This is review number three hundred and ninety one. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup, and it’s called Glasslip. It’s a thirteen episode anime about….something. This anime is really something, and I actually can’t wait to talk about that something, so let’s just get on with it.
It has a boy and a girl, and there are some chickens. One of them is bisexual, the other is in love with her stepbrother and there’s also piano music. Over the course of the summer, a bunch of random sh*t happens, I guess?
Taking the Pants Off
What the hell is this anime? Seriously, I sat through some of the worst sh*t you can imagine but Glasslip is just a different kind of awful. This anime honestly deserves a score of one, and I am very tempted to give it that one. After all, an anime that gives me nothing deserves the lowest score I can give a show. This anime lacked a premise, and it also lacked the very basic forms of storytelling. It has no decent characters, and the relationship between the so-called “group of friends” is pretty fake. Anime that scores a two out of ten, for me, are the shows I hate with my entire being. They’re so damn awful that I have nothing good to say about them. An anime that garners a score of one though are shows that are just nothing. They don’t give me enough to either like it or hate it, and that actually hard to do. To create a series that gives you nothing substantial is pretty insulting to begin with, but not even nailing one element of an anime right takes some kind of special stupidity to accomplish. The anime is inept, and the people behind it are inept. PA Works, what the hell are you doing? This anime is even worst than Nagi no Asukara, an anime so disappointing that I refuse to post my review of it. It’s in my drafts, and it’ll stay there forever. Glasslip is a special kind of awful that I seriously can’t believe exists.
So this anime deserves a score of one. It means nothing to me, and the entire experience is a giant waste of time. Sadly, the anime does not qualify for the score it deserves though. The anime may lack the barebones elements that makes an anime watchable, but it did do something right. At the start of the series, the anime nailed its one selling point: the healing element. Iyashikei, or healing, is a weird subgenre of slice of life where the goal is to create atmosphere calming enough for viewers to relax in the visual experience. I don’t really think it’s a genre though, but I can’t be confident about it since I have no idea what healing is about. All I know is that it’s brimming with images of nature, a slow yet interesting take on the character’s everyday routine and it all balances with some captivating music. I always believed Hayao Miyazaki’s works are pretty much healing, but I can’t really be sure since “healing the audience” is a subjective thing. I’m “healed” by Higurashi no Naku Koro ni but does it really qualify as healing? My benchmark for healing though is Tamayura since it’s about nature and the beauty of everyday life. Regrettably, Glasslip does nail this one little thing. The first half of the anime is interesting only because of its healing element. The anime obviously crumbled at the end, because Iyashikei is a style, more than anything else, and you kinda need a story more than style to properly end an anime. So, sadly, this anime will not be getting a score of one but don’t get it twisted: this anime deserves the lowest score you can possibly give it.
That’s the problem with being impartial. Sometimes, fairness often leads to just misery on my end. This anime is pretty notable though because of its director, Junji Nishimura. He’s a pretty well-known director, but Glasslip also celebrates Nishimura’s return working with PA Works. They once created this beautiful anime called True Tears. I’m blurry on the details now, but the anime is a very solid hit for PA Works. That was their very first produced anime as a standalone studio, so I bet they wanted to create something special with their second collaboration with Junji Nishimura. The chickens appearing on Glasslip is also a cute reference to True Tears and it kinda symbolizes something special between Junji and PA Works. I bet they really wanted to recreate the magic they had back then with True Tears. Unfortunately, Glasslip is just a mess. I guess you can sum up the many problems of the anime in just one sentence: the anime is more style than substance.
It doesn’t have a story in its thirteen episode run, it lacked a premise starting out and it also relied on a lot of useless gimmick to make the show seem interesting. I’m sure Junji is a talented director, but Glasslip feels soulless. It lacks heart, and it feels devoid of any effort. As an anime fan, I am honestly insulted that Glasslip exists. I feel like the audiences were treated like idiots when they had to watch thirteen episodes of nothing from a director that didn’t really care. They even botched the stupidest of tropes, and they didn’t even use their clichés properly. It’s as if they just didn’t really care, and I am really insulted by it. All I ever got was a director that thinks too highly of himself doing some experimental artistic bullsh*t in thirteen episodes. It’s telling though that a veteran director doesn’t know how to tell a story and setup a premise, so I’m glad the audience isn’t the only one that looked like idiots in this whole endeavor.
