High-Rise Invasion (Analysis) – Sniper Mask

High Rise Invasion Title

Honestly, you don’t expect a lot of character growth in this sort of series and especially not from a villain. Well, Sniper Mask is, in my opinion, the most interesting character in High-Rise Invasion.

High-Rise Invasion (Analysis) – Sniper Mask

All stories employ tropes, but horror has got to be one of the genres that lean heavily on them. More often than not you know who’s going to live and who’s going to die. You know the jump scare is coming. You know when to look away to avoid the blood splatter. It’s the same with the characters. There’s going to be a leading lady who is scared at first but slowly grows to become the undeniable star of the show. There’s an argument that it happened here with Yuri Honjo and I wouldn’t dispute that, however, there is one character that I think stole the show.

I’m talking about Sniper Mask. He’s the sharply dressed villain with a sniper rifle. At the beginning of the series, we meet him when he shoots a police officer that had been pushed past his sanity by the horrendous things he’d seen there. He was forcing Yuri to undress when Sniper Mask shot him in the shoulder. Remember Masks aren’t programmed to kill. Their goal is to create despair in the victims so that they jump from the rooftops. Unfortunately, the police officer was unable to make it to the edge so Sniper Mask finished him off.

High Rise Invasion Episode 1 Sniper Mask city

Having seen Yuri, his programming made him pursue her with the hopes of doing the same. The next time he found her, she was in a stand off with Mayuko Nise. They were forced to work together and eventually threw a hand grenade at him. He survived, but it damaged his mask, unlocking some of his memories. He no longer wanted to hunt humans, but knew that if he saw them he wouldn’t be unable to stop. He also discovered that other masks saw him as a target now.

When he found Kuon Shinzaki he drew his weapon and prepared to fire. However, the mask intervened saving her because she was a potential god candidate. That made her safe to be around him and I’m certain she had an impact on his personality too. He wanted to catch up with Yuri and Mayuko so that he could leave Kuon with them, but he also wanted to team up if he could find a way around wanting to shoot them. He also remembered an encounter with Yuri’s brother Rika and that too had an impact on him.

High Rise Invasion Episode 1 Sniper Mask

Because his mask was damaged it put him into a hibernation stage which would eventually kill him. Kuon was able to use her powers to go into his memory and free him, although not entirely from the mask. There they met a younger version of Sniper Mask and Rika. They knew each other before they were transported to this world. Were they friends? We’re not sure, but it seems likely. Maybe there’s more to it even.

Anyhow, the fact that Sniper Mask makes the transition from evil to good is a fascinating development and not least because he’s now on a mission to remember who he was. Yuri even gets to have a look at his face, but she doesn’t recognise him. That casts some doubt on the level of his relationship with Rika. Unfortunately, we don’t find out much more about him during the anime and won’t unless we get a second season. I, personally, would love that, but I also understand that shows like this aren’t necessarily well received outside of the niche fanbase.

High Rise Invasion Episode 2 Sniper Mask broken

Sniper Mask is a great example of how every character should have something that motivates them. We may not get to know what or why, but we need to see that there is something driving them. Otherwise, they end up being boring and one dimensional. There were a lot of characters like that in this series which is fine when you have some that are more interesting. Like I said, we don’t need to understand every character’s motivation, but as the author, you need to have an idea of what they want. Hopefully, that will give them enough agency to not act like props.

The fact that Sniper Mask had so many questions that he couldn’t answer left me wanting to find out with him. When you start to have similar goals as the characters, it gives you yet another thing to bond with them about. The more connections you can make between the characters and the audience, the more likely they are to enjoy it. Honestly, I didn’t think I would be making a connection with a dapperly dressed sniper mask, but here we are.

High Rise Invasion Episode 2 Sniper Mask attacked by other masks

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