First Impressions – Glasslip

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Rarely will you see an anime which so obviously displays its pedigree as Glasslip does.

OP: “Natsu no Hi to Kimi no Koe (夏の日と君の声)” by ChouCho

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I run a certain risk with blogging Glasslip, because my impressions after the first episode so perfectly match my expectations going into it that anyone would be skeptical that I was merely seeing what I wanted to see.  Nevertheless, it is what it is – and it’s certainly not often that my expectations so closely align with the results.  And in this instance, that carries a good deal that’s both positive and negative.

I wouldn’t hesitate to say that I find the visual aesthetic of P.A. Works to be my favorite of any Japanese animation studio.  They seem to do the art of visual storytelling – using imagery to act as a kind of second, silent dialogue track – better than anyone else on a consistent basis.  And Glasslip is P.A. Works through and through – there are a few more still shots than you’d expect (whether this is purely stylistic or economic or both is hard to say), but the look of this show is pure PAW.  That is to say, gorgeous.  But for me, that’s part of the problem.

My concerns with Glasslip going in, which were based on the previews and the synopsis, were that it seemed to be trying a little hard to be the quintessential P.A. Works series – to be an amalgam of everyone’s expectations of what that should be. Beautiful scenery porn, a group of high school friends who look and act younger than they are, wistful slice of life, hints of magical realism.  It all seemed very self-aware to me.  The show is directed by the man who helmed P.A. Works’ signature series, Nishimura Junji, and they even have chickens playing a major role yet again.  The result is something that feels pre-fab, as if it was built from a kit rather than written – a cake that came out of a box.

Where that left me with the premiere was mildly interested but in the end, slightly bored.  None of the characters made much of an impression and the comedy really didn’t click.  I could see Glasslip being a slow builder as the first episode didn’t try too hard to establish anything – once the characters gain some distinctiveness and the mythology is fleshed out maybe the show’s charms will assert themselves.  Right now it’s just a story of five school friends and a dark, brooding outsider who seems to bring both the possibility of the supernatural and a threat to steal the main heroine away from her childhood friend.  If I had to guess I’d peg Glasslip as leaning more towards a true romance focus rather than slice-of-life, but it’s still a bit early to tell.

The vocal cast at least is an interesting mix.  The seeming main heroine and glass-blowing otaku, Fukami Touko, is played by 18 year-old newcomer Fukagawa SeriaImi Yukinari, the boy who pines silently for her, is played by Shimzaki Nobunaga (Kaitou from Ano Natsu, to which Glasslip bears a passing resemblance).  The girl who likes him and resents his obsession with Touko is Takayama Yanagi (Hayami Saori).  The ones who as far as I can tell aren’t part of a triangle are megane-girl Nagamiya Sachi (Taneda Risa) – I’m not sure if she likes anyone – and the boy who’s smitten with her, Shirosaki Hiro (Yamashita Daiki, showing great range after Onoda from Yowamushi Pedal).  And the mysterious transfer student who immediately vexes and fascinates Touko (she sees him as Michelangelo’s David, though non-threateningly neutered) is Okikura Kakeru (it-boy Ohsaka Ryouta).   He seems to be the chemical catalyst to move the plot, though whether he has genuine esper connections or just delusions of grandeur I don’t know – my initial take was that he was this show’s Isurugi Noe.  Oh, and chickens.

It’s pure wait-and-see for me at this point.  Reservations or not I go into every P.A. Works series resolutely hoping for greatness, and it’s extremely rare for a PAW show not to keep me watching to the end.  This was certainly the least engaging PAW premiere I’ve seen in a long time, but it still looks fantastic and as I said, there is a sense that it could just be a slow starter.  I’m not crazy about Nishimura-sensei’s catalog of the last few years but he’s a highly competent director at the very least, so I’m a long way from giving up hope.  I do wish my preconceptions hadn’t proved so on-point though, at least as far as the first ep is concerned.

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ED: “Toumei na Sekai (透明な世界)” by nano.RIPE

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20 comments

  1. s

    Going into this premiere, i didnt even know who the director of this show was (this series was low on my radar) but i kept saying to myself that the style of directing feels like true tears; that it felt like Nishimura Junji. I look it up to confirm my suspicions and low and behold it is him. I wasnt blown away by this premiere but i was intrigued. The interactions between the characters were actually well done save for one or two scenes, but what i got from this premiere was that it had some elements from true tears that i like and that can only be a good thing. After all, true tears didnt start out with its best foot forward but it got where it needed to be by the end and ended up being a pretty good series (all things considered) so i hope the same for glasslip. I got those same vibes when i first watched true tears so lets see where this goes

  2. K

    I got the impression that Takayama and Yukinari were related? They live together, but in separate rooms, so I figured they were cousins.

  3. Could be – they had a bit of a sibling vibe but it doesn't seem to be the case, so cousins (or step-siblings) seems the most likely.

  4. m

    There were parts that seemed a bit slow, or maybe just a bit uninteresting, and others that were a bit confusing. What was it that Touko saw that Okikura also saw? Did I miss that? And why was megane all pissy with him right from the start? I'm sure that'll be explained, and hopefully that's when it'll pick up. Like Sonic said, True Tears wasn't all that interesting at the get go, but turned out to be an excellent series. It really did have the feel of what you'd expect a P.A. Works show to be like. The episode had parts reminiscent of a good number of their works, and while that isn't a bad thing, hopefully it'll establish its own identity sooner than later. Though I can't imagine a P.A. Works show being unwatchable.

