Posted by psgels on 12 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


The second half of Glass Mask is easy to review: a plot-hole here and there, but nonetheless evolving characters keep your attention till the end that comes way too abrupt. Nonetheless, standalone it remains an enjoyable though somewhat dramatic look at the career of a young theatre actress. So… why the abysmally low score? Well, you can blame that on the first half…

Because Glass Mask starts out downright terrible. It’s not the case of a series like NHK ni Youkoso, where the first half goofs off, after which a much stronger second half takes over. Glass Mask’s first half was much, much worse, an insult to theatre plays. At episode 13, I was ready to label this one amongst the worst series that I’ve managed to finish. Here’s why:

The first thing that will immediately catch your attention is the ridiculously overblown melodrama that would make Kannadzuki no Miko and Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora cheerful. Of course, a bit of angst is always healthy, but even during the smallest snide remark, everyone suddenly behaves like a Christian who just discovered that the pope is pregnant. Especially when the Mc Guffin play “The Crimson Goddess” gets mentioned, the melodrama gets blown to ridiculous proportions.

Then there’s the horrible botched-up storytelling of the first few episodes. There’s a reason why all stories have their light moments. They’re not only meant to give the audience a breather, but also to flesh out the characters, and show what they’re like when they’re not risking their lives/ trying their best/whatever. Glass Mask doesn’t think that these things are worthy of itself, and so it starts behaving like a soap-opera, diving from one disaster into the other. Honestly, the first half features obviously a number of plays that our lead character (Maya) has to act out, and only the last one had everything going smoothly. At the others, there was always someone or something with ill-intentions who tried to ruin the play somehow. Along with the melodrama… the result was a predictable mess.

And there’s more. I’ve always rather criticized those anime where the lead character finds his/her love a bit too easily, but all of that falls into nothing when compared to the sloppy excuse of romance that the creators try to showcase here. Maya’s boyfriend comes from absolutely nowhere. He’s just… there, without any explanation of how the bugger fell in love with her, or why he even got to know her for that matter!

But the thing that got under my nails the most was the following: this is supposed to be an anime about the rise of a talented actress, but the way she is presented shows all the signs that the staff behind this series didn’t know anything about good acting. Every time that Maya was on the stage, she caught the awes of her audience, where everyone comments and admires how good her acting is. All I saw, however, was a hopelessly overacting teenager without any sense of subtlety. One particularly bad scene showed Maya as an unimportant extra in a small movie. The result was a hospital-patient who had the time of her life while trying to climb a pair of stairs. How would you feel if you were watching a movie, and suddenly a close-up followed of some random dude who stands out way too much? What I watched wasn’t a immensely talented actress, it was a blatant Mary Sue with way too little experience to make any impact. This can also partly be blamed to Maya’s voice-actress. Who the heck in his right mind would cast someone who can’t act as the voice of a talented actress?

To my relief, the second half gives a notable attempt to fix these flaws, when the creators suddenly realize that a good story needs build-up and characters with weaknesses. The romance smartly turns into a romance with no future and the characters learn from their mistakes. The melodrama’s still there, but at least it’s better than before. Still, the question remains whether or not you want to sit through the pain for the better second half, and it’s not even that good anyway.

I’ve been wondering what makes a series really bad. I mean, I may have disliked series as To Love-Ru, but I can see how other can enjoy the light entertainment. Still, a series that fails to understand its own themes like Glass Mask… I don’t think that you can get much worse than that. I agree how the eighties brought a lot of good stuff to the world of anime, but this one was definitely not a part of it. The second half is just not worth it, because of that God-awful first half.

Storytelling: 3/10
Characters: 6/10
Production-Values: 6/10
Setting: 3/10

24 Responses

  1. Avatar Denizen says:

    “The second half is just NOW worth it, because of that God-awful first half.”
    Just a small mistake you may not have noticed :)

    Anyways, what was it that suddenly got you watching this show? If it wasn’t a good show then how could you have possibly picked it out from somewhere.

  2. Avatar Endz says:

    Have you read the manga?

    I haven’t watched the anime. The low rating of this manga masterpiece gave me interested in clicking the link from animenano.

    The manga was very inspiring. Is the anime really that bad?

