The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Kakeru Okikura

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.

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.

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.

Glasslip- Halfway Point Impressions

“Enough from the clown!” —Gambol, The Dark Knight

At the series’ halfway point, Glasslip appears to be focussed on closing up all of the secondary character’s game, which in turn leads me to wonder if the second half will be dedicated towards answering questions surrounding how the Newtype phenomenon would be explored. While the secondary characters have been somewhat fleshed out, the matter of Kakeru and Tōko still remain an enigma. P.A. Works anime typically are driven by the characters, and in order for the character’s actions and interactions to be meaningful, we must first know a little bit about them earlier on such that it is possible to empathise with them. In Tari Tari, after hearing about Wakana, Konatsu and Sawa’s intentions, the characters took on a more fluid, multidimensional role that allowed viewers to cheer for them as they struggled with their own goals and futures. Here in Glasslip, while viewers have a more solid idea on what’s going on with Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro, this still has yet to be done for Kakeru and Tōko. Kakeru is still as mysterious as he was in episode one, and his Newtype powers still have not had the exploration they require to convey why it’s important to the story. As such, he remains remarkably difficult to sympathise with. The significance of this ability to “see into the future” is very limited, being more of a curiosity than a pivotal element, and so far, has not really impacted the main story to any real extent: for instance, Tōko sees Yanagi in tears early on, but aside from providing the viewers with a guess on what’s happening, is presently inconsequential. In an anime where this “power” is supposed to be pivotal, Glasslip has, thus far, chosen to leave it a mystery. With this said, the secondary character’s backgrounds are given more exploration, so it’s not difficult to believe that the second half will allow this aspect to be explored in greater detail.

  • The third episode is centred around a hiking trip that Kakeru skips. Through its course, the third episode does a satisfactory job of illustrating the dynamics between Tōko, Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro. This is a friendship that was very stable prior to Kakeru’s arrival.

  • In reality, people are far more cautious and would unlikely find themselves in such a situation. The classic line from Futurama, “We didn’t see anything…ever” would probably be the most appropriate response to something like this, although since Yukinari does not take a hint, Yanagi chucks the water container at him.

  • As per my literature course from several years ago, a story happens precisely because an existing equilibrium was disturbed, and the sequence of events that the characters find themselves entangled in as they react or respond to this disturbance forms the basis for the plot. In this case, Kakeru is the source of this disturbance: notice how happy everyone is at their camping trip in Kakeru’s absence.

  • While Glasslip might be prima facie going all over the place, it’s setting up the kind of chaos that one might reasonably expect in real life, with various random events occurring as people struggle to come to terms with their feelings. With high school students at the forefront of Glasslip, the impulsive, ill-thought out actions the characters undertake are consistent with what might be expected from high school students. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating that most anime fans appear to be adults, and as such, interpreting decisions made by high school students is not dissimilar to frustrated parents wondering why their high-school aged progeny are acting in the way that they are.

  • The Newtype phenomenon has had a limited role in Glasslip so far, and any details about glass-blowing have been quite sparse. However, it’s still too early to really do a proper assessment of the series: the consistency of each individual episode varies more greatly than most series I’ve seen, and my past experience has included both anime with inconsistent progression that came out okay (Coppelion), or else put on powerhouse performances right up until the end (OreImo).

  • Sachi and Hiro appear to be quite separate from the love hypercube (forget the triangles and polygons that others are mentioning) that is forming. Hiro is seen altering his interests to get closer to Sachi, but from the dialogues I’ve had with people, a relationship is only sustainable if both parties are honest with one another.

  • Owing to a minor mishap during the image capture phase, I wound up with no screenshots for episode seven, and instead, have twenty images from episodes three to six. I’ve been meaning to go back through some of the older episodes to acquire some screenshots of the beautiful landscapes around Hinodehama, which, like most towns from P.A. Works, is modelled after a real-world location.

  • I’ve seen a lot of unnatural pacing with relationships, but the developing ties between Tōko and Kakeru takes the cake. Even though it feels off, I’m more tolerant of things this time around because it’s mentioned early on that Tōko and Kakeru seem to share their abilities. Gundam Unicorn‘s Banagher Links and Mineva Zabi share a similar bond because of their Newtype powers, and as such, the two get along quite well later on in the series after Banagher’s persistence in trying to help her after feeling a special connection to her after their first meeting.

  • Yukinari feels like a difficult character to sympathise with, appearing colder, distant and unwilling to open up ever since Tōko did not reciprocate his feelings. As a member of the track team, he sustained an injury prior to the series’ beginning and is currently in rehabilitation.

  • I’ve been around anime long enough to foresee that certain setups will lead to misunderstandings: after Yanagi trips here and stumbles into Kakeru’s arms, Tōko’s happenstance arrival was almost a certainty.

Insofar, Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro have received more exposition than do the main characters. It turns out that Yanagi is struggling to come to terms with her own feelings for Yukinari, who in turn likes Tōko but finds his feelings rejected after Kakeru arrives. Meanwhile, Hiro and Sachi slowly spend more time with each other; while Hiro initially feels like he needs to fit with Sachi, but eventually, the two become closer together. By the halfway point, Sachi’s admission to Hiro that she hates Kakeru for introducing a rift in everyone’s friendship shocks the latter, who leaves hastily. Meanwhile, Yanagi and Yukinari’s respective frustrations that their feelings are not being reciprocated lead them to vent their frustrations. Over the course of an episode, Yukinari beats down Kakeru, and after proposing a phoney race for Tōko’s heart, is slapped by Yanagi. These actions bring to bear just how much of a negative impact Kakeru has left on a group of friends that has been drifting further and further apart ever since his arrival. One can immediately sympathise with the sort of frustration that accompanies being unable to ask out someone and how one individual has, in a relatively short period of time, fractured what was previously a closely-knit group of friends. As such, both Yanagi and Yukinari’s actions come across as being quite natural; they are letting out their heart’s honest feelings about everything that has gone wrong since Kakeru arrived.

