What They Say:
Toko Fukami thought she had settled on what she wanted in life: to hang out with her four best friends in their small seaside town, and to eventually become a professional glassblower working in her family’s glassworks. But now two things have happened that may change her destiny forever. First, she’s seeing things. When she looks into reflections in glass, sometimes she catches glimpses of things that haven’t happened yet. And then a new boy, Kakeru, transfers into town, claiming that a voice from the future led him to her. Suddenly Toko is re-evaluating everything she thought she knew, from the proper care of her school’s chickens to how she really feels about each of her friends.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language only in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is like a lot of series from PA Works in that it’s very dialogue driven with the instrumental music assisting the mood. That means there’s no big action moments to it and the mix has to focus more on ambience and incidental sounds as well as the sound effects to drive it. And it does it pretty solidly with the dialogue as it’s well placed and works everything well. It’s not a dynamic dialogue mix, but it works the forward soundstage in a clean fashion. The instrumental music definitely helps to build the overall tone and makes for a solid experience overall. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in summer 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p. Animated by PA Works, the show is like many others of theirs in that the design is rich and detailed, highly appealing throughout. It’s not quite as rich as some other ones, but it pulls out the quality throughout and definitely hits it up with the backgrounds and color design. The color is what really sells it as it there’s so much that’s evocative because of that it really captures your attention. These areas are really well presented with richness and some great layers to it. It avoids any problems with noise or gradients and largely has a great look. The character animation and the background pieces that move have a great smoothness about them with its fluidity. It’s definitely sold animation overall.
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover goes with one of the more familiar promotional images of the gang in total walking up the steps from the town as they all interact in simple but amusing ways, though notably Kakeru is out in front and only slightly connected with the group, especially as Toko pulls everyone else along to try and get closer to him. It’s a good looking piece even with the less than standard perspective used since it showcases the characters. The darkness on the right side with the wall does dampen it a bit, but, in general, it’s a pretty solid approach. The back cover goes a good bit lighter with spring colors of blue and green used across the background with no illustration work to it, but the design of Toko on her bike, complete with summer hat and a rooster running alongside her works well. The premise is covered cleanly and in an easy to read fashion and the extras are all clearly listed as well. The shots from the show make up a pretty good block along the bottom with some nice variety to it while the remainder fills out the standard production and technical credits in a clean and clear format. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release goes with the expected static screen that shows off the various characters lying together on the grass, doing the first disc with the boys and the second with the girls, which reinforces that kind of mellow lifestyle and time that’s hard for adults to find. The image itself is really good and I love the colors and designs that have some good pop to it. The menu navigation is functional and works well, but it lacks some of the style that we’ve seen with other releases as it goes for a blue and silver background with very basic tabs for the episodes by number and title. It works well, but it just lacks something to make it feel like it fits with the theme and style of the show.
The only extras included in this set are the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original story by Rika Sato and Junji Nishimura with Nishimura directing, Glasslip ran in the summer 2014 season with PA Works handling the animation. The show was an interesting on prior to its broadcast and simulcast as there wasn’t a lot of promotion coming out for it or a strong hook for the story. Which after watching it makes sense since it’s largely a teenage drama but without the Hollywood aspects of it all. Though I tend to enjoy dramas that focus on adults more when it comes to relationships, there’s a lot to like with teenage dramas because the characters, if done right, have to struggle with the newness of it all and the copious amount of mistakes that people make while trying to figure themselves out.
Taking place in the seaside town of Hinodehama, a small place overall, we’re introduced to a group of friends of high school age that are in their last year for the most part. The group is pretty standard when you get down to it as you have the tall, dark and handsome Yukinari as the male lead and his “sidekick” of sorts with Hiro. Hiro is naturally interested in the seemingly regularly sick Sachi that’s dealing with an illness that keeps her in the hospital often. The show also gives us Yanagi, a young woman who lives with Yukinari as part of a blended family. The two are certainly interesting in that they’ve been together like this for what looks to be a year but are pretty well balanced and fun with each other without being weird or creepy. And the show has its main female lead in Toko, the daughter of the family that runs the glass workshop and has a younger sister not part of the group.
