Glasslip Ep. 1–4: Can’t Stop, Can’t Stop the Filters

Friday, August 1st, 2014

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Glasslip Poster

WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Glasslip episodes 1 to 4. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please stop reading. You have been warned.

One of the things I’ve always loved about anime is their unapologetic use of the fantastic in a rather normal storyline. In the case of Glasslip, we have a story about a group of friends, an outsider, and this little thing about being able to see the future. The hows and whys of the ability to see the future aren’t really explained, but they aren’t needed. The ability is merely a kind of catalyst to get two characters talking to one another (well, so far, anyway).

While watching the first episode, I had this strange feeling I was going to have very strong emotions about it. I didn’t (and still don’t) know if they will be good or bad, but I know they will be strong. Although the show’s synopsis talks about seeing the future, we see nothing of that in the first episode. Sure, there’s that weird scene where Kakeru walks by Touko, and everything slows down, and there are some weird effects, but we don’t know what exactly is going on.

The other thing I noticed about the first episode was that it was clear Glasslip was going to be full of personal drama. From sideways glances to narrowing eyes to a character’s gaze lingering for a moment too long, it was all there. Everything felt tense just under the surface. This all comes to a head towards the end of the episode, when Kakeru walks into the café Touko and her friends hang out at, and two of her friends get aggressive. But I must note, seeing sick-girl archetype Sachi stand up and put on her bitch face was pretty boss of her. I was impressed.

Ain't Nobody Messin’ With Sachi | Glasslip

Ain’t nobody messin’ with Sachi.

A lot of people in the anime community have compared it to Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea (a.k.a. Nagi no Asukara), and I believe that is due mainly to that feeling of tension, a few characters having very similar archetypes, and both being made by P.A. Works. But these comparisons kinda end there. Nagi-Asu dealt with depopulation and racism on top of the personal drama of the kids from the get-go. I doubt Glasslip will touch issues as deep as these (unless, of course, we get into the micromanagement and economics of a local mom-and-pop glassworks studio).

Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea (Nagi no Asukara)

One thing keeping me interested in the show is the motifs of “glass” and “seeing.” It is called Glasslip, after all. This, pointed out to me by Dawnstorm of the Absolute Write forums, does give the story a bit of depth, although I’m not quite sure how much. There are these filters laid over certain scenes, but as of the fourth episode, I’m unable to determine the reasoning behind them. It’s a bit meta—or, rather, trying to be meta. Maybe it’ll become clearer as the story goes on?

There is a scene in the fourth episode where Kakeru and Yanagi get into one of those omg-I-fell-and-u-caught-me-but-leik-its-tooootally-embarrassing situations, and Touko (who just realized she’s got the hots for Kakeru) misinterprets the whole thing as the two actually embracing. Here, it would make sense for the filter to be ridiculous, but it isn’t. Or maybe it’s just not obviously different? Either way, Glasslip is failing on its meta motifing.

Characters | Glasslip

As for the characters in the show, I’m still on the fence. We’ve got two guys pining after girls who don’t really like them romantically. Sure, the jury is out on Sachi liking anyone, but it’s a safe bet. She’ll probably have an I-don’t-want-my-precious-friend-group-broken! moment soon enough.

Touko herself is either a Pollyanna or an All-Loving Hero type, which annoys me. At least she’s got hobbies. But the fact of the matter is that she’s more or less a stock character as far as I’ve seen. She seems to be pretty good at glasswork, which is cool, but considering she’s starting to have her future visions when concentrating on glass, it seems problematic, to say the least. I’ll give the creators some credit for knowing that, for some, friends are everything, but I’ve seen this character plenty of times before. Also, what is up with her lack of protective equipment?

Touko | Glasslip

WHERE ARE YOUR SAFETY GLOVES, TOUKO?

Kakeru is the lone-wolf type, but he might have a bit of character development coming up. It is hinted at that his mother is dead, and his father “caused him some trouble.”

(Side note: If Kakeru gets fleshed out, but Touko stays a cardboard cut-out, expect to see me lamenting that yet again, the ladies are getting the shaft on becoming fully realized characters.)

My favorite character thus far is definitely Yanagi. She feels the most real to me and is definitely the most tragic. From the first episode, she knows Yukinari doesn’t have any romantic thoughts toward her. She even witnesses his confession to Touko. How much more crap will be dealt her way? More. Definitely more. But after that adorable exchange with Kakeru in the rain about the kanji of their names, I’m basically shipping them forever.

Yanagi | Glasslip

I am also a sucker for hair pieces.

The fourth episode as a whole has given me better thoughts about the show. Another instance I enjoyed was the awkwardness of the scene where Yukinari hangs out with Touko at school. Yukinari, the hormone-ranging young man he is, can’t get Touko off his mind, and you can see it in his subtle movements. His quick glances at her neck, her shoulder, and her lower back are perfect for showing a man who, while trying his best to act appropriately, can’t help but let his mind wander.

