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Manga / Kasane

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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 lipstick 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. The man 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 propel "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 biweekly seinen magazine Evening from 2013 to 2018, with 14 volumes total. The series is published in English by Kodansha Comics. A prequel novel named Izana (written by the author herself) was also published, centering of Kasane's mother and her cursed life in the small village of Akeiwa. A live-action adaptation was also released in September 2018, directed by Satou Yuuichi.

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

Tropes found in Kasane

  • Abusive Parent: Kaido, father to Kasane and Nogiku is this. He ordered Izana to cast away Kasane and treated Nogiku abusively throughout her early life.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The live action adaptation renders Kasane's monstruous ugliness by… putting a scar on Yoshine Kyouko, an otherwise very attractive actress.
  • And I Must Scream: Tanzawa Nina fell into a coma after trying to commit suicide. At some point, she regained her consciousness, but is unable to move or speak, save for one finger. She later tells Nogiku to kill her to end her misery.
  • Asshole Victim: Kaido, father to Kasane and Nogiku, as he is Abusive Parent. As soon as he's introduced, he's killed by his illegitimate daughter.
  • The Atoner: Izana heavily regretted the actions that lead to locking away the real Sukeyo Fuchi and was taking steps to fix things before it all went south. Her raising Nogiku to hate Izana was due to projecting her own self-hatred.
  • Bittersweet Ending: One one hand Kasane finally manages to face the world under her real appearance and let go of the lipstick, Habuta's play is a huge success, and Nogiku finds some happiness with Yuuto, free from her demons, as she manages to call Kasane her sister. On the other hand Nina's mother has learned the whole truth from Nogiku and decides to take revenge on Kasane by permanently switching bodies with her before committing suicide. Thus Kasane, now stuck in an old body and charged with her own murder, is condemned to live isolated from others and accepts her punishment by not telling the truth to Habuta or Nogiku. However Habuta still finds her anyway at the very end. An ending where evil deeds get their comeuppance, but not without hope or light as the characters all get to show their best sides.
  • The Bus Came Back: Igarashi Iku, who appeared in early chapters dealing with Kasane's life in high school and later was mostly forgotten about, reenters the story in chapter 83.
  • Butterface: Played for Drama. It's noted that, in spite of her horrifying face, Kasane's body is quite beautiful, which actually makes her complex worse − she laments having "a monster’s head on a woman’s body".
  • The Cassandra: Nina's mother (correctly) suspects and figures out that "Nina" who is famed actress is not her daughter Nina. No one believes her except Nogiku who knows the fact face-swapping-power and evidence of it.
  • Child by Rape: Habuta's father is a married man with children, who raped Habuta's mother, made her pregnant, then refuses to acknowledge her or her child.
  • 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Nogiku, goodness, Nogiku. Her father raped her on regular basis and refused to call her by her name, insisting on calling her by her mother's name instead.
    • Kasane was bullied in 6th grade and ostracized because of her looks. The fact she doesn't look like her beautiful mother is constantly thrown at her face.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kasane doesn't know her father and was told he ordered "Izana" to drop her at Fuchi household because Kasane is a Gonk.
  • 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.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The main cast. For starter, Kasane crosses many despicable lines to stand where she currently is; Habuta, The Corrupter, encourages those; Nina has became mentally ill because And I Must Scream situation; Nogiku lives a bitter life.
  • Easily Forgiven: While he serves as an excellent manger to Kasane's actress persona, Habuta often treats Kasane herself poorly. He constantly tears down her real appearance, considers her worthless without her beauty, refuses to answer her questions about her mother, and scars her face even further when she decides to give up her lipstick. But Kasane never seem to have any resentment against him, and by the end of the series, it's implied that she's actually in love with him, despite the fact that Habuta never really apologizes to Kasane for his poor treatment of her.
  • 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 face that she takes the most morally dubious actions. Being beautiful makes her more confident, but also increasingly less reluctant to cross red lines.
  • Face Stealer: The lipstick, made out of a special mineral, allows Kasane (and before her her mother) to become this and start to walk a sinister path to stardom.
  • 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.
  • Gonk: Kasane and Izana are constantly mistreated by other people for their ugliness. Both cases played as tragedy.
  • 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.
    • In Volume 5 Nogiku asks a question to Kasane if there is living being in Kasane's closed room. Kasane answers with a lie, a convincing lie. The convincing lie is what Nogiku hoped to come out and it's enough to figure Kasane is her sister and Izana's daughter.
