Kasane Vol 1 Review
Kasane Vol 1 is a part of a manga series written by Matsuura Daruma. It was originally published in April of 2013, and is officially serialized in Kodansha’s Evening magazine. As of writing this review, the series also has 10 stand-alone volumes. Matsuura Daruma is responsible for both the story and the illustrations.
Synopsis: Kasane Fuchi is a high school student who is constantly bullied because of her appearance. Before her mother died, she was given a special tube of lipstick. She was told that if times ever got really really really hard, she should wear the lipstick and kiss whatever she really desires. When Kasane finally becomes fed up and wants to change, she discovers the secret of this mysterious lipstick. Kissing someone while wearing it allows her to swap faces with them.. Is this newfound power a blessing, or a curse?
Review: When it comes to the story or plot of a series, you will usually find that most authors decide to play it safe by not allowing it to shift to the extreme. That is definitely not the case in Kasane. Kasane is not just bullied, but rather, tortured. She doesn’t have a single friend, literally everyone bullies her, and on top of that she even considers herself worthless.
The story starts off with a memory of her and her mom; It mentions the mysterious lipstick, but also that Kasane doesn’t remember what her mother told her to do with it. These memories appear quite frequently and are often driving factors in her decision making process. It then jumps to elementary school, when her classmate Nishizawa Ichika bullies Kasane into taking a leading role in the play. This doesn’t sound horrible yet, but the class completely bans her from practice, basically forcing her to either quit, or show up for the performance unprepared. Regardless of that fact, Kasane shows up for the performance, and even appears to be a good actress. Ichika then pressures the class into agreeing that Kasane needed to be replaced. In the process of being removed, Kasane uses the lipstick to switch faces with Ichika; she then proceeds to continue performing and finish the play as her. Afterwards, they go up to the roof to switch back, but Ichika slips on the edge and falls to her death.
The use of these photos are for review purposes only. © Kodansha, Matsuura Daruma.
The story then time-skips to high school, where we again find ourselves in the middle of play practice. Kasane stays behind to practice lines and is discovered to be amazing at acting by Igarashi Iku, the club captain. When Iku asks why she didn’t audition for a role, Kasane tells her that she wouldn’t understand. The next day, Iku approaches Kasane and asks her if they can walk home together. They do so, and during their time together Iku explains that she was also bullied when she was in middle school. From that day on Kasane was no longer alone, and the bullying stopped completely. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, because another classmate reveals that Iku was bullied because she was cute and too nice. The first half of the story then repeats itself, and after knocking Iku out, Kasane proceeds to perform in her spot.
Unbeknownst to her, a man named Habuta Kingo was watching that performance. He later shows up at the 12th anniversary of her mothers death. It is here that he reveals that Kasane’s mother was the same; someone who had to steal faces in order to become someone in society. Habuta vows to help Kasane become a beautiful woman using the lipstick.
The series uses it’s psychological aspects to the fullest, and really allows the reader to get in Kasane’s head to understand where she is coming from. The story brings out emotions of pity and sympathy by showing cruel abuse of our main character, whether it be mental, psychical, or emotional. It is very hard to explain, but I was fascinated all the same.
The characters and art are where this story really shines. No key character is one-dimensional – and we see the darker, selfish, human side; we also see the fears, insecurities and anxieties that drives these characters. In some ways, Kasane’s story is the manifestation of a lot of normal desires that we have all had at one point. Who hasn’t felt envy at someone’s beauty, talent, or wealth? Who hasn’t, in some small way, wished to have been someone else or to have had someone else’s qualities? The artwork does a beautiful yet horrifying job of representing Kasane as a “monster” by giving her a horrid, beastly face that is always covered by hair or hidden by shadows.
Kasane is an extremely relatable and horrific, yet enjoyable series. The premise and story are unique, creating characters you will feel attached to while hooking you to the series. Kasane is described as a drama, school, supernatural, and psychological story. If you have interest in any of these genres, then I would highly recommend you check it out.
This book was provided to us free, for review purposes.
If you are interested, this book is available for purchase digitally from BookWalker Global.