    *Manga Spoilers*

    Like for example in that walking down the stairs as a disabled person. The focus of that story isn’t how wonderful she acted as a disabled person walking down the stairs. It is how the main character of that play realizes how “light” she has been taking on about acting. While the main character(forgot her name but the main character of the manga and not the play this time) endlessly seriously tried to play the extra role no matter how insignificant it was. It was very inspiring…

    */end manga spoiler*

    From what you were ranting about. It seems really different from the manga. In the manga when she just got her first boyfriend. She was exploring and wonder those new feelings. Nothing was really “sudden”.

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Denizen: I watched the first episode after a certain someone wrongly labelled the first episode of “Glass no Kantai” as “Glass Mask”, and that first episode interested me, though things went downhill very fast afterwards.

    Endz: that indeed sounds totally different from what I have seen. During the stairs-scene, the creators made no attempt to focus at the main character of that play, and she just runs away crying and disappears, and the creators made it seem like she was jealous of Maya’s talent instead, portraying Maya as some kind of Mary Sue at the same time. Let alone the ridiculously overblown way of which the directors of that movie decided to film her acting.

  4. Avatar Joline says:

    I haven’t seen the anime, but I follow the manga scanlations. I think the story is typical of old-school shoujo series (like Candy Candy or Oniisama E). So you can blame the melodrama on the fact that it’s an old series.

    Although the story is totally unrealistic, I still think it’s a fun read (or watch). And in defense of the overacting, someone once asked the movie critic Roger Ebert why Japanese actors overact in Seven Samurai. Ebert said that it’s because Japanese film has roots in Kabuki theater, where overacting is a large element. So different countries, different styles I guess.

  5. Avatar Joline says:

    By the way, psgels, I’m surprised you picked up such an old shoujo series. How do you decide which series to watch? There doesn’t seem to be a particular trend.

  6. psgels psgels says:

    There isn’t really a trend. I just have a big list of shows I still need to see, and randomly pick some of the ones that sound the least exciting.

  7. Avatar Wyrdwad says:

    I still don’t know why you disliked the first half of NHK ni Youkoso so much… I was hooked on that show from episode one, and felt that the first and second halves were equally good, featuring outstanding character development from start to finish, and wonderful pacing. In fact, some of my favorite episodes are from the first half, like Sato going to the game designer school, or Sato discovering internet porn. (:

    -Tom

  8. Avatar Sapphire says:

    I’m a fan of old (specially 80’s) shoujo series, so Glass Mask is on my “must see” list. A friend of mine recommended it because I really enjoyed The Rose of Versailles and Georgie and he said that Glass Mask had the same “vibe”. But after reading your review, I’m not so sure.

    Anyway, there is a 2005 version of Glass Mask and I heard it’s better.

  9. Avatar hashihime says:

    Thanks for the review, but I disagree with just about everything you wrote. I’m sorry you couldn’t accept this show’s style, which is firmly based in the manga. I just hate it when people pull out the words “emo” or “melodrama” to denigrate shows with actual emotion in them. In my opinion, Kobayashi Sanae was outstanding in this anime. I rate this show either an 8 or a 9.

  10. Avatar hashihime says:

    Whoops! I’m sorry! You were reviewing the 1980s version, which I haven’t seen. Have you seen the great 2005 version, with Kobayashi Sanae and Yajima Akiko? Apologies for my mistake. That’s the show I rate so highly. Perhaps it got remade because of dissatisfaction with the first version. It has been subbed up to around halfway, but only raw and Chinese-subbed versions are around for the rest.

  11. psgels psgels says:

    Hashihime: I can see your point. Acting with emotion can indeed be a beautiful thing, but my problem with this is that it can be taken way too far, and the characters act way too emotional for the situations they’re in. This is what I noticed in Glass Mask, hence why I called it melodrama.

    edit: sorry, I didn’t read your second post. Sorry about the misunderstanding, but my beef is indeed with the original series aired in 1984. They indeed probably remade it because of the dissatisfaction of the first season, especially since it seems to have 51 episodes.

  12. Avatar Archer says:

    when i entered today on the blog and saw the this review i thought you watched Rose of Versailles but only for a second,probably because both are anime from around the same period and have similar old-shoujo art ….. guess Rose of Versailles sound more exciting and you choose the old anime that sound not so exciting :) (as u said)

  13. Avatar Paj says:

    I read the manga first before I dipped into the 1984 anime series. . .and I can understand why people were dis-satisfied. .. but the 2005 version made it up. I would suggest you watch the 2005 re-make. But again since the manga never got completed; I don’t think the ending for any of the Glass mask anime series will be satisfactory enough. The drama that was made had to wrap it up with their own version. But i heard that Vol. 42 will be complete at the end of July. . .Not sure if the manga-ka will continue and finish it off. . .

