「ヤバイ敵」 (Yabai Teki)
This episode kicks off the new trajectory that Gleipnir is headed towards as Shuuichi and Clair head into the battle forest! Yes, the pursuit of coins has shifted their focus from trying to directly confront Elena to mulling through a forest where animal hybrids and sexual predators go to search for more coins that might have surfaced from the UFO crash. But in the process of heading into the fight forest, we start to see exactly which direction that Gleipnir would rather veer towards.
While it is unfair on my part to feel like Gleipnir owes a sizeable debt to Mirai Nikki for the latter show’s cartoonishly dark atmosphere, it’s hard not to see the influence that would come from the show’s emphasis on groups of sociopaths teaming up together to seek out supernatural power beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. What gave off this impression the strongest was the unnamed troll-men who pop up throughout the forest. Their insignia appears wherever they are, but their screen presence is primarily through licking their lips at the woman in the beginning and failing to blackmail Clair into being passed around by other predators of their cult. At the moment, the story does pussyfoot around the themes of sexual assault that Mirai Nikki would’ve otherwise embraced, but I supposed it wouldn’t be an edgy supernatural horror-flavored action anime without the presence of ugly bastards to ruin the fun.
One saving grace from this is that it gives us a better understanding of the lethal capabilities that Sanbe Tadanori has. Now Sanbe is a unique addition to the cast since he’s one of those oddballs who live their life one fight at a time, and actively search for a worthy opponent once the well runs dry for those who can match his power. You wouldn’t expect him to show up in something like this since these types of characters do better within a weekly shounen anime. But given Uchuujin’s love for shounen anime, it fits that he would gravitate towards giving powers to someone like Sanbe who values the art of combat more than accruing power or currency. It also helps that he has cool skeleton man armor akin to King Hassan of Fate lore. Even though he gives up because it’s convenient for him to give up after seeing how willing Shuuichi and Clair would put themselves on the line for their quest, the episode’s final ugly bastard gives us the opportunity to see him split a person in half with the help of his self-invented fighting technique that focuses on his brute strength and quick wits.
It’s still difficult for me to put my thumb on how exactly I’d sum up the show since it doesn’t have a clearcut trajectory just yet. You could say it’s about collecting coins, but no one illustrates what they want to use the coins for. What could Shuuichi and Clair use the coins for? What does the cult get out of the coins? Do they not think it’d backfire if Uchuuijin weaponizes your wishes like Mephistopheles or Twisted Metal‘s Calypso? Would it really get them closer to avenging Clair’s parents or doing anything for Elena, or is it only going to give them more problems to have on their backs? Would it be worse to have to go through the forest of creeps to hunt down the coins or just to find a solution away from trying to wish for power? Is it even an alien or UFO? You guys bought that story quickly, but what if he was just a demon who curses people or a scientist with monster viruses, and he told the alien story to obfuscate his true motives?
Gleipnir likes to think it’s providing a neat mystery by keeping the significance of the coins, the MC and hybrid people’s powers, and Uchuujin’s role in all of this a secret. But at the same time, without some details, we spent a good three episodes without a clearcut idea of what Shuuichi and Clair have been working towards aside from walking around with their thumbs up their butts. Who’s to say that we won’t spend a couple of episodes after this finding someone completely different to fight who has a different MacGuffin for them to try to search for? Episodes 04 & 05 might have given us a better idea of what the rest of the series might look like, but if you operated under the “Three-Episode-Rule”, you likely would not have thought that we’d go from hunting down Clair’s sister to digging around a forest for coins with a skeleton man while dodging ugly bastards. It makes it discouraging to create an identity for itself when it doesn’t feel like the story has ever had faith in its direction.