This Week in Anime
Glip Glop Gleipnir

by Steve Jones & Michelle Liu,

It's a sexy kigurumi death match when Shūichi Kagaya finds himself transformed into a giant mascot character and entangled with fellow student Clair Aoki. The two are on a quest to retrieve coins that were left behind by...aliens? Oh, and sometimes Clair climbs inside Shūichi and gets all up in his sinewy muscles. It's Gleipnir, ladies and gentlemen!

You can read our Daily Streaming reviews of Gleipnir here!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Content Warning: this show and its screencaps are pretty sexy.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


Steve
Micchy, this guy might be a fictional enigmatic coin-collecting alien voiced by Takahiro Sakurai, but he certainly understands how I feel about the prospect of dining out in a post-corona world.
Micchy
He's just correct though? I don't care if restaurants are technically open, I'm not going out there. I mean it's not like I was going out much anyway but you get the point.
I suppose that's one boon the Gleipnir universe has going for it: no global pandemic to worry about. Too bad about the whole monster-ridden death game thing tho.
On the bright side, catgirls (dog girls?) exist in the Gleipnir universe, so I'd say it's a net win.
Don't forget the dog boys!

Well, er, dog mascot costume boys. Anyway, as should be clear by now, we're talking about Gleipnir! As ANN's designated Gleipnir reviewer for the season, that means I get to write about it twice in one week, and I just want to say what a privilege that is.
I mean, Gleipnir does start the same sweat-sniffing way as our favorite, Flowers of Evil, so it's no wonder you jumped on it like a dog to a tennis ball.

Not that Gleipnir has more than the loosest of connections to Aku no Hana, but imo this was a big brain move.
It's got a little Flowers of Evil, it's got a little Evangelion, and it's even got a little Future Diary. What a cosmopolitan anime! I also don't think it's incorrect to state that the two of us make up This Week In Anime's unofficial trash show duo. And as a trash connoisseur, I hope it carries a little bit of extra weight when I say that Gleipnir has shaped up to be my favorite kind of artful trash.
I'm not sure I'm quite as wholeheartedly on board with its brand of schlock as you, but my gay ass is willing to forgive quite a bit in the presence of anime women who could kill with a look.
And how!
II almost don't care that the main guy's defining trait is being hollow and bland when Clair shoves him around with such gusto.
From episode one, Gleipnir makes a clear (and Clair) statement about who the protagonist really is. And it further reinforces this idea with its main hook—a fulfillment of the promise that DARLING in the FRANXX was too cowardly to commit to—a heroine who pegs the hero.
Though you kind of have to wonder why Shuichi's even there when he's such a passive observer to everything going on. Like yes he's a convenient meat suit for Clair to have around but otherwise his role is to exist and sometimes get told he's a cool dude.
He has gotten some development over the season, and buried beneath his convenient Anime Amnesia it's now clear he had something to do with the creation of this poker chip hunt, but it's true his growth as a character has only happened in tandem or in response to Clair's. But Gleipnir is about that relationship itself, so I don't think you could make the show without him.
Fair! I'm just not a huge fan of retroactively assigning importance to the sad boy after he's spent so long being a blank slate. As sweet (and kind of fucked-up) that his and Clair's relationship is, it's only recently that he's gotten interesting as a character. We're told he's a nice guy who sticks his neck out when he absolutely has to, but imo it's way more fun to watch a character like him grapple with his insignificance and struggle to be good. So his drift away from bland niceness is actually way more interesting to me.
That's also fair! It's certainly taken a lot to build up, and structure wise, even in these final moments of the first cour, it feels like Gleipnir is only getting started in regards to where it ultimately wants to go. Like, it took 11 episodes for Shuichi to finally decide what his conviction and motivations are, and it kinda sucks that the anime isn't gonna have enough space to explore these.


Not to mention the whole war crime thing, but we'll get to that.
For about ten episodes Shuichi is just whatever Clair needs him to be - both physically and emotionally - but it's only now that he actually has a distinct identity as a character. 11 episodes in is kind of late in the game to remember to give your perspective character actual goals, but I suppose late is better than never? Like I am 100% down to watch these two tear each other down with their bad decisions while also supporting each other when no one else will. I'm just disappointed that it took this long to get here.
To his credit, tho, in those prior ten episodes, he was a very good and acquiescent meat puppet for Clair to penetrate. Like, lest my earlier pegging comment be interpreted as exaggeration, the show is VERY unsubtly about the act of sex itself. To a gross and hilarious degree.


