More Than Meets The Eye: Glass Maiden

Fragile as glass, strong as a woman.

Shards of a darker tale to tell.

Just as when I was unable to find a shoujo anime that could be considered on par with Ouran High School Host Club several months after I first watched it, I have had similar difficulty in finding a detective noir series that could hold a candle to Darker Than Black. Even after I began finding shoujo that I could love just as much as Ouran (Special A, Glass Mask, and La Corda d’Oro all come to mind) I just couldn’t enjoy any action anime as much as Darker Than Black. That was the lay of the land until I found Glass Maiden.

Hangin’ out with the S&A crew.

This tale revolves around the exploits of the S&A Detective Agency. Shu is the disaffected leader of the group, but headquarters is usually run by his brother Akira, especially since Shu tends to disappear among the beds of his various female friends. Manami and Ayaka are two young detectives just beginning to learn the ropes, and Lil’ Q is the office dog. Porilyn is a male transvestite who unofficially runs the city via the use of an elaborate camera surveillance system, and he calls on the agency frequently to carry out various tasks. One day Manami and Ayaka stumble into a situation where they discover one of the fabled glass maidens (for more info on that, please see my First Impressions entry about Glass Maiden), and thanks to the help of Shu they rescue her and take her back to their place. Luckily a clinic shares the same building as the detective agency, so the doctor and nurse who work there manage to care for the glass maiden’s health. Since she can’t seem to recall her name, Manami dubs the maiden “Sara.”

Yeah, I dunno how we’re gonna explain this down at the station…

The rest of the series gradually explores the mystery of the glass maiden phenomenon and uncovers a plot that goes deep within the city (literally). Sara’s own background isn’t revealed in great detail, but she is the catalyst for most of the action as the bad guys she escaped from want her returned to them. There’s several sci-fi elements at work, and lots of car-chasing, gun-shooting action, but this series also goes into character detail and emotional drama. Yet everything is balanced so that no one element overwhelms the others.

Don’t call your boyfriend and tell him everything you had to eat today! This is supposed to be mildly feminist, dammit!

Overall, I really enjoyed this anime. The art and music were good, if nothing special. Still, both were very fitting to the story and genre. Since there are “glass maidens” involved, there is a goodly amount of fan service, but as I mentioned in my First Impressions post, there’s male and female nudity, and on top of that, nothing is ever shown in great detail. In fact, I saw many feminist elements in this series, from the all-women gang of mercenaries to the strength of Sara’s character. Also notable was a brief side story about Ayaka’s past mental health issues, which was treated with respect and dignity.

Shu and Akira, the brothers handsome. And we get to see both in compromising situations, bonus!

I found all of the main characters to be very likable, and I wanted to return to them week after week to see what would happen next. The storyline could get a little convoluted at times, but that could have been due to being limited to watching only one episode per week. If watched as a series on DVD, I think that it would be easier to follow the plot. Having said that, everything is still illuminated in the end. Basically, this was a very enjoyable adventure to go on. While Darker Than Black still remains my favourite anime in this genre, I was thrilled to find another series that I could enjoy on the same level. From the intricate plot to the kinky doctor and nurse, this is an anime for the older set, and as a non-teenage anime fan I appreciate quality series aimed at my demographic. And Glass Maiden is just that: exciting, dark, and well worth a watch.

Rating: ★★★★ The world of anime could use more sci-fi action series like this one.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. llj
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 14:20:21

    Yes, Darker Than Black is admittedly and very likely one of the best “hardcore” action anime that has been released in the U.S. past 3 years, so it’s difficult for me to stand here and try to rattle off other good, newer action anime.

    I’d have to dig into my library to find some good pre 2010-2011 “pure” action anime to recommend, but have you given Canaan a whirl yet? It’s no “classic” of the genre, but of the recently-translated crop (which has been thin lately on the pure action front, as I suggested above), Canaan is pretty standout–maybe not for the writing (which has some of your standard anime baffle-ness) then at least for its direction and action choreography, which is A-class for a TV series.

    Man, where are all the hardcore action anime lately? Aren’t they popular in the West anymore? I know that kind of old-fashioned “pure action” anime are still being made in Japan (although in lesser quantities as compared to the 80s and 90s, admittedly).

    Reply

  2. llj
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 14:22:12

    Oh wait, I just remembered–the Read or Die franchise. Both the OVA and TV series are excellent “hardcore action” anime, albeit a little harder to find these days.

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Jan 05, 2012 @ 04:11:20

      Thank you for the suggestions, I’ll look for both of them! Actually, I think that Canaan is already in my Netflix queue. 🙂
      I couldn’t tell if Darker Than Black is just that awesome, or if I’m biased because it was the first action anime series that I truly loved. Glad to hear someone else verify that yes, it’s just that awesome. 😉

      Reply

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