After a week’s hiatus we have returned to Glass Mask! And this episode, Glass Mask Episode 3 shows us Maya’s greatest talent, greatest weakness, and her arch-rival. But is this episode any good? Yes, yes it is. All 51 of them are, don’t bother asking that question again.
Review of Glass Mask Episode 3
The big focus of this episode was foreshadowing. Lots and lots of foreshadowing, like, tons of it. But before we get to that, I’d like to cover the inconsistencies I had found this episode, because there were a few.
The first one, that was pretty strange, was right at the beginning. Remember that the play we see on stage here is the “Country’s Top Bride”, where, in this moment, the Prince disguises himself as a prisoner, and whatever woman gives herself to the prisoner in order to save his life he will marry. The Prince is looking for more than just a pretty woman, he’s looking for someone who is fundamentally kind. Yet when Vivi gives up her singlehood, he flat-out refuses while the crowd muses that “It’d be better to die!” (How is that funny? I don’t get it) Furthermore, when you consider how Vivi must have felt after the Prince reveals his identity, how she was mocked by the ruler of the kingdom, it’s not wouldn’t be surprising to see her end her own life due to the distress that would cause. Dang, Vivi really is a depressing character. Overall this seems out of the Prince’s character, and is pretty counter-intuitive to the stories themes and morals, especially if played for laughs.
Secondly, Maya’s transition into the real Vivi is pretty drastic, enough to pull me out of it. Maya changed how she talked, moved, and felt about everything, the real Vivi was a totally different character out of nowhere. You could make the argument that this is a school play and the parents expected that kind of poor acting, but these are the same parents that cried and gave standing ovations after Maya’s impromptu monologue.
Moving on to towards the end of the episode, Hayami really should have put Maya in the troupe. If only because Tsukikage took interest in her. If he’s as dead set on The Scarlet Angel as he claims, that would have been enough, especially after Tsukikage claims she’s found someone worthy of playing The Scarlet Angel. Come on Hayami, think harder!
In the scene that The Scarlet Angel is introduced we are given witness to one of the worst screenwriting sins I have seen. Director Onodera goes into some obvious exposition for about twenty seconds and the narrator picks up from there. The narration ends and Onodera spews some more exposition. For about a minute we go back and forth from exposition to narration and back again without any sort of pause in between. It’s like Onodera and the narrator were interrupting each other to be the one to deliver this terrible line.
That’s enough mistakes for now (but if you want to read more and have seen the show, read the spoilers section!), the reason I’ve put such a negative focus this week is really due to how little of it there is, even this I’ve written about isn’t that bad, Glass Mask has this way of making itself seems almost perfect. There are a few key moments I’d like to bring mention of, because of how great they are.
In this episode we are introduced to Sakurakouji, a young actor in the Ondine troupe. I wouldn’t consider this spoilers considering just how obvious it is, but I love how the first time we see him he’s rescuing Maya, and a bit later defending her. I love how the show gets straight to the point. “Yes, he is the love interest, let’s move on.”
When Maya is pantomiming, I love the choppy animation of the bird and the grayed out surroundings, not only does it add a lot of character to this scene, but it also serves as a wonderful symbol of both Maya and Ayumi’s technique and focus, which I’ll touch on later.
It might seem confusing at first why Ayumi would be shocked that Maya can’t reach the bird. “The bird is out of reach?” The reason that this is a powerful choice that Maya made is really interesting. When pantomiming like this, you are in complete power over the story and how it goes. Often people will abuse that power and have the bird come right to them, (just like Ayumi does later) but Maya is fully invested in the story, and allow to bird to fly as it really would, and doesn’t give herself any additional power to get it. Maya isn’t thinking about herself while pantomiming, and that’s powerful. This is also said by Ayumi later, but I figured some further elaboration would be beneficial.
The real meat of the episode is when Ayumi steps into Maya’s pantomime. It’s short, sweet, and loads a crazy amount of information about these two actress’s and how they act. It’s actually pretty impressive, but it’s a bit spoilery so read about it in the spoilers section at your own risk.
Another thing to note, I love the music. I’ve mentioned this before, but it is tied for my favorite OST of all time, I freaking love it so much.
There’s a lot more in this episode, namely the foreshadowing, but a majority of it require knowledge of what happens later in the series, so I have separated them in a spoilers section, like I said there’s a lot there, so perhaps check back on this article later, once you’ve finished the show.
Back to the inconsistencies, when playing as Vivi, Maya broke character. Right when she imagines her mom laughing at her, of course this break in character caused her to fall even deeper into Vivi, but considering the focus Tsukikage puts on not breaking your ‘Glass Mask’ that’s pretty important.
