Maya Kitajima would love nothing more than to be someone else. At the opening of Glass Mask, though, her options for escape are quite limited. She works in the same Chinese restaurant where her mother slaves away, lives with her in a single-room apartment, and with her lousy grades and unfocused work habits she’s most likely headed for a life of minimum-wage drudgery — just like Mom. Small wonder Mom’s an embittered woman with no expectations for her daughter other than mediocrity at best and abject failure at worst.
The only thing Maya can do is dream. When she does, she dreams vicariously — through the characters she watches longingly on her favorite TV dramas and on the big screen. Like someone afflicted with Stendhal Syndrome, the mere sight of acting sends her into a rapture. This is the way out. Small wonder she delivers a ridiculous number of meals over the course of an evening for the chance to snag a spare ticket to a stage play. (When said ticket blows out into the bay, she throws herself into freezing water to rescue it.) She doesn’t just want to watch such a performance, either: she wants to do it, to step out in front of an audience and become someone else again and again.Read more
The fan in me wants to rave and drool. The critic in me will be more modest but still enthusiastic. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo uses the Alexandre Dumas classic as raw material for a story that spans lifetimes and solar systems, and the end result is an explosion of creativity that’s almost intimidating. The story’s been reinvented, not just retold, and everyone — from the writers to the design directors to the voice actors — has brought something new to the material. This show’s a bar-raiser.
What’s best is that as flashy as Gankutsuou looks — and most of the critiques I’ve read of the show so far revolve mostly around its visuals — it’s not just a graphics showcase. I ended up watching the entire series not once but twice, once for the plot and again for the nuances and characterization. It holds up well enough on repeat viewings to convince me it’ll be a perennial, one of those titles that is always in print somewhere. Shows like this are the whole reason I started watching anime in the first place: to see something new. Read more