Welcome to the Summer 2014 season! I’m starting things off by plunging right into the vat of glowing hot molten glass that is P.A. Works’ Glasslip. As the “slice-of-life” genre label indicates, this opening episode is basically a bunch of stuff that happens, specifically what would happen any given summer day in a quiet, peaceful port town. It starts with a festival and fireworks, and ends in a cafe with…different fireworks. And it’s all sumptuously presented.
With slice-of-life there’ usually going to be some stuff that happens that’s more important than other stuff, and Glasslip is no exception. One notable event that breaks up the otherwise ordinary existence of our female include the female lead Fukami Touko (newcomer Fukagawa Seria) meeting a new transfer student Okikura Kakeru (Ohsaka Ryouta) who looks and acts a lot like Tsumugu in Nagi no Asukara (a show I watched along with Preston and also enjoyed quite a bit).
Touko and Kakeru notice each other at the festival during the actual fireworks, but don’t actually meet until Kakeru encounters Touko drawing chickens (her family runs a glass-blowing studio, and she likens his pose to that of David, so she’s artistically inclined), and they get into a mild philosophical debate about what’s best for said chickens. Free range is well and good, until predators arrive; his comments are enough to spook her into rounding up the birds and distributing them among the houses of her friends.
This action is as good a way as any to map out the ensemble and give us a glimpse of their personalities. After all, you never truly know someone unless they’ve taken care of a chicken, right? The rest of the ensemble consists of Imi Yukinari (who likes Touko); the pretty somewhat uptight Takayama Yanagi (who is annoyed that Yuki likes Touko); Nagamiya Sachi (frail but serene), and Shirosaki Hiro (who likes Sachi and has an older sister Momo who is a newly-licensed but not altogether good driver). Touko also has a little sister, Hina.
That’s a lot of cast right out of the gate, but their introduction was organic and by the end we generally knew who everyone was; hardly a certainty with some anime! The core five of Touko, Yuki, Sachi, Hiro, and Yanagi are all longtime friends, but seniors in high school who are become very aware of the very real possibility this could be their last year together as a group. In particular, some members of the group who’ve sat on their hands for too long may be thinking about making their move.
The element that threatens to upset the delicate balance of the quintet before it even has a chance to self-destruct is Kakeru, who has a knack for showing up around the places Touko and her friends are (though it’s a small town). When Touko introduces him, their collective reaction edges on hostility. Like Nagi’s Tsumugu, he’s the catalyst that will have a crucial role in shaping the final months the friends have with one another.
Interestingly, a show with “glass” in the name and glass-blowing integral to a main character’s life, there was precious little glass-blowing, but that’s really okay. What we did see was nicely-animated, and it looked to me that Touko knew what she was doing, even if she didn’t seem overtly passionate about it. I found that refreshing too, actually: while more enthusiastic than the others, Touko wasn’t going off about glass every waking second. But like Kakeru, we’ve only scratched the surface of who she is.
As is expected of P.A. Works, Glasslip is a gorgeously wrought, and the orchestral score combined with the lushly-detailed town buzzing with activity gave the first episode a very classy, Ghibli-like sheen. Not quite sure what was going on with the visual and audio distortions during some of those fireworks…but I’m sure we’ll find out soon! Overall, I like what I see, and will definitely keep watching.