Touko Fukami lives with her family, who runs a glass shop in a small seaside town, where she also works, making various objects. Lately, Touko would occasionally see short, cryptic visions through various glass objects, which causes her much puzzlement.
On her free time, she hangs out with a small circle of friends, normally at a small cafe downtown. This all changes when a stranger appears in town, seemingly already knowing Touko. His appearance sets in motion a chain of events that will shake up the friendships that has been kept among the group all this time.
P.A. Works is also known for being the producers of another show I watched somewhat recently; Nagi no Asukara, and if these two shows have anything in common, they're rich on scenery porn. And while Nagi no Asukara was a particularly spectacular example of this, Glasslip is certainly no slouch in that department either.
It was actually this art style that drew me to the show, as well as P.A.'s pedigree in general, though this did not come without some reservations. Due to its nature as a show centered around a rather complex love-triangle-chain-thing, I had my concerns about how the show would go about it. Naturally enough, the new arrival, who homed in on Touko like a plot gimmick-seeking missile, managed to antagonize her other love interest by merely speaking with her out of the blue, but surprisingly also one of the other female characters; Sachi, one of the younger members of the group of friends.
Just as I expected fists -- or at least voices -- to be raised, the show then spends the next couple of episodes being surprisingly calm and collected about everything, the whole thing being treated with a surprising amount of intelligence. It's almost refreshing, what with me already having experienced shows that depends too much on coincidence in its situations, or for the characters in the show to act immaturely to provide the drama. Instead, for a good while, the characters in this show were strangely straightforward with each other. All the confessions that actually mattered were made earlier in the series, which left the remainder of the show with dealing with the aftermath centered around the various relationships. And so, contrary to my fears, I ended up enjoying myself.
But alas, it was not to be.
The visions Touko has are to be held solely responsible for Glasslip's faltering steps. It sounds like an interesting angle, double-edged sword it may be, but Touko's abilities never really amount to anything. That IS a spoiler, for which I apologize, but the show chooses to focus on it to an increasing degree as it goes along, to the point where it almost solely dominates an entire episode, and then it just... fizzles out. For all it's presented as "REALLY IMPORTANT AND WE NEED TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS" at first, it's waved aside as completely irrelevant once it is milked for all it's worth. And it ain't taking that fall alone, let me tell you.
It's aggravating, because up to that point -- well, it was more of a gradual decline, but it was a decline I had gotten on board with -- Glasslip turned out pretty well. The main "couple", Touko and Okikura, tended to come across as a little stock, as main character are wont to do. Touko does at least have a hobby through her family, but she is a little too close in personality to the average, obliviously naive characters like Nagi no Asukara's Manaka; for some reason, she's the most beloved among them, but you'd be damned if you knew why. Just about the entire rest of the cast, Okikura aside, have more interesting personalities and aren't required to stand around spouting cryptic nonsense to come across as "interesting" or "deep". Yukimura is the one that has to become the middle point of the love triangle; he loves Touko (for some reason), but has another girl who is interested in him. Yet, once the cards are placed on the table -- which, again, they do surprisingly early -- the show is strangely sensible about it. There is even a short conflict between the couple that sees no competition on the side; the totally adorable Hiro and Sachi. An event sees the normally non-plussed Sachi setting in motion an antagonistic plan, and Hiro actually doesn't really respond well to that once he figures it out. It's encouraging to see the show actually take him and his feelings seriously, since it tends to also make him the butt monkey for his older sister.
Let us not mince words here; the ending of Glasslip is really bad. I can not stress just how much of a disappointment it is. I already mentioned how the show basically just waved aside its huge plot angle, but for one like me who likes it when shows makes a proper end to its run, Glasslip's "here's some vague allusions. Make up your own damn ending" way of rounding off things isn't going to make for a satisfactory meal. It's dismissive and lazy, and it's going to make your viewers feel like they've been gypped. Especially since you actually had the audacity to flat out tell them that the whole thing where Touko sees glimpses of the future -- that might not actually BE the future -- isn't really anything she needs to be concerned about. The show basically sells its own gimmick as a huge waste of time.
It's almost worth watching the show anyway, though, for the amazing visuals. The town of which Glasslip is taking place in looks amazing. The details in the background art are particularly impressive, as is the composition of the settings themselves. We've also reached a point where CG is rather effectively used for vehicles, which in this show means cars, bicycles and the train that occasionally rolls through. It's still not perfect, mind you; the cars are a bit flat still, and movement is a bit stiff, but given how it looked even just a few years ago, it's still come a long way. The characters are also a nice-looking bunch; diverse enough to be easily recognisable, and all of them are allowed to have a wide variety of casual styles that make them stand out. In short; visually speaking, I have absolutely no complaints. Most of the music is quite well done. The piano pieces may or may not even tie in with Okikura's mother, who is a... famous?... pianist, but even the intro theme fits the show like a glove through Choucho's gentle and lively little pop tune. I don't know how to properly explain it in English, but there is a Norwegian word for its kind of song: "visesang", which is very appropriate for it... as well as the show itself.
I don't necessarily condemn ambiguity in itself, but with Glasslip, I get the feeling that the show either tried to come off as mysterious to the point of being obtuse, or even that the show didn't really know how to end properly. It's irksome, because I generally liked how the character acted throughout the show, or how they dealt with the problems they found themselves in. When it comes to romance shows like this, maturity tends to come in short supply, even among supposedly intelligent characters. They're usually either too oblivious or too self-sacrificing, so to find a show where characters actually talked it out was almost surreal, even if it's the hardest subject to bring up with the people you care about -- which the show certainly ackowledged. I didn't think much of its "seeing the future" angle, but it was still unsettling to be proven right about it being a waste of time to this degree. And it's irritating, because I would have liked recommending Glasslip; I really do. But as it stands, that's not going to happen.
Good start, really bad ending. I mean REALLY bad ending. And a special gimmick -- and it IS a gimmick -- that basically ends up amounting to nothing. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: There is some light fanservice here and there; girls are found in swimsuits, or, on one occasion, in their underwear after a fall into the river. There is also a scene where Yanagi is basically walking naked through her house after a shower. All of this is treated generally non-sexual.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Glasslip © 2014 P.A. Works, Pony Canyon.
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