The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Glasslip

A Reader’s Guide to Anime Analysis: Comparing Traits of Effectual and Ineffectual Analysis, and A Case Study in Glasslip

“You know me?”
“I do. You’re not the only one cursed with knowledge.”
“My only curse is you.”

―Tony Stark and Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War

As of late, it would appear that controversies surrounding anime analysis have become commonplace, with leading criticisms suggesting that far too many have bought into these analysis and acting as proponents for them when there is little evidence to suggest that the analysis are in fact, meritorious of consideration. The end result is a large number of people supporting positions without being fully aware of what they support is in fact, incomplete, ill-argued and unprofessional. The realm of analysis is and should not be an enigmatic one conducted by a selected few. Literary analysis is a familiar and integral aspect of literature class – the aim is to understand the elements in a work and how they fit together to create a certain effect or impact. To this end, literary devices and symbols are studied to determine what the author’s intent was: for some well-known works, understanding a work and why the author has opted to use the elements in their text can offer insight into their society. For instance, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was a commentary on the excesses of the Roaring Twenties and that the American Dream had costs attached to it through displays of wealth and Gatsby’s pursuit of the impossible. Similarly, the dangers of recklessly pursing scientific progress are outlined in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which was composed on an outing with her and fellow authors. Discussions varied from the Enlightenment to reanimation, and Shelley, who believed that scientific progress could be beneficial, also felt that rampant progress could undo society. Themes of forbidden knowledge thus enter Frankenstein, and the dread of what unbridled technological advancement is explored in H.G. Wells’ War of The Worlds, whose martian invaders possess technology far exceeding our own was a warning that society’s faith in our technology was folly. Each of these works are some examples of literature that provide instruction on society at a given point in time, although it is certainly the case that modern literature and fiction can also provide equal insights on things that are otherwise taken for granted. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion deal with issues relevant to contemporary society (e.g. racism, discrimination, environmental destruction) and speak of challenges facing our society. Analysing a work, then, can determine the messages an author has about humanity, and this is where the value of fiction comes from. By escaping into another world, readers can gain a new perspective, from that of an observer, and might be able to see problems they themselves face in a new manner.

The relevance of literary analysis within the realm of anime is a contentious one: broadly speaking, anime is less of a genre and more of a medium, and so, it is more appropriate to say that anime encompasses a range of genres, some of which are more conducive towards literary analysis than others. For example, the slice-of-life series that I am so fond of usually end up presenting different variations on a theme, indicating that there are many ways to live life, find happiness and fulfilment. More serious series speak of the dangers of power, social problems and the like. The diversity of genres in anime, coupled with the ability to freely express oneself in electronic media such as blogs and forums, results in individuals being able to convey how they interpret a series to others with unprecedented ease. That some series have more to analyse and discuss have not dissuaded viewers from finding noteworthy points to discuss in series with fewer symbols or complexity, and consequently, the internet has a near-limitless number of analyses on most anything. The challenge for a reader then becomes a matter of which analyses are useful, and which ones accomplish little. Choice of language and length are often-times misleading indicators of quality and value, and so, the aim of this discussion is to look through what makes an anime analysis one that holds its weight for me. To spare readers the tedium of going through the remainder of the post should time be something in short supply, there are three elements that determine whether or not an anime analysis posted somewhere, whether it be a forum, personal blog, YouTube channel or anime news website: clarity, completeness and execution. To explore each of these items, I will be doing a compare and contrast on two different analyses that were written for the infamous Glasslip. These reviews were deliberately chosen to provide juxtaposition: IBlessAll of Mage in a Barrel provides an insightful, precise and focused talk on transience through the different imagery, while Soulelle of My Anime List supplies a lacking review that struggles to suggest that the sum of the events of Glasslip boil down to a fear of loneliness. IBlessAll and Soulelle reach dramatically different conclusions about Glasslip, but of the two perspectives, Soulelle’s is not meritorious of either praise or serious consideration, whereas IBlessAll’s analysis succeeds in conveying a specific idea to the reader.

Clarity

Clarity refers to the focus of an analysis: what was the author trying to say within their passage? How well can they stick with that idea and relate all of the evidence brought up in their discussion to this idea? A clear analysis makes a very clear statement or claim, and then deals with the “so what” openly. In this case, the “so what” pertains to what a particular observation or claim does for a given work, whether it be to enhance the strength of its message or offer insight into nuances that further one’s enjoyment. This message persists through the analysis, tying everything together. A good analysis can wander, but there is a single message, and more importantly, the conclusion follows from the choice of evidence that the author chooses to use: everything seen in the anime is carefully selected so that it is relevant to the final message the writer intends to convey.

I say Glasslip is about impermanence and transience, not change, and I say so deliberately. Glasslip is far less about the changes that occur in the lives of it cast and far more about the fundamental condition that lies beneath them. Life passes us by—is always passing us by—and yet we are so often unaware of its slow and constant ebb. Even those of us who have apprehended its motions are rarely always conscious of this reality.

For Glasslip, the answer lies in trusting in the significance of the moments that come our way, while striving to never tie ourselves to them completely. Although our moments always replaced by the forward momentum of the next realization, the next change, the next step forward, or the next moment, they are not insignificant. They mean something. They represent the pivots on which our worlds and our experiences of them turn. Kakeru departs at the end of Glasslip, but his doing so does not negate the fact that he was there, nor does it erase the impact his presence—however brief—made.

IBlessAll’s entire analysis, though never mentioned by its name, is centred around the distinct notion of wabi-sabi, a Japanese concept that characterises beauty as something transient, flawed; specifically, that beauty is to embrace imperfection as a part of what gives something value. Nothing lasts forever, wabi-sabi posits, and that the fact that something is so fleeting is what gives it value. By IBlessAll’s account, the temporal nature of young love and snapshots in one’s life each have worth. This argument forms the remainder of the discussion, with IBlessAll drawing on the various events of Glasslip in order to demonstrate that transience is a major part of the show. While IBlessAll lapses into sentimentality over Tōko and Kakeru’s short time together, and favours a verbose, logorrheic style over brevity, everything presented is clearly tied to transience and the associated beauty. In this analysis, each short moment in Glasslip that others might have found inconsequential act to show the worth of the different, subtle stages in life. In the end, readers coming out of this review have no doubts as to what IBlessAll intended to say; the evidence IBlessAll logically motivates the conclusion, and readers gain the sense that Glasslip‘s portrayal of fleetingness could have been a deliberate choice. Life is chaotic, after all, and hardly as structured as we would like.

Because of their love, because of their fears, and because of their sensitive nature, Touko and Kakeru experience and share their emotions through imagination, otherwise known as “fragments of the future”. It has nothing to do with alternate worlds, fates, other dimensiona [sic], timelines, or other bullshit – it’s just their vivid imagination. They learn about each other and about each other’s feelings and emotions this way.

Soulelle’s discussion occupies the opposite end of the spectrum, being incoherent and unfocused. Opening with the supposition that the chickens in Glasslip are of utmost importance, the review leads readers to anticipate that the conclusion will be related to the chickens. Soulelle suggests that Kakeru’s desire is to put down roots somewhere, envious that even the chickens have a fixed home. Then, Tōko’s fear of being separated from her close friends leads her to fear that like a chicken, Kakeru will eventually leave her behind, too. That chickens are meant to be a metaphor for freedom is a tepid one at best: most chickens cannot fly to the same extent as other birds do owing to their physiology, but even allowing for this to be overlooked, the distinct concerns that Tōko and Kakeru each have do not overlap, and as such, do not give them any common ground. It is therefore illogical to reach the conclusion that the sum of the events in Glasslip were a consequence of a shared sense of imagination, when very little has been established to illustrate the similarities between the two in Soulelle’s claims. Moreover, the chickens have now vanished from the discussion. They end up being a red herring, misleading readers who are then left to wonder how Kakeru’s desire for routine and his decision to be with Tōko allows him to vividly see the same thing that Tōko sees, when her worries centre around losing those dear to her, and her doubts about whether or not Kakeru intends to stick around for the long term. Unlike IBlessAll, Soulelle’s conclusion cannot be rationally reached from the premises established, and so, it becomes very difficult to see the merit in the idea that loneliness is the driver for Glasslip‘s events.

