Title: Kasane by Daruuma Matsura
Description: Kasane is your not so typical take on human nature and the perception of beauty, the struggle someone goes through while being labeled 'beautiful' and the struggle from another on the flipside being labeled a 'monster'. Primarily we follow the story from the perspective of the protagonist Kasane Fuchi, a troubled girl with a monstrous face who tries incredibly hard to live up to her deceased mother's name while the world pushes her around indiscriminately. Below I'll break it down into Story, art and similar.
I found that Daruuma Matsura did an amazing job at showing the intricacies of human nature and the dirtiness people hold inside them, from bullying, to depression, to questionable life choices he showcases it all throughout Kasane's life and the lives of the other side characters. The manga itself is classified as a Seinen so it has a multitude of more 'adult' elements sprinkled throughout the story arcs. In some ways it's a fairly tragic manga with a lot of intricate details that can come off as plot induced coincidences, but it makes for a good story and they really work wonderfully well together. From the truth about Kasane's family, such as her mother and father, to the relationship with her nearest and dearest friend turning into something completely different and painful, the twists and turns make it so you can't look away and you simply have to keep on reading.
In Kasane there's somehow a conundrum with the characters since nobody is technically 'pure' or 'good' where you want to or have to root for them, but that also allows you to have an open mind towards a lot of the characters and not just the main one, the author does a fairly decent job of adding details to even minor side characters, this can be brief flashbacks or glimpses into their daily lives or families, but with it we can get a basic grasp of their personality and upbringing, and why they act the way they act within the story. It goes to show that things aren't always black an white, there's a whole broad spectrum of colours out there and the characters in Kasane are a good metaphor for that.
◘ Kasane Fuchi: While technically the protagonist her hands are stained dirty with her choices in life, merely being born ugly or bullied is in no way an excuse to do the things she does, and that's something I think the author doesn't fail to point towards. She makes mistakes as do most people and no matter what your circumstances are one shouldn't make excuses for them, own up to them and try to go towards a better future.
◘ Neena Tanzawa: A struggling actress who inevitably ends up being caught up in Kasane's world, her desires of being famous corrupt her judgement and her severe medical condition (Sleeping Beauty Syndrome) makes her desperate enough where she goes along with Kasane's plans only to regret it later. Her character is a sad one, while occasionally abrasive and harsh deep down she's a kind girl whose medical condition leaves her in a pitiable state of mind.
◘ Nogiku: The character most similar, yet different from Kasane, cursed with impeccable beauty and locked away, abused, mistreated and objectified to no end. Her first impressions show as someone who could be Kasane's first true and dear friend, but life is not so kind and the hands of fate play a much larger part in things. Their lives change for the worst once they start talking and the depths of their own evils merely attempt to suck the other in. Neither friendship nor family nor love can save someone that is so deeply scarred from early childhood to early adulthood, those scars merely prove to be more and more evident as Nogiku ends up in a whirlpool of revenge and hatred that consumes her.
The art is... different at some points, but for the most part quite good/decent. One thing the artist puts the most effort in is the official art/volume covers, which really showcase a high level of detail and emphasizes the beauty of the characters.
Otherwise the actual manga art is something I'd consider decent, it isn't a horribly outdated style or anything, fairly polished all things considered and it's enjoyable to go through.
It isn't perfect clearly, but perfection is a seriously overrated concept and the roughness in this manga is more fitting than anything as it portrays Kasane in all her different forms and styles much more accurately.
These days it's very incredibly difficult to make me binge read a series, Kasane is incomplete with 12 volumes (98 chapters) out at the moment and I read them all very fast paced because it was difficult to stop once I started. For me there's no greater proof of enjoyment or quality than something I can't figuratively put down or stop reading. While it can be dialogue heavy at times the manga has a good balance and cleverly keeps you on the edge of your seat while triggering emotional responses to the tragedy of the story and the actions of the characters. When it's suspenseful, mysterious and downright thrilling while throwing out realistic issues within the world it's hard not to enjoy it.
Due to the dialogue heavy nature Kasane might not be for everyone, same with the art style if it isn't your cup of tea then so be it, but if neither bothers you I would definitely recommend checking it out, at least the first few chapters and see if it reels you into the world. I'm glad I found it, and that I didn't find it sooner because binging 12 volumes is far more enjoyable than reading it at a far slower pace waiting on updates. (Irony though, since have to wait for volume 13 now ahh). Overall it's an amazing story and I cannot wait to see where the ending will lead, because I can't reasonably predict how things will end with how the characters are portrayed and the evils that stain their souls and hands. I've also tried to avoid any major spoilers so if you want to give it a read now's a great time to do so!