  • Quite personally, I’m not too sure what’s stopping P.A. Works from animating these scenes normally; chibi characters overlaid on top of a still seems like a cost-cutting measure rather than a feature that adds to Glasslip‘s atmospherics, and try as I might, I cannot think of any reason to do this, especially since P.A. Works is a studio known for their stunning animation and artwork quality. Moreover, Glasslip is painting itself to be a drama, not light-hearted comedy, so the chibi characters seem out of place.

  • While I’ll probably do a post on all of the beautiful landscapes around Hinodehama, I’d thought I’d include a few images of the artwork here, which is up to the standard I’ve come to expect from P.A. Works. However, graphics don’t make things right: rather like how games can look amazing and play poorly, anime can have the best animation and artwork, but still come short in entertaining the viewer.

  • Kakeru and Tōko share a moment at the former’s secret spot in the forest, a quiet place to relax under the sunbeams. To the best of my recollections, the kind of ethereal beauty associated with sunbeams streaming through a forest canopy is absent in Tari Tari, and so, that leads me to draw a most unusual comparison: if Tari Tari might be likened to Battlefield 3‘s multiplayer for setting a new standard in their respective fields, then Glasslip is roughly equivalent to Battlefield 4.

  • Under this evening shot of Hinodehama, I’ll rationalise my comparison. When Battlefield 3 came out, the multiplayer quickly garnered praise for its depth and rewarding team players, offering to players a “world-class multiplayer suite” that is the “most expansive, refined” iteration in the series. Battlefield 4, on the other hand, was less well-received, being said to have few surprises for players and plagued with bugs. For P.A. Works, Tari Tari did almost everything right, having few limitations, and like Battlefield 3, was an immensely rewarding experience. Glasslip, though having better lighting effects and animations, feels less well-polished overall, compared to Tari Tari (rather like Battlefield 4).

  • One bullet point is not sufficient to do a proper comparison, but I’m going to leave it at that and consider Yanagi’s love confession to Yukinari, which took much courage and honesty; she already knows of his feelings for Tōko but decides to go ahead anyways, noting that they can still regard each other as friends even if Yukinari does not reciprocate her feelings.

  • Hina is Tōko’s younger sister and appears to have something of a crush, along with everyone else on her swim team, on Yukinari. While I lack the screenshots here, episode seven has her pursue Yukinari on bike, proclaiming that he should stay cool.

  • Check out that soft body-based deformation: it clearly raises the bar for physics engines everywhere and puts things like the Cry Engine and Frostbite 3 to shame. Jokes aside, contrary to popular opinion about the beatdowns Kakeru receive, I find that rather than being “well-deserved”, the kind of things Kakeru are experiencing stem from his clearly unwanted intrusion into a group of friends, and his lack of tact with respect to handling them.

  • I do not think I’ve mentioned that Yanagi is an aspiring model up until this point, but now I have. I’ve also noticed that discussions (blog posts, comments about said posts and forums) about this series have been largely unfruitful, with participants being focused on minor details and losing sight of the bigger picture. While the decisions and actions that individual characters take do play a part in the series, it’s meaningless to analyse every bit of detail and declare it to be significant.

  • On my end, I’ll do as I’ve always done and do a proper assessment on how all of the pieces fit together once Glasslip is over. With due respect, the minor things that happen between the characters are only significant if they have an impact in the long run, and because Glasslip is still running, some actions will have more impact than others. I would prefer waiting until all of the pieces are on the board before deciding which decisions in Glasslip are significant, and ultimately, which ones are inconsequential.

  • For now, though, this midseason post is coming to an end, and with it, is my last mid-seasons post. My next talk on Glasslip will be a final impressions post (for better or for worse), but before I sign off, I’ll explain the page quote: this is a summary of the reactions I’ve seen to Kakeru’s doubles, as well as for some reactions that arose whenever people were watching Kakeru’s lack of tact in his conversations with Yanagi and Yukinari. With the finale set to roll in six more episodes (five, if we count tomorrow’s episode), I have no idea what will happen next, but I will note that the page quote I choose for the final reflections post will practically give away my thoughts on how Glasslip turned out as a whole.

It’s still too early to say for sure whether or not Glasslip will manage to tie things up appropriately with the time that is left in this season. If things are done properly, and Kakeru’s Newtype powers, plus his ties to Tōko are given the appropriate exposition, then viewers would be able to appreciate everything that has happened so far. Perhaps the moral might be honesty, and once Kakeru gets his intentions out into the clear, the others might begin trusting him more. Maybe the group will overcome this trial and become even closer to each other as a result. Conversely, Kakeru’s intentions might never revealed even to the viewers. His goals might simply be as superficial as capturing Tōko’s heart, regardless of how much emotional fallout occur for the others. Only time will tell, and while Glasslip has been a mixed bag insofar, things aren’t all negative. The secondary characters feel human, relatable. The music (especially the opening song, which I’ve fallen in love with) is quite good, and the artwork is astounding. I’m hoping that the second half will satisfactorily answer the questions pertaining to Kakeru and Tōko’s relationship, as well as the nature of what this Newtype phenomenon is about, and ultimately, whether or not Tōko’s friends can remain friends with one another even through this trial.