  • Four and a half years have passed since Glasslip, but the anime remains etched in my mind as an example of what happens when a story meanders. If Glasslip intended to be successful, it would’ve needed to focus on how the glass beads and “fragments of the future” are related, rather than driving rifts amongst the characters. Had this been done, and Kakeru was in less of a mysterious and vague role, Glasslip could have been considerably more enjoyable.

  • Despite my praises for IBlessAll’s discussion, it may come as a surprise to readers that I personally do not agree with IBlessAll’s final conclusion about transience being the central theme of Glasslip. My rationale is that Glasslip had enough glass imagery to suggest that there were other themes at play, and while the fleetingness of a moment is a part of Glasslip, it is by no means the entire story.

  • I further add that wabi-sabi is a decidedly Japanese mindset – if viewers from Japan were not able to immediately spot this, it is clear that Glasslip did not do a satisfactory job of conveying transience to the viewers. In spite of the many shortcomings in Glasslip, the anime is not a washout. Aside from beautiful visuals, the lessons from Glasslip would go on to build a superior anime in The World in Colours, which was successful in integrating magic with a meaningful and engaging story of self-discovery.

  • If I were to grade IBlessAll’s analysis as I once did assignments during my time as a graduate student, I would score the resulting passage an A-. The basis for this score is that, while focusing purely on transience and not accounting for the imagery of glass, Glasslip is an inherently tricky anime to write for since the writers were not coherent. As such, for the results that were reached and how they were reached, I saw a thoughtful and logical flow to things. Even if I don’t agree with the result, I did think that this is how more analysis should be done; writers should always take the pain to explain themselves clearly and focus purely on their intended thesis statement.

  • In the end, it feels like Glasslip was an attempt to take on the elements that made Nagi no Asukara successful, create a more minimalist story and then add a supernatural factor with the aim of conveying how tricky love and the future is. The inclusion of supernatural elements in a love story usually acts as a metaphor for how some things are difficult enough so that even with assistance, in the form of magic, things can still be tricky.

Completeness

Completeness is another aspect important in an analysis – this refers to how much of a work the writer references in their discussion. An effective analysis draws upon examples and expand on their relevance in the context of the entire work. In order for a conclusion to be meaningful, events and evidence from the exposition to the conclusion should be considered, and then the most relevant of these are chosen to motivate an argument. In contrast, an ineffective analysis cherry-picks examples, using them to explain an argument without considering the examples’ place in a larger context. In the absence of a big-picture context, some examples might even end up contradicting the author’s conclusion. As such, one cannot ignore elements to suit their analysis, and this is why in general, analysis on anime is most useful for a reader when the author has seen a work in full: messages are still being developed, and ideas explored when a series is underway. Trying to analyse a series for its meaning when not all outcomes are known results in an incomplete picture that diminishes a conclusion. However, when a writer choose to deliberately omit details to fit a conclusion despite the full story being available, they commit what is formally known as a fallacy of incomplete evidence.

Nearly every episode of Glasslip returns to the image of a train on the tracks, coming and going…Yukinari Imi and Yanagi Takayama. From the very start of the show, Yana (the member of the initial group most inclined towards motion through her desire to become a model) has been riding the train daily to her various lessons—it is her river of time.

The town itself—seen frequently from an aeriel [sic] view at different times of day—is associated with the sickly Sachi Nagamiya and the boy who loves her, Hiro Shriosaki. Together, these two embody the spirit of the town: far less dynamic and drastic in its slow march through time, but no less incessant. It fits these two perfectly. While Sachi is too physically weak to ever effect momentous change (even her attempt to upset the love affair of her best friend fails due to her condition), Hiro is correspondingly glacial in his movements due to his insecurity. And yet, both of them inch forward. “For tomorrow” becomes the shared catchphrase of their eventual mutual affection, a emblem of their slow-moving, but never still relationship. There are no bursts of motion, there is only steady, constant change—like the gradual turning of the day.

Time flows, but its motion is not the same for all.

While Glasslip may have predominantly dealt with Tōko and Kakeru, it also introduced Sachi Nagamiya, Hiro Shirosaki, Yanagi Takayama and Yukinari Imi. Friends of Tōko’s, their worlds are rocked when Tōko dissolved the no-relationship clause, setting in motion the chain of events that impacted their friendship. Feelings come out and are hurt, new, more intimate friendships are born, and in it all, IBlessAll finds its relevance to transience and time. Visual elements act as metaphors for the passage of time, whether it be the discernible movement of trains standing in for the motion that Yanagi and Yukinari find themselves in, or the gradual but consistent pacing in the developing relationship between Sachi and Hiro. Although they might be vastly different, everything is related by time. IBlessAll discusses how transience impacts not just Tōko and Kakeru, but also extends it to her friends. The idea that time creates fleeting moments applies to everyone, and so, each character serves to portray a particular aspect of this fleetingness. By considering everything, IBlessAll’s analysis avoids the fallacy of incomplete evidence, and succinctly defines that time is an overarching theme within Glasslip.

And THIS is what this show is about. Everything that happens around them is just a romantic slice of life setting that drives this dramatic world. People meet, fall in love, some have their feelings unrequited, some have to fight for and win their love, etc. The actual drama is however between the two main characters – will they stay together or not, will Kakeru find his home with Touko or will he leave till [sic] better times, will Touko find the way to see the fireworks all together or not? These are the questions raised by the anime.

On the other hand, Soulelle discards Yukinari, Yanagi, Sachi and Hiro entirely, focusing solely on Tōko and Kakeru. There is a reason for their presence in the show, otherwise, Glasslip would have only Tōko and Kakeru present if their story was indeed the only contributor to the narrative. To callously discard their contributions in Glasslip means that Soulelle’s discussion is incomplete, and one suspects that this was also deliberate. Yukinari and Yanagi do not experience the same conflicts as Tōko and Kakeru, nor do Sachi and Hiro; Yukinari and Yanagi both deal with unrequited love, while Sachi and Hiro cautiously and gently begin exploring the extent of their feelings for one another. Neither are directly relevant to notions of home, departure or loneliness that Soulelle posits as being Glasslip‘s main theme; were Yukinari, Yanagi, Sachi and Hiro mentioned in Soulelle’s passage, the inadequacies would immediately be apparent: even if we accepted that loneliness creates a vivid sense of imagination in Tōko and Kakeru, it is not possible to apply this for everyone else. Soulelle’s argument and conclusion fails on the virtue of selective attention, and therefore, cannot be said to say anything meaningful for a reader.

  • By comparison, Soulelle’s analysis would be an D – utterly failing in making a point and defending it, it also insults the reader and is only saved by suggesting that Kakeru’s refusal to live outside of a tent hints at his fear of settling down and losing people again. It came as quite a surprise to me that Soulelle’s analysis can be considered as “inspired” or deserving of a +109 score on Reddit. As it turns out, Soulelle had one important advantage over other interpretations: this analysis was the first detailed one written, and readers flocked to it on the virtue that no one else had yet provided their thoughts on what Glasslip was about. Presently, I have not seen Soulelle attempt to analyse The World in Colours the same way as Glasslip, suggesting to me that The World in Colours is much more straightforwards to understand (and therefore, below Soulell’s level).

  • I have heard that Soulelle has not returned to defend or rationalise the analysis that was provided: this post-and-fade behaviour is reminiscent of one Dani Cavallaro, who is known for publishing volume after volume of dense, unoriginal and oftentimes, error-filled analyses on anime, but otherwise refuses to be contacted or communicated with. I’ve previously written two rebuttals to Soulelle’s arguments myself, but received no response, either.

  • I personally would find it quite interesting if I did hear from Soulelle; gaining some insight into the reasons behind the rudeness would help me understand how some folks reach their conclusions and why they structure things the way that they do even when their chosen method does not conform with best practises. With the amount of time that has elapsed, however, I’d say this is going to be quite unlikely: Soulelle’s modus operandi seems to be dropping patronising analyses and never sticking around to explain them further.