Ah, damn it. This is supposed to be a review, so let’s just focus on all the things Glasslip did wrong first. Let’s start with the premise. The anime follows a group of friends in their summer vacation. The group agreed to no dating, but a recent transfer student appears and he messes the whole thing up. His appearance ruffles a few of the relationships, and the group’s entire summer vacation is ruined thanks to him. Still, love is a powerful thing and the group must decide if it’s stronger than their friendship. I write a better premise than the damn anime. While the premise can be easily summed up in a few sentences, the anime isn’t really direct with it. First of all, they introduced the cast in bulk with their names flashed on the screen. The transfer student, Kakeru Okikura, also never joins the group naturally. He is only fixated on one girl, Tokou Fukami, because they apparently share the same supernatural powers. That’s his motivation, so this slice of life romance about a group of friends started its premise on a ham fisted supernatural plot device. The bigger problem is that they never really come off as a group of friends that has spent their days together. The dialogue between them is stiff, their chemistry is off and the romance feels forced. As I read some online description of the show, it’s apparently their last summer together as a group. The anime never explained why, maybe they’re seniors and graduating soon, but it could’ve been an interesting motivation for the entire show. Since it’s their last summer, it’s their last chance for a romantic confession, last chance to do the things they want to do as a group and a last chance to live life together with no regrets. The premise is never properly established though, so the status quo is messed up and the following story is also whacked. There were no clear elements of their friendship, no real convincing proof of their love towards each other and no real reason for Kakeru to even be involved in this anime. At the very start, the anime is already broken and it decided to run its course never really fixing anything.
Why improve on things? We have the Iyashikei element to bring things together, right?
There’s a problem with being focused too much on the visual aspect of an anime, because things eventually turns stale and super boring. After all, we are just watching characters doing random sh*t with no real effect on the show. It can be extremely boring to slog through thirteen episodes of just characters doing random things. We need a story to really bring things together. Even Tamayura, a pretty standard healing anime, is competent enough to have a story. It follows a girl’s life in the place where her deceased dad grew up, and she’s trying to reconnect with him and herself through her time there. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Glasslip kinda wanted to achieve the same thing. It explored how characters should have a “home” to belong to, and that place is being with the person they love. It’s a cute sentiment, but the anime has no idea how to properly tell this story. Since the premise about the group of friends is already broken, the anime doesn’t really have a chance to naturally build up its story so it didn’t. It just forced a lot of things to happen just to suit whatever the hell it’s trying to accomplish. This is especially true about the romance between the characters.
Before I start on that, let’s talk about one of the things I like about the anime. The show tells a story with just glances and facial reactions, and I really admire this. Take, for example, this beautiful scene from episode one. It starts with the girl admiring the glass on her soda:
It transitions to a guy admiring the girl admiring a glass.
This prompted a reaction from another girl watching a guy admiring a girl admiring a glass.
This is powerful stuff, because it establishes that glass admirer is too aloof to notice. The guy is admiring from afar though, because she is his friend. The other girl is jealous though, and that’s a wonderful way to introduce the characters. It also tells us how promising the romance is. After all, so much is said without any dialogue. Sadly, the anime has no idea how to properly tell a love story.
I remember two of characters really just sat in a room together reading books. I think throughout the entire first half (six episodes) they just didn’t say anything. The main idea is that the guy just wants to spend time with the girl, but she is clearly expecting him to confess. After all, she invited him alone in her room. That’s kinda a big signal to just go for it. The guy never confesses though, but all of a sudden, when asked by her mother why a guy is visiting him, she just blurted out that he is her boyfriend. The romance is ruined, the characters are ruined and everything wasted in the six episodes are ruined in that instance. For a show that can tell so much with no words, it sure knows how to ruin them with the exact wrong words.
