I’m noticing a worrying trend involving shows I give 10/10 anticipation scores to in season previews.
My immediate reaction after watching this episode of Glasslip last Thursday was that I would look back at this episode after all is said and done and point to it either as the episode where Glasslip finally rounded into form or the episode where Glasslip really started to fall apart. After having a busy weekend to let it simmer, I’m leaning towards the latter. I just don’t see a lot of good places for the show to go from here. Glasslip is lacking in any real punch to this point but more than anything the show just feels confused. I’m not sure what the show wants to do but more concerning is the fact that I’m not sure that the people writing it know what they want to do.
Glasslip as a whole and this episode in particular feels like a series of scenes thrown together with very little connecting them. The show lacks any unifying theme or idea that holds each of these plot threads together. We have Hiro and Sachi’s situation, Yanagi and Yukinari’s (and Hina’s) situation, and Touko and Kakeru’s situation which all seem only superficially connected. Sure, all of the events ostensibly involve the same group of friends but there’s no narrative arc to the episode or to the show as a whole. The episode didn’t build on itself, it didn’t reach any kind of climax and the finale scene with Yukinari on the train didn’t do anything to either wrap up the episode or provide a solid hook for next week. This scene in particular seemed to drive home the point that this was just a series of unrelated scenes that happened to fill a 22 minute time slot rather than anything resembling a coherent story. I expect this kind of thing out of adaptations of 4koma manga but in an anime original it shows incredibly poor planning.
The biggest problem I had with this episode specifically is how many of the ideas felt like they were thrown in out of nowhere or served no larger purpose other than to manufacture drama. The episode begins with Kakeru talking to himself. Literally. We now have three Kakerus and zero explanations for how we got here. Sure, there are still six episodes left in which to explain this but nothing about Kakeru up to this point seemed to indicate that he had some kind of multiple personality disorder. Aside from that, the presence of the extra Kakerus didn’t add anything to the show or the scene. They were just sort of there. They didn’t display distinct personalities or give any indication of what they’re supposed to represent. Instead Kakeru just said some cryptic lines to them and then he went about his business. Ideally I’d like for this scene to have some kind of purpose beyond just “Kakeru has multiple personality disorder or something.” Instead the show seems content to just show us that and offer nothing else to make the events intriguing beyond their minor shock value.
The truly perplexing developments, at least to me, were centered around Yukinari. Apparently Yukinari has a bunch of middle school fangirls which felt out of place other than being a pretext for forcing Hina to take an interest in Yukinari. Are the writers expecting us to take a relationship between the two of them that was first introduced to us halfway through the show as something that might actually be pursued? Even if it wasn’t for the age difference that feels shoehorned in. Is she here to give Yukinari encouragement to pursue his track goals? I think he already had that motivation so I’m not sure what Hina adds here. Is she just here to hang out in a swimsuit? I like to think PA Works is above that although I thought they were above a dud like this so you never know. Either way I don’t feel like I got anything useful out of their interactions or really anything relating to these two this episode.
Speaking of ideas that go nowhere, what is going on with Touko’s visions? In episode two the revelation that Touko could see fragments of the future felt like a real bombshell but five episodes later it’s basically been all for nothing. Touko’s visions have either not come true, come true in entirely unremarkable ways, or just been completely ignored. It’s never a good sign when a show’s main hook is marginalized almost entirely during the show’s run. Glasslip was supposed to be teen drama plus some light supernatural elements but at this point it’s ended up being entirely teen drama, and not particularly compelling drama at that.
The most compelling portion of the episode was Sachi and Hiro’s failed romance. Unfortunately, this was built on a flimsy premise to begin with so any impact is undermined by that. We finally got to the point where Sachi’s purposes in leading Hiro on were revealed. What baffles me is why she needed to go through all this in order to achieve her goals. Once she knew that Hiro liked her, she could have used him all she wanted to drive a wedge between Touko and Kakeru. Hiro would have agreed to simple requests like inviting everybody to a beach trip without Sachi call him her “boyfriend”. Doing that simply serves to make things much worse for Hiro with no real benefit to Sachi. I could see it if Sachi came off as the callously manipulative type that delights in making others suffer but instead she seems truly guilty about how she hurt Hiro even though she didn’t have to hurt him at all. Sachi isn’t dumb so I have a hard time believing this is purely an accident but it being intentional makes even less sense. This “betrayal” is probably preferable to the Golden Time paradigm of building a relationship on nothing and sticking with it to the end but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Now I’ve been very negative about Glasslip thus far, partially because I’ve strived to stay positive the last few weeks and a lot of my complaints that were lurking previously are finally coming out now. I should clarify that I still see some potential in Glasslip even though it’s severely diminished from what it was a few weeks ago. There are some interesting threads here if the show chooses to develop them such as Sachi’s true feelings for Touko and the true nature of what Touko sees in her visions. I complained about some of the other new plot points in this episode but I do see some potential in whatever caused Hiro’s sister to cry in the hospital. The introduction of that felt much more natural than the nonsense surrounding Hina. At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s much chance of Glasslip avoiding the disappointment label, especially given the hype I built for it going into the season. Instead it will have to be content to avoid the failure label although I’m not sure it’s capable of even that modest goal at this point.