Directed by Mamoru Hamatsu
Featuring Voices of Sanae Kobayashi, Akiko Yajima and Toshiko Fujita
Drama-obsessed teen Maya Kitajima is pretty good at copying what she sees. Really pretty good. Good enough that former-actress-turned-scarred-creepy-old-lady Chigusa Tsukikage takes her under her wing in her acting school troupe to secretly train her for a role Chigusa believes no living actress after her can perform. Maya must overcome a bitchy mom who doesn’t believe in her, bitchy wannabe rivals who don’t understand her and bitchy theater politics which taint what she’s come to love. All this in an effort to act her heart out while Chigusa grooms her for the role of a lifetime, a role also coveted by Maya’s rival and acting prodigy Ayumi Himekawa, one of the few who recognize that Maya is a force to be reckoned with.
Glass Mask: Collection 1 is the first half of a 51-episode 2005 anime adaptation of a long-running manga series by Suzue Miuchi, which as far as I know is pretty much the same teenage girl drama about people taking their acting very seriously. Unnecessary serious but not really unrealistic. These are young teen actors, and there’s a reason the screwed up child star stereotype exists. Unfortunately substance abuse here, just whiny girls either jealous or being picked on, which is not as entertaining and eventually gets old.
This show is fairly average. It’s not an awful story, and it might be one that teenage girls that watch Disney Channel might enjoy. It’s just not particularly good or entertaining, especially if you don’t care about the drama behind learning to act. The motivation behind the mentor character and the adults seems downright silly at times. There’s decent character progression, but then some characters are almost forgotten about until random times.
This series really highlights a failure of a sub-only foreign release. At the beginning, Maya sucks. She starts as an awful amateur actress who’s just good at memorizing and immersing herself in a role, and she develops throughout the series into a capable actress. However, unless you can pick up bad acting in Japanese (assuming this transition is even there in Japanese), you can’t notice. The only clue of her bad acting and development is the dialog, which is more telling and less showing than I’d like.
One peculiar (and slightly embarrassing) translation mistake is the title consistency. The box and art call the title “Glass Mask,” but the opening credits of each episode is titled as “Mask of Glass.” Yes, they technically mean basically the same thing, but not being able to stick to the name you’ve given is a pretty bad sign.
The series is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The animation looks fine. Everything is clear enough to see. The actual animation quality is decent enough for what you’d expect from a random television series. It’s not gorgeous looking, but it gets the job done without looking horribly cheap. The animated movements look oddly exaggerated though.
The audio is Sentai Filmwork’s standard Japanese 2.0. The overall quality is average. You can hear the voices and effects clearly enough. The music works fine with the series but isn’t anything special.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This is an odd, cheap-feeling case. The four-disc collection is stored in a single DVD case that’s thicket than usual. All four discs are held on a single spindle within, instead of spread out on opposite sides or on plastic pages. The push-down lock keeping the discs down isn’t the easiest to get discs off of.
The only special features present are trailers for other Sentai Filmworks titles and DVD credits (both on disc 1), as well as clean opening and ending animations (on disc two). There are two clean openings and two clean endings. Yet the collection’s episodes only ever use one opening, which leads me to expect the second opening is in the next collection. Looks like that collection will be even harder up for features now.
The lack of features on discs three and four are made up space wise by holding seven episodes versus discs one and two only having six.
This show is pretty average and forgettable, which makes me wonder what the manga is doing to have been going since the ‘70s. If you’re into teen drama, you might like this. Otherwise, give it a pass.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Series 5/10
The Video 5.5/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10