Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Gleipnir

Original Run: April 5, 2020 - June 28, 2020
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Action, Mystery, Supernatural
Based on the Series Created By: Sun Takeda

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Gleipnir. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Shuuichi Kagaya (voiced by Natsuki Hanae) wants nothing more than to blend in. However, there is a monster inside him. He isn’t sure how or why, but Shuuichi can transform into a giant dog-like creature. This change gives him unbelievable strength and a keen sense of smell. Because of this, he can’t force himself to look away when someone is in danger.

One night, Shuuichi uses his beast form to rescue a girl named Clair Aoki (voiced by Nao Touyama) from a burning building. To his horror, though, Clair takes advantage of this meeting to use Shuuichi’s abilities.

Along with power, Shuuichi’s dog shape is a wearable costume. When an unknown assailant attacks the pair, Clair climbs inside and successfully — brutally — defeats their enemy.

The two learn that Shuuichi’s mysterious transformation might have to do with strange coins that are littered all over the place. The more they uncover, though, the more they realize they cannot be in any more danger.

Series Positives

Gleipnir wasn’t always good, nor was it always interesting. It had low moments, as well as scenes that both dragged on and made little sense. There were stumbles, missteps, and poorly conveyed pieces of information. This series also ended on an unsatisfying note. Not to mention the finale left the door open for a second season; one I am unconvinced will see the light of day. And, frankly, I’m okay with that.

Although Gleipnir was far too big of a project for a thirteen-episode anime to explore fully, it would be a lie to say it didn’t have its merits. Yeah, the last few episodes were a bit problematic (more on that later), but most things up to that point were quite fun.

For instance, Clair Aoki was easily the best thing to come out of this series. For all the details that felt rushed, forced-in, and unimportant, Clair and her personality were given a surprising amount of care. She was cold, often emotionless, and willing to kill without hesitation. There were also times when Clair was manipulative, cruel, and only cared about getting what it was she wanted. Nevertheless, Clair had a motivation for everything she did. After all, she lived through the murder of her parents. When no one believed her story of what happened, she became discouraged enough to attempt suicide. She wasn’t in a great spot when we met her.

Throughout this story, as she and Shuuichi Kagaya became closer, and, in turn, more exposed to Shuuichi’s kindhearted nature, Clair found a place where she felt she mattered. She would still take a life without question when she had to, but there was remorse in her actions. For example, what Clair had to do to get her and her group out of the mountains was particularly cruel. Yet, unlike she was at the start, you could see her feeling the weight of the mass murder she was commiting.

While we’re on the subject: The entire time Clair and Shuuichi were in the mountains looking for coins was Gleipnir at its most fascinating. This was when the story built up its intrigue, mystery, and excitement. Here was when this series became more than scary looking monsters and violent fights (even though there were quite a few excellent action scenes). This show had ardent layer of gamesmanship and strategy.

It was while Gleipnir was in the mountains that we learned more about the coin collection. Why the actual game was taking place remained up in the air, but we did get glimpses into why people played. Some, like the group Clair and Shuuichi ran into, didn’t care about power or fame. They had simple wishes, and, overall, their inclusion in this free-for-all death match was a tragedy.

What I’m getting at is, Gleipnir had quite a lot to itself. This could have a terrific show that I would have loved to stick with through multiple seasons. That was until we reached the end of this installment, and the series decided to toss its careful, well-timed pacing out the window.

Series Negatives

Let me say it now. I could not have any care less about Shuuichi. Ignoring the fact Clair utter outshone him, he wasn’t an interesting character. Except, that was the show’s fault, not his.

Gleipnir gave away too much information about Shuuichi’s backstory. Actually, no, that’s not what happened. It wasn’t that this show gave too much info, it gave too much info way too fast. This series shoved so much detail into the last few episodes with no warning, build up, or purpose. For instance, I did not expect this show to reveal how the coin collecting game started quite yet, but I was wrong. And along with that, we learned who the first constants of the game were and that one of them is apparently going to be an obstacle should the story continue.

And all this just came up out of the blue.

Nowhere before the finale did Gleipnir hint that it was going to discuss how things came to be what they were. Not only that, this series thought the final episode was the best place to add in a ton of new, never before mentioned characters who were, apparently, critical players to everything. That’s not even counting the numerous random, unimportant characters who were peppered throughout this show.

For example, Shuuichi had a friend, Nana Mifune (voiced by Miku Itou), who was simply around. She didn’t do anything; she never got involved with the coin collecting game. The story hinted that she had romantic feelings for Shuuichi, but she was never given a chance to do something about that.

Scratch that. Nana did have the all-important task of ensuring Clair made it to the season’s climactic battle — even though Clair probably could have just walked there. That was the only thing she did, and yet, Nana had more screen time than the person who this show set up to be one of the main antagonists.

Weirdly, it felt as though Gleipnir wanted to have an ending that both set the groundwork for a second season and make this installment a satisfying stand-alone anime. Well, it failed on both accounts. This was a series that shot itself in the foot at the last second.

I can’t deny that I enjoyed the majority of my time with Gleipnir. Nevertheless, this ending left a lot to be desired. Fortunately, if I am wrong and a second season does come, I will have no problem returning to this story.

Final Thoughts

When this series was on point, it was on point.

This story could be tense, funny, and exciting, and often at the same time. The animation, music, and artwork gave this show a flair that was uniquely its own, making it a standout anime of 2020.

That said, this series made the mistake of trying to stuff too much into not a lot of time. Thus, this show, which could have ended on a steady stride, stumbled across the finish line.

However, even though I’m not confident of one happening, I am going to hope for a continuation. Therefore, I will be giving Gleipnir a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Gleipnir? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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