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Manga / Gleipnir

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Gleipnir (グレイプニル) is an action manga written and illustrated by Sun Takeda and published by Kodansha under its Young Magazine the 3rd imprint from October 2015 to April 2021, then transferred in May 2021 to Kodansha's Monthly Young Magazine until it ended in July 2023. The series has been published in 14 volumes.

Shuichi Kagaya is an Ordinary High-School Student living in a small rural town...almost. For a reason unknown to him, he has the ability to transform into a cartoon dog mascot suit. He manages to keep this hidden until one fateful day where he discovers a girl named Clair Aoki trying to commit suicide through fire. In desperation, he saves her with this power, only to find himself dragged into something far greater...

An anime adaptation began airing in April 5, 2020, directed by Kazuhiro Yoneda for Pine Jam studios.

Gleipnir provides examples of:

  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The alien uses a human form for the sake of adapting and blending into Earth.
  • Ambiguous Gender: While the alien uses a human male form, it's also capable of mimicking Clair's form.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The manga ends one year later. Shuichi still has his shapeshifting abilities and he and Claire fight against a giant beast. The general public learned of what the coins are and many have been hunting these most coveted items, with some of the coins being traded through the black market.
  • Attempted Rape: What one of the mountain group Collectors nearly commit on Sayaka. He gets his jaw punched off by Youta for it.
  • Badass Normal: Clair may not be able to fight on her own without Shuichi's help, but she's leader of the pair and is willing to face life or death situations despite how vulnerable she would be without him. And as Elena demonstrates, Clair also has next to no battle skills even when she takes over Shuichi's body, really hammering home that she can't simply rely on his power to get them through either. It's this trope and the occasional Indy Ploy that keeps her alive, at least until Shuichi starts pulling his own weight.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In the anime, both male and female characters are shown naked and without any attributes.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The alien is focused on gathering the coins that are his species, and doesn't ask too many questions on what said humans use the powers they give in exchange. Although it's implied they feel guilt over the wish they granted for Honoka and what happened because of it.
  • Blood Knight: Sanbe Tadanori is a university student and expert kendo practitioner who revels in his newfound Collector power to be able to fight battles no human could ever achieve. It's only because he's defeated by Shuichi and Clair that he becomes an ally, and even that's an incredibly loose definition as it just means more likely fights for him.
  • Body Horror: A common trait of a number of Collector's powers, but Kaito's "Rebirth" takes the cake, filling corpses with centipedes that reanimate and regenerate the bodies into his control to the point where it reaches I Cannot Self-Terminate territory. At one point he even manipulates an entire gathering of corpses into one massive gory abomination.
  • Book Ends: In chapter 2, Clair pushes Shuichi off the school roof to expose his monster form. In the final chapter, she pushes him off a dam (while he was in disguise) to force him out of hiding.
  • Came Back Wrong: After Kaito revived her, Honoka became...something Naoto describes as a monster.
  • Cat Girl: Chihiro has a pair of cat ears involved with her powers, and becomes a Guns Akimbo one when in a true Fusion Dance with Shuichi.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: When Chihiro happens to get close to Shuichi, Clair gets more than a bit openly pissy about it. Consequently, Chihiro hides the depths of her accidental Fusion Dance with Shuichi because she knows Clair would likely be extremely upset about it. Incidentally, a boy of the same group, Ikeuchi, is this for Chihiro, and a real Jerkass about it.
  • Death by Adaptation: Amusingly, the Dirty Coward Ikeuchi meets his end in the anime by betraying Sayaka's promise, causing her necklace to behead him. The problem is that this would've created issues later on, as Ikeuchi surviving lets him screw over the hero's efforts in the final battle, which would've fundamentally changed the ending had the anime ever continued.
  • Decoy Protagonist: In-universe, Shuichi believes he's this. His Laser-Guided Amnesia and lack of sense of self firmly makes him believe he's just a tool and incidental character to everyone around him, particularly Clair, even though the reader knows just how integral he is to the on-going plot. Kaito in turn believes he's the tragic protagonist of this story, despite himself being a Big Bad that wants to end the world out of despair.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Most if not every single named character in the series is psychologically disturbed in some fashion.
  • Facial Horror: When the main antagonist Kaito becomes enraged or filled with sorrow, his faces turns from his usual stone-faced expression into a terrifying ghoulish visage. His eyes become pitch black pits, his nose resembles that of a skull's nasal cavity, and his mouth becomes a permanently open slit.
