This episode of Gleipnir does a better job at molding the story’s current trajectory around the duo’s original goal as Elena is involved with both the Gatherers and a separate party aiming to find coins in the forest as well. But in lieu of their main objective, things get dicey when their involvement with the Gatherers becomes more than just
This week did answer some of the concerns I had the last time around by giving us a character that is more privy to explaining themselves in the form of Koyanagi Sayaka. As soon as Sayaka recognizes Elena, she and Clair are open to explaining some of the more hidden details of the series through their conversation.
For instance, Sayaka turns out to be the only person who effectively got what she wanted from Uchuujin because she was able to give him a blueprint for exactly what she wants to have the ability to do and how she plans to use it. The “Calypso” idea I had ended up being the easiest way of gauging what his powers were like considering that the character seems to reward those who have clearcut wishes that won’t backfire because their intentions are spelled out for them. For a series that doesn’t think twice about the repercussions of much, it’s interesting to see how it is a larger deal for Sayaka to get the powers she desired from Uchuujin because she didn’t have a vague idea of what she wanted out of her abilities that could open up the possibility of getting them wrong.
They were also more forward about explaining how Elena had originally wanted to take Clair’s place and her intention for turning Shuuichi into a mascot creature was so that she could have been the one to ride him. There were hints of this detail in earlier episodes, but it is much appreciated for them to spell it out this time around, especially when details like this get lost in the story’s disinterest in looking back.
But at the same time, these details ended up being smaller moments that got lost in scenes that were added in for shock value. Because Sayaka couldn’t just be the leader of the Gatherers, she initiates members into the group by molesting them before she uses her power to bind them to the team. Sayaka does the first half of this exclusively to women as she has a preference for women and her power stems from the hatred she had for the friend who told everyone that she had a romantic relationship with their teacher who drove herself to suicide.
To the writing’s credit, Clair is portrayed as not being adverse to being with women and it’s Sayaka resorting to molestation that drives her to put her foot down with her. Aside from that, the scene ended up making Sayaka another textbook example of having an LGBT character added for the express purpose of making them a sociopathic molester. It’s easy to see what they wanted viewers to get out of a nude Sayaka slowly reaching down Clair’s hips considering how it aims to both pose a sexual threat to Clair’s safety, but has more appeal than your standard “ugly bastard” approach.
It’s because of this and Clair’s bi-curiosity that Gleipnir feels like it never really intended on paying mind to Sayaka’s sexuality and, at the expense of lesbian women, it gives Clair a sexual threat scene that gives her enough agency to turn her down and doesn’t make Shuuichi feel emasculated for not being there to protect her.
Speaking of emasculation, that’s why Ikeuchi exists. They accomplished something incredible by creating a character that’s a bigger pushover than Shuuichi by having Ikeuchi’s power rely on his ability to record life by turning his head into a camcorder. Because he has a crush on Chihiro Yoshioka, an animal girl who is quickly enamored by Shuuichi and the similarities they share, he finds himself using his power to hang back in frustration as he films her getting close to Shuichi.
Not only do Chihiro and Shuuichi hit it off fairly quickly due to their similarities, but she also ropes him into using him as Clair does; only this time, Chihiro insists on stripping all the way down for him. It would be the second instance in this episode of a woman forcing themselves on one of the protagonists against their consent, but that is largely overshadowed by Ikeuchi continuing to follow them. As a result, their scenes end up existing solely to give us a glimpse at Ikeuchi’s penchant for sexual humiliation. He seems angry, but the crying and shouting he does as his camcorder head films Chihiro climbing inside of Shuuichi cater heavily towards the netorare crowd. Even if Ikeuchi never had a chance with Chihiro, seeing another guy have a better shot at getting close to her and having their nude bodies touch ends up encapsulating what each of their scenes represents.
It also represents the unusual relationship that Gleipnir has with its shock factor as it doesn’t aim to confront any of its dark themes, but it also doesn’t want to get too edgy and shocking. The story doesn’t want to look childish, but it’s very careful as to what kinds of shock they want to go for. They want audiences to raise their eyebrows at the material, but also want to pull their punches so that no one is appalled by what they try to pull. So much of the more grisly subject matter is merely hinted at while we get a full glimpse at failed lesbian molestation, casual nudity, and a guy tearfully filming his crush gets close with another man. In the process, it feels just as childish by trying to pretend things like that are going to make the show as suspenseful and intense as a series that doesn’t shy away from going nuts with its edginess or a show that’s frank about its brutal material. If you wanted to sum up what Gleinir was, you could describe it as an 18+ shounen manga that’s desperately trying to be sold at a secondary education book fair.