  • Hollywood Homely: In-Universe. Habuta's play, Ake no Hime features a pair of mikos, in which one is known for her incredible beauty (Ake), while the other is repulsively ugly (Yoi). The first production has Yoi played by Iku—the former popular girl who was once bullied because she's too cute.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 28 itself also introduces Kasane's Disappeared Dad Kaido.
  • 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.
  • Mama Bear: When Kaido threw Kasane off a bridge when she was a little girl, Sukeyo immediately jumped in afterwards to rescue her; this cost her her life. What makes this even more significant is that it's eventually revealed that the Sukeyo who jumped off the bridge was the real Sukeyo, not Izana (Kasane's actual mother).
  • Meaningful Name: The honorifics/terminology page in the first volume establishes that Kasane was the name of an unattractive woman from the Edo period who was murdered by her husband, with the event becoming part of popular culture; the name's also derived from 'kasaneru', which can refer to kissing, resemblence and repetition. The kanji used to write Kasane's name can also mean 'trouble'.
  • Mercy Kill: Nogiku grants Nina's final wish, stiffening her with a pillow to end her suffering.
  • Must Make Amends: A villainous version. Chapter 57 reveals that the reason Habuta works to make Kasane an actress like her mother (and helped her mother before that) was to earn Izana's forgiveness for something he did to her. In chapter 120 it's finally revealed that Habuta chose to save Izana from a burning building (that she herself set on fire in a suicide attempt) before helping Nagi Kaido, the man Izana was in love with. Nagi died and Habuta devoted himself to her as repentance.
  • Nice Girl: Iku Igurashi is not only beautiful and popular but incredibly sweet as well. Back in high school she was the one and only person to befriend Kasane and try to bring her out of her shell. Even in their adulthood, when she learns about what Kasane has done with the lipstick and in pursuit of acting fame, she still sees the good in Kasane and wants to be her friend.
  • 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.
  • Physical Attribute Swap: Kasane uses the lipstick to trade faces with the other actresses.
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: Izana and Sukeyo were revealed to have this kind of friendship before Izana's marriage and growing ambition created a rift and destroyed their relationship. It's likely that lingering feelings of friendship are what lead to Sukeyo saving Kasane and Izana being The Atoner.
  • Replacement Goldfish:
    • A very twisted version with Nogiku and her father Atae Kaido. Atae was obsessed with Sukeyo Fuchi, his wife- or rather, the illusion of her created with the real Sukeyo's face and the persona/acting skills of Izana. Once he lost her, he forced his daughter Nogiku into her role. He constantly abused and raped her, all while calling her "Sukeyo" (to the point where Nogiku muses that he never once called her by her real name). Nogiku was never able to live up to his image of Sukeyo, causing much abuse for her.
    • Izana herself did this with her romance with Atae Kaido. She was actually in love with his younger brother Nagi, who died tragically. Unfortunately, Atae wasn't nearly as kind and good as his brother was.
  • The Reveal: In chapter 83 Kasane remembers her mother telling her something as she was dying after saving young Kasane from drowning, but can't remember what exactly she heard. The truth is revealed in chapters 114 and 115 and it turns out that the woman who saved young Kasane from drowning was not her mother, but the real Fuchi Sukeyo. This means, among other things, that the woman whom Kingo killed in chapter 113 was Izana herself.
  • 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.
    • Nina is revealed to have a bruise on her stomach that she got in grade school. This is exploited by Kasane to convince Nina's father that she really is Nina, while at the same time "proving" that Nina's mother is delusional for thinking that she's an impostor.
  • 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, as she doesn't officially exist.
  • There Are No Therapists: Kasane clearly has unaddressed body dysmorphia she tries to escape by becoming other people.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Two In-Universe examples.
    • In the early chapters, Kasane steals the face of her Only Friend Igarashi Iku to perform in the school play, and then disappears from her life. What she didn't plan for was that Iku would then have to live up to Kasane's stunning performance, a bar way too high for her at the time. She would only find the motivation to act again after seeing "Tanzawa Nina" in a play a few years later.
    • The same happened with Izana and the real Fuchi Sukeyo. Except Sukeyo wasn't into acting at all, so Izana ended up replacing her permanently.
  • Ugly All Along: The ugly Kasane's mother is the incredibly beautiful actress Fuchi Sukeyo. Except, that's not actually the case. Kasane's mother actually looks just like Kasane herself, but she's been using a magic lipstick to swap faces with another person to make it big in the acting world.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one seems to care one bit that Nina's long hair (or Sukeyo's in the past) turned black overnight. Granted, Japanese people usually have black hair and the color difference in manga is used to better identify characters.
  • 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.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Combined with A Day in the Limelight in chapters 28-30, which are mostly a flashback revealing Nogiku's backstory, and in chapter 57, which is mostly a flashback dealing with Habuta's past. Later, chapters 75-83 have a much longer flashback as Habuta tells Kasane her mother's story.
  • You Monster!: What Nogiku finally says to Kasane after the latter has seemingly become completely insensitive.

