Anime | Review

First impression: 'Glass Maiden' glitters

Take a standard private eye and throw some sci-fi his way, and you’ve got the enjoyable new series “Glass Maiden” from Maiden Japan and Section 23 Films.

Here’s the official description of the 12-episode series (complete on two discs):

“Shu’s a detective, the brooding, enigmatic type with an eye for the ladies.  Together with his kid brother Akira, and ‘the girls’ Manami and Ayaka, he runs an investigative agency that takes on the odd case here and there.  Okay, odder than usual, given that their main broker is a cross-dresser and their closest associate’s a doctor with a ‘thing’ about cosplay.  And then the oddest case of all comes through:  a ‘package’ intended for ‘delivery’ that turns out to be a lot more trouble than expected.  You see, Shu’s always considered himself a quick study (he can see through most lies in a second), but when he goes head on with a girl who doesn’t even know who she is, he’ll be seeing through more than he ever imagined seeing through.   Unfortunately, there are other people who want Sara back, and they know a lot more about who, and what, she actually is than she does!  Old fashioned detective work meets the latest in modern weapons technology as sci-fi meets private eye.”

“Glass Maiden” works, at least in the first four episodes that I watched, because it doesn’t get too bogged down in its sci-fi trappings. It’s not a post-apocalyptic future. It’s firmly grounded in the regular world, and then something a bit extraordinary happens: Teenage girls are being turned into glass and then disintegrating.

In fact, you don’t see much of Shu at all until the fourth episode. Up until then, it’s the supporting cast that carries the series. Manami and Ayaka are especially fun — to polar opposite personalities that don’t seem to have much to offer at first but undoubtedly will by the end.

Porilyn is the “cross-dresser” mentioned in the summary. He’s an interesting enigma that appears to go far beyond the site gag of a large man in a businesswoman’s outfit. (He’s all business — no frilly frocks for him.) He, apparently, runs the town from the bar he owns — a bar that doesn’t seem to have many customers. I really want to know more about his story. It’s too bad he’s just a supporting player.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of town, there’s something strange going on, and Sara’s a part of it.

Throw in a nosy reporter, Sophie, and you’ve got all the elements for a show that can appeal to fans of both cop shows and sci-fi shows. It can get a bit fan-service-y, but it’s not too bad.

Where a lot of sci-fi anime these days seems to be a retread of past stories, “Glass Maiden” manages to seem fresh. It’s a mix of character and premise, and I look forward to seeing how if plays out.

Eric Henrickson is a Detroit News copy editor who has also been writing about comic books, video games and anime for The News for more than 10 years. His favorite bit of geek cred so far: appearing in an online "Star Trek" fan series.