The Open-(ended) One
- Episodes : 13
- Airing Date : April 2020 – June 2020
- Genre : Action, Mystery, Supernatural, Ecchi, Seinen
- Studio : Pine Jam
The legendary wolf of Norse myth, Fenrir, was defeated after the gods fashioned a ribbon capable of subduing him. The Gleipnir, made from six materials of impossibility like the roots of a mountain and the breath of a fish, was created in response to prophecies regarding the monstrous wolf and is said to hold Fenrir until Ragnarök, when he breaks free and kills Odin. Gleipnir, meaning “the open one” is an apt name for the world inhabited by Kagaya Shuichi, a world where various people possess monstrous and otherworldly abilities granted to them by a mysterious man possessing a strange vending machine.
Shuichi has been suffering from a condition that turns him into a monster that looks a lot like a wolf mascot costume. Shuichi prefers to keep this condition to himself; however, while on a walk one night, he finds a burning building with a girl passed out inside. He transforms and carries her to safety but he drops his phone and the next day, Aoki Clair confronts Shuichi about his monstrous form, blackmailing him into telling her what he knows. Clair herself has her own issues, like searching for her sister who became a monster and killed their parents. With that out of the way, we are going to discuss some of Gleipnir’s most important aspects and give a final verdict after the discussion, so let’s go!
1. Unity and Interpersonal Relationships
The prevailing main theme throughout Gleipnir is the symbiotic relationship formed between Clair and Shuichi both literally and symbolically. With the subtext of the Norse myth of the Gleipnir, the relationship between Clair and Shuichi is implied to be one that will be greater than the sum of its parts in the wake of a looming doomsday. The two also form partnerships with other Gatherers in the series in order to achieve their goal of collecting 100 coins. Shuichi also has a history with Clair’s sister Elena, which he comes to remember in the final episodes of the series.
2. Battle Royale
With various characters putting their lives on the line in order to collect coins, some are willing to fight to the death for a chance to have their wishes granted. The series then positions itself as battle royale-esque, with some interesting fights featuring the bulk of the action in the series.
3. Human desire
The coins that characters find spread out all over the map can be redeemed for the ability to transform into anything desired and the collection of 100 of such coins can grant one any wish. Gleipnir throws human desire in the centre of the narrative by making it the characters’ objective to collect these coins. We also see how human desire convolutes the relationships between the characters, most notably when Elena’s desire to “become one” with Shuichi leads her to stealing his memories and leaving him with his strange transforming condition. Human desire is also at the root of the fall of the first set of Gatherers, of which Shuichi, Elena, and Kaito were a part.
In an almost foreshadowy fashion, the line “Normal is what makes others feel calm. I don’t need to be myself,” puts Shuichi’s situation into focus almost immediately. Gleipnir’s use of transformation into weird, whimsical, and freakish forms can be seen as a way in which the show introduces Shuichi and the other characters’ desire to be less like themselves in some way.
Gleipnir doesn’t have the most interesting characters and most of them feel like afterthoughts. Our protagonist duo of Shuichi and Aoki Clair is your standard “red ogre, blue ogre” protagonist pairing and aside from Elena and the nameless alien, the aforementioned pair are the series' most fleshed-out characters. Overall, Gleipnir characters feel rather one-dimensional.
1. Kagaya Shuichi
The series protagonist, Shuichi has been suffering from a strange condition that transforms him into a wolf mascot costume. The latter stages reveal that he has been suffering from amnesia throughout the series.
2. Aoki Clair
One half of the main character pairing, Clair is intelligent and gutsy having resigned her life once already, she has nothing to lose. A bit of a loose cannon, Clair is the main catalyst of Gleipnir’s progression and has a fated encounter with the other protagonist, Kagaya Shuichi; not knowing of the latter’s relationship with her older sister, Elena.
3. Aoki Elena
Clair’s older sister and a revealed “ally” of Shuichi. Elena has obvious and intense feelings for Shuichi, going as far as to remove some of his memories in order to protect him. Elena has a twisted temper and a vicious jealousy that sees her ripping Shuichi’s head off the moment she noticed that Clair was “wearing” him.
Art and Animation
Thematically, aliens, transformations, and a battle royale are fun concepts to play with; however, Gleipnir’s combat is here and there: sometimes the choreography and overall feel of the sequence is brilliant – the animation can really shine. The art of Gleipnir is also quite pleasing to the eye.
Honey’s Anime Verdict
Overall, Gleipnir left much to be desired. The concept was very interesting on paper; however, the execution failed to live up to that potential. The art and animation were decent, awesome at times, but the storyline and characters do not live up to the same standard. Being a battle royale; however, the show does carry some jaw-dropping moments but the overall experience of watching it feels like the show tries to work with too much at once.
The storyline’s convolutedness would be welcomed if the show had taken more time to explore its lore, its characters, and the themes of Norse mythology, unity, monstrosity, personal conflict, and the weight of one’s own sins. Overall, Gleipnir is watchable but not the kind of ride that would make it a must-see anime. What do you think? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think!