  • Fan Disservice: Some of this comes amidst violent combat scenes, has an unnerving context behind it, or involves Honoka, who is really a walking corpse.
  • Fanservice: There's a lot of nudity with uncensored breasts, panty shots, and Sayaka and Clair in general, nevermind whenever the latter has to fuse with Shuichi. However...
  • Forgotten Childhood Friend: Shuichi was part of the same friend group as Elena, Naoto, Kaito, Aiko, and Honoka, but his memories of this has been erased, likely due to Elena's wish.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Kaito was one of Shuichi's childhood friends that snapped after a series of miscommunications lead to him strangling Honoka turned Aiko and used the 100 coins to bring her back to life and using said ability to keep people from getting more of the coins. By the time Naoto confronts him, he's gone off the deep end, insisting there is no death.
  • Fusion Dance: To be able to fight more efficiently than normal, Shuichi has to have someone inside of his suit body 'piloting' him. As he and Chihiro find out, however, this form can become obscenely powerful when the two are in a full union of motive.
  • Goofy Suit: Shuichi's monster form looks like a mascot dog costume, and is able to have a person enter from the back to control him, which Clair often does. Naoto's monster form also resembles Shuichi's.
  • Humanoid Abomination: What Honoka has become thanks to Kaito reviving her. Naoto does not refer to her as human knowing she's no longer the person he knew.
  • Irony: The leader of the hostile mountain Collectors is far and above stronger than Sayaka's group, having one-shot each of their strongest already, and makes them question their own allegiances when forcing them to pick one to sacrifice so the rest live. He's one of the five dead in the oleander bush burning incident, solely because his attempts to ensure No One Gets Left Behind led to him sustaining enough of the poison to drop and burn in a meager off-screened death.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Much of Shuichi's past is inexplicably missing from him, and it's a major reason why he's working with Clair in her search for her sister. Said sister wiped Shuichi's memories to spare him the aftermath of Honoka and Kaito.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: Isao's power is being able to manipulate soil and grow plants. Clair uses his power to grow many poisonous oleander bushes and set them on fire, burning and poisoning many Collectors.
  • Love Triangle: Shuichi and Clair are the main couple, albeit quite dysfunctional and hardly romantic, but Clair refuses to let anyone else have him. Chihiro is implied to have feelings for him, and achieved a Fusion Dance where Clair cannot. Ikeuchi hates Shuichi for this despite the former's feelings for her only being one-sided, and Clair definitely doesn't like Chihiro getting close to Shuichi. And to top it all off, it's heavily implied that before his memories were wiped, Shuichi was in love with Elena, who presumably wiped his memories somehow for reasons unknown, and thanks to looking into his memories by accident Chihiro is full aware of this.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Those who have gained abilities from the coins tend to have plus shaped markings somewhere on their bodies when transformed. However, some characters are seen without.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • When dealing with a group of powerful and hostile Collectors by trying to burn them to death through poisonous flowers, Shuichi actually openly admits to Clair that he was getting a rising readiness to fight and kill if it came down to it, to bare some of the sin. Then he finds out a classmate and seemingly-normal friend of his was among the group they killed. Perhaps tragically, this only reaffirms Shuichi's motivations to protect those he cares about, enough to murder a survivor of the incident out for Clair's blood.
    • Kaito suffers this when he murdered Honoka disguised as Aiko, thinking there was a sibling Kill and Replace. Then he finds out the original Aiko committed suicide and he just made a "Shaggy Dog" Story of a friend who found no worth in her original identity and wanted to keep everyone else happy. Even worse, he comes to believe everyone just wanted Honoka to disappear, when in reality they didn't want to pressure or trouble her about it once they found out. This causes a Despair Event Horizon and sends him barreling into becoming the Big Bad.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: During their first encounter, Clair initially thinks Elena is talking to her, even apologizing to her when in reality Elena is talking to Shuichi. As soon as all three realize what's actually going on, Elena's demeanor changes completely and becomes hostile towards both of them.
