want it to end. I also find it difficult to find the time to watch any anime at all these days.
Poor Dojo is in the hospital recovering from his injuries in the battle for the museum. He isn’t in bad shape physically but is suffering from shell shock. He just sits and stares blankly at a TV. Iku runs up to talk to him, but he doesn’t respond to her.
Iku dreams that she’s talking to her prince charming. She asks him to tell her his name. He turns around and it is Dojo, telling her that she’s an idiot and she needs to get back to work. She wakes up screaming “Noooooooooooo!” At work Iku keeps beating her head against her desk. Hikaru and Shibasaki are mystified by her behavior.
Iku is mortified that she talked about her prince charming in front of Dojo. Hikaru says she must be stressing about her promotion test. Komaki helpfully explains that only 50% of the people who take the test manage to pass, and there’s a written part and a practical part. He suggests that she get to work memorizing a book. Iku freaks out. Dojo comes into the room and tells her not to worry, because he’ll supervise her test preparation. Iku falls out of her chair. Dojo moves to help her up.
I’m always curious when a manga I like gets adapted as an anime. Sometimes I even prefer the anime version. I liked the anime version of Ouran High School Host Club a little more than the manga. I think Skip Beat is more suited to animation than most shoujo titles because of some of the visual imagery used. Kyoko’s unconscious desires are expressed with a horrifying grasping hand coming out of her mouth, and her targets of hatred are frequently surrounded by mini-Kyoko flying devils. Here’s the trailer for the anime, I hope someone picks it up for release in the U.S.
Although I think the anime looks interesting, I’m even more intrigued that Skip Beat is also going to be turned into a live action drama in Taiwan. But it hasn’t started filming yet, so there will be a long wait to see what it looks like.
I’ve fallen way behind in my Library War blogging.
Iku is called before a tribunal because the ratfink Sumigawa falsely named her as a collaborator. He’s unreachable at the moment, because he is allegedly sick and resting at home. Iku’s friends wonder if this is the work of the horrible Administrative Faction of the Library Corps. Iku has no idea what they’re talking about, so Dojo helpfully explains with the aid of charts: