Anime Review: Glasslip

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Many folks who watched through this PA Works animation had at least one common reaction: it confused them. After 13 episodes of following this ensemble cast of characters, many were perplexed, to say the least, about what just happened, why it happened, and perhaps were even led to believe this was one of the worst projects that the studio has ever made.

That’s fine and all; but I saw this series in a different light. I will gladly attempt to explain the things that confused so many people. As always, whether or not you believe me is up to you; this is just my opinion! And by the nature of my explaining things, there will be SPOILERS.

Chickens

There will also be chickens!

Glasslip is a slice of life tale that takes place in a rustic town, where teenagers hang out at their friend’s cafe/house and one can aspire to succeed her father’s niche trade. Since this is a PA Works production, it also contains a great deal of artistic presentations (both visual and audial), a composition of several different themes going on at once, a large cast of characters, and the harmony of all these things put together in a beautifully complex manner.

Friendship

But seriously… how can you NOT love Touko?

While there are at least six characters we can closely follow in this series, our central character is Touko Fukami (the girl with the long hair and a big smile on her face in the picture above). She enjoys making glass alongside her artisan father and hopes to someday succeed him in that business. She brings happiness to all of her friends in various ways, and has had at least three different confessions given to her. But what lies deep within Touko’s mind is a unique power of her own. Touko can see “fragments of the future,” as if through glass.

Glass Making

Touko gains more than just her father’s craft when making glass.

Touko calls these visions “fragments” because they appear to be occurrences that happen in the future, but they are uncertain and incomplete. She also discovers that the new boy, Kakeru, has a similar ability that is often induced by his mother’s music, where he can hear “fragments of the future.” Thanks to their supernatural abilities, Touko and Kakeru develop a very innocent relationship to try and piece together their two fragments, but their friends Yanagi, Yukinari, Sacchi, and Hiro have their own opinions about this new guy; and thus, the friendships that everyone had will be tested in vastly different occasions.

One thing that annoyed me (somewhat) about this series is the overuse of some of the over-dramatic still shots. The scene will occasionally freeze and have a “glistening” look to it by adding streak marks to emphasize a critical dramatic point; or at least that’s what one might be led to believe.

Streaks

It kind of looks like a painting?

I get that this element to the animation might also emphasize the fact that we are watching fragments ourselves, not getting the full story; just a still image of a single moment. These pictures made for some pretty cool wallpapers for my computer; but after awhile, they did become quite excessive.

However, I can forgive the series for these artistic breaks, because it does have more subtle expressions that one may pass over without a second glance; but is quite beautiful when you think about it.

Reflection

As Touko sees Kakeru through the sliding glass door, she sees her reflection standing beside him.

When Touko gets a surprise visit from Kakeru, there is more to this scene that just a chance meeting. When Touko sees her reflection through the glass door, we can imagine that she is also seeing her own desire to be by Kakeru’s side. Seeing that her visions are “fragments of the future,” we may have insight here suggesting that these visions aren’t actually representing Touko’s future at all; but rather a future that she might secretly desire.

The real conflict of this drama series lies in the relationships developed by the six friends; but because these conflicts happened in fragments themselves, the impact gave some the illusion that Glasslip lacked conflict: a crucial element to dramatic storytelling. When it comes to making glass, one takes very coarse sand (fragments) and refines it in a way to give the material its clear, unique shape. Similarly, one cannot fully appreciate the various elements that make up each of these friends’ stories and connections with each other until we can meld them together in a full, unique way. And when we are given the chance to see what’s inside Touko’s head, all the fragments she thought represented the future, finally take on its beautiful shape.

Dream

When Touko experiences the sight of her father’s vase and Kakeru’s mother’s piano, her visions become clear.

I can appreciate that this story confused a lot of viewers, and the complexities of it can be overwhelming to a discerning fan. However, this artistic approach to Glasslip fits with PA Works’ style; and it is ultimately fulfilling from beginning to end, for those who appreciate the art. It may not have been one of their best projects, but it is a decent addition to their library. Finally, when it comes to our own slices of life, our experiences, too, don’t follow a predictable future. In fact, our very life experiences are like coarse fragments of glass; but when we meld them together and refine them, accept our memories and our relationships with others as pieces of who we are, Life takes on its beautiful, transparent shape.

Ending

How does the story end? Only the future will know.

So if you are looking for a nice artistic animated presentation about love, friendship, and life itself, watch Glasslip. And despite it lacking a great deal of entertainment value that most other shows have, it does offer something I believe is greater. What that is, I’ll leave up to you.

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