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[Glass Mask R2 DVD box set art]
AKA: ガラスの仮面 (Garasu no Kamen), Glass no Kamen, Mask of Glass
Genre: Ultra-shoujo theater drama
Length: Television series, 22 episodes, 25 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks through their Maiden Japan label. Also available streaming on Hidive.
Content Rating: 13+ (intensity, mental and psychological abuse)
Related Series: Glass Mask OAV, Glass Mask (2005)
Also Recommended: Brother Dear Brother, Hana Yori Dango, Rose of Versailles
Notes: Based on the manga by Miuchi Suzue, which is still running today.

Glass Mask (1984)


Kitajima Maya is a restaurant delivery girl with dreams of being an actress. She is given the opportunity to join a theater troupe that is trying to get off the ground - a theater troupe run by Tsukikage-sensei, a former actress who was the only one capable of playing the ultimate dream role: the Crimson Goddess. Unfortunately, Tsukikage was maimed in an accident, and now seeks her successor. And Maya must endure various trials in order to prove herself worthy of achieving this goal.


Angst! Angst! Angst! And more angst!

As an actor, I have several observations (objections) about Glass Mask. And as an anime fan, I have several other observations (objections) about this show.

As an actor, I feel that Glass Mask doesn't represent the whole concept of acting accurately. It concentrates solely on method acting, but to an extreme that even the most obsessive real-life method actor wouldn't go through. For example, a regular method actor would ask his antagonist to slap him in the face to give him a reason to be angry in return. A Glass Mask method actress would ask the antagonist to get a hammer, and then angst about the pain she feels. Get the idea?

Glass Mask is terribly over-the-top when it comes to describing how actors should get to know the character they are supposed to play. Take for example the role of Helen Keller. A real-life actress would want to do full research, from autobiographies to memoirs of those who knew her, and basically try to get an idea of her mannerisms from those. But this is anime. Maya's idea of character building involves massive sensory deprivation and extended self-torture...and a complete lack of research on the actual person! I guess real-life acting just isn't interesting enough.

As an anime fan, I feel that the angst gets to be quite overdone. Yes, actors do have angsty moments, but not nearly as much as Maya and friends do. Can you imagine an actress who intentionally gets deathly ill just to play Beth in Little Women??? Well, it gets even worse than that, and the dialogue is extremely melodramatic and repetitive. Every episode has to include Maya proclaiming that she will one day become the actress worthy of playing the Crimson Goddess, and that she hopes she meets that wonderful stranger that gives her the bouquet of purple roses after every single show (even though she secretly hates him without knowing it-don't ask).

It's angst to the point that it will make you want to take your happy pills-or watch something happier (anything will do, even Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex) as an antidepressant after only a couple episodes.

On the other hand, there are several good things about this show. Several acting exercises portrayed in the first few episodes are true to life, especially the breathing and vocal techniques that I've used in my own acting classes. Maya herself is likable in a plucky never-say-die-unless-the-part-calls-for-it sort of way, much like Tsukushi in the much more recent Hana Yori Dango. Even the character development is decent, except for Tsukikage, who is singlemindedly obsessed with her goal. The romance angle would've been nicer if there were an opportunity for Maya to pursue it, but the series is too short to concentrate on it without losing the intensity of the theatrics. Of course, that intensity gets to be very excessive as I noted earlier.

The animation is noticeably old. I'm talking Urusei Yatsura old - early 1980s. You can count the frames and see the specks on the reels. For the time it was pretty decent animation, but now it's terribly dated. The music is also terribly dated and too melodramatic, and the opening is somewhere between Fame and Flashdance ("You can do it...if you want it ...") complete with badly animated dancing.

Though it sounds like I'm ragging on the show, Glass Mask is well worth it for fans of gothic shoujo (like Ikeda Riyoko - this show just screams Rose of Versailles). But there are extreme amounts of angst and not enough testosterone for the average Dragon Ball Z watcher. All in all, a very decent watch, but it goes through too many extremes to be an outstanding anime.

Add one if you love extreme amounts of angst - but keep in mind that my dog Chobi cried after watching this anime. — Eric Gaede

Recommended Audience: No sex, little physical violence, but a great deal of mental and psychological abuse inflicted in the name of acting. Oh the horror of being a Thespian! Recommended for thirteen and up.

Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (22/22)
Glass Mask (1984) © 1984 Suzue Miuchi / NTV / Eiken
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