  • Being first past the post has a huge potential to shape prevailing opinions for better or worse: even in academia, the first research group or author to publish a result will get the credit for a discovery, and the first cohort to make an innovation will be consigned to history as the discoverers of something new, even if other similar research and developments were occurring concurrently. In retrospect, because Soulelle had the only effort on explaining Glasslip, the community immediately would have been impressed by this review despite its numerous and severe flaws.

  • IBlessAll’s analysis did not come out until a year later, and while counted as a solid talk, never did quite have the same impact on providing folks with an alternative perspective on Glasslip as did Soulelle’s talk. The consequences of being first manifest here, and this is something that plagues those who write about anime time and time again: it is frustrating to see well-rationalised arguments from lesser-known individuals be discarded in favour of illegible babble from “authorities” simply because the latter was able to push their opinions out first.

Execution

A technically excellent analysis with solid arguments, a logical conclusion that takes into account the big picture can still be unconvincing to readers if it is syntactically poor, filled with spelling mistakes, or presupposes the reader’s disposition. Analyses with spelling or grammatical errors show that the author does not have the care to polish their work and therefore, lacks conviction in their own conclusions. However, these are not as severe as making assumptions about the reader – if one supposes that the reader can follow their thought process, then gaps are left behind in their analysis, and it may not be clear as to how a conclusion might follow from a series of arguments. Worse yet, if one openly states that the reader is lacking something fundamental, and that the conclusion of their analysis should be obvious, they have essentially insulted their readers. A good analysis assumes nothing, explains everything in full detail, walking people through every step of the thought process, and never criticises the readers for supposedly missing something “obvious”.

My goodness, people, I don’t understand what is so complicated about this show that everyone has troubles [sic] comprehending. Everything’s very, VERY simple.

IBlessAll’s analysis is professional and thorough: it is detailed and takes the effort to explain everything in sufficient depth so that readers are always able to follow where the argument is headed next. There are few spelling mistakes, and the post is well-formatted. Evidently, IBlessAll has put in an effort, telling readers that they have conviction in their arguments, and that things are worth considering. However, Soulelle comes across as rude to readers: opening the analysis with the claim that everything is simple and implying that everyone is missing something basic, readers are greeted with hostility. Soulelle immediate sets the tone that their position is not up for discussion, that readers must listen to them, and those who disagree with what follows are not lacing in some way. This approach is not only immature, but also conveys that the author has no faith in the strength of their arguments. Rather than counting on a logical, well-justified series of arguments leading to a conclusion and that which invite discussion, Soulelle conveys exasperation, asking if people understand why things are the way they are. The passage places the burden of proof onto the reader by asking them to do their own research, dismisses other perspectives with a casual “believe it or not [my perspective is the right one]” and reduces Glasslip‘s meaning to a question the readers must answer for themselves because the answer is “obvious”. By mocking readers and their abilities, implying that other perspectives are wrong and generally coming across as confrontational, weaknesses in Soulelle’s analysis are immediately apparent.

  • Of late, controversies at Anime News Network have arisen because their authors have published perspectives on shows such as The Rising of the Shield Hero that are quite politically-charged, intended to evoke outrage, and moreover, have taken to labelling anyone who opposed their perspectives. These early posts have the potential to influence opinions on an anime and even dissuade viewers from continuing on with a series. The impact of being first is not to be understated, and Anime News Network’s writers appear to understand this; readers may view them as an authority on anime and therefore hold that their opinions have more weight than is warranted, which in turn means that Anime News Network could use their influence to discourage people from watching otherwise excellent series or films.

  • Anime films are particularly vulnerable to this: one of their writers states that “this is the reason why there’s no issue with me reviewing films” – because of the long delay in when a movie is screened in Japan and when its home release comes out, Anime News Network’s writers can monopolise a perspective on movies. The end result is that any movie not consistent with their tastes will be given a negative review, and then readers will enter the film with these preconceptions, diminishing their experience and creating a positive feedback loop where the film will be less enjoyable.

  • This phenomenon has already occurred with Gundam: Narrative and Non Non Biyori Vacation; until these movies come out on BD, I will not be able to refute claims made in their reviews, and by then, my discussions are likely to be ignored because the community already has established their opinions based entirely on earlier perspectives. This is an occupational hazard of being a casual blogger, but for me, I write for reasons beyond trying to enforce an opinion on entertainment: this blog exists for me to simply record my thoughts and share them with interested individuals.

  • As such, while I get that it is infuriating to be ignored or to have the impression that one’s thoughts are being ignored, the true joy of writing is to write for oneself and for those readers who have come to enjoy the blogger’s contents. This post is predominantly for the reader looking to see if a writer is worth listening to, and from a writer’s perspective, one should always strive to be honest, genuine and polite in their writings, doing everything possible to help a reader find reason to enjoy one’s works.

  • I expect my readers to be constantly exercising their own judgement when reading my posts; everything I’ve said here also applies to my writing, as well. If I am making assumptions about the reader, failing to be complete or have not said anything meaningful in a post, then that was not a good post, and the reader should not take it to have weight. Similarly, readers who find a post clear, comprehensive and fun to read are free to draw more from it.

Altogether, the two different analyses that I’ve used as examples here illustrate the vast disparity between what makes an effective analysis, as well as what relegates an analysis to being unfit for consideration. A good analysis is clear, focused, covers all relevant points and thoroughly explains things for readers while maintaining a professional tone. Simply, any analysis (or presentation of an opinion in general) that does not do an adequate job with these elements usually is lacking; whether it be an incoherent argument or lack of evidence, weak analyses will instead aim to obfuscate, obscure and insult in an attempt to cover up its short-comings. This is how I determine whether or not a position merits consideration. While I’ve picked two older analyses as motivating examples, the same rubric can be applied to determine if reviews and analysis, even those from Anime News Network, deserve to be counted as being useful. Similarly, some of the more well-known YouTube channels (especially those claiming to have “analysis”) are not exempt from this criteria: if a YouTube persona cannot say anything useful as to enhance the viewer’s experience, or be civil with their viewers, then their thoughts have no weight. Having a clear set of criteria for whether or not something holds weight translates to deciding whether or not a controversy really is thus, or if it is merely being blown out of proportions. The reality is that there are numerous pieces out there worth reading or watching, but there are an equal number of pieces where the author might not have the conviction to stand by their perspectives. This shows in their writing, and regardless of whatever their reasons for putting out such a talk might be, I appreciate that the readers’ time is valuable; knowing when to dismiss an opinion (and its proponents) is often preferable to confronting those who aren’t looking for anything logical. Such individuals cannot be reasoned or negotiated with, and truthfully, life’s too short to be spent dealing with these folks: I would rather my readers pursue the things that bring them happiness and positivity with the time that they do have, and leaving this post, I hope that my readers find this useful as one of many different means of assessing whether or not something holds value, to the extent where one should spend their time giving it consideration.

Insights in Character Songs from Glasslip: A Refrain to Sachi Nagamiya (Kimi e to Refrain Lyrics)

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” —Confucius

Released late in October, the Glasslip character song album, Utagoe no Kakera (Fragments of Singing Voice) featured performances from each of the characters in Glasslip; while Glasslip itself proved to be a disappointment on multiple fronts, from an inconsistent narrative to misleading symbols and unclear character goals, the anime’s audio and visual aspects were particularly strong. Glasslip‘s musical score served to project a particular atmosphere and mood where character dialogue and actions were inadequate; the soundtrack’s combination of classical pieces with incidental tracks work in conjunction to convey a sense of wistfulness and confusion that invariably accompanies love. As a character song album, none of the vocal tracks in Fragments of Singing Voice would have made it into Glasslip proper, but each song serves to do what the anime could not: they provide more insight into each of the characters and their personalities, beliefs and desires. Of the tracks on Fragments of Singing Voice, the one that stood out most was Sachi Nagamiya’s Kimi e to Refrain (君へとRefrain, “A Refrain To You”), performed by Risa Taneda. In contrast with Sachi’s characterisation as a quiet individual fond of books, Taneda’s delivery of Kimi e to Refrain is spirited, upbeat and sexy, giving another perspective of one of Glasslip‘s least explored characters. It is easily my favourite song on the Fragments of Singing Voice album, and curiosity led me to translate the lyrics, which yield a considerable amount of insight into Sachi’s character well beyond what viewers saw in Glasslip.