Tropes found in the novel Izana

  • All of the Other Reindeer: What connects Izana, Chigusa and Kingo. Izana is of course forced to live hidden because of the old superstition, Chigusa is treated like the eternal stranger and effectively banned from the community when people start to suspect that she's hiding something (and after she slapped the Tsuki family's matriarch), and Kingo is an illegitimate Child by Rape who's bullied both at school and in his "family".
  • Death Faked for You: Izana officially died with her mother during childbirth, but Chigusa (who isn't originally from Akeiwa) took her in to save her life − at the cost of Izana's freedom.
  • How We Got Here: The book starts with Izana gazing at the flames that are destroying Akeiwa.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Izana grew up completely secluded with her adoptive mother forbidding her to go outside without ever telling her why − she would be killed if people learned of her existence.
  • Parental Substitute: Chigusa raised Izana in isolation, but with love and care, and was the only person Izana had any true affection for in Akeiwa, outside of maybe Kingo. She feels guilty that she might have adopted Izana only because she reminded her of her own baby who died during the war, but Izana knows that she was just that kind-hearted.
  • The Power of Hate: Invoked by Chigusa as her final words to Izana before dying. She tells her that to live on, she must keep hating the village and its inhabitants that ruined her life.
  • Spoiler Title: A strange case in the French edition − it keeps the manga's subtitle "The Face Stealer", as well as the tagline "What if you could take anyone's appearance?" This isn't a spoiler for those who read the manga before (which is probably most readers), but it still centers the promotion on a development that doesn't occur until the last quarter of the book.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Ugly girls born on the year of the Fire Horse are said to be possessed by a demon and are systematically killed in Akeiwa. It's supposed to be just an old superstition but the inhabitants take it very seriously, hence why Chigusa does her best to hide Izana from everyone. To add insult to injury, they have another "tradition" where the men of the Susano household have the right "pay visits" (read: rape) to women of the Tsuki household who reach 18 years old. This is how Izana was conceived.
  • Yandere: Izana turns into this in four steps − first, she falls in love with Nagi through their letters; second, she discovers that Nagi is in a passionate relationship with Izana's own beautiful cousin Namino; third, she discovers that the "hibeni" powder allows her to exchange faces with someone she kisses; fourth, after Chigusa's death she learns more horrible stuff about the village and what was done to her, her mother and Chigusa, adding a final helping of hatred to her broth of jealousy and frustration. In the end she steals Namino's face to spend a night with Nagi, kills her, and burns the whole village to the ground. She doesn't get to stay with Nagi, however, since the effects of the hibeni turn out to only be temporary.