Directed by Atsuko Kase
Featuring Voices by Miki Shinichiro, Ueda Yuji and Kobayashi Yu
I know what you’re thinking. No, this is not a sequel or spin-off of the famous Tennessee Williams play “The Glass Menagerie.”
Local Rags Town detective Shu and his agency get wrapped into a mystery about a covert agency making female soldiers that subsequently turn into glass. They discover an amnesiac young girl they name Sara, who has some great fighting potential and a half-decent Emma Frost impression. Unfortunately she’s in high demand, as the secret organization who made Sara what she is wants her back, and Shu’s S&A Detective Agency gets caught in the middle.
The show is supposed to be a sexy noir detective story, but it drags. Some of the show deals with lively gunfire action and mystery intrigue, and those bits work. When there is action, it’s usually energetic and captivating.
However, most of the show alternates between the detective Shu being listless and boring and his staff being too manic and wacky to maintain the dramatic feel. One of the detective agency staff, a teen girl named Manami, is loud and manic as she yells at other characters and yearns to be involved, but she makes decisions that are stupid, annoying and endanger the main characters, losing any possible audience sympathy. And she gets almost as much focus as the detective and the glass maiden.
While the story tries to touch on all of the characters back story, it doesn’t hit enough of a single character to form any audience attachment. The end of the series leaves you knowing mostly superficial, basic knowledge of the characters and the world they inhabit, leaving the audience feeling uninvolved as a spectator only getting snippets of what’s going on.
The show also can’t seem to decide what should be serious and what should be funny. A side character’s death becomes a pivotal point and driving motivation for one character, while the show makes the sad, weepy and screaming reaction of another character into a punch line.
Ultimately though, it’s not that the show can’t decide to be serious or funny, but that it’s neither. It’s simply unemotional. It takes several episodes in, by the second disc, for the first real moving emotional impact that the audience could feel along with the characters. Prior to that, the series is often quiet with monotone conversations interrupted by the occasional obnoxious outburst. There’s nothing substantial that captivates the viewer, and the action is far in between for that to be a hook.
With annoying characters, partial storytelling, indecisive mood setting and simple boredom, it’s hard to recommend this series. It tries too much with its ensemble cast and its attempt at a noir detective story with a sci-fi bent, so it fails at doing a good job on any of its selling points.
The show is presented in 19:9 anamorphic widescreen. The visuals are nothing special. There’s some CG work with the actual glass maiden, especially their shattering sequences which sticks out over the regular animation as if layered on top of it. The animation itself is mediocre with plenty of stagnant still scenes and stiff motions.
Audio is Japanese 2.0 surround only. The sounds come through clear and fine, but there are some quiet moments that should have had more background music playing. The soundtrack itself has a decently smooth opening song, but everything else is either forgettable or annoying (such as the two-tone number played at the episode number card after opening credits).
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The release is the standard lackluster fare we typically get from the sister Sentai Filmworks brand of shows. The two-disc set is in a regular DVD case and has no extras save for the clean opening and ending, with the it’s-not-a-bonus-feature-no-matter-how-much-they-say-it-is trailers for other series. It’s not impressive way to kick off a new brand.
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10
Glass Maiden is ultimately a boring show with subpar visuals and a no-thrills release. I can’t see much reason in owning it. Small trivia, the show was originally called “Crystal Blaze” but was changed for its international release. It sure makes more sense, but I don’t think it helps one way or the other.
This is one of the first titles released under the “Maiden Japan” brand, a sub-label of Switchwork Pictures and basically a sister brand to Sentai Filmworks. The latter is obvious from how the packaging and bonus features are the same standard fare that Sentai Filmworks puts out. It’s definitely not starting out with a top title, so hopefully the other shows out of the starting gate do a better job.
The Series 2/10
The Video 3.5/10
The Audio 4/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 2/10
Overall (Not an Average) 2/10