The Sternritter are 28 of the strongest members of the Wandenreich, which can be compared to the commanders of the Gotei 13 in terms of rank and fighting power. All Sternritter are Quincy inscribed with a Schrift by Yhwach. This much we know. Now, let us get to the individual Sternritter we will talk about in this article, which is Mask De Masculine, the Sterntitter “S” – “The Superstar.” And while Mask De Masculine himself is certainly interesting enough for an article, we will also talk about his biggest (and possibly only) fan – James. In this article, you will learn all about James and how the bald guy is related to Mask De Masculine and his power, The Superstar.
James is a small, bald man or boy with glasses who keeps following Mask De Masculine and carries a large boxing bell with him. He himself doesn’t seem to have any powers save for his ability to divide his body (which grants him immortality), but as Mask De Masculine’s fan, he can revive him and provide him with an additional boost in power. Kubo has stated that James is the actual Sternritter “S” and that Mask De Masculine is simply a manifestation of what he considers to be the ideal superhero.
The rest of this article will be dedicated to Mask De Masculine, James, and their powers and abilities. We are going to explain the relationship between the two of them, how James influences Mask and his powers, and how both are related to “The Superstar.” This article will contain many major spoilers, so be careful if you haven’t actually read the Bleach manga, as this article will reveal a lot.
James does exist, but his true nature is actually unknown
When we first saw Mask De Masculine, he failed to hit Byakuya and was sent down through the floor by his Senbonzakura as Byakuya and Renji were fighting As Nodt. Later, he returned to beat up Renji, and that was all we’d seen of him then.
He reappeared later when he faced Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Hisagi, and just when he was seemingly defeated by the three of them, a small bald kid or man appeared and, in a high-pitched voice, started calling out Mask’s name and tried to wake him up.
When he actually yelled out the word “Superstar,” Mask De Masculine rose up and defeated his opponents. Now, we are going to get to that part as well, but this introduction was used to tell you that James actually does exist. So, who is he?
James is a short, plump, bald, bespectacled man and Mask De Masculine’s subordinate, as far as things stand. He can be seen alongside Mask when he tries to assert himself against some Shinigami in Soul Society. James always carries some kind of bell that resembles a boxing gong, which he uses to support Mask in battle. As a subordinate, James respects his master Mask, and takes pleasure in cheering for his master during a fight.
When Kensei Muguruma seemed to have defeated Mask when they clashed, James was furious that a Shinigami wounded Mask. James has a habit of calling Mask “Mister” all the time. His cheers are Mask’s power source, thanks to his “The Superstar” abilities.
Mask’s physical powers regenerate and increase as James cheers for him. During Mask’s fight against the 3rd and 9th Company Captains, Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi incapacitates James with a single punch to prevent him from cheering on Mask. However, James regains consciousness shortly thereafter and is able to give Mask another boost of power.
Now, there is no doubt that James does exist and that he is not just a figment of someone’s imagination. This is important to observe, as Gremmy Thoumeaux, the Sternritter “V” (“The Visionary”), was actually able to create two Sternritter (Guenael Lee and Shaz Domino) using his power, so characters that are a figment of someone’s imagination aren’t all that strange for Bleach.
So yes, James does exist and he is an exceptionally important part of Mask De Masculine’s powers and abilities. But what is he? Is he a Quincy himself, a Sternritter? Or something else?
Well, the original manga never provided us with an answer to this question. James was simply introduced to the story, and that’s that. Due to his specific relationship with Mask De Masculine and his powers, some fans assumed that James was actually the true holder of the power, but the manga never clarified that.
Still, in Q&A #185 from Kubo’s Klub Outside fan page, Kubo actually confirmed that James was the true holder of “The Superstar” and that Mask De Masculine was simply a figment of his imagination, i.e., his ideal vision of a superhero; this would explain why Mask was so obsessed with the ideas of justice and heroism.
This would mean that James is the actual Sternritter “S” – “The Superstar,” which would actually make a lot of sense, seeing how Mask De Masculine depends on James and not vice versa (we are going to explain their powers in the next section).
Sadly, the manga never really provided us with any backstory for the majority of Sternritter (Jugram and Bazz-B being notable exceptions), so we cannot add anything to this story, which is why we are going to move on to their powers.
With his unique power, James was able to revive Mask De Masculine
As we have said, Mask De Masculine’s special ability is called “The Superstar.” Thanks to it, Mask gains considerable zeal, stamina, and strength when he has at least one other person cheering him on, enough to send two Captain-level Shinigami airborne with a single punch.
He becomes resilient enough to withstand repeated direct attacks from Kensei’s Bankai. The power also allows him to regenerate from damage, with James’ cheer healing his damaged eardrums.
After James has received enough cheering, Mask can re-form and revive himself. In this state, Mask’s mask turns into a black mask with a stylized black and white star pattern. Most of his clothing disappears as he only wears black gloves and boots, wrestling shorts and a champion’s belt, and black stars covering his nipples. Mask can use Quincy: Vollständig. The Superstar ability also links Mask’s supporters to him, allowing for the infinite resurrection of James as long as Mask himself is alive.
And while this is certainly interesting, with Kubo confirming that James is the true holder of “The Superstar,” Mask’s power gets a completely different interpretation. Namely, if James is actually the one using the power, then it means that “The Superstar” actually allows for the creation of an ideal fighter, a superstar/superhero who would defeat evil and injustice in the world.
Since he is a superstar, the fighter is incredibly strong, and as long as he has at least one supporter, he is able to come back each time. Stronger, at that. This is a unique ability, and we are actually sad that we haven’t seen more of James’ and Mask’s backstories, as that would definitely explain a lot about this power.
On the other hand, James himself has a very distinct power that makes him basically immortal. Namely, as long as Mask De Masculine was alive, James couldn’t be killed, even if his body was cut to pieces; if that happened, he would simply regenerate from each piece, creating more fans for Mask and thus making him stronger.
This is quite interesting as it showed that James and Mask, whatever the true nature of their abilities was, were tied to one another – Mask depended on James’ cheering, and without it, he was useless, while James depended on Mask being alive, as when Mask died, James died as well.
Mask De Masculine could very well be the ideal superhero, but he could also simply be a figment of James’ imagination
What can we say about Mask that we haven’t said already? Well, before being killed off by Renji Abarai, Mask proclaimed himself as a superhero and a warrior of justice, and really, everything around his persona indicated that he did consider himself a superhero.
He had a very distinct visual appearance, wearing a luchador mask and a superhero tape, with his Quincy: Vollständig making him look even more like a professional wrestler. All of this contributed to his hero/fighter persona.
But, he was also quite dull and did not really understand what happened around him whenever there was anything deeper there. This could be because James imagined him as being incredibly strong but did not care to make him intelligent, as a superhero had to be able to crush his opponents and not outwit them. So yes, from James’ perspective, Mask De Masculine was the ideal superhero, whereas he was actually just a figment of his imagination and a vile villain.