Review: Gleipnir Vol 1 & 2
Updated: Jan 31, 2021
Sometimes I go to manga because I'm just looking for something new and weird, because at this point a lot of the usual mainstream American stuff just becomes repetitive and old hat. As such, sometimes you just need to take a random leap with a manga title and hope for the best, and Gleipnir certainly offers an odd concept that gradually just gets odder.
The story follows Shuichi Kagaya, a smart kid troubled by the fact that he's also a monster. A fairly unusual monster, as when he changes he turns into a suspender-wearing wolf mascot with a gun.
He has no idea how or why this happens, but one day he saves an unconscious classmate from a fire. Little did he realize she was conscious, and that he also left his phone at the site of the fire so she could track him down. The classmate, Claire Aoki, is also more than she seems and essentially blackmails Shuichi into a weird partnership so that she can track down another monster.
The partnership gets even more intense when they realize that Shuichi's monster form truly is mascot-like, complete with a zipper on his back that reveals that he's hollow inside. Claire takes advantage of this, wearing Shuichi and forming an odd union in their quest to hunt down the monster she blames for her parent's death and for answers to why Shuichi has these abilities.
The series starts to establish its rules pretty quickly, introducing an alien influence that's offering people these powers in exchange for unique coins scattered throughout the city. As the story increases the stakes by introducing other monsters and 'Collectors' looking for the coins, our main characters start to connect more and more and deal with their own inner demons and worldviews.
Sun Takeda's storytelling has an interesting flow to it, progressing at a brisk pace that sets up its world and characters while infusing plenty of action into the plot. The art style has an interesting balance of disturbing grittiness merged with a bizarre cartoonish quality, while the action is fluid and kinetic. This really enhanced the unique body horror elements of the story, making you curious as to what sort of oddities may appear next. Between the art, the unique mystery, and all of the other oddball concepts popping up I was definitely engaged throughout these first two volumes, so I'm looking forward to seeing what else they throw at us.
Quick heads up, the series does pander with a lot of fan service and deals with some sexual subject material, so it comes with an 18+ mature rating.