Kasane Vol 2-3 are 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: At the end of Kasane Vol 1, Habuta Kingo showed up and vowed to help Kasane unlock the true potential of the magical lipstick her mother left. Volume 2 of the series pretty much picks up right where the first volume left off. It starts off by introducing our new main character, Neena Tanzawa. Being a beautiful woman with ties to the world of acting, she is the perfect match for Kasane and is whom she ends up using her lipstick on/with.
Neena, being the smart girl she is, also wants to take advantage of this opportunity to use Kasane to further improve her own acting. She notes that her parents expect her to succeed in acting within two years, or she will be forced to give it up. While this turning point in the story seems to start off well, Kasane quickly gets back to what it does best; exploring the inner thoughts and breakdowns of our two main characters. We see both go through phases of doubt and uncertainty; neither being able to trust one another. I thought it was interesting how the story manages to incorporate a powerful example using love, albeit very short in duration.
These emotions and interactions continue on throughout the entirety of both volumes 2 and 3 while getting more intense around important events. Towards the end of the second volume, Neena starts worrying more about her unique medial disease called “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome.” Of course, with it becoming more prevalent in the story, the readers know it is going to become important soon. And it does, with Neena falling asleep for a multi-month period of time. This is the important turning point for Kasane and Neena in volume 2, with an even more important one in the third volume.
The use of these photos is for review purposes only. © Kodansha, Matsuura Daruma.
Kasane takes it upon herself, with encouragement from Habuta Kingo, to exploit this “unfortunate” event. By the time Neena wakes up, the “her” who Kasane has pretty much been controlling, has completely changed. Whether it be makeup, general appearance, acting career; it’s all almost unrecognizable. One of the important reoccurring themes in Kasane is self-identity. Questions like Who am I? or Am I an impostor? frequently come up, and this is one of the main draws that makes this series’ story so relatable and appealing to follow.
It may seem like Neena has become the lead character in the story, and that’s because she has (for now). These two volumes focus heavily on her; mainly her internal conflict with what is right or wrong, but also on her mental health. The end of volume 3’s third chapter brings about the second aforementioned turn in the story. Unlike the first, this one is heart-wrenching and something that you probably won’t expect. Without spoiling too much, the event changes the course of the entire story.
Both characters are heavily affected, with one changing generally for the better and one for the worse. With Neena’s mental state already on the verge of collapse, this finally does it for her. Kasane, while conflicted, continues to control and live life as “Neena” by using her face. The story shifts back to being Kasane centric and explores her insecurities about becoming “Neena” in more depth. The ending leaves us with Kasane making a supposed breakthrough, and her walking out confidently onto the stage.
As you can probably infer from my previous praise, the story is incredible and riveting to follow; even stepping up from the already good first volume. The only place I can fault the story, as well as the characters, is the lack of exploration of Habuta Kingo. The artwork continues to work well with the story Kasane is telling and fits perfectly with the genre and setting. Overall, I am seriously enjoying this series, more so than I was after just one volume. If you are interested in a Psychological Drama that really explores the characters themselves, this is a series I can’t recommend enough!
This book was provided to us free, for review purposes.
If you are interested, these books are available for purchase digitally from BookWalker Global.