Wouldn’t it be better to just let the characters talk and naturally build from there? I remember them even texting about books, and that’s f*cking cute. The girl would even get the guy to read Natsume Souseki, and it could’ve been a way to bring them together. The girl specifically asked him to read “Ten Nights of Dreams”, and it totally got my hopes up since the first dream in the story is about a dying woman talking to a guy. I was expecting a scenario like that with our ill girl and the guy who loves her so much. Instead, like a toddler, she just blurted out that he is her boyfriend. It’s infuriating, because it could’ve been done better. The annoying part is that they never really become a couple. They still sit in a room together just reading books, and I bet it’s for the visual’s sake. After all, this is the only thing the director cares about.
Kakeru and Touko are even more infuriating. They fell in love because they have the same superpowers, except they don’t really have them. I think the girl is drawn to the guy because of something about being able to see the future, and it could’ve been a nice way to get the romance together, right? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. The anime just decided to lump them together, and they’re just magically a couple for no reason. The supernatural thing between the two is also really stupid. They claim to see the future, but everything is kept ambiguous up until the end. It really just feels nothing more than a plot device, but the anime kept forcing it in the story for no real reason. This anime about a group of friends is suddenly just about Touko thinking she can see the future because she saw snow in her vision, and Kakeru spouting things like how they belong together because of their powers. Did they ever act romantic towards each other? No. Do they have a reasonable chemistry between them? No. Is their relationship ever convincing enough for them to be a couple? No. This doesn’t make sense, and for the anime to run with this is just annoying.
I kinda figured they’d try to go away from their already broken premise. I never expected them to force things though, and it just doesn’t really work out for the show. One of the biggest problems is that Touko already mentioned that she isn’t really focused on love. She rejected the other guy because she isn’t really feeling any love. For her to just flip a switch and be in love with Kakeru is really infuriating. You’d expect her to gradually be in love, but the show really just decided, in one episode, that the two should be together. This is also a big contrast to the show’s theme of a slow slice of life focusing on the characters’ routines. If they can just abruptly go from not in love to yes in love, then it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. What exactly are we trying to accomplish here?
This anime is a thematic mess, but you can also blame the many gimmicks it tried to employ to compensate for the lack of a good story. The supernatural powers are a very good example of this, because the anime doesn’t really need it. Seeing Kakeru talk so much nonsense about seeing the future and hearing stuff about fragments of himself eventually feels grating, because none of it really matters. He’s just talking for the sake of talking. Having supernatural elements to your slice of life is also a stretch, since you kinda need a really good story to support that combination. You failed on your premise, so how exactly can you expect to pull off an even more complicated setup? The anime relied so much on gimmick that its title is also a useless gimmick. Glasslip means nothing. Sure, Glass Lips could be related to the romance aspect of the anime but it really isn’t. For some reason, Touko’s family runs a glass workshop and we see her make some glass from time to time. This isn’t related to the story or anything, and Touko isn’t even aspiring to be a glassmaker, so the scenes just end up as a useless gimmick to bulk up the show. I’m sure a competent writer can use Touko’s aspiration for glass as a symbolism for her clouded mind and heart, but f*ck that sh*t. Let’s just have her draw chickens. Why exactly? No reason. This is all just another gimmick that ends up nowhere. If you’re counting, then that’s three useless gimmicks already desperately filling up what a decent story should be in. Does the anime stop at three gimmicks though? Oh, hell no.
Sachi Nagamiya is the sick girl that gets hospitalized in the show. What’s her sickness and does it ever affect her character arc in the show? Nope. We never discover her illness, but the anime did use a couple of episodes focusing on her health and the tests that prevents her from coming home. She’s just a poor sick girl that doesn’t contribute anything to the story. We also have step siblings here crushing on each other, by the way. Yanagi and Yukinari are step siblings, but Yanagi likes her new brother. Does their weird family setup ever affect their relationship? Nope. Why did the anime even make them step bro and step sis then? I don’t know. It’s just a gimmick, after all. The best useless gimmick in the anime has got to be this though:
Out of nowhere, Kakeru suddenly speaks to himself. Why? We never found out. Does it really matter? Not really. This is all just gimmick to bulk up the anime. Thirteen episodes doing visually work with no story can be challenging, so they need to pad things up where it needs some padding. A story is a much easier way to pad a thirteen episode anime, but what the hell do I know? I’m not the f*cking guy that directed the best episode of Lam The Invader Girl. For a veteran director, how exactly can you make such a mess of an anime? I do believe his intentions are good, and I also think they really wanted this show to work. PA Works and everyone that handled this anime really wanted something special to happen, but this is really just bad. Too many people had their hands in this project, and you can clearly see how much of a burning mess this turned out to be. I started this review confused and pissed, but now I just feel ashamed that so many talented people worked on this garbage. The sad part is that none of them really contributed anything good to the series. It’s one negative on top of the other, and I honestly thought this’ll just be a rework of Nagi no Asukara. It’s actually worse than that. I never thought you can get things worse than Nagi no Asukara, but you apparently can.