In a medium full of ridiculous fanservice, I found this quite tasteful. It told you what was on his mind without actually telling you anything. And yet, in a way, it was somehow more perverse. With that build up, you are given a strange mix of feelings when he finally says he can’t be alone in the same room as Touko. There’s the element of surprise (“Whoa, he actually said it”) painted on the oblivious Touko and the embarrassment for Yukinari as he both struggles with his emotions and awkwardly runs away—not walks, runs.

Another interesting point about the show is its opening and endings. The opening song fits the show so well in tone. It’s a bit sad, a bit melancholy-sounding. It shows us events that happened before the first episode. It embodies the idea of these friends being precious to one another. It reminds us that Glasslip is about a group of friends. Kakeru is only shown in one scene, standing on the edge of a cliff, hand to his ear, listening to something. Later, we find out he can “hear the voices of the future.” He can’t see the future, not like Touko. Once we find this out, this scene becomes a bit more powerful, or at least cool.

Glasslip ED

The ending song, while good, doesn’t really appear to fit the tone. It’s too happy, too joyful, too energetic. It’s basically what I imagine to be the inside of Touko’s head. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually love the ending. I’m a sucker for chibi characters, but I just don’t think it works with the tone of the show. What I do think is brilliant is the placement of characters in all the still shots. Kakeru is always there, just beyond the group. He doesn’t look quite lonely but definitely appears to be when compared to the happy smiles of Touko’s friends. And Touko herself? Often looking in Kakeru’s direction. It’s perfect placement.

If only the song itself wasn’t so damn happy.

As for the general soundtrack of the show? There’s a lot of classical music placed very well, which is always a plus for me.

While I know this has been done in other anime, the next-episode preview seems to almost mimic the way Kakeru and Touko hear the future: just random lines without context. Yeah, it’s done in a lot of anime now, but it just works better here.

Next week, I’ll have a batch of commentary on episode five. I hope you’ll join me. Until then, give me your thoughts about this show in the comments.

Crown Royal | Glasslip

Unrelated note: Can someone explain to me what a bottle of Crown Royal is doing in a school?

Glasslip is simulcast on Crunchyroll Thursdays at 11:00 AM EDT for premium users. Free users get access one week after each episode’s premiere.

About Antonin Kořenek

Antonin has been playing video games since before he could read. Once he did, he fell in love with their stories and worlds. He spends most of his gaming time with either story-based or strategy games. As an aspiring novelist, he blames games like Earthbound and Final Fantasy Tactics for getting him started. Antonin graduated from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI with a degree in English Literature. When not gaming, he can be found reading, obsessing over something on Twitter, or researching strange folklore.




  • q

    i think it’s weaker than a lot of other p.a. works stuff but it’s still worth paying attention to so far

  • Dawnstorm

    @Filters: I’m not sure where they’re going with this either. Part of the problem, for me, is that I’m slightly photosensitive, and the effects are giving me headache, so I’m unlikely to rewatch them a lot. I suppose that sometimes they might be a point-of-view tool. There was one scene, where people were talking and faces became blurred depending on who was talking, but the camera angle always kept both faces in view. I have no idea why they did this.

    But it does connect with the idea of focus: when Touko messes up her little glass thingy and makes it into a bead, you have the motif in microcosmos – if you focus on what’s in your head, you may mess up things, but if you catch yourself in time you might salvage things and turn it into something different. That’s sort of like Mum getting the idea for chicken hotpot during the chicken-safety silliness – unintended consequences might be nice, but run against the original purpose. [You attempt to protect your pet chickens, and all you really accomplish is boost sales of chicken meat. What to make of this? You do get a nice dinner out of it…]

    It’s always possible that they use the filter effects mostly for aesthetic reasons (kind of like KyoAni did with Water in Free!), or perhaps they’re training new animation staff? Still, I can’t think it’s an accident that they’re using these techniques in a show about glass. (Especially since PA Works is genrally good at placing effects where they matter; one of the best things about the otherwise flawed Red Data Girl).

    The scene you mention above is fine without the filters; they were using camera angles in this one and play the motif on the content level. I liked the long shot, with the centre being the street and leaving viewer attention to scene dynamics (nothing much was happening with Yanagi and Kakeru, but Touko was slinking around the corner while watching them) and perspective. [I’d have to re-watch the scene to see if I actually remember it correctly.]

    ***

    Yanagi makes me remember how little I like huge bows. I think they look ridiculous. Yanagi’s huge bows is one of the most annoying I’ve ever seen; it certainly and easily tops the last one that got on my nerves (Chitoge’s from Nisekoi). If you have to have a huge bow, please stick it to the back of your head, that it comes over as some sort of distorted halo. But Yanagi’s bow looks like something dropped on her head and left there. I don’t get that style at all.