Manga / Kasane
You think kisses are romantic? Think again.

Mother was beautiful. Everyone saw her as a legendary actress. She left this world before her beauty faded… and abandoned me down here, alone with my ugliness.

Fuchi Kasane is the daughter of Fuchi Sukeyo, a late stage actress renowned for her incredible acting and stunning beauty. From her, Kasane inherited the former trait… not the latter. Rejected by her father, and after the death of her mother, she's constantly bullied for her repulsive ugliness. Her life changes in grade school, on the day she remembers what her mother said about a lipstick she left her: if she kisses someone's lips with this lisptick on, she can make their face hers for twelve hours. The first person she tries that trick on is Ichika, a pretty girl who is also her bully-in-chief. She manages to take Ichika's place during the school-play, and mesmerize the audience… but her victim accidentally dies during their fight soon afterwards.

A few years later, Kasane, now a young woman, is contacted by a fishy producer named Habuta Kingo, who knows about her power and wants her to use it to help Tanzawa Nina, a beautiful but unsuccessful young actress. The deal is simple: Kasane will use her lipstick and her talent to propell "Nina" into fame. Still traumatized by her first experience with using it, she reluctantly agrees… but soon she becomes increasingly addicted to this new life where she is admired and loved instead of despised. But how far is she willing to go to keep up the masquerade?

Kasane is a Psychological Thriller by Matsuura Daruma, published in Koudansha's bi-monthlynote  seinen magazine Evening since 2013. A prequel novel named Izana was also published, centering of Kasane's mother.

Not to be confused with a 2007 manga of the same name by Tanabe Gou.

Warning: As only a small part of the series has been translated in English, there will be spoilers.

Tropes found in Kasane

  • The Confidant: Igarashi Iku, the drama club president in Kasane's high school, is also the only friend she ever made as herself, not as Nina. But Kasane's self-esteem issues and paranoia eventually got the best of her, and she betrayed her by taking her place during their play. She then made sure to stay away from Iku, considering that they "don't belong in the same world".
  • The Corrupter: Habuta largely plays this role to Kasane. He's so obsessed with making her an actress of her mother's caliber that he constantly encourages her to let go of her qualms and remorses, and throw morality in the bin to achieve success.
  • Driven to Suicide: Nina throws herself off a building, since she starts to feel like her existence is worthless now that Kasane is playing her role. Instead of dying, she ends up catatonic, which only makes matters worse.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Inverted. Kasane starts to take an evil path because she can no longer stand to live with her normal face after living as a beauty (i.e. Nina). But it's under her beautiful traits that she takes the most morally dubious actions. Being beautiful makes her more confident, but also increasingly less reluctant to cross red lines.
  • Fan Disservice: The series features a girl kissing other girls multiple times, but there's really nothing sweet or titillating about it.
  • Generation Xerox: Of the darkest kind, both for Kasane and later Nogiku.
    • Kasane walks in her mother's footsteps in all the wrong ways and finally surpasses her when she survives the role of Lady Macbeth that broke Izana's will.
    • Nogiku's father wanted her to literally become "Sukeyo", to the point of denying her her identity. Because of that, being told that she looks like Sukeyo is Nogiku's biggest Berserk Button.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Probably towards the darker shades of grey (especially Kasane, Habuta and Izana), but still, while most characters take… questionable actions, most of them also have circumstances that make them just that desperate.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In volume 9 Nogiku's plan to expose Kasane in public by replacing her lispstick with a fake goes horribly wrong, as Habuta had already figured out what she was planning. And since she kissed Kasane in the dark, she didn't realize that the lipstick still worked.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Obviously, this is Kasane's main motivation. Not just to be pleasant to the eye, but because it makes social interaction infinitely easier for her, and because there is no way she could achieve her dream of being a stage actress with her face.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Chapter 28 introduces Kasane's half-sister Nogiku, with whom Kasane shares the father but not the mother; Nogiku is the daughter of real Fuchi Sukeyo, while Kasane is the daughter of Izana, the woman who was swapping faces with Sukeyo.
  • Loss of Identity: What happens to Nina, as Kasane gradually takes her place in the world, and she starts to feel that she is the fake, unable to compare to her replacement.
  • Mercy Kill: Nogiku grants Nina's final wish, stiffening her with a pillow to end her suffering.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kasane's reaction when she realizes that Nina is dead, and that she can no longer use her face. Meaning that all the happiness she thought she had managed to grasp vanished in an instant.
  • Parents Know Their Children: When Nina's mother first met Kasane impersonating Nina she immediately noticed that there's something different about "Nina" and she ultimately realizes that Kasane is not Nina. Nina's father, on the other hand, averts this trope and Kasane convinces him that the mother suffers from the Capgras delusion.
  • Scars Are Forever: The knife cut she got on the cheek from Ichika stays on her face even in adulthood, like a constant reminder of what she has done.
  • Shrinking Violet: Volume 9 introduces the (real) Fuchi Sukeyo, a girl both shy, kind to a fault and utterly unable to say "no". The latter doesn't end well for her.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Nogiku says this almost verbatim at one point. And she has some reasons to, as her father raped her on a regular basis, refusing to call her by anything but her mother's name and forcing her to behave like said mother. After she murders her father, the only way she finds to make a living is to sell her body to strangers.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one seems to care one bit that Nina's Rapunzel Hair (or Sukeyo's in the past) turned black overnight.
  • Villain Protagonist: Not at first, but as her fame rises, and with Habuta's "help", Kasane undergoes some serious Sanity Slippage. She completely breaks after her last Morality Chain, her little sister Nogiku, tries to betray her.
  • You Monster!: What Nogiku finally says to Kasane after the latter has seemingly become completely insensitive.