“Enough from the clown!” —Gambol, The Dark Knight
At the series’ halfway point, Glasslip appears to be focussed on closing up all of the secondary character’s game, which in turn leads me to wonder if the second half will be dedicated towards answering questions surrounding how the Newtype phenomenon would be explored. While the secondary characters have been somewhat fleshed out, the matter of Kakeru and Tōko still remain an enigma. P.A. Works anime typically are driven by the characters, and in order for the character’s actions and interactions to be meaningful, we must first know a little bit about them earlier on such that it is possible to empathise with them. In Tari Tari, after hearing about Wakana, Konatsu and Sawa’s intentions, the characters took on a more fluid, multidimensional role that allowed viewers to cheer for them as they struggled with their own goals and futures. Here in Glasslip, while viewers have a more solid idea on what’s going on with Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro, this still has yet to be done for Kakeru and Tōko. Kakeru is still as mysterious as he was in episode one, and his Newtype powers still have not had the exploration they require to convey why it’s important to the story. As such, he remains remarkably difficult to sympathise with. The significance of this ability to “see into the future” is very limited, being more of a curiosity than a pivotal element, and so far, has not really impacted the main story to any real extent: for instance, Tōko sees Yanagi in tears early on, but aside from providing the viewers with a guess on what’s happening, is presently inconsequential. In an anime where this “power” is supposed to be pivotal, Glasslip has, thus far, chosen to leave it a mystery. With this said, the secondary character’s backgrounds are given more exploration, so it’s not difficult to believe that the second half will allow this aspect to be explored in greater detail.
- The third episode is centred around a hiking trip that Kakeru skips. Through its course, the third episode does a satisfactory job of illustrating the dynamics between Tōko, Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro. This is a friendship that was very stable prior to Kakeru’s arrival.
- In reality, people are far more cautious and would unlikely find themselves in such a situation. The classic line from Futurama, “We didn’t see anything…ever” would probably be the most appropriate response to something like this, although since Yukinari does not take a hint, Yanagi chucks the water container at him.
- As per my literature course from several years ago, a story happens precisely because an existing equilibrium was disturbed, and the sequence of events that the characters find themselves entangled in as they react or respond to this disturbance forms the basis for the plot. In this case, Kakeru is the source of this disturbance: notice how happy everyone is at their camping trip in Kakeru’s absence.
- While Glasslip might be prima facie going all over the place, it’s setting up the kind of chaos that one might reasonably expect in real life, with various random events occurring as people struggle to come to terms with their feelings. With high school students at the forefront of Glasslip, the impulsive, ill-thought out actions the characters undertake are consistent with what might be expected from high school students. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating that most anime fans appear to be adults, and as such, interpreting decisions made by high school students is not dissimilar to frustrated parents wondering why their high-school aged progeny are acting in the way that they are.
- The Newtype phenomenon has had a limited role in Glasslip so far, and any details about glass-blowing have been quite sparse. However, it’s still too early to really do a proper assessment of the series: the consistency of each individual episode varies more greatly than most series I’ve seen, and my past experience has included both anime with inconsistent progression that came out okay (Coppelion), or else put on powerhouse performances right up until the end (OreImo).
- Sachi and Hiro appear to be quite separate from the love hypercube (forget the triangles and polygons that others are mentioning) that is forming. Hiro is seen altering his interests to get closer to Sachi, but from the dialogues I’ve had with people, a relationship is only sustainable if both parties are honest with one another.
- Owing to a minor mishap during the image capture phase, I wound up with no screenshots for episode seven, and instead, have twenty images from episodes three to six. I’ve been meaning to go back through some of the older episodes to acquire some screenshots of the beautiful landscapes around Hinodehama, which, like most towns from P.A. Works, is modelled after a real-world location.
- I’ve seen a lot of unnatural pacing with relationships, but the developing ties between Tōko and Kakeru takes the cake. Even though it feels off, I’m more tolerant of things this time around because it’s mentioned early on that Tōko and Kakeru seem to share their abilities. Gundam Unicorn‘s Banagher Links and Mineva Zabi share a similar bond because of their Newtype powers, and as such, the two get along quite well later on in the series after Banagher’s persistence in trying to help her after feeling a special connection to her after their first meeting.
- Yukinari feels like a difficult character to sympathise with, appearing colder, distant and unwilling to open up ever since Tōko did not reciprocate his feelings. As a member of the track team, he sustained an injury prior to the series’ beginning and is currently in rehabilitation.
- I’ve been around anime long enough to foresee that certain setups will lead to misunderstandings: after Yanagi trips here and stumbles into Kakeru’s arms, Tōko’s happenstance arrival was almost a certainty.
Insofar, Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro have received more exposition than do the main characters. It turns out that Yanagi is struggling to come to terms with her own feelings for Yukinari, who in turn likes Tōko but finds his feelings rejected after Kakeru arrives. Meanwhile, Hiro and Sachi slowly spend more time with each other; while Hiro initially feels like he needs to fit with Sachi, but eventually, the two become closer together. By the halfway point, Sachi’s admission to Hiro that she hates Kakeru for introducing a rift in everyone’s friendship shocks the latter, who leaves hastily. Meanwhile, Yanagi and Yukinari’s respective frustrations that their feelings are not being reciprocated lead them to vent their frustrations. Over the course of an episode, Yukinari beats down Kakeru, and after proposing a phoney race for Tōko’s heart, is slapped by Yanagi. These actions bring to bear just how much of a negative impact Kakeru has left on a group of friends that has been drifting further and further apart ever since his arrival. One can immediately sympathise with the sort of frustration that accompanies being unable to ask out someone and how one individual has, in a relatively short period of time, fractured what was previously a closely-knit group of friends. As such, both Yanagi and Yukinari’s actions come across as being quite natural; they are letting out their heart’s honest feelings about everything that has gone wrong since Kakeru arrived.