  5. 7

    "What was it that Touko saw that Okikura also saw?"

    Fireworks = joy + wonder + sense of community, maybe? The anime made it a point to show how disconnected from the rest of the happy people and maybe gloomy Okikura was before he glanced at Touko, both at the festival and during the clash of views regarding the chickens

  6. G

    The 1st episode was fairly boring. I'm hoping this series picks up some. I realize the episode had to introduce all the characters. Considering the studio's pedigree I will watch a few more and see.

  7. k

    I think it has something to do with this http://i.imgur.com/YUwyFhl.jpg
    Aside from the PA vibes, it also gives off more than a bit of Fuujin Monogatari's for me, which is also from Nishimura-sensei.

  8. m

    @Gary
    I agree it wasn't as thrilling as other premieres like Aldnoazero (not in action but in interest level), as quick to establish its setting and story and hit it's stride like Barakamon, or as suspenseful as Tokyo Ghoul but it is P.A. Works so I will give them the benefit of the doubt for at least 5 eps. Argevollen was another really slow starter, but that doesn't mean it can't turn out to be better than Aldnoazero (even if unlikely), and I don't think starting slow for Glasslip means it'll be bad. I still expect it to be one of the better (if not the best) shows of the season which is a lot considering the three examples I used earlier. I just can't imagine it being awful, at worst it should be something you at least never consider dropping.

  9. R

    The scene at the end of episode made me think it was written by Okada..

  10. t

    it was really lovely with these fantastic art, but (and it's a big but) as you said there is a problem – we saw nothing and nothing really clicked, yet. even last year with Uchouten I didn't find 1st episode really great or connecting to me, as funny as it may be. it's PA so I believe they know how to handle the rest of the series.
    there is a weird vibe here with the characters reminding me AnoHana or Nagi no Asukara, the characters' love problem. and indeed as someone mentioned above me in the comment, there is this scent of Okada, though she is involved with this as far as I know (maybe I am wrong?).
    of course things won't be so smooth but I wonder how the (melo)drama will be executed. there is still time for this because so far everything is too much ambiguous about what this story really is about. and I wonder which side will take control of things – the Slice-of-Life or the drama/romance. sure, both are tight together somehow. but I can't say for certain what's going on the screen. in times, it's really bothering me because PA sometimes just waste time on beautiful scenes and facial expressions, especially first episode, that aren't really relevant right now. I want to like the characters and everything but they'll have to develop it and get deeper into things. they will do, I am sure. it's only 1st episode.

  11. No Okada involvement here at all, apart from debatably her influence.

  12. t

    yeah, I meant to write that "she is not involved as far as I know".
    I mistakenly slipped the "not". but thanks for clarify things.
    (I think as well that she influenced PA in someway with this. it's not necessarily bad. we'll have to wait and see).

    BTW, in RC post Takaii mentioned the possibility of some special powers here. I felt that scent too, maybe Glasslip involve a little bit of supernatural touch. maybe that "wish stuff" related? that wish with the "the future me will fix everything" definitely can be interpreted to something unnatural but also as Slice-of-Life of overcoming difficulties of life and everything.

  13. R

    This one definitely feels to me like it has the energy and spunk of Hanasaku Iroha, while adding a bit of Nagi no Asukara's magic realism (those imageries and that "I can see the future" bit.

    Kakeru's introduction does feel a bit odd. But that brewing love polygon (Yanagi likes Yukinari, who likes Tohko, who will obviously fall for Kakeru) can be surely seen from miles away. Gotta agree with R Lwlied and thedarktower that this does feel like it is Okada Mari who is holding the pen again.

  14. 7

    To me, it looked like the megane-girl is interested by Yukinari (look how she imitates his reaction toward the new guy, + emphasis on her looking at him in an earlier scene)

    It looks like things won't be moving slowly, which was one of the things I didn't like in Nagi no Asukara

  15. R

    After the ride that was Nagi no Asukara, I am ready for the next one. But I'll hold up on watching this for the time being. Series like this are best for me when marathoned. I don't know how much impact Nagi would have on me if I watched it on a episode-by-episode basis, but watching everything in a couple of days worked wonders, especially since the momentum of the mid-series made me not notice the slower pace the following episodes.
    I think I'll try the same strategy with this one. Fortunately there's an even number of boys and girls so hopefully nobody will get the short end of the stick like Miuna…
    Heh, who am I kidding? They'll probably just use that to get 2 people alone, if they've been taking notes from Okada.

  16. w

    I dunno about this one. It didn't really leave much of an impression on me. None of the main characters really got a chance to prove themselves particularly or engaging. Touka seems pleasant enough, but transfer student-san seemed to be more of a jerk than anything. I don't really have much affinity for P.A works series (I feel like I should though) so I'll continue on with trepidation.

  17. Z

    P.A. Works is going down the path of boxing themselves in like Kyoto Animation has done.

  18. w

    I can see that. I think P.A has the better box though. Romance > moe. I haven't watched a Kyoani series since Hyouka, and it seems as though that was a wise decision.

  19. R

    KyoAni's last one (Kyoukai no Kanata) was too moe for my taste, and that series' story didn't even go anywhere.

  20. M

    I see more Nagi no Asukara in this than True Tears. Although it seems to have a much lighter tone and with this average start and a 1-cour at it's disposal,that might just be for the best.

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