The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Glasslip- Final Reflections

“There’s a thing about being P.A. Works in that, you’re never short of a few self-proclaimed critics, like yourselves, to interpret your shows every season, so, here’s to you people. Thank you…I’m not finished. To all you phonies, all of you two-faced viewers, you sycophantic suck-ups who smile through your teeth at everything we put out, please leave P.A. Works in peace. Please go. Stop analysing the show. It’s not a joke. Please leave. The discussion’s over. Get out.”

The apple has fallen quite far from the tree for P.A. Works; Glasslip is probably their weakest presentation in living memory. At the halfway point, I remarked that it was possible that Glasslip was exploring the secondary characters first such that everything could be tied together when the series was closing up. This did not happen explicitly: as the series wears on, Glasslip continues pushing the notion surrounding the “fragments of the future” into increasingly vague terms, being a MacGuffin that is present for the sake of being present. Kakeru’s “sudden, expected loneliness” was introduced far to late to be of any significance, and manifestations of his other selves wound up with no relevance to the progression. Consequently, Kakeru remains as much of a mystery as he was following his introduction in the first episode. While it’s clear that Kakeru is tired of moving around all over the place (his analogies to the school chickens reflect his beliefs, but other than that, the chickens do not hold much importance), and that he sees Tōko as somewhat of an anchor to help him form bonds with someone, his choice of words and interactions with the other characters make him a remarkably difficult to sympathise with. In fact, a lack of explanation to the audience, paired with the overbearing presence of these supernatural aspects, gives the sense that Kakeru’s efforts to pursue a relationship with Tōko are lacking in sincerity, even if this winds up to not be true. Initially, one must wonder if there are cultural or societal aspects in Glasslip that Western audiences might not have picked up on, but from an unverified source, it seems that Glasslip was not well-received in Japan, either. Thus, it would follow that viewers who find themselves lost with the show’s objective are not deficient or missing something obvious.

  • The quote from the top of the page was inspired from a scene out of Batman Begins: after Raʾs al-Ġūl reveals himself during Bruce’s birthday party, the latter decides to put on a drunken charade to convince all of his guests to leave and get out of harm’s way. I’ve re-purposed that moment into Glasslip’s context: given what the anime ultimately left viewers with, one cannot help but feel that P.A. Works might have been trying to do the same to the show’s viewers.

  • Of course, one must wonder what P.A. Works was aiming to achieve with something like Glasslip. In retrospect, the anime would have probably been more meaningful if they had dispensed with the supernatural elements and dealt primarily with the drama associated with youth and relationships. By adding the Newtype phenomenon, viewers were left anticipating that they would play a role of some sort, and it turns out that the phenomenon is ultimately inconsequential.

  • Kakeru’s father and mother share a moment together: the latter is a pianist who performs abroad, which accounts for why Kakeru is unable to stay in one place for too long. Upon re-watching his dialogue with Tokō back in the first episode, Kakeru values stability and mentions that captivity provides the chickens with safety. The chickens in Glasslip  only act as an analogy for Kakeru and Tokō’s respective world-views and do not have the same significance they did in True Tears.

  • Yanagi and Hina form a friendship after Yanagi decides to take up running while Yukinari is at a training camp. At precisely five-thirty every afternoon, Yukinari’s route takes him by a local swimming pool, where Hina and her teammates are practising. Feeling something is unusual when Yanagi takes Yukinari’s place, Hina decides to pursue her curiosity, leading the two to meet up.

  • Of all the relationships in Glasslip, Sachi and Hiro’s seems to be the most normal. Even after a minor disagreement, the two manage to move forward with one another. The two are willing to compromise and commit to the other, resulting in a strong, credible relationship that is also taken one step at a time.

  • There’s a song on the Laputa soundtrack called “Confessions under the moonlight”. It’s a wistful, slow piano tune that would have been quite suited for what happens here, where Sachi appears to confess her true emotions to both Tokō and Hiro under a brilliant moon.

  • More so than the ceaseless mentioning of the “fragments of the future” and Kakeru’s “sudden, expected loneliness”, the Kakeru clones make absolutely no sense, and cannot be easily attributed to figments of the imagination. The precise reason they are in Glasslip is never satisfactorily explored, leaving their presence’s relevance open to speculation. I will attribute this factor to Kakeru’s being born in two hundred log cabins, and leave it at that.

