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Defying Expectations In Spite Of Itself: A Gleipnir Review

Defying Expectations In Spite Of Itself: A Gleipnir Review

If you were to see a handful of stills from Gleipnir or watch a short clip, you might think ‘Oh? is this anime about a bad-ass mascot?’ Then if you went ahead and watched the first episode, you could reasonably end up thinking ‘Oh. This is just edgy garbage’ The entire show crams heaping amounts of visceral violence down the viewer’s throats and a handful of overtly sexual scenes no one could blame a viewer for finding uncomfortable. However, if you do have the inclination to stick past the first couple episodes and start scratching beneath the surface of the show, you’ll start to find yourself enraptured by its grotesque madness and the story it tries to tell with it. I certainly did not expect to be writing Gleipnir review when I first started watching the series, mostly filling the void left by some COVID 19 delayed shows, but there’s a watch worth watching here.

Clair Gleipnir

One main reason I thought a Gleipnir review was necessary is that the show doesn’t have one defining good quality about it. The shonen Cronenberg teen body horror shenanigans aren’t visually enticing enough to earn the show a watch on its own. While an interesting dynamic, the co-dependent relationship reminiscent of Future Diary between Shuichi and Clair, who combine together to form the fleshy mascot fighter, doesn’t sustain the entire show. The Kigurumi pair embarking on some admittedly not so everyday death battles with various other monsters and oddities alone won’t persuade oddities either. Needless to say, even with the plot’s out there twists and turns which bring aliens into it in episode 2 it’s not a compelling alone factor to forgive Gleipnir of its sins. Instead, some X-factor that owes itself to some unknown combination of all these elements presented with some surprisingly competent direction makes this anime a particularly addictive guilty pleasure.

At the end of each episode Gleipnir, you’ll say to yourself ‘yeesh, this was gross’ or ‘hm. that was pretty disturbing.’ but you’ll never ‘Eh. I was bored.’ Sun Takeda’s break out hit will grasp you with its freakish claws, dig into your flesh, and leave a permanent scar of an impression. It does so by presenting an experience that’s subversive on multiple levels, clearly trying to strike at some bigger truth or concept. While the idea of a cutesy teddy bear getting bloody is very circa 2005 hot topic,  you’d be wrong to think that’s all the subversion Gleipnir has to offer. The perverse nature and visual of Clair wearing Shuichi as a flesh costume makes for one hell of a sexual allegory, adding context to the rest of the show’s less savory sexual moments. It also takes pains to portray all of its murderous antagonists as morally complex and empathetic, in addition to giving Clair and Shuichi some grey zone dubiousness, in a way that feels honest and earned.

Shuichi and Clair

In this Gleipnir review, we’re rating the show a 7. However, this isn’t a 7 that says the show’s consistently so across the board; More compellingly, it sometimes valleys down to a 5 in-betweens it peaks of hitting at an 8 or 9. At their peak, the show’s fights are truly kinetic with the show’s second and its final episode offering some of the best we’ve seen this year. The protagonist’s willingness to get their hands dirty and the show indulging in the antagonist’s humanity makes for some all-around depth that’ll continually defy each expectation you’ve previously set for the series.  Even some simply conversational moments successfully drench the viewer in tension and atmosphere. With more of the manga to adapt and the series ending on a cliff-hanger, don’t be too surprised when we see more Gleipnir in the future.

You can watch all of Gleipnir on Funimation.

Sun Takeda / Kodansha / Funimation
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