Japanese Lyrics

  • Whenever Kimi e to Refrain plays, I think about long summer days, endless blue skies and a sort of excitement associated with the prospects of a full day to myself. The rhythm and composition of this song also brings to mind the atmosphere surrounding high school as the weather warms. Curiosity about what this song entailed led me to talk to some of my friends, and with their help, we transcribed the lyrics and worked out what the song was about. It turns out that this is indeed a song evocative of summer, a season I feel to be most appropriate for discovering new love. Here’s a copy of the song for all interested readers’ listening enjoyment.

Kanji

​紡がれた言葉に閉じ込めた気持ちを
読み取るように今日もまた

行く当ても分からず心は旅に出る
いつかはたどり着くのかな
決めるのはいつだって自分なんだって
眩しさに歪む明日へと迷わずに行きたくて

変わらない笑顔とやだしさに包まれ
何かが変わって行く子に季節を越えて
抱えきれない思いのかけらキラキラ君へとリフレイン

不確かでもいい素直なままで心逸らさないで先へ

線香花火から落ちた赤い雫
熱く儚く弾けた

どうしても見つからない場所があった
君の名を呼ぶその度に吹き抜ける風がいた

些細なざわめきに心は揺れ動き
もどかしさを抱え理由を探してた
忘れたくないこの瞬間がいつか答えになるんだと
今は先へと進んでみよう君の隣で笑ってたい

見上げれば幾千の星のストーリー
約束の場所から明日へと迷わずに行けるから

変わらない笑顔とやだしさに包まれ
何かが変わってく子に季節を越えて
抱えきれない想いのかけらキラキラ君へとリフレイン

不確かでもいい素直なままで心逸らさないで先

君の (君の) 側で (側で)

Romaji

​Tsumugareta kotoba ni tojikometa kimochi wo
Yomitoku you ni kyou mo mata

Yukuate mo wakarazu kokoro wa tabi ni deru
Itsuka wa tadoritsuku no kana
Kimeru no wa itsudatte jibun nan datte
Mabushisa ni yugamu asu e to mayowazu ni yukitakute

Kawaranai egao to yasashisa ni tsutsumare
Nanika ga kawatte iku kono kisetsu wo koete
Kakaekirenai omoi no kakera kirakira kimi e to refrain

Futashika demo ii sunao na mama de kokoro sorasanai de saki e

Senkouhanabi kara ochita akai shizuku
Atsuku hakanaku hajiketa

Doushitemo mitsukaranai basho ga atta
Kimi no na wo yobu sono tabi ni fukinukeru kaze ga ita

Sasaina zawameki ni kokoro wa yure ugoki
Modokashisa wo kakae riyuu wo sagashiteta
Wasuretakunai kono shunkan ga itsuka kotae ni narundato
Ima wa saki e to susunde miyou kimi no tonari de warattetai

Miagereba ikusen no hoshi no story
Yakusoku no basho kara asu e to mayowazu ni yukeru kara

Kawaranai egao to yasashisa ni tsutsumare
Nanika ga kawatteku kono kisetsu wo koete
Kakaekirenai omoi no kakera kirakira kimi e to refrain

Futashika demo ii sunao na mama de kokoro sorasanai de saki e

Kimi no (kimi no) soba de (soba de)

English Translation

  • During the translation process, I’ve done my best to choose words that are able to flow with the rhythm of Kimi e to Refrain, and as I’m no songwriter, what we’ve got here is an approximation at best. While I’ve modified some of the phrasings and word order to make the lyrics sound more natural in English, I think that the meaning from the original Japanese lyrics are largely retained despite these changes. Doing this post has also led me to learn that the reason why Cantonese songs can be readily covered from Japanese is because Cantonese is mono-syllabic. Consider just how well Seiko Matsuda’s 大切なあなた (Romaji “Taisetsu na Anata“, “Important You”) is performed by Vivian Lai in the Cantonese equivalent, 陽光路上 (Jyutping “joeng4 gwong1 lou6 soeng5”, “Sunshine Road”).

​Feelings that were trapped in woven words
I’ll try to decipher them again today

My heart goes on a journey with no destination
I wonder if it’ll arrive someday
The one who decides that is always me
I want to enter without hesitation into a tomorrow distorted by the brilliance

Surrounded by an unchanging smile and kindness
Something starts to change beyond this season
An emotion I can’t contain, a sparkling refrain from you

Be straightforward, it’s fine if it’s uncertain, my heart won’t waver as it moves forward

Red sparks that fall from the sparkler
Burst with warmth fleetingly

A place I couldn’t find no matter what
There was a wind that blew whenever I called your name

A trivial rumour sways and moves my heart
Finding the reasons for my frustration and embracing it
I don’t want to forget, this moment will become the answer
I want to move forward, I want to laugh beside you

If we look up, there are thousands of stars with stories
We can move from the promised place to tomorrow without hesitation

Surrounded by an unchanging smile and kindness
Something starts to change beyond this season
An emotion I can’t contain, a sparkling refrain from you

Be straightforward, it’s fine if it’s uncertain, my heart won’t waver as it moves forward

By your (by your) side (side)

Kimi e to Refrain speaks of Sachi’s worldview: fond of reading and quiet environments, Sachi feels that she has troubles understanding how she feels about those around her. Tempted by her desire to move into the future but also being tempered by her doubts about the unknowns, Kimi e to Refrain juxtaposes these conflicting feelings, and the lyrics shows that Sachi is the sort of person who ultimately can move forwards as long as she is with someone to support her. In Glasslip, Sachi frequently leans on Tōko for emotional support until Tōko dissolved a promise where their group of friends would remain such. Subsequently, Hiro begins spending more time with Sachi, acting on his feelings. Kimi e to Refrain is seemingly ambiguous as to whether or not the person Sachi most wishes to spend her future with is Tōko or Hiro; the lyrics have a certain degree of romance to them. In the song, Sachi expresses that these feelings are as beautiful and transient as fireworks, and that as others have undoubtedly shared this experience previously, she’s willing to seize the moment and make the most of things. In describing the romantic and transient nature of her feelings, Sachi is likely referring to the moment in Glasslip‘s tenth episode when she expresses her feelings for Tōko and Hiro. Despite having long felt protective of Tōko and hating Kakeru for disrupting the status quo, Kakeru’s actions indirectly result in Hiro acting on his feelings for Sachi, beginning the start of a hitherto unexplored dynamic between the two.

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve done anything related to Glasslip, and this post deals predominantly with Sachi. Folks continue to believe that Sachi and Tōko were more than friends, but after taking a look at Kimi e to Refrain, it becomes clear that while Sachi greatly treasures her friendship with Tōko, she is also willing to step into a world of uncertainties. Throughout Glasslip, Sachi’s propensity for few words means that her feelings aren’t always made known to viewers.

  • Quiet and studious, Sachi’s favourite pastime is reading – she spends her free time by the window with a book in hand. Her interests are the most similar to my own of anyone in the cast, and she’s my favourite of the characters in Glasslip. I recall a ways back, I did a thought experiment on what my ideal first date would look like – with Sachi, taking her to a bookstore would likely be a fantastic starting point. The larger bookstores from my part of the world usually are close to a coffee shop, and back during the summer, I fondly recall an afternoon where I spent an afternoon at the bookstore, browsing through their vast inventory, before sitting down for a caffè mocha.

  • I’ve not thought about it, but it looks like that doing this sort of thing constitutes as ‘taking myself on  a date’. Admittedly, it is fun to sip a caffè mocha and watch as the world proceeds with their business: when I think about it, a bookstore-coffee shop combination is actually not a bad place for a date. Of course, this is just me, and I imagine the odds of finding someone who shares this particular perspective will be a nontrivial task.

