Posted on 15 January 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



It was really hard for me to start watching this series. The 1984 version of the series was really bad, and I wasn’t looking forward to the same bad execution for 51 more episodes. Still, I’m glad that eventually I did give this series a chance. This isn’t simply a case where the new creators improved the show at certain areas. What we have here is two versions of the same story, where one of them is utter crap, while the other is downright awesome. This really shows what good execution can mean for the overall quality of a story.

Especially when you’re making an anime about a talented actress, you need to be extra careful to fully understand what you’re adopting. The creators of the 1984-series clearly didn’t, and turned the lead character (Maya) into some sort of hopelessly over-acting Mary Sue, and they failed to emphasize that Maya was just a frail little girl, and that her talents came not from being incredibly talented, but rather her one-mindedness and ability to completely shut herself off from the outside, which was perfectly portrayed in the 2005 version.

The new voice actress also really helped: Masako Katsuki as Maya was one of the biggest miscasts you could imagine (think in the order of magnitude of putting Norio Wakamoto in the role of a young school-boy). Sanae Kobayashi however, does a much better job at portraying Maya, and that’s an understatement. Both when she’s on stage and when she’s herself, her voice captures the right nuances and makes for a believable and captivating actress.

The biggest strength of this series is its cast of characters, and then especially Maya and Ayumi full well-rounded characters at the end of the series. The rivalry that develops between the two of them is definitely memorable, and a unique take on the “hard work versus talent” theme: for once, it’s the lead character who is the talented one and the main rival who achieved her successes by working very hard. This series has 51 episodes, and they make optimal use of this long length to fully develop the bond that develops between the two of them.

But also the rest of the cast is great to watch. With perhaps the exception of some of the very minor side characters who are jealous of Maya’s successes in the beginning perhaps, every character has a clear purpose, and evolves along with this series. My only complaint here is Tsukikage, and especially her heart problems, which feels like a simple plot device. This is up to the point where you find yourself able to predict exactly when her next heart attack (or whatever it was that attacked her) is going to happen.

For a 2005-series, the animation of this series isn’t anything special, though I do want to applaud the creators for going with down-to-earth character designs, rather than the overblown shoujo-ones of the 1984 series. Especially Ayumi’s character-designs changed from the look of a stuck up princess to someone with simply good looks, nothing more and nothing less. And while most of the animation of this series isn’t that much to write about, the show does have a number of very artistic and good-looking shots of the different characters. The soundtrack for this series is also awesome, but this is where I’m really biased, since the composer also created the soundtrack of Mahou Shoujotai. ^^;

Overall, I’m glad that I listened to Hashihime and the other fans of this series, because the 2005-version really makes up everything where the 1984 version went wrong. After watching this series, I’m definitely going to look at acting in a different way, and that’s something that should be the case with every anime that’s about such a focused subject as this one.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

14 Responses

  1. Sasa says:

    Wow, that sounds surprisingly good. As a rabid fan of the manga, I wonder if I should give this anime version a try – I too was pushed off by the 1984 version quite a bit.

  2. Sapphire says:

    I already had the 2005 version on my plan-to-watch list, but now I want to watch it even more ^^

  3. whitehorse says:

    I love this version of the anime too!
    But unfortunatelly it’s only been subbed ’till epsode 16 or so….

  4. maglor says:

    How much of the ‘magic’ of the original manga does 2005 version manages to catch?

  5. senerikfred says:

    Oh wow, big change in quality there.
    As a shoujo with good characters and a focused artistic topic, this sounds like it’s in the same lane as Nodame Cantabile and Kaleido Star. Got to put this on my ‘to do’ list.

  6. hashihime says:

    I’m so glad I was able to help bring you to this great series. You identify what I see as two of the main strength of the show: the great acting. Besides Kobayashi Sanae, I found Yajima Akiko as Ayumi just outstanding. You could really believe these were two of the best actors in Japan. Yajima-san is most famous in the comic role of Crayon Shin-chan, but her role as Mari in Blue Drop gave us more of her great dramatic acting.

    To answer maglor, I found it just about as magical as the manga. Hatsuyuki has started subbing more episodes, and they are now up to 26, as far as I know. There are complete Chinese subs around.

