Kindhearted Shuichi Kagaya doesn't understand the strange transformation he has been having lately, but a seemingly ruthless girl named Claire Aoki wants to take advantage of it (and of Shuichi) to track down her older sister.
Sexual molestation- ESPECIALLY when perpetrated by the supposed "hero" of a show- is an automatic point deduction for me, and here our "good-natured" lead Shuichi twice starts to "violate" Claire (as she puts it.) What makes it worse is that it seems so out of character for him. Still, he DID stop himself each time, and you could say that Claire gets revenge on him, for she starts regularly "violating" HIM herself in a unique way.
Shuichi, you see, has been inexplicably turning into a giant, particularly ridiculous-looking, dog costume. Yes, a costume. He can move around on his own in this state, but, while his outside looks like a poorly stitched-together cosplay outfit, his insides are fleshy, and there's a large hollow space in there where a human being is apparently meant to fit. Claire finds she can direct his motions from inside him (it kind of reminded me of the Eldians controlling their Titans in Attack on Titan), but the story obviously plays this for sensuality as well when she "enters" him, even in the dialogue. (Claire: "I'll be gentle".) And while she's perfectly happy "driving" him in the nude (she complains that it's hot in there), he typically insists she wear at least a swimsuit, or underwear. (Lots of fanservice here.)
Another aspect of this, though, is that she can hear his thoughts while inside him- and over the course of the show a convergence of purpose begins between Claire's ruthless pragmatism and Shuichi's sentimental idealism, though you could say that Shuichi moves more toward HER way of thinking than she does toward HIS. (At one point, he has another "operator" inside who has a personality very similar to Shuichi's own, which produces very different results than he gets with Claire, since Claire's personality complements Shuichi's rather than reinforcing it.)
I have to address the show's sense of morality as well. I've seen my share of amoral/nihilistic shows- Killing Bites, King's Game, and one called Babylon that I found so philosophically ugly that I didn't even want to sit through it again to review it- and Gleipnir is NOT quite like those, but the morality here is definitely relative; Shuichi/Claire usually KILL their opponents (the costume comes with an oversized revolver), and while I could see this as maybe justified in cases like the one where a gang of bad guys insisted that at least one of Shuichi's band of compatriots had to die (though even in that case at least one of Shuichi/Claire's comrades felt pretty unclean about having to be involved in Claire's "solution"), in other cases I dunno: the very first assailant who attacks our hero(es) gets reduced to not only a harmless state, but a pathetic one. Still, there's a lot of Monty Python's Black Knight in just about every adversary they encounter, and some of them might find a way to get themselves fixed up and become credible threats again- especially if they can get back to the alien.
Yes, as is always the case, there's an alien behind it all. If you do him a certain favor, he'll grant your wish, whatever it is, but the wishes have a tendency to have certain side effects- like turning the wisher into a monster. (The alien does have at least one satisfied customer, who claims that the problem is that most of the wishes are not carefully thought through and specific enough.) Shuichi doesn't remember how he got wished into HIS transformation, but he doesn't remember a LOT of things correctly; Claire's older sister, Elena, seems to be behind THAT. Elena's an interesting character- sometimes she seems rational (though chronically sad), but sometimes she's obviously insane (there's a surreal encounter between Claire, Shuichi, and Elena that you could say is, both literally and metaphorically, the ultimate shaggy-dog story); and Elena's transformed state is ALWAYS insane.
Other things noted:
-A voyeur's transformed state is absolutely fitting. The show, I have to say, shows flashes of genius sometimes.
-I kept thinking I'd seen the gimmick Claire & Co. used to escape from the mountain in some other show, but couldn't remember exactly where.
-Besides Claire's "entry" into Shuichi, which is The Most Sexual Thing I've Ever Seen That Wasn't Actually Sex, there's some breast fondling, but that's mainly by bad guys, and since those are universally cads/bounders, I guess that's what we'd expect.
-The show ends about halfway through Manga Volume 6. (Yes, I got curious, and bought some of the following chapters of the manga.) The anime stops short of filling in all the details of the backstory (including exactly how and why Shuichi's memory was erased), but we WILL find out how it started, around Ep. 12 of the anime. With a wish, yes, but it also involved a faulty assumption by another. The alien claims to have no feelings, except a possible fascination, about the disastrous chaos created by humans from the wishes, but I DID notice that he starts being more reticent about what he reveals to the persons who originally started this.
I'm still not sure how I feel about this. Despite Claire's callousness (which, as I noted, started to rub off on Shuichi), Claire's and Shuichi's actions are at least ostensibly (though sometimes debatably) motivated by necessity, and a strong bond begins to develop between them (there's some interesting jealousy at times too, when Shuichi lets anyone else "inside" him.) There are numerous things left unexplained just yet (though the show is somewhat less confusing on a second viewing), but I found it all surreal, perverse, and yet weirdly fascinating. I ended up going 3 stars, but I must caution that this is NOT for everyone. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Female nudity (though nipples are strategically covered (there is a REASON why women in anime often have long hair) or not visible, and of course no pubes) and of course near-rape; also quite violent (including decapitation). Right Stuf goes 17+ on the Blu-Ray; I'm good with that.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Gleipnir © 2021 Sun Takeda/Kodansha
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