  • Yanagi and Yukinari’s interactions are befitting of a couple: even though the two do not become a couple over the remainder of the series, the two seem to serve as the strongest example of how individuals may recover from unrequited love. Given what has happened over the past few months, I consider myself somewhat of an expert at figuring out how to accept what has happened and how to get back into the game. Of course, my methods contradict those offered by more popular advice columns, but I typically found that popular advice hardly ever works for those who aren’t popular to begin with.

  • Glasslip‘s fragmented, unsteady nature appears to have a feeling not dissimilar to that of what might reasonably arise if one were to do a thirteen-episode series featuring their friends in that the anime directs the audience towards the lives of six ordinary teenagers as they spend their final summer together before embarking on their final year of secondary school. As would be expected in real life, one’s direction may not always be clear. If this is what Glasslip was going for, that feeling was captured succinctly, although it was done so at the expense of a coherent story.

So, that raises the question, what exactly is Glasslip about? If we look past the ill-developed Newtype phenomenon, past Kakeru’s vague dialogue and past the chickens, we can abstract the show’s theme underneath. It is not unreasonable to imagine that Glasslip‘s core message is to illustrate how relationships, though a source of companionship, paradoxically leads to loneliness arising. This trend is constantly seen throughout Glasslip: prior to Kakeru’s arrival, Yukinari, Yanagi, Sachi and Hiro are close friends with Tōko. However, once Tōko dissolves the group’s relationship ban, everyone starts drifting apart as they struggle to come to terms with and pursue their feelings. After Yukinari’s botched confession to Tōko, and Yanagi’s own confession to Yukinari, it becomes difficult for everyone to hang out without a a sense of discomfort arising in the atmosphere. Time allows this awkwardness to dispel, but it becomes clear that a formerly close group of friends no longer shares the bonds they once did. Similarly, the growing bonds between Sachi and Hiro means that the couple begin spending more time with one another in favour of spending time together with everyone else. Of course, their friendships don’t completely dissolve, but there is no denying the kind of impact relationships have on this once closely-knit group of friends. Kakeru’s arrival winds up being the catalyst for all of this, setting in motion an irreversible chain of events that forces everyone to come to terms with their feelings. In particular, Tōko’s greatest fear becomes being left alone as the status quo is disrupted; for all of its attributes as a MacGuffin, the so-called “fragments of the future” seem to serve as a reflection into Tōko’s heart, revealing sides to her personality that are not immediately apparent from her typically-cheerful attitude. These visions show a Tōko who cares for her friends, is uncertain about her actions and above all, does not wish to be left behind, hence her hesitation with Kakeru. These are the themes that Glasslip attempts to push across, and for all of the obfuscation that the supernatural elements introduce, there is indeed a message underneath all of the posturing in the visuals and dialogue.

  • After several visions of such a moment, Tōko and Kakeru share a kiss, which in turn led to my pausing the anime, and breaking out some Battlefield 3 to de-stress. While Tōko and Kakeru’s relationship accelerates far more quickly than is realistic, I drew the comparison to Gundam Unicorn‘s Banagher Links and Audrey Burne (Mineva Zabi), whose Newtype powers would have allowed them to immediately sense a connection to one another. While the Newtype powers of Glasslip are ill-explained, it’s not unreasonable to surmise that they might be at play with Tōko and Kakeru.

  • Hina introduces herself to Kakeru for the first time, sporting the dress Yanagi had given her. While Yanagi and Hina’s friendship was not depicted in great detail during Glasslip‘s run, the fact that the two do become friends suggests that even during the chaos that Yanagi experiences, she is able to take a moment back and reflect on things.

  • Hiro and Sachi share a moment together on a picnic during the midway point of their hike. Unlike everyone else, their relationship’s slow pacing meant that viewers were most able to relate to them. While the story in Glasslip was a nightmare, the scenery and lighting was top-quality, giving Hinodehama a lifelike feeling. Hinodehama is based off of Mikuni, Fukui, a town in the Fukui Prefecture.

  • With a population of some 23000 people, Mikuni hosts a fireworks display on its Sunset Beach every year in August. The fireworks are launched from boats on the harbour, giving rise to a unique show that was captured wonderfully within Glasslip‘s first episode. Viewers will have an opportunity to see it yet again, under a very different context.