  • Sachi seems to be a bit more on the frail side: midway into Glasslip, she is admitted to hospital. Whatever other faults Glasslip may have had, the visuals within the anime were top-tier, matching those seen in Tari Tari. Whether it be the play of light in glass beads, warm colours of a summer afternoon or the details in the town, everything in Glasslip was stunning to behold; this is one of the reasons why I persisted through the anime.

  • I watched Glasslip the same summer that I watched GochiUsa, and speaking to her skill, it’s not immediately apparent that Rise Taneda voices Sachi, so different is her delivery of Sachi’s lines in Glasslip against her presentation of GochiUsa‘s Rize Tedeza. Most know Taneda best for her performance as Your Lie In April‘s Kaori Miyazono. However, in Kimi e to Refrain, Taneda’s singing voice is most similar to how she performs Rize’s character songs.

  • Over the course of Glasslip, Sachi and Hiro begin spending more time together, both during awkward moments where Hiro must escape before Tōko discovers what’s going on, and later, once things settle down, the two go on a few dates with one another. The pairing in Glasslip that left viewers with the strongest negative impression was Yanagi and Yukinari; Yukinari has feelings for Tōko, while Yanagi has feelings for Yukinari. She makes his feelings known to him, and while the two remain on cordial terms for the remainder of Glasslip after he turns her down, Yanagi takes up running herself and from my perspective, exudes a sense of melancholy despite doing her best to stay positive.

  • Glasslip wraps up at the end of summer vacation, with everyone returning to classes. Looking back, Glasslip is something that likely would have been more clear with its symbols and motifs had it a bit more time to flesh these elements out. Additional time would have also given opportunity to explore the growing closeness between Sachi and Hiro, while also showing how Yanagi and Yukinari move on in their own ways. However, given the overwhelmingly negative reception directed at Glasslip, reflected through the fact that Glasslip had the lowest BD sales of any PA Works anime, it is unlikely that Glasslip will receive any sort of continuation or expansion.

Because notions of journeys, heading into the future and moving forwards are so prominently mentioned in Sachi’s Kimi e to Refrain, the song strongly suggests that this person she wishes to rely on, to walk the future with, is Hiro. Things began changing under the fireworks for the pair, and rumours of a romance between Hiro and Sachi definitely circulate, which Kimi e to Refrain references; because Tōko’s friendship with Sachi is an older one, Kimi e to Refrain is not likely referring to her. Instead, it is these newfound feelings that prompts Sachi to want to seize the future with more confidence even as she hesitates, owing to her old friendship, and Kimi e to Refrain‘s final stanza suggest that the brilliance of these emotions that lead her to want to move on. Consequently, through Kimi e to Refrain, it becomes clear that Sachi is able to let go of her reliance on Tōko and wholeheartedly pursue her relationship with Hiro, whereas previously, she was struggling to understand how she felt about both Hiro and Tōko. This is evident in the progression of events in Glasslip, where Sachi begins spending more time with Hiro, pursing the future that she’s so uncertain about. While existing perspectives remain adamant that Sachi has feelings for Tōko, Kimi e to Refrain clears up one of the elements that Glasslip began exploring, and it is quite apparent that Glasslip could have succeeded in illustrating the turbulent nature of relationships as youth begin exploring them had the anime chosen to focus on these aspects sans any supernatural, Newtype-like phenomenon.

A Glasslip analysis: Deciphering what Glasslip intended to be about through its opening sequence and its impact on viewer expectations

“We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation.” —Ivan Illich

Though a fair number of viewers do indeed watch the opening sequences of an anime when a season starts, it would appear that the visuals and even lyrics in an anime’s opening are often overlooked in anime discussions. This is somewhat unfortunate, given that the opening sequences of an anime can yield some rather unexpected insights into what an anime is intended to be about through its choice of visuals. Glasslip has long been held to be a difficult-to-understand anime owing to its execution, which resulted in the anime branching outwards in several directions, each of which were not incorporated neatly into the story as a whole. When the finale had aired, agreement was universal amongst the audience that this anime had failed to satisfy expectations. In order to understand why this disappointment resulted, it is necessary to take a look at the opening sequence of Glasslip: set to ChouCho’s “Natsu no Hi to Kimi no Koe”, the opening depicts the livelihoods of a group of friends during its ninety-second run. Starting with Tōko rushing off towards class and meeting up with Sachi, the opening immediately presents Tōko and Saichi as friends. Similarly, Yanagi and Yukinari share a strong friendship, as well: prior to Kakeru’s arrival, the two trained together and supported one another as friends. Meanwhile, Hiro is already hinted as having feelings for Sachi, when he gazes at her conversing with Tōko at Kazemichi. All five friends are seen together at the cafe to establish that this is a closely-knit group. When the frame switches over to Kakeru listening for something, the opening aims to convey the notion that this new character is of a lesser-known background. The decision to immediately illustrate Tōko’s “fragments of the future” after Kakeru’s appearance, while she’s working at the glass shop, and the subsequent scenes viewed through a glass bead, serves to illustrate that this new character, an outsider to the group, will act as a catalyst for the events of Glasslip. To be featured in the opening, this phenomenon is implied to play a significant role within the anime proper, and its failure to have been explored properly accounts for why Glasslip is consistently said to have fallen short of expectations.

Taken together, the imagery in Glasslip‘s opening shows that the anime is about two elements. The first is that there is a focus on a group of friends where relationships begin to take shape and over time, gradually alter their dynamics. To reinforce this notion, they are depicted as closely-knit such that once events are instigated, the extent of the impact imparted by relationships can readily be seen. These events are instigated by Kakeru, who is implied to share an unexplained connection with Tōko. This tie is thus expected to be the element that sets in motion the events of the anime. Consequently, the audiences’ expectation for Glasslip is that the anime will be about relationships, and that there will be an adequate explanation for the phenomenon that seems to link Tōko with Kakeru. The usual rationale for including supernatural elements in an ordinary world is that authors wish to demonstrate that some things, such as love, might not be so easy even in the presence of additional powers that are long perceived to simplify the process. People have long wished for the power to delve into someone’s mind and retrieve their thoughts at will to better understand them, and authors often aim to show that these powers might not be the rose-coloured capabilities that most might otherwise regard them to be. This leads to numerous possibilities, varying between extremities: Tōko’s group of friends could fall apart under strain from Kakeru and Tōko’s perceptions, or these powers somehow aid the friends in accepting one another’s relationships and feelings. So, the second element is expected to be the effects of a supernatural phenomenon on the progression of love, and how it proceeded would reflect on the author’s opinions of said powers.

Additional Remarks and Screenshots

  • I promise that this will be the last time I speak of Glasslip: this exercise was born of my asking the question “how can I utilise the credit-free opening sequence screenshots”? After viewing the opening sequence several times, I realised that the opening was meant to do two things. The first is to reinforce the idea that Tōko and her friends have a well-established equilibrium in their group’s dynamic.

  • The second is meant to emphasise that the so-called “fragments of the future” are most certainly meant to play a significant role in Glasslip. From an objective perspective, Glasslip succeeded in depicting the changes in Tōko’s group of friends following her lifting their no-relationships clause, but failed entirely with respect to dealing with the supernatural aspect. Some have tried to dismiss it altogether, but if said phenomenon was intended to be a metaphor, it would have been explicitly mentioned as such.

  • Numerous viewers have expressed dismay that Yanagi was stuck in such an anime and felt that of all the characters, she merited better development. The opening shows that, prior to Yukinari’s botched attempt to ask Tōko out, Yanagi had been quite close to Yukinari.

  • Similarly, Hiro gazes longingly at someone, and the camera changes frames to focus on Sachi. Even prior to Glasslip‘s beginning, it’s clear that in spite of Tōko’s no-relationship clause, feelings between her friends are beginning to emerge. Looking into things further, it becomes clear that Tōko is enjoying the current times and has little desire for the status quo to be disrupted, for she very much loves her friends and the stability there is in the moment.

