Released: April 5, 2005 – March 28, 2006
Appropriate for ages 13+
Kitajima Maya, 13, had trouble doing her work in the crowded restaurant where she and her embittered mother lived. Her head was in the clouds, and her mind was instantly captivated by any story shown on the TV. But when legendary diva Tsukikage Chigusa discovers Maya's ability to recount a play she's seen only once, Maya's world changes forever. She discovers that she can wear 1,000 masks on the stage and that she is able to excel at this one thing, but her journey will not be an easy one.
Overall: An excellent story with greater depth of character than is usually found in stories of a newcomer entering a world of artistic fame.
Review: Starts slow, with some lack of clarity if it's fantasy or metaphor, but in the third episode, it all resolves into a beautiful beginning, with some pleasant surprises and great lines. This show is a joy to watch for the growth of the main character in every episode, and the surprise of those who underestimate her.
Maya's journey feels genuine, her obstacles realistic and contextually appropriate. The different insights Maya must gain on her journey are creative and compelling.
Particularly impressive is the depth of Maya's main rival. So often, in stories in this genre, the rival is just catty and tries to tear down the protagonist to get ahead, but the rival here recognizes Maya's talent and corrects the scoffing of others.
My only regret in this show is that its ending Spoiler: doesn't wrap up some of the more interesting side arcs, and leaves the main decision resolved in a (not entirely unexpected) third choice that may leave some viewers feeling unsatisfied. However, even with this regret, Glass Mask is the best of this type of story I've seen. I highly recommend it.
Violence: There is a lot of implied violence in the story (dangerous situations and reckless endangerment, without actual serious damage occurring). The actors endure some very harsh treatment. But that may not count as violence. A pot of boiling water is thrown at someone in one scene. The mentor has some sort of wasting disease (consumption?) and coughs up blood in several scenes.
Nudity: Ayumi does a scene topless, but her hair or arms cover her chest.
Other Problematic Themes: Alcohol and tobacco use is prevalent.