There is no need to talk about the characters. They aren’t really any characters here. There are just cardboard cutouts smiling and talking to each other. I would like to single out Kakeru though, because he is actually a staple of most original anime. O. Screenplays have characters with no actual role in the anime, and Kakeru fits that. You can replace him with a talking chicken and it wouldn’t matter. I actually liked that better, since at least you know whatever incoherent garbage he is speaking comes from the twisted mind of Touko talking to a chicken. He has his little things though, like some thematic points but they weren’t really that properly told. The guy lives in a tent and he moves from town to town sleeping in it, and it points out how he doesn’t really have a home. It was just a lightly brushed idea on the show though, since the anime is bogged down with nonsense over beautiful imagery. Some people positively responded to this idea though, but you have to understand that it’s a ploy by the creators. They threw so many things at the wall hoping something would stick, and this home thing apparently did. If the show actually fleshed out this idea though, then I think it would’ve added a lot to the romance between him and Touko. It’s disappointing that he really just did nothing of significance to the show, and I’m starting to get annoyed with original anime. Are role-less characters actually a thing now?
If we’re talking about throwing things hoping it would stick, I think the small revelation that one of the characters is bisexual would’ve been my favorite one. It’s not really clear if she is, but I kinda wish she was. It would add a lot to the show, and it desperately needed some cute gimmick like that. I don’t think people would appreciate seeing the bisexual angle as nothing more than a gimmick though, so I guess I’m also glad they restrained themselves for exploring it. Besides, they have the porntastic setup of two step siblings living in one house together. I wished they actually explored that one instead.
PA Works is really a hit and miss kind of studio. I like how experimental they can be though, and they learn from their previous works. After all, the fantasy element they created with The Eccentric Family is carried over to Nagi no Asukara. The small hints of the awkward love story of Nagi-Asu is actually present in this anime, so there is progression and growth from the studio. I just really wish they would try harder. They can make great shows if they really tried, but it seems like the studio itself is stuck in a creative rut. I do believe they’ll bounce back, and Shirobako is actually the next anime they released after this one so I think it’s all good. I like how they try new things, and this’ll honestly help them separate themselves from other studios, but I just hope they learn from their mistakes. This studio is too talented not to shoot for the stars, damn it. I hear Shirobako is insanely good though, so I’m excited for that one.
Sight and Sound
Despite my absolute hatred for the show, it’s now time to talk in depth about the healing aspect of the anime. It is insanely good. If this wasn’t present, then this anime would’ve died right from the first episode. Junji is really trying to show off here, because he would present one wide shot scene of nature after another. I love how they captured the sleepy and dreary look of an empty street, but they’d make the visuals stunning to look at. The anime would have long drawn out scene of characters just walking on concrete streets or lush green scenery, and it’s really wonderful to look at. I also love how they would combine both nature and concrete on the same background just mingling with each other and capturing the beauty of a small city isolated from everything else. One of the things Junji did was actually gave us a tour of this little town. We’d always be treated to different places whenever characters talk. While there are familiar ones like the school ground and the café they friends hung out in, they’d also talk in small shrines, the beach, the docks, and even just random streets with the daily train cutting through everything. They nailed the atmosphere of the place, but they also captured the sound of it.
