I have recently been watching an Anime entitled Glass Fleet. This is an excellent (and eccentric) example of a show that breaks all the rules and yet keeps me coming back for more.
First the Good:
1) The plot of Glass Fleet is very loosely based on the French Revolution…except that the nobles over threw the royal family and now the last remaining descendant of the royal family is helping the people revolt against the nobles. The show has very evident political motivations and themes supporting the common man in his struggle for liberation. All in all its an intriguing plot with a good many twists and turns that keep the viewer interested.
2) The characters in the show, especially the hero and heroine? are interesting and keep the viewer’s attention. While some of the other characters are on the dumb side they are, at the very least, entertaining. So far the only annoyance I have felt in the series is from Nowy’s frequent complaints about losing his glasses.
3) The humor is admittedly Japanese in nature and theme. This being said the show, while serious in nature, has a fair amount of comedy. If you are a fan of Japanese humor then this show will entertain you.
Second the Bad:
1) Glass Fleet is Japanese and so is geared to Japanese sensibilities. While there is nothing deeply offensive (at least to me…though I am difficult to offend) in the show there is a minimal amount of fan-service (generally in the character of Eimer) and the normal gender ambiguities. Although some of these are intentional instead of accidental.
2) One character, Ralph, is of indeterminate gender and age (really…he could be five or twenty-five depending on the scene). Also his relationship with the character of Vetti is indeterminate as well. It could be filial, romantic, or obsessive. Let me be clear that there is nothing graphic (at least not yet, I’m only half way through the series) just comments and conversations that are…confusing. This could be intentional or due to poor translation. My guess is that it is intentional.
Third the Strange:
1) First of all, the series is set in space. So, modified French revolution in space. Space battleships filled with nobility and commoners who shoot arrows at each other and duel with swords. The dueling I could understand as a ceremonial thing but…arrows?…Oh, also the space battleships carry what appear to carry 16 inch guns straight out of a modern navy.
2) Apparently space is only a vacuum when it is convenient for the heroes. This is perhaps the strangest thing in the series as it goes back and forth from bad guys being sucked out of a holed starship to people strolling around on the deck of their ship. Maybe the heroes don’t need to breathe?…Except that fire apparently burns in space as well which would require oxygen…
3) So far there is only one planet in the series. Everybody else lives on flying asteroids which somehow maintain atmosphere without any reason for doing so…maybe only soldiers need to breathe?
4) The flying asteroids are powered by factories which, apparently, produce energy by boiling water? I’m not sure about this yet because only one factory has been shown in the series and it wasn’t explained. The whole boiling water thing is really just my best guess from what I have seen.
Now, as I’m sure all of my fellow writers would agree, all of this should come together to make a pretty terrible show, but it doesn’t. For some inexplicable (or at least inexplicable to me) reason none of the weird stuff really bothers me. I have certainly had some ‘huh?’ moments in watching the show, but it continues to be entertaining and I want to finish it. Furthermore Glass Fleet has a wide audience inside and outside of Japan. It has also received generally positive reviews. In fact the only completely negative reviews I could find were one from Mania magazine and one negative customer review on Amazon.
Why does the show work? I have no idea. It shouldn’t work. Everything about Glass Fleet should have me pulling out my hair and screaming to the heavens about realism in fiction. Still, I’m really enjoying it. So I guess what it all comes down to is, sometimes it works. For all the rules we set down, for all the research we do, for all the thinking we put into our writing, sometimes what shouldn’t work winds up working. In the words of The Princess Bride, “It’s inconceivable!”
Glass Fleet Boxed Set
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 26
English DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009
Original Air Date: April 4, 2006 – September 21, 2006
Run Time: 625 Minutes