  7. saris says:

    I love this one too. It is such a wonderful series, I’m glad I didn’t watch the old version first so I didn’t get turned down by it. The rivalry between actresses is entertaining and the relationship between Masami and Maya attracts me, feels like Daddy long legs…something like that

  8. BBOvenGuy says:

    Actually, it’s subbed up to Episode 41 now, if you know where to look. They’ve had to replace their translators (one got tied up with school and the other had a baby), but they’re still determined to get the series done.

  9. windy says:

    Yes, it is indeed one of the best anime I ever watched!!! The story was very entertaining and to see how a simple girl like Maya becomes one of the most talented actresses (with Ayumi), how she strives for it, and leaves her home and all to make her dream come true, to see her acting , and also Ayumi’s acting and to compare them was interesting! The subject interested me because it’s quite the world I like ( theatre , actors performing on stage …). And to see Ayumi as another protagonist, it does’t happen often, most of the time we have another girl who would be plotting against the lead character to get the role or to gain fame, here we don’t have one of those egoistic , selfish and snobbish upper- class girls , but a true impressive character who’s going to work just as hard to play one day the lead role of the legendary stage play “The Crimson Goddess”.

  10. Anu says:

    where can i watch this??
    i am at episode 26! i cant find the other one!! :(
    does anybody knows where?????

  11. petunia says:

    ei,where did you watch this subbed??did you download it??i’m watching in anilinkz and from eps 46-51 they’re all raw.where did you watch this subbed??thank you!

  12. headachebaby says:

    I fell in love with this anime after the 1st episode. On 12/23/09, PSGELS’ blog for Kimi ni Todoke recommended that Glass Mask have good romance. So after starting the 1st episode, I couldn’t help but watch as many episodes as possible. I’ve finished watching the whole series in 4 days and I want more!!!

    The characters are awesome…you don’t have any annoying characters. I was always amazed at Maya’s character development as she played new roles. The story also progress very well and there are no episodes I found boring. The story flow so well that I couldn’t stop watching and I only stopped when I got too sleepy.

    The music is also awesome and for some reason, it sound almost like the music from Skip Beat! However, there are different people who composed the music for Skip Beat! and Glass Mask.

    This is a great anime and I need to buy it when I find the complete DVD set.

    So, I found out that this anime first started in the 70s and it continues to be a popular shojo anime…now, I understand why.

  13. Stars says:

    It’s amazing when after 51 episodes, just as the anime ends it feels as if the story is just starting.

    The numerous plays in particular were fascinating to watch, especially some which spanned across several episodes. The changing settings, different plays and the ever growing characters do a great job of keeping the story feeling fresh. It’s great to see an anime where when something happens, (mostly tragic) it’s permanant. No gimmicks! Just one heartfelt romance about pursuing dreams.

  14. Shou says:

    every episode left me wanting more, this is one show that moves your soul!

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  • TheUltimateReaper
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 06:00 PM)
    @kj No Game No Life is fucking awesome what the hell are you talking about. It delivered in every way, I was worried there for a second but I think it’s all good. I hear it’s only getting a 10 episode run though. That’s a shame.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 05:50 PM)
    @kj This GIF pretty much sums up my feelings on NGNL episode 2
  • K-Off
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 03:11 PM)
    @Raggers I like people for short periods of time. No extension included though.
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 01:32 PM)
    @kj I actually quite liked it. The MC is so fundamentally broken it’s hilarious, the fanservice is deliberately played for jokes, and in the background we got lots of exposition.
    Oh, and lets not forget the JoJo reference.
  • kj
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 01:17 PM)
    Is anybody else disappointed by No Game No Life episode 2?
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 01:16 PM)
    @Aidan: I make little notes to myself in a list of things I should remember. On them are “happy places” , “people are stupid” , Izaya’s “3 day” quote, and some other observations which I feel should be held on to.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 12:47 PM)
    @Raggers, part of me knew that. But at times I try to believe humanity isn’t that stupid. God how hard I try.
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 12:42 PM)
    @Aidan: Something I learned long ago was to never underestimate the stupidity of humanity.
    I once read that it is hard to understand someone 20 IQ points above you, and I suspect it works the other way as well.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 10:29 AM)
    You know I must wonder. Everyone hates spam bots. And pretty much everyone tends to ignore them. Meaning they are a terrible form of advertisement as it inspires hatred for your product more than interest. And yet people keep using them. I mean are there actual idiots who click on every spam bot they see?
  • Emma
    (Friday, Apr 18. 2014 05:20 AM)
    Looks like I’ll be picking up mushishi season 2 afterall, guess theres still some good stories in it I’m missing out on.

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