This book represents a number of rarities for me. First, it’s a Bonita Comics book, which is not a publishing imprint that I cover much on this site (at least not in comparison to Flower Comics, or Hana to Yume). Next, it’s a book where I was able to glance through the pages before I bought it used (all the stuff I buy new is shrink-wrapped, so I really do buy at random), and finally, it’s a series with a male protagonist. Male leads aren’t all that common in shoujo series, so this should be fun. This is a somewhat episodic adventure series with a healthy amount of ridiculous comedy. The art is nice and fairly clean for the time period, and doesn’t look all that dated. The exaggerated comedic facial expressions are priceless. I need to see if I have anything else by this author. Also, this book certainly has an eye-catching cover! What a ridiculous mask he’s wearing! I love the obligatory suit and cape that masked men must so often wear. All he needs is a top hat!
Yoshihiro is an average teenager, about to celebrate his 18th birthday. He already has plans for that day, having made a first date with his girlfriend. He is in a pretty good mood when his mother tells him that his father would like to talk to him down in the cellar. This seems like an odd request, and when Yoshihiro goes down there, he finds his father is holding a large box. The expression on his face is quite serious! Yoshihiro doesn’t really know what is going on, but nothing really could have prepared him for the sight of the silly-looking gold mask revealed when his father opened the box. What is that thing? A birthday present? Not exactly something he would have asked for…
The mask is shiny and has a ridiculous smiling expression. Yoshihiro’s father, acting in a rather grave manner, informs Yoshihiro that this precious mask is like an inheritance. Yoshihiro is destined to be the 4th generation male in their family to wear it. Essentially, the mask has been passed down from generation to generation in the family, and the one who wears it fights for justice and helps the weak and downtrodden. It’s quite a noble duty. However, Yoshihiro wants none of it. Why him? Why should he wear such a ridiculous thing? And wait a minute, there is also a cape and tuxedo?! No way! He hates anime, and is not into cosplay!
However, when his father shows him the second even deeper cellar located down below the other cellar, Yoshihiro begins to have second thoughts. You see, located in this super secret room is chest after chest filled with priceless jewels and riches! An Edo period ancestor of theirs was a gentleman thief, and was evidently quite successful! Hey now, if they have all this money, how come they aren’t living the good life? Well, that money was stolen, and if they flash it around too much, the tax office and the police would be all over them. It’s dirty money, really, but they use it towards helping people now. All of it could be his if he decides to accept his place as the successor to the Gold Mask!
Yoshihiro has a lot to think about. His mother thinks it’s all a wonderful thing. In fact, she met his father back when she was 17 and was kidnapped. His father was so wonderful in that mask and cape when he rescued her! It was all so romantic! This does not impress Yoshihiro. However, after a lot of thought (in particular about all that money) he agrees to take up the mantle and mask of the Gold Mask. His father is thrilled, and gives him a pager so that he can be contacted when there is a mission that needs his attention.
Yoshihiro knew he was getting into something crazy, but he didn’t expect it to start so soon! The very next day at school, his pager goes off. It’s his father, telling him that there is a job for the Gold Mask! Before Yoshihiro knows what is happening, he is riding in a van with his father at the wheel, getting into the trademark tuxedo, cape, and mask. When he puts the mask on for the first time, he discovers something amazing… it grants him super powers! Yoshihiro’s body feels weird, and full of power. It turns out that all of his senses and abilities are now enhanced beyond those of a normal human! He has super strength, speed, hearing, and more! This is the amazing legacy of the Gold Mask!
While his first mission to rescue the kidnapped girl goes well (if not quite as expected), Yoshihiro soon finds his life getting much more complicated. As you can imagine, suddenly adopting a secret identity as a superhero causes some problems with his daily life. He has his new girlfriend to worry about, and his classmates… he can’t let his secret become known! Yoshihiro’s adventures are just beginning! How will he be able to juggle his normal life with the life of a masked hero?
Yoshihiro experiences quite a few amazing battles against a collection of colorful villains and rivals. In order to protect his identity, he employs some creative methods!
This book is great fun. The situations are so silly, and the artwork gets so exaggerated, that I can’t help but giggle at some of the expressions. It’s a shame that this is a one-shot volume. I would like to read more adventures of this reluctant hero.