- Quite personally, I’m not too sure what’s stopping P.A. Works from animating these scenes normally; chibi characters overlaid on top of a still seems like a cost-cutting measure rather than a feature that adds to Glasslip‘s atmospherics, and try as I might, I cannot think of any reason to do this, especially since P.A. Works is a studio known for their stunning animation and artwork quality. Moreover, Glasslip is painting itself to be a drama, not light-hearted comedy, so the chibi characters seem out of place.
- While I’ll probably do a post on all of the beautiful landscapes around Hinodehama, I’d thought I’d include a few images of the artwork here, which is up to the standard I’ve come to expect from P.A. Works. However, graphics don’t make things right: rather like how games can look amazing and play poorly, anime can have the best animation and artwork, but still come short in entertaining the viewer.
- Kakeru and Tōko share a moment at the former’s secret spot in the forest, a quiet place to relax under the sunbeams. To the best of my recollections, the kind of ethereal beauty associated with sunbeams streaming through a forest canopy is absent in Tari Tari, and so, that leads me to draw a most unusual comparison: if Tari Tari might be likened to Battlefield 3‘s multiplayer for setting a new standard in their respective fields, then Glasslip is roughly equivalent to Battlefield 4.
- Under this evening shot of Hinodehama, I’ll rationalise my comparison. When Battlefield 3 came out, the multiplayer quickly garnered praise for its depth and rewarding team players, offering to players a “world-class multiplayer suite” that is the “most expansive, refined” iteration in the series. Battlefield 4, on the other hand, was less well-received, being said to have few surprises for players and plagued with bugs. For P.A. Works, Tari Tari did almost everything right, having few limitations, and like Battlefield 3, was an immensely rewarding experience. Glasslip, though having better lighting effects and animations, feels less well-polished overall, compared to Tari Tari (rather like Battlefield 4).
- One bullet point is not sufficient to do a proper comparison, but I’m going to leave it at that and consider Yanagi’s love confession to Yukinari, which took much courage and honesty; she already knows of his feelings for Tōko but decides to go ahead anyways, noting that they can still regard each other as friends even if Yukinari does not reciprocate her feelings.
- Hina is Tōko’s younger sister and appears to have something of a crush, along with everyone else on her swim team, on Yukinari. While I lack the screenshots here, episode seven has her pursue Yukinari on bike, proclaiming that he should stay cool.
- Check out that soft body-based deformation: it clearly raises the bar for physics engines everywhere and puts things like the Cry Engine and Frostbite 3 to shame. Jokes aside, contrary to popular opinion about the beatdowns Kakeru receive, I find that rather than being “well-deserved”, the kind of things Kakeru are experiencing stem from his clearly unwanted intrusion into a group of friends, and his lack of tact with respect to handling them.
- I do not think I’ve mentioned that Yanagi is an aspiring model up until this point, but now I have. I’ve also noticed that discussions (blog posts, comments about said posts and forums) about this series have been largely unfruitful, with participants being focused on minor details and losing sight of the bigger picture. While the decisions and actions that individual characters take do play a part in the series, it’s meaningless to analyse every bit of detail and declare it to be significant.
- On my end, I’ll do as I’ve always done and do a proper assessment on how all of the pieces fit together once Glasslip is over. With due respect, the minor things that happen between the characters are only significant if they have an impact in the long run, and because Glasslip is still running, some actions will have more impact than others. I would prefer waiting until all of the pieces are on the board before deciding which decisions in Glasslip are significant, and ultimately, which ones are inconsequential.
- For now, though, this midseason post is coming to an end, and with it, is my last mid-seasons post. My next talk on Glasslip will be a final impressions post (for better or for worse), but before I sign off, I’ll explain the page quote: this is a summary of the reactions I’ve seen to Kakeru’s doubles, as well as for some reactions that arose whenever people were watching Kakeru’s lack of tact in his conversations with Yanagi and Yukinari. With the finale set to roll in six more episodes (five, if we count tomorrow’s episode), I have no idea what will happen next, but I will note that the page quote I choose for the final reflections post will practically give away my thoughts on how Glasslip turned out as a whole.
It’s still too early to say for sure whether or not Glasslip will manage to tie things up appropriately with the time that is left in this season. If things are done properly, and Kakeru’s Newtype powers, plus his ties to Tōko are given the appropriate exposition, then viewers would be able to appreciate everything that has happened so far. Perhaps the moral might be honesty, and once Kakeru gets his intentions out into the clear, the others might begin trusting him more. Maybe the group will overcome this trial and become even closer to each other as a result. Conversely, Kakeru’s intentions might never revealed even to the viewers. His goals might simply be as superficial as capturing Tōko’s heart, regardless of how much emotional fallout occur for the others. Only time will tell, and while Glasslip has been a mixed bag insofar, things aren’t all negative. The secondary characters feel human, relatable. The music (especially the opening song, which I’ve fallen in love with) is quite good, and the artwork is astounding. I’m hoping that the second half will satisfactorily answer the questions pertaining to Kakeru and Tōko’s relationship, as well as the nature of what this Newtype phenomenon is about, and ultimately, whether or not Tōko’s friends can remain friends with one another even through this trial.