Well I guess that could have been a good episode (if you forget everything that came before it)
It seems like no matter what Glasslip does from here on out, the final episodes will inevitably be the victim of what came before them. As I was watching episode eleven it struck me that if this was an episode from a different show with a different prior ten episodes it might not be that bad. To be clear, it still wouldn’t be great. The episode had all the issues the previous episodes had with bad scene transitions and awkward dialog. It perpetually felt like the characters were talking past each other and that rather than hearing a complete conversation we were hearing two halves of different but related conversations. It doesn’t matter what came before, those are always going to be problems. That said, if those were the only problems with the episode and if the events this week had a proper foundation I would probably like this episode quite a bit.
The most prominent example of this is Kakeru and Touko’s budding relationship. The two of them were the worst offenders in terms of wooden dialog this week but even ignoring that, their relationship and the events surrounding it just don’t feel properly built up. If we had ten episodes that had properly explained the nature and significance of the fragments then maybe that chaos going on with Touko’s visions might hold some weight. As it is, the snow feels more like noise rather than a significant plot point. The same is true of Kakeru’s split personalities. In this episode one of the duplicates referred to Kakeru’s “fate” but we have very little idea what that means so it also carries very little weight. Somebody should tell the writers that dropping ominous plot hints in episode eleven of thirteen works better when you’ve actually done the ground work to give those ominous hints weight. I also feel like Kakeru’s internal conflict over whether to travel with his mom would be more poignant if the issue of having the freedom to travel versus staying in one comfortable place had been addressed throughout the show rather than just bookending the show with no development in between.
While Kakeru and Touko take up most of the screen time, I feel that the Sachi/Hiro situation actually suffers more acutely from lack of proper development. Specifically, Sachi being so receptive to Hiro’s feelings just doesn’t feel right without any indication of why she feels that way about him. I can accept that the starting point for the show is that Hiro likes Sachi but if Sachi already liked Hiro back what was the point of all this? If we had seen Sachi slowly developing feelings for Hiro over the course of the show that would be one thing, but as it is this episode, much like episode ten, left me wondering what the point of Sachi and Hiro existing in this show was. They’ve added absolutely nothing other than giving Touko somebody to fret over. Since Touko’s plenty good at fretting on her own I see no reason for those two to exist.
Related to this, I find many cases in the last two weeks where characters take events that should be strange and unexpected in stride. Last week it was Hiro and Touko having almost no reaction to Sachi’s half-confession and this week it was Kakeru and Touko’s families providing no resistance to the plans those two made for them. Glasslip really struggles at creating an atmosphere where you feel like the characters have lives and meaning outside of what you see on screen. Instead it feels like the only thing that matters is what you as the viewer can directly see and when the characters aren’t on screen they’re merely standing at the ready waiting to do whatever the plot requires them to do next. In this case it’s Touko’s family heading over to see Kakeru’s family on a whim because Touko says so. These people don’t have any other plans for today or ever so of course they can just march over to some stranger’s house because their daughter asked for it. By the same token Kakeru’s mother is fine with this because what does a globetrotting pianist have to do with her days other than perform for the family of her son’s new girlfriend. Then Kakeru and Touko run off together leaving people who have never met each other until today alone together and they seemingly think nothing of it. It makes all the side characters feel more like props than like real people which kills your immersion as a viewer.
The one bright spot in the show continues to be Yanagi and Yukinari. Unlike the rest of the show, the way the two of them are reconciling and becoming closer to each other actually seems to be getting the development it deserves. Their conversations make sense (relatively speaking) and their arc is actually steadily progressing rather than moving in often inexplicable fits and starts. Seeing Yukinari awkwardly standing in the dance hall while Yanagi practiced was actually pretty sweet and it put a brief smile on my face in an otherwise mediocre episode. If Yanagi and Yukinari’s story was the main focus of Glasslip it might be a nice, if unspectacular, show. Instead it’s given third billing behind two malformed love stories which is a shame.
Despite being better than what preceded it, this episode was probably the final nail in the coffin for Glasslip. It demonstrated that even a competently made episode can’t get the show from here to there when there is no longer any “here” to come from. The foundation on which these final episodes could have been built is so thoroughly destroyed that anything that takes place in these last two episodes will be doomed by what came before. It’s a sad state of affairs to be sure but one Glasslip finds itself in nonetheless. At least the snow’s still pretty.