13-year-old Maya Kitajima is good for nothing, but can recite the whole dialogues from a 3 ½ hour-movie she has seen only once, including the gestures of the actors and their positions. When long-forgotten actress Chigusa Tsukikage sees her, she knows that she has found a perfect candidate to play the Crimson Goddess in the future. The Crimson Goddess is a legendary stage play and only a perfect actress can play it. The rights belong only to Chigusa Tsukikage, the only one who has played the role until a terrible accident destroyed her face, and she refuses to sell it to anyone, including ambitious Masumi Hayami, the young president of Daito Production Company, and Hajime Onodera, the producer of Ondine Theatre. Meanwhile, Ayumi Himekawa, a genius with perfect acting technique, also wants that role. Later Ayumi and Maya become life-long rivals, but they always admire each other. Both take any role, no matter how small or unimportant it is, because they believe that every role brings them one step closer to become the actress who will able to play the Crimson Goddess.
Mme. Chigusa teaches Maya that on stage she must wear the glass mask of the character she is playing in order to become the character completely and forget about her own. Maya runs away from home because her mother doesn’t allow her to act and she has a hard time dividing her time for school, theatre and half-time job. Her only consolation is that she has a secret fan who sends her purple roses and supports her in many ways. Maya doesn’t know that the Purple Rose is the man she hates the most.
Glass Mask (Garasu No Kamen) manga by Suzue Miuchi was very popular here in mid 90’s, but the final book had never been released here or have I missed it? I don’t think so! It has become a very favourite of mine, along with Candy Candy.
This animation brings a lot of memories. There is a very touching scene when Masumi visits Mme. Chigusa who is ill, bringing white roses and a basket of fruits; and Maya is so angry to see him (because she just heard that Onodera, and presumably Masumi, had sabotaged Tsukikage Theatre Group in a competition, resulting disqualification for them despite Maya’s wonderful efforts to perform it solo since the rest of the cast were late); and Maya snatches the flowers from him and throws them right into his face and throws apples at him. She doesn’t know how much Masumi cares for her.