    But my high rating is because of the manga and the 2005 sries. .. the 1984 version left too many plot holes and the seiyuus were not to my liking.

  14. Avatar Tess says:

    I’ve read about 16 volumes of the manga, and saw the 2005 series which was very good and a lot closer to the manga. In the case of the manga I feel there are some ridiculous parts… however I feel they adapted the 2005 series very will by subtracting most mistakes of the original and not being as.. “bad” as the 1984 version. It’s actually amazing how different they are in quality…

  15. Avatar killbethy says:

    Actually, this show is very reviewed very well as is the manga. It is one of the few shows to get outstanding ratings (the 2005 version) on almost all anime review sites.

    I know I’m a bit late in responding to this…

    But for fans of the show and manga, it has been announced that the manga-ka (the author of the manga) will begin continuing the story where it left off (after volume 42 or so I believe) in the September 2008 issue of Hana to Yume. The story isn’t finished!

  16. Avatar jeanny says:

    Could anyone tell me where to download the Glass mask series. I have been watch the manga long time ago. I havent seen the anime yet.. thx.

  17. Avatar Uber_cast says:

    I am so sorry this is the first impression of glass mask you had to see, but in reality both the manga and the 2005 TV series are very well done. If you are not really into older shojo then stay away from the manga, but if you want to read one of the highest ranked shojo series in Japan then I would certainly recommend this. I guess I am lucky because the first thing from glass mask I ever saw was the 2005 series, which is very good. Don’t let this one bad show ruin the whole thing for you ^_^.

  18. Actually I think you really need to see the 2005 version. When I were saw the TV show, I was so impressed by Maya’s ardor on melodrama, and Maya and purple rose man’s love story. This amine is my most favorite anime ever!!

  19. Avatar Gei says:

    THE DRAMA IS BETTER. ESPECIALLY THAT PEDO。。。。。。。。。。

  20. Avatar BadChase says:

    This may sound like an excuse but frankly this Anime “sucks”.. It skips parts of dialogue from the manga, it skips characters intentions/experiences and everything from the manga. Basically when compared to the source material is a gooey mess.

    In the manga, everything that you didn’t like about is is quite thoroghly explored. And some things that was changed from manga to anime is outrageously bad. Like when she was eating in a scene of the TV drama she got, in the anime it’s spices that is the problem while in the manga It’s freakin’ glass in the food!

    Basically they should have explored the source material and used it better instead of jumping through everything. That would have made an awesome anime.

  21. Avatar Lanelle says:

    And this is probably why I don’t watch anime.

    I must say that I disagree with this post in many ways. If you’ve read the manga, then you’ll notice that the story is actually quite genuine and mesmerizing. It’s not melodramatic if you understand Maya’s true character and her thirst and desire for becoming an actress. There are a lot of symbolism in the story and it reveals much of the real world aspects and themes like true talent/personality vs. reality/judgment of the world, the elites vs. the struggles of the underground workers, etc. Yes, it does incorporate old classic tales and such, and yes, it may seem like a ‘shallow’ story on the surface, but when you read it, you can understand that deep down, there’s true beauty and love in this story. Glass Mask is one of a kind, and it definitely has a reason why it has continued on for so long. It’s loved by the public not because it’s a ‘generic shojo story’ about a girl and a boy, but it reveals the harshness of reality, but also finding dreams and your place in the cruel world that can be beautiful at the same time when you reach for the impossible.

  22. psgels psgels says:

    Lanelle: I totally agree with you. I really loved the 2005 adaptation fo Glass Mask as well. However, this isn’t a review about the manga, it’s about the 1984 adaptation of it, which was outright poor in just about every way. It completely missed the points of the manga, skips key scenes and turns into a complete overacted melodrama. That’s why I rated it so low. Obviously the story is awesome when adapted in the right way, this was just the wrong way. ;)

    • Avatar Firechick says:

      There’s actually another anime adaptation of Glass Mask, a 3-episode OVA from 1998-1999. It only tells the very beginning of the story, but the animation and storytelling is still MUCH better than the trainwreck 1984 version, and has MUCH better, more capable voice acting, both on stage and off.

  23. Avatar SerikSAN says:

    Порою жестокое, порою веселое, а порой хочется выключить и забыть …
    Смотреть? Ответ – да!

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