When you start to work on something it’s generally good to have a goal in mind.
Sometimes it’s a bit hard to pin down exactly why Glasslip exists. We’re five episodes in and the show feels like it still lacks any real purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I’m generally okay with a love polygon for a love polygon’s sake. I just want some kind of larger point other than “these characters all have unresolved feelings for each other.” I’m mostly invested in the outcome of these relationships but that’s largely because I decided going in that I was going to care about Glasslip. People who picked up the show on a whim haven’t really been given any reason to keep going with it and I have a hard time disagreeing with the people who have dropped it for their own reasons. My feelings aside, it seems like any hope Glasslip had of mass appeal or commercial success are gone at this point regardless of how the last eight episodes play out.
To be clear, I still do like Glasslip. Each episode has several scenes where I find myself thinking “that was really well done.” The problem is all of these well-acted and choreographed scenes are being made in the service of a narrative that seems largely without direction at this point. I love the pace at which the romance is progressing. A second (third?) confession in episode five is almost unheard of within the genre and I think it’s great to get all that out of the way early. The question is what are we rushing off to do? We’ve gotten past the awkward confession portion of relationship progress in order to move on to… something? It’s unclear what Glasslip plans to do with all this extra real estate. While metaphorically wandering aimlessly through a story is more agreeable when the show is visually stunning, it can’t completely make up for the lack of real purpose.
Speaking of things that don’t quite make sense yet, I’m still very confused about what is up with Sachi. She doesn’t seem to be giving any illusions of romantic interest in Hiro. Even when they’re sharing a room they just hang out on opposite sides reading in silence. Hiro’s silence stems from his nervousness around Sachi and Sachi just doesn’t seem interested. What doesn’t make sense is why we then see Hiro sneaking out a second floor window when Touko arrives. Was that all Hiro’s doing? Sachi certainly made no effort to hide the fact that Hiro had been there and she made it clear that they aren’t romantically involved in any way to Touko. I still think that Sachi’s interested in Touko over anybody else but her behavior is certainly curious. Hiro, for his part, seems determined to change himself for Sachi’s sake as his sister keenly observes. This probably puts to rest any thought of them being involved later on in the show. While Glasslip isn’t really clear in what its themes are, I have a hard time believing “change yourself completely to appeal to somebody you have a crush on” is going to be the message.
Yanagi and Yukinari, on the other hand, provided much more clarity this week. Yanagi was impressive in the way she accepts her fate but at the same time wants to go out on her own terms. She has no expectation that Yukinari will return her feelings but she still wants to get her feelings out there. I have a hard time believing that things between them can stay the way they were but that opportunity probably was already lost once Yanagi saw Yukinari confess. Once again, yay for moving the relationships forward I guess. Where the two of them go from here or why it really matters remains to be seen.
Kakeru continues to be the wild card in all this. I still think that a lot of the scenes that involve him are very awkward in terms of dialog and he appears to be little more than a poor man’s version of Tsumugu from Nagi no Asukara at this point. Tsumugu’s character eventually got ironed out and we’ve seen some hints of Kakeru’s own needs and desires so I like to believe he’ll be ironed out as well. I thought him saying “would anyone even call me if I had one?” regarding a cell phone was an intersting comment. It’s consistent with my model of Kakeru as somebody who has a history of isolation and whose present actions have a way of reinforcing that isolation. I actually liked the scene between Kakeru and Touko in the forest near the end of the episode. It seems consisent with Kakeru’s desire for peace and personal space that he’d spent a lot of the time alone in remote parts of the forest. He’s clearly taken an interest in Touko but whether his interest is merely because they share a power or something more is hard to tell. Touko seems quite smitten with him which is bad news for… well, pretty much everybody. It’s hard to see this ending in anything but heartbreak for most of the inolved parties at this point.
The future sight is another thing that just doesn’t feel fully formed yet. It’s the closest thing Glasslip has to a hook at this point but it just hasn’t been adequately explored thus far. Touko’s visions keep popping up regularly but she’s barely acted on any of them to this point and they don’t seem to say much each time she sees them. If you could remove the magical powers from your show and keep the show functionally identical to what it already is, that’s probably not a good sign. The cynic in me wants to say this is a case of poor planning but there’s also a part of me that still wants to trust PA Works to figure this out eventually.
Again, I still think there’s hope for Glasslip. There are some intresting parts here and I’m basically always up for a love polygon regardless of what’s going on around it. At the same time, just because you’re an anime original project and you know you have thirteen episodes to work with doesn’t mean you can eschew any sort of hook for the first five episodes. If Glasslip’s fate turns out to be PA Works’ version of Tamako Market (and for the record, I think it’s better than Tamako Market was so far) that’s a disappointment but not a disaster. Now if PA Works goes down the same path KyoAni followed after Tamako Market we’ll have a problem on our hands but that’s too far in the future to speak about in any meaningful way. For now I’ll continue giving Glasslip time to figure itself out but I’m not sure I have a good reason to ask anybody else to do the same.