Set in a fictional version of London, Hero Mask follows the story of two main protagonists: James Blood, a hot-blooded detective with the elite “Special Service of Crime” (SSC) division within the Capital Police Department and Sarah Sinclair, a prosecutor who works under Crown Prosecutor Monica Campbell. One night while working on a case, James Blood receives a call from Sarah saying that Monica was killed in front of her. A couple of days later, Sarah discovers secret photos stashed away underneath a mat while cleaning out Monica’s office, with men wearing a strange mask. Going to police headquarters to meet up with James Blood, Sarah soon arrives to discover police headquarters being attacked by an enemy James long thought dead. James ends up teaming with Sarah to uncover the perpetrators behind these events, dragging them into a conspiracy involving LIVE, escaped prisoners who supposedly died years ago, and masks that give their wearers superhuman abilities.
While Netflix has produced a lot of great anime, Hero Mask is definitely one of those anime that is generally good, but is plagued with some issues. It’s basically your standard thriller cop drama with science fiction elements and plays out just like the live cop dramas shown on TV. The action sequences and car chase scenes are incredible, while the plot definitely does draw the viewer into this world. Currently, there is only 15 episodes in this series which is basically the prologue leading up to the main story, so we will be covering that.
But one of the major criticisms for this anime is definitely that while the animation is of great quality and the staff have the thriller tone and setting down pat, the writing for this show and its characters is kind of flat and plays to stereotypes. The writing has a lot of missing elements and doesn’t really explain some of the characters backgrounds well or the staff poorly timed it. Like for example, in the first few episodes, they don’t really explain who Grimm (the first villain who is a painter and a serial killer) is, they don’t give him any real backstory, the viewer is kind of expected to just pick up the knowledge that Grimm was once a notorious psychopathic criminal who was arrested by James Blood for murder and that he supposedly died in prison. He and James also have this intense history of rivalry together. Then there is the police chief whose backstory which is one where his wife was killed during a bank robbery where the killers were supplied with advanced weapons provided by the main villain, Steve Martland who is the head of the weapon divisions of LIVE corporation isn’t explained until the last episode.
In terms of voice acting, some of the dialogue is a bit cliched, but the seiyuu and English dub casts do pull off their characters very well. The English Dub does come off a bit better than the original Japanese though, even though, there are no British accents in it. With characterizations, James Blood (Jap: Yasuyuki Kase; Eng: Greg Chun)’s voice actors do create a convincing hot-blooded reckless cop and the viewer can kind of get that he has had a bad childhood from his attitude. While Sarah Sinclair (Jap: Yūko Kaida; Eng: Lauren Landa) is generally level-headed while also being occasionally reckless and emotional. Her relationship with Monica is kind of ambiguous at first because they don’t really explain that Monica was her foster mother and sponsor at first. So there’s a mix of foster mother, mentor and admired senior blended into Sarah’s feelings for her.
Then there is the tech expert, Edmond Chandler (Jap: Kentaro Takano; Landon McDonald) who is not athletic and a bit of a coward, but can be counted on when the going gets tough and the unit chief, Lennox Gallagher (Jap:Junpei Morita; Eng: Brad Venable) who is the wise and responsible leader who has been old friends with Monica for a long time. Edmond is definitely one of the more likable characters, viewers will definitely sympathize with him more especially when he gets a lot more character development as the series goes on especially during the hunt for the missing prisoners arc.
As mentioned above, the violin instrumental music definitely creates an intriguingly stunning thriller tone which helps to draw viewers into this show and the plot points surrounding the masks are very interesting to say the least. Overall, this is a pretty good series that people who like cop dramas will enjoy.