  • It therefore should come as no surprise that some viewers believe the theme of Glasslip is about companionship, a fear of loneliness and the “fleeting nature of a moment”, better known in Japanese as mono no awareMono no aware is a concept that stems from the Edo period and deals with a sort of gentle melancholy in knowing (and accepting) that things are transient. It does fit with Glasslip quite nicely.

  • However, I would only award partial credit to such an answer, given that such themes can be explored without the presence of growing relationships and couples. In Glasslip, the notion of dating, asking out people and dealing with the fallout associated with unsuccessful kokuhaku are at the forefront of all discussion once Kakeru arrives and Tōko dissolves their group’s relationship ban. This single action should immediately let viewers know that relationships form a critical part of Glasslip, and that Tōko’s decision is in part motivated by Kakeru’s arrival.

  • Inspection of this image finds that Tōko is reading an English II book, another subtle but telling detail that the opening is set only a short ways before Glasslip itself began. The strength of Tōko and Sachi’s friendship is also shown here: the two are seen together in a few moments during the opening, although it was not sufficient to predict Sachi’s kokuhaku to Tōko. Said confession of love proved to be unexpected, but also inconsequential.

  • While shown extensively in the opening, Yukinari and Hiro are not seen in their school uniforms, given that Glasslip is set during the summer. Given that this is the group’s last summer together before graduation, the summer itself takes on a special kind of significance as each friend would strive to make the most of things. Instead, when the no-relationships clause is dissolved, much drama and chaos ensues.

  • Glasslip is stylised as a single world, but one must wonder what the title itself must mean. “Glass lip” would be a logical decomposition, and this is shown in the end credits. However, the phrase does not have an inherent meaning in English. I would imagine that it is a metaphor of some sort: we might suppose that “lip” in this context refers to a “a projecting edge on a container or other hollow object”, such that “Glass lip” refers to the edges on the a glass surface, such as a pitcher, where the glass bends around and alter the glass’ optical properties.

  • It’d be a stretch for this definition to encompass the beads that Tōko is fond of creating. The reason why glass is so emphasised in Glasslip is probably because it’s something that’s transparent and therefore, can be seen through. However, depending on the refractive properties of said glass, light passes through it differently. Consequently, the view through things like a glass bead appears quite distorted.

  • To illustrate that Kakeru is a new comer, the opening has him shown with his back facing the camera first, before changing to a front shot of him with his backpack to his right. This image is evocative of a wanderer, not dissimilar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s rangers and already paints him as someone who’s used to travelling about.

  • It is therefore significant to understand why P.A. Works chose to immediately cycle to a scene of Tōko, whose eyes begin sparkling after she looks upon glass. The decision to have Kakeru and Tōko back to back signals that Glasslip is intended to detail a phenomenon further: going from the sequence of events in the opening alone, it is clear that Kakeru and Tōko share a bond through the glass. As such, it is a valid expectation to imagine that this relationship would be explored further.

  • Numerous frames in the opening sequence are filtered by a glass lens of sort, becoming distorted to the edges, and even where it’s clear in the centre, the field of view is covered with snow. I’ve previously noted that looking through a glass bead is akin to considering the future, in that it’s going to be uncertain even if one can visualise what’s happening. This forms the remainder of the moments in the opening sequence.

  • I absolutely love “Natsu no hi to kimi no koe” (The summer Day and Your Voice), which is performed by ChouCho (of Girls und Panzer‘s “Dream Riser”). The lyrics speak plainly about what it must feel like to be in love. A light, breezy instrumental component complements  ChouCho’s beautiful voice, and amongst all of the openings I’ve heard in an anime, “Natsu no hi to kimi no koe” stands amongst the top with Lia’s “My Soul, Your Beats” and Aya Hirano’s “Bouken Desho Desho”.

  • If asked about praises I’ve got for Glasslip beyond its exceptional artwork, the soundtrack and opening theme would be the things I’d mention. “Natsu no hi to kimi no koe” is good enough to bring me to the verge of tears, and the soundtrack itself is quite good, featuring a variety of classical pieces interspersed with motifs that set the atmosphere for different scenes in Glasslip. On the soundtrack itself, one track differentiates itself above the others: titled “唐突な当たり前の孤独” (“Sudden, expected loneliness”), it’s a gentle, elegant piece that runs for nearly ten minutes.

  • Properly composed, music is can tell a story on its own, and “Sudden, expected loneliness” seems to fit Kakeru’s emotions as he arrives in Hinodehama, with a piano presenting a hopeful, optimistic tone. Strings come into play, weaving with the piano  as he meets Tōko and comes to the realisation he’s fallen in love with her. His hesitancy, and doubts, are reflected as the song slows down, as he recalls that he also desires someone to be with, and somewhere to call home. As he comes to terms with his feelings, the music crescendos into motifs from “Natsu no hi to kimi no koe”.

  • The song then takes on a wistful feeling, as Tōko does not immediately reciprocates, but the strings then swell up, symbolising how both Tōko and Kakeru accept their feelings for one another. The more melancholic aspects suggest that, though this is a happy love, there are also sadder elements as well, hinting at the heartache that accompanies the discovery of a new love, and that for every love that blossoms, someone may inadvertently, unintentionally get hurt in the process.

  • Consequently, “Sudden, expected loneliness” is the one song on the soundtrack that succinctly captures all of the feelings and emotions present in Glasslip as the different characters come to terms with their own feelings. Not very many soundtracks feature a single song that is able to aurally represent an entire anime’s worth of thematic elements, attesting to the power that music may have when it is composed from the heart. As such, though I was not really a fan of how Glasslip turned out, I do not begrudge the notion that there are definitely redeeming factors in Glasslip.

  • With that being said, I can sympathise with all of the audiences who found only disappointment in Glasslip: here was an opportunity to tell a unique love story that was ultimately squandered by poor writing. I stress that those who did not understand Glasslip are not deficient in any way, given that the anime itself simply was not coherent and consistent about its main theme. On that token, those who claim to “understand” Glasslip are largely deluded if they think that the lack of coherency is a part of the art and somehow makes Glasslip “deep” and “meaningful”.

  • If asked to give Glasslip a numerical rating, I would awards this series a three out of ten, with points scored for the exceptional music and artwork, and no points awarded because ultimately, it was not able to deliver a worthwhile story to the audience. I kid not when I say that even something like Kiss X Sis has a more substantial plot compared to Glasslip (and yes, I did watch Kiss X Sis but had considerable difficulty writing a reflection for it).

When everything is said and done, Glasslip is able to only minimally tell this story by means of exploring the first element- Tōko’s friends appear to have reached a new equilibrium after their summer ends: Hiro and Sachi are together, as are Yukinari and Yanagi. Naturally, Tōko and Kakeru also come to terms with their feelings. This is a group that’s no longer as closely-knit as they were previously, and it is clear that as their summer draws to a close, their dynamics have shifted. However, when exploring the second aspect, the plot is strewn with symbolic debris that obfuscates the intended theme. If Glasslip had discarded these “fragments of the future” and merely focused on the characters, the end result would have been a familiar but well-executed story about the impact of relationships. Otherwise, Glasslip would have needed to use the “fragments of the future” much more extensively to deal with the implications (and limitations) of magic on something as complex as love. The opening illustrates that Glasslip is clearly intended to make use of these “fragments of the future” as a central element in its plot. When the anime failed to make use of this aspect to tell a more complete story about the nature of love, audiences naturally disapproved. While proponents of Glasslip may rationalise to their heart’s content that the anime “was rewarding in the end” and “everything’s [very] simple”, the fact remains is that a critical element (important enough to warrant inclusion in the opening) was inadequately explored. As such, Glasslip essentially delivered half an anime to the audiences, explaining why Glasslip is poorly regarded amongst the viewers.

Deficiencies in Soulelle’s Glasslip Analysis: What Glasslip Really Was About

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” —Margaret J. Wheatley

  • The aim of this editorial is to provide a convincing counterargument to one Soulelle’s interpretation of Glasslip. I disagree with the prevailing sentiment that said interpretation is able to account for everything in Glasslip. My own analysis of Glasslip was provided in my final reflection and won’t be reiterated here: this post deals with flaws in Soulelle’s interpretation. For those seeking a more concise version of this post, “Soulelle is wrong about Glasslip“.