  • Tōko’s visions eventually see Hinodehama under a blanket of snow by mid-winter. In this alternate universe, Tōko is the outsider, and Kakeru appears to be getting along with everyone else. As the penultimate episode, this sudden, unexpected turn of events was not foreseen and wound up being quite distracting, although it did reveal that Tōko seems to fear being left alone.

  • One analysis chalks everything that happens in Glasslip to be a figment of Tōko and Kakeru’s imaginations. However, this analysis is fatally flawed; the mind’s eye is not sufficiently powerful for two individuals to share their emotions with one another. As depicted in Glasslip, there is definitively something tantamount to the Newtype phenomenon occurring. The only problem is that the phenomenon is not sufficiently explored.

  • While one initially would assume that this alternate universe is a divergent timeline, the episode’s ending reveals that everything that had transpired turned out to be little more than phenomenon experienced by Tōko alone. It paints her from a different light, emphasising her fear of loneliness, but contrary to other discussions, it’s hardly a “defense mechanism” (against what, exactly?). Rather, these scenes appear to be for the viewer’s benefit, although as with almost every other theme in Glasslip, it’s not immediately apparent.

  • The original status quo was disrupted: Yukinari, Yanagu, Hiro and Sachi spend less time together as a large group, but nonetheless do find the occasional moment to return to Kazemichi for a coffee together. One of the questions I originally posed for Glasslip was to what extent would Kakeru’s presence disrupt everyone’s friendship, and by the finale, that query has been answered: though Kakeru’s presence does alter everyone’s friendships once relationships are introduced, ultimately, their friendship does endure even if it has undergone a transformation.

  • Glasslip cannot be classified as a science-fiction anime by any sense, lacking the interplay between innovation and society that is central to all science fiction media. The implications of innovation, technological and scientific progress on human desires, morality, politics and human are not explored anywhere within the anime.

  • After Tōko and Kakeru toss glass beads into the air together, a meteor shower appears. In the aforementioned analysis (whose author will not be identified), one aspect it fails to identify is the significance of the glass beads throughout the series. We can perform a simple proof by contradiction: suppose that all of the events in Glasslip were a consequence of Tōko and Kakeru’s imagination. Then glass beads or not, Tōko and Kakeru should have grown closer to one another. However, Glasslip emphasises Tōko’s glassblowing and reactions to glass in numerous episodes, far too often for glassblowing to lack meaning of some sort. Therefore, such a premise is false.

  • The glass beads themselves probably symbolise uncertainty one might experience when gazing through them: they distort one’s field of view and alter the image to a state that, while deriving elements from the real world, possesses unique optical properties. Tōko’s propensity to view the so-called “fragments of the future” through the glass beads probably suggests that she’s simply unsure of what the future will bring, even if she can see (anticipate) a small portion of it. That’s pretty much it for this talk: upcoming posts will deal with the Locodol OVA (again, where I will provide the internet’s first set of screenshots) and Wolfire’s Receiver.

Themes do exist in Glasslip, and all of this is encapsulated with visuals worthy of Frostbite 3, packaged together with a soundtrack that manages to fit with the different moments in the anime, whether it be warmer pieces when the characters are happy, and the classical tracks that give off a distant, melancholic feeling to things. However, Glasslip‘s inclusion of supernatural, inexplicable phenomenon tied to a character whose mannerisms alienate him from the viewers means that the core message in the anime is not readily apparent. The reason why the core theme in Glasslip is so easily overlooked is because the presence of the supernatural elements: regardless of how one approaches these, their inclusion forces the audience to consider them as potentially significant, having some sort of role pertaining to the story. This invariably detracts from Glassip’s main point about a group of friends as they learn the challenges of pursuing relationships. Thus, while Glasslip does have an excellent soundtrack and artwork, as well as a thematic aspect, ill-execution ultimately means that the theme is not immediately apparent and as a whole, the anime is unable to leave a positive impression from its viewers; I myself was uncertain of how all of the different moments were relevant to events, much less what they meant, until I approached the anime from a very abstract point of view. With all things considered, Glasslip is difficult to recommend, even to viewers familiar with (and appreciative of) P.A. Works. Individuals tenacious enough to see the anime through and subsequently take a step back may find that Glasslip is a little more than it appears, although for the effort required, one’s time would doubtlessly be better spent pursuing other things.

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