I love the use of birds chirping and cicadas making noise as we are treated to the different sceneries of the town. It’s also interlaced with a piano arrangement to give emotion to the scene. I’m not sure if it’s the same piano arrangement every time, but I do know that it perfectly fits the scene the anime is telling. If it’s just one character contemplating, then it’d be a soothing piano sound really embellishing the healing aspect of the scene. The piano sound changes though if there is some possible conflict that would arise or if something gimmicky would happen. It helps add drama, and really makes the experience dynamic.
The anime overused the visual treat though. This one strong aspect is constantly used over and over. During the second half, scenes would contain nothing but characters walking through nature. It ends, and then we see another character walking through the streets. That ends, and then we get a shot of a character in their room. That ends, and then something else starts. The story doesn’t materialize, and you can tell the imagery is being used to stall things. They’re dragging things out, and it’s pretty obvious. At some point, the anime really had nothing to present so even the beautiful imagery can become a chore to experience. I would’ve loved the healing aspect to actually add to the story, because I have seen it done before. Honey and Clover is an anime that pretty much behaves like Glasslip. The former show would use the imagery to add to the story though, and it really makes a difference considering the story of Honey and Clover isn’t really that special. But man, Honey and Clover is so confident with itself that it would even play the ending theme at the right moment to punctuate the beauty of a scene. Beautiful imagery can mean so much to an anime with a plain story. You can also achieve unbelievable heights with it though, because Natsume Yuujunchou still serves as the best show that blends strong imagery with beautiful story. This is why I believe Glasslip didn’t even try to achieve a story, because it’s hard not to have one.
Besides the visuals, I also love the scene of the families eating together. I know it isn’t much, but I love how most healing anime display routine. The way the family talks while eating is a really wonderful addition to this anime. It eventually vanished in the second half, but I love how vibrant and home~y the entire scene plays out. Touko’s dinner with her family is so energetic that it would always make me smile. The way the family joins together is a really beautiful thing, and I’m kinda bummed they dropped it halfway through. Even the breakfast scenes of Kakeru talking with his dad after climbing out of the tent are really good scenes to start your story. This “bonding over food thing” seems to be a really interesting idea that I hope gets explored more. It’s the only scenes in the anime that aren’t forced, and there’s a genuine beauty to them that I really gravitate to.
Character design looks like Nagi no Asukara. I think Touko even wears the same uniform you’ll see in the other show. It is trademark PA Works though, since this whole design stems all the way back to Tari Tari. The characters all look the same though, but I still love the range of characters design-wise. They don’t standout, but the anime doesn’t really need good looking characters since it’ll just be a waste. It won’t save the dull-ness of the show, so why even bother? I do like Touko’s little sister, design-wise. I guess it’s her tan skin that makes her standout. PA Works love their pale skinned beauties, so I love how they mix it up from time to time.
The anime’s OP is “Natsu no Hi to Kimi no Koe” by ChouCho. I love this song, and it perfectly fits the show as well. The lyrics talk about being in love, but it’s ripe with lines about everyday life and routine that is present in the show. ChouCho’s voice is also pretty great as the instrumentals wonderfully highlight her voice. I also love hearing that acoustic guitar in the background just getting the right mood for the anime. This is accompanied by a stellar OP sequence as well. It basically laid out the premise along with the gorgeous visuals of the anime. Of course, this all just beautiful accessory since the anime outright sucks. The anime’s ED is “Toumei na Sekai” by nano.RIPE. This is another great song, and the lyrics actually laid out the premise of someone just letting loose for one final hurrah and just making memories. It’s funny how the songs capture the anime, but the anime itself didn’t capture the anime. So that’s weird. The ED sequence features images of the friends though, and Kakeru somehow forced in the image often as a background character proving just how role-less the guy is. The anime even acknowledges it, and that’s pretty funny
2/10 “This anime is broken from the start, and it limped its way to its miserable ending.”
With no story, premise, characters, and anything else that resembles an actual anime, I don’t really think people should bother with this one. Sure, there are interesting themes here and there, but it often requires effort on the viewer’s part to appreciate a piece from a whole that looks bad overall. The visuals are strong, but why watch an anime for its beautiful pictures when you can get the same from other shows with a story to accompany it? This anime is boring, disappointing and insulting all at the same time. If you can handle how little it gives you for your effort watching it, then go at your own risk. I do not recommend this.