When it comes to manga series I have read this year there as been one unfinished (as of writing) 68 chapter story that really stood out to me. Being a Spring 2020 anime, I first got interesting in this bizarre, monster type thriller where a unlikely duo team up, trying to dig up their past while also searching for coins, such a item that grants wish.
I am using the word weird, loosley, honestly.
Gleipnir (fun fact: was the third chain to tie up Fenrir in Norse mythology) is the brainchild of Sun Takeda, a mangaka that doesn’t have too many other series under their name, this being the only one also published in English. Starting publication in 2015, the series follows quiet, though intelligent, and athletic high school student Shuichi Kagaya. Shuichi, though easily obtaining, decides to turn down a recommendation from his school to go to university, a thing that comes much to the displeasure of his teacher.
But the thing about it is, Shuichi isn’t doing that because he doesn’t want to go to university per se, but Shuichi has a secret, something within him that confirms that he will never be a normal kid, living a normal life. Much to his distaste, and totally unaware of how it came to be, Shuichi can transform into a monster, a dog-like mascot with a six-shooter on his side and super strength to go with it.
Not wanting to draw any attention to himself he rarely uses the power, knowing his life would be upended even more if it got out. This of course becomes an issue as he is walking home from school one day to smell the burning of a fire, worse yet, the scent of a human inside.
Not wanting to get involved he struggles with what to do, giving in he transforms, busting into the burning building to see a girl laying on the floor. Wasting no time he picks her up, punching a hole in the wall before laying her in the grass outside. An action most would see as an act of good faith, but the issue rises because that girl was trying to kill herself, and even worse, that girl saw his monster form.
Enter crazy lass, Clair Aoki. Clair’s brain isn’t wired like most people’s, she is violent, selfish, and has no issues removing people she believes are in the way of her goals. To make matters worse Clair is searching for her older sister, Elena Aoki, a monster in her own right. Clair wants nothing more but to understand why Elena killed their parents before disappearing, leaving Clair alone.
Learning Shuichi is a monster, she figures her best shot at getting at her sister is through the upperclassman. Stealing his phone she leads him to the roof, Shuichi denying any comment about his secret, Clair deciding the best way to make sure of this, is throwing him off the school roof.
Which she does, and it is very funny to me she doesn’t apologize for that until chapter 60. Like by that time, that was one of the least worse things she had done.
At the risk of losing his life he changes, Clair cutting a deal with him. He helps her find her sister, she keeps his secret to herself, what could go wrong?
A lot goes wrong.
Gleipnir’s story is a mangled mess of memory being wiped, mystery, acts of violence, A TON of fan service (even uncensored boobies), and honestly, I loved it. It is rare for me to get caught up in a world where I am actively confused by but equally engaged to what is going on. Suichi and Elena have a history? Clair damned the world? What happened to their group of friends? What are these groups planning? What horror did all of this character go through?
The memory wipe in narratives is one of the most annoying/ cheap tactics to use when building a mystery. And I would be lying to you if I didn’t admit that this series, at times, did annoy me with it. However, the way all the characters interact with one another, as well as the world, allows the story, though not exactly linear, make sense during reading.
Rather it is Suichi learning about his past, his power, and the limits of it. How we learn about the heartache and the parts of both he and Clair’s life that had been erased. Elena’s own goals as she seems to at the same time to want to protect Suichi and her sister but in the next chapter completely go against that narrative.
It’s within this banter, actions, and fights I found myself very interested in what was occurring, memory erasing or not. I wanted to know Clair’s angel, I wanted to learn about Elena, I wanted to know what happened to their groups of friends after that life at that boarding school. I wanted to know what happened to each and every one of them, and why they were in the position they were in.
Gleipnir also does a good job at painting equally badass moments and monsters with dire and dark tones. Clair, as I mentioned, has no issues with killing people, this comes to a point where she plans to poison a group of ‘collectors’ those who have powers, much to the distaste of everyone that she had teamed up with. She is terrifying, as is her sister Elena, but what is more interesting to me is how Suichi is set up to fall from grace, how this girl, Clair, made him into a killer.
But it isn’t that simple, Suichi was never really in grace anyways. He is just a guy with power and a strong desire to protect those he cares about, and much like Clair will do anything, including any sin, to make sure that happens.
The art is good enough, Sun Takeda’s style isn’t anything to sing home about, but it is definitely horny. The backdrops are fairly simple as is the character design (outside of facial expressions and monster forms), though there is hardly anything wrong with that. As I mentioned there are a load of panty shots, butt shots, boob shots, honestly if you can think of it, it’s in there. Nicely paired with enough sexual context to make the relationships a little more intimate,
When push comes to shove how I feel about this series is a bit of a mess, as I am sure you can see. I compliment it for doing something only to then say that is a bad thing. There is a charm that exists within the story that I can’t really put my finger on, It is a lot like Takahiro’s Mato Seihei no Slave. I understand what they were trying to do with it, it’s just a big old fanservice fantasy but I found myself enamored with that world a lot like I find myself enamored with Gleipnir.
As of writing this, the story isn’t over, but I’d wager there isn’t much left. Chapter 68 reads a lot like cleaning up the narrative so I’d be surprised to see any more than 72, closing out this 6-year run story. Granted a curveball could be thrown and it could go on for 100s, honestly, we just don’t know.
If you are looking for, what I think, is a cool, weirdo mystery thriller Gleipnir is a very solid pick, granted, one might want to wait until it is officially over since who knows when we will get the next chapter.
As always thanks for the read!