Touko's group of friends have been together for many years now, often gathering at a local restaurant. Now in their teens, romantic feelings grow between some of them. Touko is attracted a new boy in town; Kakeru, only to have one of her friends suddenly confess to her as well.
Then Touko begins experiencing strange visions, an ability Kakeru also shares. She feels connected with him in the secret they share, but also frightened by what she sees as the future. In a passing conversation, her mother described seeing the future as a way to experience fun things twice. Which sounds great until Touko sees the vision of her first kiss.
It's hard not to get worked up in anticipation due to appearances, however instead of a filling meal Glasslip serves up a slice of life. It's easy to criticize this one as gloss with little substance, but is it wrong to make something really pretty (with little else)? I don't think so, and in that way I think Glasslip succeeds. It's not just visually attractive in artwork, the presentation is great too. Much of the time in Glasslip presents odd details about the surrounding environment, setting the mood for a scene. Whether the viewer accepts this as an aesthetic enhancement or padding time is hard to say, but most people feel it's the latter. With a story that's meandering to begin with, added non-eventful material makes the pace drag even more. However if you're content with simply enjoying the sights and sounds of a beautifully presented world, this is probably worth picking up on those merits alone. Unfortunately expectations with high end production will lead to disappointment concerning everything else.
Stripping away all the peripherals reveals a show that is basically a collection of mundane teenage romance scenarios going nowhere, made worse by characters that don't have much going on with them. Personalities are mediocre, there is nothing unusual about their situations either (exempting the clairvoyance thing), and even the relationships between them lacks vitality. Despite splintering into 3ish separate stories, only one romance held my interest (the one between the brother / sister - don't worry, their parents remarried).
The main focus is on Touko who is a bit spaced out, and stuck in a love triangle. Kakeru is her main love interest who's too detached. Instead of a natural blooming romance, the two seem too distant to pull it off. Remember we're talking about horny teenagers here, the attraction should be very clear. Worse still, the secret they share is only explored half heartedly before going nowhere.
Glasslip is kind of a romance, and kind of a coming of age story. But that's the problem, it's "kind of" many things, but doesn't fully become any of them. And that's a shame when it comes to the ending which only "kind of" happens. There's no reason this couldn't have a satisfying conclusion, but Glasslip intentionally leaves nearly everything ambiguous which is frustrating as hell. I'm guessing this was intended to be something artistic, but it just doesn't work very well.
It wasn't that I disliked Glasslip, and I appreciate the aesthetics capturing the sights and sounds of summer which it does well. The characters, the story, the romance, or SOMETHING needed to pull the rest of it together, but that didn't happen. The pretty visuals might make it worth picking up, but most will want to avoid this one due to faltering in other basic areas.
Toshihiro: Why don't you get a cell phone?
Kakeru: Are they really that useful?
Touko: I'd die without one.
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