Another huge one was just how off script Maya went. Maya is later known for being able to improvise as her character quite well, but she never does this unless necessary. For Maya to blatantly ignore the script like that is pretty shocking. It’s possible Maya just learned not to do that at a later point, but because we never see this happen I’m willing to call it an inconsistency.
Moving on to the good stuff once more I have quite a bit. The line delivered by the teacher “The stage isn’t your sole property” is an amazing line. Maya is later known as “The Stage Storm,” wherever she is she dominates the stage. Even when she does literally nothing on stage for the entirety of the play, she’s the main focus and the audience gravitates towards her. Even in this episode, Maya was in such control of the stage, the lighting guy put the spotlight on her, breaking the stage directions given to him. It reveals both Maya’s biggest strength weakness, which is her presence on stage.
It’s her strength, she automatically captivates the audience, and pulls them in, heavily investing them emotionally. She perform entire plays without anyone else and still remain entertaining and relevant to the viewers. But it’s also her weakness, she basically cannot play any supporting character without staging a mutiny of sorts, and she will lose multiple jobs because of it. While on stage Maya is unintentionally greedy, she steals the spotlight from anyone and everyone, and we can see this in just the third episode.
Another great moment in the episode is when Sakurakouji is introduced. I discussed above how it jumps right in with why he’s introduced. But another key aspect of this scene that really elevates it is Hayami. Even in the scene Sakurakouji is introduced we see a love triangle of sorts. Both Sakurakouji and Hayami working to save Maya. But what really makes this scene is another fact, the role reversal. In this scene, Sakurakouji stops the dog while Hayami attends to Maya, Sakurakouji did the dirty work but Hayami gets the credit. But throughout the rest of the show, it’s Hayami that does the dirty work and protect Maya, while Sakurakouji gets her affection.
I also love how throughout the first few episodes Tsukikage is portrayed as almost the villain, she’s creepy, we get evil music when she appears, she stalks Maya, and she even has an amazing evil laugh. While Onodera, the closest this show has for a villain, is painted as a nice guy who just wants to work on this masterpiece. It’s a reminder that no one in this show is fully good or bad. That they’re all just different people with different goals that might conflict.
But the best part of this episode, as I said before, is definitely the pantomime scene between Maya and Ayumi, and I’d really like to dive in and try to explain why. When Maya is pantomiming, everything but her is choppy and grey. While when Ayumi is pantomiming, everything is in color (a reference to the skill gap) but she is the one who is choppy.
Let’s work on the assumption that the colorful fluid animation represents where the audience’s attention is being drawn. It’s obvious that the choppy animation is a deliberate decision, and this is what I think it represents. As discussed above, while Maya is fully invested in the story and character, the audience is fully invested in her. No one walks away from a Maya Kitajima performance raving about the story, it’s all about Maya. Whereas Ayumi has this balance (the full color palette), but realizes her acting is only to serve the story. So while Ayumi’s performance is notably well done, your attention is on the story she’s acting in, unlike Maya who almost demands your attention. So this scene is beautiful, it tells something major about Maya, and it defines the contrast between Ayumi and Maya, perfectly setting up their rivalry.
Finally I’d like to mention the last thing in the episode. The narrator tells us, “Seeing Ayumi’s vivid acting has put Maya in a gloomy mood” Throughout the rest of the series Maya is inspired by Ayumi’s abilities, but now it only bums her because she doesn’t’ have the drive to act quite yet. She hasn’t started the race, and now sees herself as just an onlooker. This gives us an insight into Maya’s mind. She’s determined to act, but she hasn’t begun yet, and her mindset is fundamentally different now.
Plenty of other things were done in this episode, The Scarlet Angel is introduced, Tsukikage’s heart condition is introduced, and Gendo’s motivations are foreshadowed.
This episode got a lot of things done, it introduced characters, plotlines, and revealed some core aspects of our main characters. Not to mention this episode set up the rivalry between Maya and Ayumi. Episode 3 got a lot of things done, and it did those things flawlessly, for the most part. I hope the Magic I discussed in the introductory article has come to your attention, this is when I fell in love with this show. From here on you are hooked, you cannot escape the wonderfulness of Glass Mask. Now go watch another episode, just click this link, and watch the show on Crunchyroll for free!
But what did you think of Glass Mask Episode 3? Are you loving it? Or are you loving it? Should McDonald’s sponsor Glass Mask? Do you agree with my analysis? Let me know all this and more down in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.