A lack of an easily-identifiable thematic element in Glasslip contributed to its poor reception upon its conclusion. Far from being thought-provoking, the anime suffered from ill development in aspects that were critical to the story, which meant that symbolism was not sufficiently effective to convey the anime’s main message. At its core, however, Glasslip is an anime about the uncertainty associated with the pursuit of relationships. Amongst a small group of friends, Hiro and Sachi express interest in starting a relationship, while a sort of love-triangle exists between Yannagi, Yukinari and Tōko. However, as the first episode demonstrates, this is a closely-knit group, and Tōko desires for things to always remain thus. Kakeru’s arrival is thus aimed at providing the catalyst to disrupt this equilibrium, and originally, inclusion of supernatural elements and purported symbols (especially regarding the chickens and Kakeru’s tent) provides the means to further demonstrate this point. Even with an execution that leaves said point unclear, things seem straightforward enough, at least until another explanation from one Soulelle enters the discussion, writing:

My goodness, people, I don’t understand what is so complicated about this show that everyone has troubles [sic] comprehending. Everything’s very, VERY simple.

There are two main characters in this show, around who evolves the main theme of the show: feeling oneself at home.

Jonathan is not a mere chicken! Learn your director already! Nishimura Junji uses chickens all the time in his shows! This is his freaking trope! Go watch True Tears if you don’t believe me. It also has snow and chickens. As for Glasslip, most of the times Jonathan represents Kakeru himself. To be more precise it represents the problems that Kakeru struggles with.

Remember the 1st episode? The scene where Kakeru meets Touko at school for the first time? The dialogue about free-range Jonathan vs living in a cell? Have you all forgotten about it? If yes, it’s now the best time to recall it! Kakeru, having no particular place where he feels at home, is the one who DOESN’T like the concept of free-range animals. Kakeru shows Touko how dangerous a life for Jonathan is if it’s up to go around wherever it wants. Kakeru is the one who says that he’d rather live in a cell – he’s tired to change his place of living all the time. He wants his home to be set in stone like a cell for an animal.

Why the heck do you think Kakeru lives in the tent? Have you ever even tried to think about it? It’s so freaking simple – because he changes houses all the time, because his family always moves from one city to another! So the only CONSTANT place for him where he can sleep and feel himself home is his freaking tent! This IS his cell that always stay the same, regardless where he is located geographically.

Do you understand why there’s always such an accent on the sea birds crying in the show? They DO as well [sic] represent Kakeru – they keep changing their home from season to season. They spend winter in one area and then move back to another area for summer. This is what brings Kakeru troubles and loneliness. This is what Touko felt and got scared of – Kakeru will “fly away to another place once the season changes”, e.g. when it gets too cold.

So Kakeru now faces a challenge. He has two options. Option 1 – he keeps “flying” with his mum, losing Touko, experiencing the loneliness he’s so tired of. Option 2 – he settles down to stay with Touko who makes him feel home here. But option 2 is also scary, because then he’s losing connection to his mother and has to actually start living his own life. Kakeru is obviously scared of this heavy responsibility – once he decides to stay, he won’t be able to quit if something goes wrong by moving to another place. So he’s frustrated in choosing between the two options.

And believe it or not, Touko is no less scared. Having lived in this one city for so long, she’s scared that her friends will leave and they will no longer meet to watch the fireworks together. Again, THIS is what the show has started with in the first episode! She wants the people dear to her to remain close and connected to each other. And what’s more, she’s now even more scared to lose the one who she fell in love with. Because unlike the chicken Jonathan, who can’t fly despite being a bird, Kakeru can actually fly away if he decides to go with his mother.

Because of their love, because of their fears, and because of their sensitive nature, Touko and Kakeru experience and share their emotions through imagination, otherwise known as “fragments of the future”. It has nothing to do with alternate worlds, fates, other dimensiona [sic], timelines, or other bullshit – it’s just their vivid imagination. They learn about each other and about each other’s feelings and emotions this way.

And THIS is what this show is about. Everything that happens around them is just a romantic slice of life setting that drives this dramatic world. People meet, fall in love, some have their feelings unrequited, some have to fight for and win their love, etc. The actual drama is however between the two main characters – will they stay together or not, will Kakeru find his home with Touko or will he leave till [sic] better times, will Touko find the way to see the fireworks all together or not? These are the questions raised by the anime.

As an opinion piece, Soulelle’s explanation miraculously managed to become widely accepted as the “correct” interpretation of Glasslip; this occurred entirely because of the passages’ length. If it’s detailed, readers reason, it must be correct. Naturally, this isn’t the case, as readers overlook the fact that the analysis itself is dependent on assumptions that must hold true. Soulelle’s interpretation is lacking because it completely ignores critical themes dealing with relationships: if Glasslip had intended to be about feeling at home, it would have focussed entirely on the dynamics between Kakeru and Tōko, giving the pair more time to converse with one another. Given that Hiro, Sachi, Yannagi and Yukinari are also present, and their interactions are explored with a much greater detail than would be appropriate for an anime about just Kakeru and Tōko, it’s clear that Glasslip cannot be about feeling at home. Instead, it’s the conflicting feelings between the characters that drive Glasslip forwards.

It turns out the reason that Soulelle’s passage was widely accepted is because of the first few paragraphs outlining the parallels between Kakeru and the chickens. The claim is that Kakeru, having so long moved between places, finds comfort in the stability associated with being a chicken who resides in an enclosed area. Soulelle reasons that, having moved between different places throughout his life, Kakeru views his tent as being the one place he’s most familiar with, accounting for why he refuses a room in his new home. This demonstrates Kakeru as a character who is longing for somewhere to settle down, but simultaneously is torn with the prospect of losing contact with his mother. This characterisation forms the crux of Soulelle’s argument. Here, Soulelle manages to provide a succinct account of Kakeru’s character, which would in turn yield more insight into the rationale behind his actions. While viewers may gain a modicum of understanding behind Kakeru’s decisions, the significance of this in Glasslip as a whole would depend on the assumption that the chickens alone play a significant role in illustrating Kakeru’s situation. This simply isn’t the case: compared to True Tears, where chickens played a much greater role in indicating Noe’s own internal state and therefore, had a correspondingly greater screentime, the chickens in Glasslip have a much smaller presence. The chickens simply were not sufficiently important as to warrant additional screentime, in turn showing that their significance is limited to only acting as a visual metaphor for Kakeru’s actions.

With the limited significance of the chickens in Glasslip accounted for, we turn to Soulelle’s next claim: that the so-called “fragments of the future” are merely figments of Kakeru and Tōko’s imaginations as they attempt to cope with their feelings. Soulelle provides no further justification for why this is the case, which makes it relatively easy to refute: suppose that Kakeru and Tōko’s imaginations are vivid enough to manifest as the phenomenon depicted in Glasslip. Then, said moments should be able to occur without the inclusion of glass as a catalyst. However, the fact remains is that Glasslip mentions glass beads frequently, and that these beads have properties that allow Tōko to glimpse the future. Were things left to her imagination, the emphasis would not be on the glass beads; it’s quite plausible that in-story, Tōko imagines the glass to have certain properties, but from a literary perspective, the writers would have to make this explicit; they’ve opted to portray glass at the forefront of things, rather than as a background element. From a certain perspective, it’s not difficult to view these glass beads as representing a unique, distorted view on the world that arises when one peers through them. The optical properties of said glass beads would thus make the world seem different, uncertain, and ultimately, these “fragments of the future” are probably feelings arising from an uncertainty for what the future holds, even if one might be able to anticipate a small amount of what might happen. The remainder of Glasslip was obscured by poor writing, so in the absence of official documentation, attempting to link this with the supernatural and continuing on the discussion in this direction is not particularly meaningful. Given the limited evidence, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that glass is intended to serve as the catalyst for Kakeru and Tōko’s glimpses of the “fragments of the future”; it is unreasonable to simply dismiss these elements altogether.

