Netflix’s Hero Mask: an interesting dichotomy

hero mask

Hello, today I’m talking about Hero Mask, a Netflix anime. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve talked about an anime (Sept 16, 2020). So let’s dive in!

What’s Hero Mask about?

Hero mask is a crime thriller anime that follows Blood, James Blood, a young detective held in high regard by his colleagues…even if he breaks the rules almost every episode in the name of doing what’s right. The first season is all about solving the murder of Monica, James’ mom figure, and a world-renowned prosecutor. His dad figure/boss allows James, Eddy the tech wiz, and Monica’s mentee, Sarah to investigate the case privately. With every episode, you learn more and more about why. Somehow it’s connected to prisoners who are supposed to be dead but now appear superhuman with the help of masks. The masks look like small pieces of paper but when placed on the face, they transform and give you abilities like dodging bullets.

Season 2 is the aftermath of solving Monica’s murder and more focus on the masks. Sarah’s no longer a part of the team but there are a couple of new faces; Alan and (health nut man). Health nut man has Alan investigating the SSC (where James, dad, and eddy work) because he wants them to not be able to go off and investigate without letting anyone know why even though it’s the foundation of the SSC.

What’s interesting about it?

Hero mask presents you the viewer with two main dichotomies to think over throughout the show.

First main dichotomy:

The first is based on the modus operandi of the SSC. James has special contacts that allow him to record every conversation he’s in and for the SSC to help him out in real-time. He doesn’t tell the people he’s interviewing they are being recorded. You see him break and enter with no warrant. He uses special tracker bullets without permission. The SSC is able to hack cameras and phones. They used facial recognition software to find people.

In season 2, you see Alan doing proper protocol early in the season. I think this is on purpose although, in season 2, I think they make it too obvious. The show is asking the viewer how far is too far for the SSC? Should they be allowed to ruthlessly, relentlessly investigate even if they have several failures in a row? 

Second dichotomy:

The other dichotomy presented is the masks themselves. I’ll never forget my freshman year of college. They gathered us and said the college is great, it’s an opportunity to learn and think about how to help others but they said (and I paraphrase), “Sometimes we have a solution to a problem but just because we can make something doesn’t mean we should.”

One of the perks of the masks is their great healing power, you see it able to heal people on the brink of death. However, in season 1, you see a lot of people die because of the mask wearers. A serial killer has one early in season 1 and kills at least 10 officers. You also see the aftermath of imperfect masks. They have a use limit and when you go beyond the use limit, it kills you.

One thing the show does well is presenting several different viewpoints on the masks. “I could use it selfishly” “I could use it to help others.” “They can be used to change the world as we know it.” “Humanity is not ready for this kind of development. They must be destroyed/covered up.” You are left to think if you agree with the masks’ ultimate fate. 

What Hero Mask does well:

  • Flashbacks. They use tech/fashion from the 90s and it clearly communicates what time you’re in and helps you connect more with certain characters. Not all the mask users were terrible people. I understood why Theo did what he did and I admit I was rooting for him to see his family. I understand why Harry did what he did. 
  • Lennox is an important bada## with a prosthetic hand that comes in handy trying to save someone’s life (sorry). Sarah, Monica, James, and Lennox aren’t family by blood but Lennox and Monica are definitely parental figures in James and Sarah’s lives. While we don’t get to see the family life of either James or Sarah, I think it’s safe to say both would consider Lennox and Monica family material. Family is not necessarily who you’re related to by blood.
  • A lot of motivations in this show are based on family or loved ones and that’s kinda cool
  • I think the show tries to remain neutral on the questions it asks the viewers to question (although for the ending of the show, I think they chose a side for finality’s sake). Anna and Jasper are cool. Anna built herself a pharmaceutical company from the ground up and refused to use any of her former research on the masks. She’s smart and on top of her stuff and Jasper is a perfect assistant to her. It reminds me of PK and Judah’s relationship early on in Bojack Horseman if they were more serious.

What Hero Mask does could have done better:

  • In season 1, they find out about the gang who worked on the masks originally, why didn’t they look into all of the members and not just anna?
  • The traitor characters were too obvious, I’m sorry. I had it figured out almost immediately.
  • They didn’t really do much with Harry besides make me feel sorry for him. His ending isn’t happy, and it felt like he died for no reason. He doesn’t seem to grow at all. Now that I think about it, the one with the most character growth is Sarah. And I think she’s the only one.
  • Interesting you don’t consider Lennox, Eddy, Monica, or Sarah your friend James Blood and its too bad we don’t go into the why or have any character growth from that.
  • What’s in the pocketwatch???
  • There seemed to be a lot of repeating of information. Sarah pieced together something but then James would discover something too and for a “team” the SSC side didn’t really communicate with Sarah which sucks.

And worst of all…

Jame’s death is foreshadowed a lot in season 2. But that’s not the ending they chose. Here’s what I thought was going to happen: the girl dies and it ends with James sitting in a trendy cafe drinking a cup of coffee with milk looking at the street. Alan replaces the health nut and the masks died with the girl. Or James sacrifices himself for the girl and she is able to live with her dad and make new friends, confident in who she is. Or James tries to sacrifice himself for her, blacks out, wakes up in the hospital because she sacrificed herself for him because she was inspired by her mom to help others. They did something dumber but I won’t spoil it.

Final Thoughts:

Thank you for reading my take on Hero Mask, I appreciate it. Comment below what your favorite crime anime is. If you like my content, consider subscribing to my mailing list and if you want to read my last anime review, click this.

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