The group as a whole is pretty good together and what we get from the start is that they’ve been together since elementary school. In fact, they make a comment later in the season about how they came together like this because they were told as kids to not go around town alone. They bonded early and stuck together. What’s also interesting is that they decided some time ago that they are forbidden to have relationships with each other so as to avoid any real complications. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t feelings beneath the surface. Yukinari is interested in Toko, Hiro is interested in Sachi and Yanagi has grown quite fond of her step-brother Yukinari. It’s all ready to burst, especially since they’re all moving through their final year of high school and the “threat” of life moving on beyond school and the town is in the air.
While there’s more than enough material for a standard drama to work off of this, it also brings the new element into the mix that upsets the delicate balance. That’s in the form of a young man named Kakeru that is staying with his father. There’s a complicated story there about his family, so much so that staying with his father for a time means that even in this very nicely laid out home Kakeru sleeps in a tent outside. They explain it away in a seemingly simple way, but it just doesn’t click well and makes Kakeru feel like the Other in such a pronounced way that it’s distracting. Where Kakeru’s Otherness really strikes though is when he ends up meeting Toko and the two of them are fairly taken with each other in a special way; both of them can apparently see fragments of the future from time to time and that has its own effect on things. Toko’s “talisman” for it is through the glasswork she does at her family’s shop, but the fact that Kakeru is like this as well but in a different way means her hidden Otherness isn’t quite as alien as she thought and she’s instantly drawn to him, though she doesn’t realize it.
Others do though and that has Sachi declaring that the relationship clause of the group is null and void. And boy does that send things spiraling out of control quickly. Declarations are made, others are kept hidden and crushed by those that do declare to others and it turns into a right old mess as we get Toko spending time with Kakeru, Yukinari threatening and challenging Kakeru and essentially nobody by Toko like Kakeru. In a way, you do feel bad for Kakeru as it progresses yet I found myself frustrated by him as well. He doesn’t actively try to tick off the group or anything, but he also doesn’t want anything to do with them as his focus is solely on Toko. That, in turn, creates a wedge and we get a quickening of the group fraying and splitting apart for a whole host of reasons.
Glasslip does play with some decent ideas throughout it as I really like seeing the way these characters fragment as they move through their final year. They’re all making mistakes of different kinds while trying to find happiness, for themselves and/or others, and it’s not always done well. But such is the age of the characters though of course these speak a bit older and act a bit more maturely than one might expect. Yet I found myself really curious to see how it would turn out (messy and inconclusive) and to discover if there were pairings I cared for. That’s often a barometer for me with shows like this in that I care enough for certain pairings to want to see it either work or turn destructive. There’s a nice simplicity to the whole Sachi and Hiro subplot, one that doesn’t tax the main show and serves mostly as a distraction, so it was enjoyable enough. I really, really, couldn’t care any less about the Toko and Kakeru relationship because the guy is mostly a cipher when you get down to it beyond the minor future vision aspect. And I really had no interest in seeing Yukinari with Toko after the way she shut the door so firmly on him. That left my main investment in Yanagi and Yukinari, and mostly through her as she tries to grow and change herself into a better person to win him over. The two do slowly develop… something along the way and I liked what I saw because it wasn’t quite as clear-cut as one might imagine.
Glasslip is likely one of the weaker shows from PA Works overall with their original works yet even that has its charms. A lot of it may stem from the animation, but I also really liked seeing the way this group is thrown into utter chaos so quickly, like a trap just on its last hair of being sprung. Visually it’s a delight, though not as distinctive as some of their other shows, and it avoids playing up fanservice for the most part or falling into the trap of hot spring episodes, beach episodes and other tropes. We get elements of it, but it’s not played out in the normal way. The series is a whole is pretty well put together but is just missing something critical, a spark of some sort, to take it the next level. Sentai Filmworks, however, has given it a solid release with a beautiful and clean transfer and a good presentation overall with what it has. Fans of the show will be pleased by it and it may capture the attentions of some new fans as well.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 3rd, 2015
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.