Glass Mask is an older shōjo series that you’d be forgiven for not knowing if you’re part of the younger anime fan set. However, if you enjoy Skip Beat as much as I do, you’ve probably sought it out before looking for something similar to that decadent tale of actors, showbiz, and revenge. It follows the trials and tribulations of Maya Kitajima, aspiring professional actress who’s in fierce competition with her rival, Ayumi Himekawa.
They’re both looking to eventually perform the lead role of the legendary “Crimson Goddess” stage play, essentially, but there’s a whole lot more to the tale that spawned a 49-volume, ongoing manga series and 51-episode anime series as well as an original 23-episode TV series, an OVA, a TV drama, and more.
The “Dark Lady” Chigusa Tsuikage is a huge part of the series as well, a formerly fantastic actress who fell victim to an accident onstage that ended up ruing half of her face–along with her career. She’s looking to create the next perfect actress, and candidates Maya and Ayumi are the only ones that seem to fit the bill. It’s a massively well-liked property with heady themes and plenty of engaging turns of fortune and misfortune for the characters involved. It’s also considered by many to be a veritable masterpiece–so it’s bizarre to see the series returning in 2016 in a very different form that’s so unlike the original that it’s understandable if classic fans look over it without realizing it.
The Glass Mask Year 3 Class D is a series of shorts that finds the classic Glass Mask characters having been transformed into adorable chibi versions of themselves and transposed into modern day society. Maya Kitajima, Masumi Hayami, Ayumi Himekawa, Chigusa Tsukikage, and Yu Sakurakoji acting as students in high school. Each episode finds Chigusa, Maya, and Ayumi’s mentor, tasking the girls with something new to accomplish, much like the original series. The dynamic between them hasn’t changed much, but it’s all played for a much more comedic tone this time around.
The students are all looking to “bring passion” into the world, which is accomplished in several bizarre ways related to how people communicate in the world these days. The first episode finds Maya and Ayumi being schooled on how their classmates communicate their romantic feelings to each other, like with the instantaneous transmissions of smartphones. Chigusa explains to them that their classmate is looking for the perfect time to press the “send” button on their truest feelings.
Maya and Ayumi take this as a cue to exercise their respective acting abilities, with Ayumi taking the role of the classmate giving the purest “I love you” emotions and Maya hilariously pretending to be a smartphone, her eyes rolled to the back of her head and mimicking a smartphone’s vibrations. She ends up having lain on top of a smartphone and cracking its glass, instead writing the word “love” on top of it in lipstick, which smears when it reaches its intended recipient. The bizarre vignettes continue throughout the rest of the show, placing characters from a time when there weren’t conveniences like this in a new world that they don’t quite understand.
The weirdest part of it all is perhaps the fact that even anyone without prior Glass Mask knowledge can enjoy these silly little shorts. They don’t make that much sense to begin with as far as why these particular characters would even be in these situations, but they’re simple enough to be appealing to a wide audience. I’m the first to admit I’m pretty confused about the idea of bringing these characters to life once more, but The Glass Mask Year 3 Class D is actually a fun little diversion week to week, and if it ends up inspiring anyone to seek out the show that inspired it, it’s done its job in my book.
The Glass Mask Year 3 Class D can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.