Carnival is the big celebration before the beginning of the religious even known as lent. It is often marked by parties and parades with people dressing up and wearing masks. A mask hides who you are or lets you be someone else. In manga, there are a few titles that use masks to transform the characters who use them.
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Based on the video game of the same name, the single volume features Link trying to save the world from being destroyed in three days. To do so, he must collect a series of masks that allow him to transform into different creatures that give him the abilities he needs to complete his quest. While the game it is based on is considered darker, Akira Himekawa does a good job of keeping the story intact while making it appropriate for younger readers. It’s rated All Ages and published by Viz Media.
Kamisama Kiss – In this series, a girl, Nanami Momozono becomes homeless when her father skips out to escape his debts. She saves a mysterious man from a dog, and in gratitude, he gives her his home. The man just happens to be a god, and now Nanami is too! Two of Nanami’s helpers are Onibi-warashi, will-o’-the-wisps, and both where masks, one with a big smile and one with one wide eye. It’s rated Teen and is published by Viz Media.
20th Century Boys – Learning who’s behind the mask is one of the major plotline’s in this title from Naoki Urasawa. Friend is the leader of a cult who always where a mask with the symbol of a hand pointing up with an eye in the middle. Finding Friend’s identity is what the whole first fourth of the manga is all about. In the 1960s flashbacks there is another character who wears a mask, a boy in Kenji class, Sadakiyo. It is an Ultraman mask that he wore all the time so he could escape being himself. It’s rated Older Teen and is published by Viz Media.
Bleach – This series follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosagi, a high schooler with high spiritual pressure that allows him to see spirits. He accidentally absorbs the Soul Reaper powers of Rukia which are then taken from him when it is discovered. In order to recover them, Ichigo must undergo training and keep his chain of fate from consuming itself, making him into a hollow. Ichigo succeeds, but in the process acquires a hollow mask, that lasts only as long as his power. The longer he can keep the mask intact, the longer he can use the powers he gains from his hollowfication. It’s rated Teen and published by Viz Media.
Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – In this series, females may only train as saints if they throw away their femininity and hide their faces behind masks. Marin and Shaina are two silver saints who are assigned to mentor candidates for the bronze cloth Pegasus. Shaina trains Cassios and Marin trains Seiya. Both women have feelings for Seiya, though for different reasons, and both help him throughout the series. It’s rated Teen and published by Viz Media.
Sailor Moon/Codename: Sailor V – Tuxedo Mask is the dashing young man in a tuxedo, cape and white mask who is constantly helping out Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Scouts. He is really Mamoru Chiba, a high school student. He also possessed a silver crystal, giving him the power to protect the Earth just like the Sailor Scouts. Minako Aino is Sailor Venus who awakened before the other Sailor Scouts and protected the Earth as Sailor V, with said sailor outfit and red mask. It’s rated Older Teen and published by Kodansha Comics.
Glass Mask – This is the only unlicensed series on the list, and probably will always remain so. This series started in 1976 and is currently at 49 volumes. It is about two girls, Maya Kitajima and Ayumi Himekawa. Both girls want to become professional actresses worthy of taking on the prestigious role of “The Crimson Goddess” in a play of the same name. Maya is the underdog in the story, having to work hard and fight for her talent to be recognized, which it is when she is called “the girl with a thousand masks.” It would be Rated Older Teen and is published by Hakusensha.
Know of any more manga that features masks? I’m sure there are. I added four after coming up with the initial idea for this post. Leave a comment and let me know what they are.