I hope y'all like double entendres!
Oh no it is not subtle in the least. I mean, his whole transformation to begin with is a really obvious puberty metaphor where he's suddenly aware of the smell of Girl.

Granted, for most people puberty doesn't entail turning into a giant fluffy monster, just a slightly larger, hairier one.
Anime in general is hardly a stranger to horny teens or adolescent bildungsromans, but Gleipnir steeps its sexually-charged visual language in Cronenberg-esque body horror and defamiliarization to an extent that sets itself apart from its peers. And that's a twisted, winning formula in my book.
Puberty/sex metaphors are rarely this... slimy. Short of sex itself the only thing more visceral I can think of is, I dunno, cannibalism or something.
Look, the human body is just a disgusting lump of flesh and mucus, and the sooner we all accept this, the better.
What are we but meat puppets controlled by gooey lumps of grey matter anyway? In that sense Clair and Shuichi really are one entity.
Also, since you brought it up, I long for an anime on the level of television's Hannibal when it comes to exploiting the inherent eroticism of cannibalism, but nobody else liked Pupa, so I don't think we're ready for that yet, sadly.

I'm including that screenshot because I don't think I'll ever get another chance to post a Pupa screenshot in this column.
Let's stop there before I start yelling about Song of Saya like it's 2011 and I'm too edgy for Madoka Magica.
Ah, to be young again. But anyway, the relationship between Clair and Shuichi is indeed the focal point of the series, and I was surprised how compelling it became for me. Granted, I'm a sucker for unhealthy relationships between two depressed codependent teens where the girl takes charge (hello, Flowers of Evil), but Clair and Shuichi do end up genuinely caring for each other in a legit heartwarming way.

Only the most special of courtships begins with kicking your partner off a roof.
Heartwarming's one way of putting it. I for one am here for the way they bring out both the best and worst of each other. Just give me this awful, awful enabling.
Well I think sharing the responsibility for an actual war crime counts as heartwarming, but I'll acquiesce I might have a slightly warped perspective there. But I think we can both agree it's the Good Shit.

For me, this was probably the strongest episode since the debut because of this moment—Shuichi doubles down on Clair's earlier promise that the two of them are one, and refuses to let her bear the burden of being the antihero alone. And then they murder a bunch of dudes with flower poison! Like, hell yes!
It's gorgeous and gruesome and awful and I am SO HERE for it. And then afterwards Shuichi's so numbed by the incident that he just starts casually wondering if anybody survived the murder.

Shuichi is not having a good time but he doesn't care anymore.
It's an interesting turn for his character, because I initially read it as him coping by way of numbness—and there's certainly that aspect of it—but it also might be a sign of his pre-amnesia personality reemerging.

At least, from what we know of his former classmates right now, none of them seem to be doing too good.
I dunno, this dude seems perfectly put-together to me.
I mean his JRPG-strength hairspray game certainly is.

Plus, there was also that one time Shuichi's mind and body merged with the nice cat girl and they became an unstoppable murder machine. That probably doesn't bode well.
Yeah, Shuichi's probably not doing all that good. I suppose the other person to look out for is the alien who seems to have a bad apathy problem.
He sucks but I do respect how nonchalant he is about everything.

I also liked the subtext of this week's episode, equating him with other powerful overseers of zero-sum games that ultimately only serve to exploit and degrade the people trapped in those systems.

cough capitalism cough
Oh yeah, he's absolutely a testament to how destructive the combination of power and apathy can be. He can say it's not his responsibility what people do with his game, but that doesn't mean people aren't suffering under his jurisdiction. My favorite part about him though is how even before the show established that he was an alien, he was just listed as "alien" in the credits. Like that's seriously something to drop on us first thing.
That's just how Gleipnir rolls!
Just like Shuichi's head!
Don't worry, he got better.

So obviously Gleipnir ain't for everyone, and it probably isn't for most everyone, but if you want something messy, audacious, and totally shameless about its sex and violence, this is a surprisingly thoughtful iteration of all that good schlock.
Alternatively, if you just wanted to know what this season's obligatory piss anime was, here you go:

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