Taken together, Soulelle’s analysis of Glasslip represents a very narrow view of the anime as a whole: the chickens only play a minor role in helping characterise Kakeru, and omitting the presence of the supernatural aspect means that it becomes far easier to forcibly conclude that Glasslip is about finding a home. Therefore, Soulelle’s poorly-presented assessment becomes an excellent example of confirmation bias, in which information is sought or fitted in a manner as to agree with one’s interpretation. Soulelle chooses very specific, minor details and dismisses other details to fit with a personal opinion, and in doing so, produces a passage that inadequately represents Glasslip. As an anime, Glasslip attempted to portray the impact of relationships amongst a group of friends, and Kakeru’s background means that he is unable to properly express how he feels about Tōko: his interference also disrupts the group’s original status quo. Meanwhile, Sachi and Hiro go through some challenges associated with a relationship that’s just started, while Yannagi and Yukinari both deal with unrequited love. If Glasslip was truly about feeling at home, then one must wonder why a respectable amount of time in Glasslip was dedicated towards depicting aspects about relationships and dating.

  • Occam’s Razor states that, given competing hypotheses for an answer, the one with the fewest assumptions should be chosen. Soulelle’s interpretation assumes that the chickens are important in the overall story, and that the “fragments of the future” can be accounted for by imagination, abandoning the bigger picture in favour of the minutiae . My analysis makes no assumptions: the conclusion, that Glasslip is a story making use of visual metaphors to depict a story surrounding the uncertainty about love and life, was drawn directly from what is explicit in the anime.

Mikuni City, Fukui Prefecture: Home of Glasslip

“Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.” —Bette Davis

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done any location posts. I will break that streak with a post detailing the differences between the Glasslip depiction and real-world town of Mikuni. While it’s been nearly a year since Glasslip aired, it strikes me as surprising that there are not any half-decent collections of screenshots comparing the locations of Glasslip to its real-world equivalent. Mikuni is a town in the Fukui Prefecture of Japan. This small town is quite unremarkable for the most part, minus the fact that it was merged with Harue and Maruoka in 2006 to form the city of Sakai. Boasting a population of 23207 as of 2003 prior to the merger, the combined cities have a population of roughly 94000 (as of 2011). Despite Mikuni’s relatively small size (it’s only double the size of Canmore, Alberta), the town is well-known for its fireworks display, which are hosted every August, and as depicted in Glasslip, some of the fireworks are floating charges distributed by boats that explode on the water’s surface to create a unique effect.

  • There are twenty-eight screenshots in this post, fourteen depicting the anime location and fourteen of its real-world equivalent. Similar to KyoAni’s depictions of their respective locales in K-On!, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Kanon and CLANNAD, P.A. Works puts in a great deal of effort into its landscapes and environments, as well. Careful inspection of this image pair finds that the individual buildings are faithfully reproduced.

  • As with the Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari location posts, I’ll comment every two images: the anime depictions are remarkably well-done and in some cases, indistinguishable from the photograph. The fastest way to differentiate between the two is that the anime screenshots are much cleaner and vivid in colour, lacking the grittier feeling in the photographs.

  • The level of details in the environments is astounding, and for all of the limitations present in Glasslip, the visuals are not anything to casually dismiss. So vividly rendered and detailed the landscapes and cityscapes are, that one might even say that P.A. Works can rival Makoto Shinkai’s artwork to some extent. For instance, this shot of the harbour was taken just outside the Mikuni postal office.

  • Because Mikuni is a relatively small city, it was possible for me to scour map data to relocate some of the spots seen in Glasslip. Hinode Bridge is near the heart of Mikuni, passing over a train route. This is the spot where Yanagi confesses her feelings to Yukinari despite knowing the latter’s feelings for Tōko. It typifies P.A. Works’ talent for making use of lighting and music to transform what would otherwise be mundane locations into places where major events happen within their stories.

  • Mikuni Ryushokan Museum is one of the landmark buildings in Mikuni for its unique architecture: situated on a hill overlooking the city, this museum was designed by a Dutch engineer and features exhibits on the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, as well as the Kitamaebune float and the Mikuni festival.

  • There’s an observatory at the top floor of the Mikuni Ryushokan Museum that provides an unparalleled view of Mikuni’s cityscape. The area is referred to as the Kirinkan Lookout in Glasslip and is the setting for several game-changers within the plot, such as Sachi’s implied confession to Tōko.

  • The Kazemichi Cafe is a favourite hangout spot for Tōko and her friends; details from the original cafe, whether it be the exteriors or interiors, are faithfully reproduced in the anime. Known as the Cafe Kotonoha in real life, the cafe serves coffees, cakes, pastries and other refreshments, although its accessibility in the anime is not reflective of its relative location to Mikuni.

  • Cafe Kotonoha is located roughly twelve klicks east of Mikuni (if we’re using Hinode Bridge as the starting point): it’s set in a quiet wooded area that’s a twenty minute drive from downtown Mikuni, contrasting the Kazemichi Cafe of Glasslip, whose location suggests a location that is accessible by foot. While artists often go to great lengths to reproduce the details in an environment, there are cases where it is convenient to make modifications to fit the story.

  • Mikuni Station was relatively easy to find: operating since 1911, the station changed hands several times and operated trains for the Japan Government Railways until 1944, when Echizen Railway (formerly eifuku Electric Railway) took over. An accident on the line closed the station in 2001, and the station reopened in 2003.

  • Sachi and Tōko share a quiet moment and some ice cream outside of Gelato and Sweets CARNA, a shop that makes use of homemade ingredients to produce exceptionally fresh gelato and gentler-tasting sweets. The more subtle sweetness in Eastern confectionary stands in stark contrast to the sweets available in North America, which are oftentimes overwhelmingly sweet.

  • The use of real-world locations in anime is typically intended to reduce the need for extensive world-building. By providing a reasonably familiar location, this would theoretically allow a particular anime to focus on the character development, and while this holds true for quite a number of anime, this is that Glasslip ultimately proved unsuccessful in executing.

  • Watari Glass Studio is located around nineteen klicks south of Mikuni station, down the road along Umisai Hill. As a glass factory, it’s open to the public for touring, featuring a small gallery and terrace. In Glasslip, the location has been modified to be closer to Mikuni (similar to the Kazemichi Cafe), and the Fukami residence was added (visible in the upper image).

  • The spot where Yukinai confesses his feelings to Tōko is the synthesis of two locations: the intersection and house are located at National Route 305 near Kado Jinja, while the bench and tree are adjacent to a grade level railroad crossing between Mikuni Station and Mikuni-Minato Station.

  • This post came to fruition when a reader asked me about providing a locations post on Glasslip for other readers that could be perused easily, without requiring the loading of resource-hogging flash advertisements or even malware. Other sites with these location comparisons simply aren’t searchable in English (some otaku “pilgrimmage” sites don’t even provide Japanese text, instead, displaying mangled strings that make them near-impossible to find again). This forms the motivation behind all of my location posts: I aim to provide interested readers with a relatively clean comparison of anime and real-world locations, on a site that’s comparatively speedy with respect to loading times, and most importantly, is in the English language.

Glasslip was noted as a disappointment as an anime from an objective perspective; English-speaking viewers initially wondered if there were aspects in Glasslip that required a more involved understanding of Japanese culture, but it appears that the anime was not particularly well-received even by Japanese viewers. Official records state that only 584 copies of the first-volume home release DVDs and Blu-Rays were sold. To put things in perspective, the last P.A. Works Anime prior to Glasslip, Nagi no Asakara‘s first volume sold some 3717 copies, and the last anime from P.A. Works that I watched, Tari Tari, sold 8389 copies. Despite this cold reception, viewers in Japan paid several visits to Mikuni for the sole purpose of traversing the same trails as the characters of Glasslip; the region reported a small increase in tourism after Glasslip was released. Thus, while Glasslip may have featured a turbulent plot stymied by poor execution, it is the next entry in the list of anime that have invested a substantial amount of effort into producing realistic environments. For all of Glasslip‘s shortcomings, the detail and care placed into the scenery and cityscapes is nothing short of impressive.