  • Personality Powers: The powers granted to Collectors by the alien is determined by the person's wish. Elena comments that Shuichi's power is the ability to overcome limits when working with others if they have the same goal.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Clair is blonde with blue eyes and is half-Japanese.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: A good chunk of the consequences involving the Collectors and Kaito's madness began when Aiko committed suicide and Honoka became her with the alien's wish.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Honoka became Aiko after the real Aiko killed herself a while ago thinking that she as Honoka wouldn't be missed and not wanting people to know what actually happened. Shuichi, Elena and Naoto are implied to have realized this and wanted to leave it unresolved for Honoka's sake. Kaito unfortunately didn't know about Aiko's suicide until after he strangled Honoka to death in a moment of impulse and viewed his friends' actions as disregarding Honoka's existence.
  • Psycho Lesbian: It's not hard to see Sayaka as this with how her powers work, and why she got those powers in the first place — specially after the little one-on-one talk she had with Clair.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • When the mountain Collectors force Sayaka's group to decide who gets sacrificed, Ikeuchi loudly proclaims it's their only option with cold logic for the rest to survive given that the only person he cares about there was Chihiro. Then Shuichi makes it clear he would be one everyone picks. In the ensuing chaos of the oleander bush burning, he disappears and no one knows where he went afterwards.
    • The rest of the group sans Shuichi and Clair do this as well after the arc concludes. Any of the mountain Collectors that saw their faces might come back for vengeance, they're incredibly outnumbered and weaker than they expected, and trying to gather the 100 coins for a wish was just too dangerous for them at that point. So they voluntarily go into hiding afterwards, though Sayaka's ritual curse on Shuichi and Clair remains. They come back after Kaito's introduction arc shows no one can hope to beat him.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: After a distressful Fusion Dance that results in a huge fight, Chihiro accidentally sees some of Shuichi's memories that are blocked within his own recollection. Thus she knows about his connection to Elena, and perhaps a larger part of the plot the main cast doesn't know. The only person she tells about this is Elena via using said memories to call her.
  • Stepford Smiler: Aiko is implied to have been this, having killed herself a few years before the events of the story.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Clair considers herself the only one fit for using Shuichi's power, dragging him through hell and trauma to find out what happened to Elena, and Shuichi comes to want to protect her from any harm and going with her plans without much thought for himself thanks to his lack of self-identity. This turns out to be an incredibly unhealthy and one-sided relationship, as Chihiro realizes from her own full Fusion Dance that the two are simply incompatible currently for unleashing Shuichi's true potential.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Shuichi gaining more and more will and independence to do what he wants to do is a major crux of his character. It gets to the point around 40 chapters in, when faced with a massive torching of the entire area he occupies, he calmly wades through the fire and rips off the offender's arm himself out of pure determination. Though in some ways, Clair's willingness to do whatever it takes gradually corrupts his own sense of justice and morality, so it's certainly not an entirely good thing.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Honoka asked the alien to turn her into Aiko when the latter killed herself so no one would know the beloved Aiko disappeared, thinking no one would miss Honoka. This action lead to her death by Kaito enraged at the thought Honoka was completely gone and Kaito's following descent into madness.
    • Elena is implied to have done something to wipe the memories of Shuichi, and seemingly killed her parents which traumatized her sister Clair. The result was a pair of close people left broken to the point that Clair attempts suicide, losing their senses of self until they meet eachother to hunt for Elena. If she was hoping for the best, now they've unintentionally become a massive Spanner in the Works for everything Elena was planning against Kaito, and are arguably in an incredibly unhealthy relationship that's only breaking the two down even further because of her actions.
    • Clair herself is revealed to have made the situation even worse before the series began, having learned about Honoka's existence from Elena and offering herself in exchange for Honoka disappearing. Honoka then decides that she'll just erase everyone except for Shuichi and Elena.
  • Villainous Valor: For people who delight in being greedy, murderous, and callous, the many members of Madoka's gang do exhibit an admirable sense of loyalty and friendship toward each other, sticking together even in the midst of a poisonous, oleander-fed forest fire that Shuichi and Clair lit to cover their escape.
  • Yandere: Elena towards Shuichi. Her powers activate right away as soon as she realizes there's a girl inside of him.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Chihiro decided to investigate Kaito and Honoka herself after getting Shuichi's sealed memories from their Fusion Dance — and ended up targeted and haunted by Honoka's distorted presence, meaning that if Shuichi and the gang fail to find some way to save her, death is inevitable. Honoka ultimately erases her off screen some time between Kaito's death and her final confrontation with Shuichi.