Glitch Volume 3: Imminent Collapse



There’s really no easy way to breach the topic of Shima Shinya’s work in Glitch volume 3- as well as with the series at large. Much like how I struggled to really pull the more minute details out of Friday at the Atelier volume 1, this third instalment of Glitch presents the same problem, if not more exacerbated. It’s a world of desire that Shinya has wrapped up in a mystery with a neat little bow, and breaking it apart without completely atomizing it is a delicate process- but I’ll give it a shot.

I think my favorite character in this volume is probably Kei-chan. She’s full of spunk and humor, bringing a lot of energy to both her little group and Glitch volume 3 at large. More than that though, I’m a massive fan of how Shinya presents them. I’m sure some might call it “weaponizing” in terms of culture and background, but Shinya does a very good job of continuing the trend of allowing Kei’s heritage to speak through her character. Even just simple things like mocking police officer Shinoda, for example. Primarily, it’s used as a comedic jab to provide some energy against Shinoda’s far more timid and fearful disposition, but beneath it is the criticism of police as a social construct. Though, Shinya does well to divert thoughts away from solely ACAB, and instead makes use of Sai-san to inject a dialogue about the purpose of not only police officers, but adults within society specifically in reference to children. Because of that, later on in the story we see Shinoda routinely helping and supporting our group of characters rather than policing them. Of course, alongside that though, Shinya drops a not-so-subtle hint that cops don’t need to be part of society in general, as Shinoda vaguely mentions wanting to move away from policing during a conversation with Kei’s father.

Speaking of Sai-san though, they’re a close second within Glitch volume 3. I really respect Shinya for not loading every societal challenge onto Kei’s plate, and instead divvying it up between some of the other residents of Touka-Chou like Sai-San or Hirata. Here, Sai-san does a great job of being a foil for the cultural challenges that exist with immigration (even when against your will, in this case). Their lack of memories against Hirata’s very literal memories makes for a great dichotomy about the discussion of identity and history, and how that presents as a difficulty within a new community. Then, you place that against Akira and Minato’s brief discussion of isolation and putting down new roots, and their moments in this volume really resonate with the reader. It presents it all as a spectrum of difficulty and hope that you just can’t apply across the board.

Funnily enough, applying stuff across the board is another place where Shinya throws another jab at society. When you have people coming from all sorts of different worlds and universes, the question of accessibility is one that very much will pop up. Earlier in my life with media, I would have probably argued that abstracting that argument of accessibility away from people cheapens it, but the more I read of it, the more it really does become necessary to set up that barrier. It stops the nasty people from lashing out as easily, but it also lightens the weight of the conversation. When you’re talking about how accessible it is for a little dude with 6 arms to hold down a job in Tokua-Chou, the depressive aspect of the conversation isn’t quite there, despite still coming off strong.

Well, that’s enough conversation for now, let’s look at some pretty pictures, huh? Shinya’s style, which feels sort of like a cross between something akin to Art Deco and German Expressionism, is just such a perfect fit to explore the surrealism of Glitch while pairing wonderfully with the more casual conversations. Their resolute adherence to very rectangular and wide panels really only furthers that harmony, which every layout gleefully takes advantage of. Though, anyone that’s made it to Glitch volume 3 knows that much, really. I’m more so interested in the more visceral horror aspects of this volume that begin to rear its head. It’s not quite gory or anything too terrible, but the instant reactions to these moments very much have readers reeling more so than the previous sort of discomforting curiosity of other instances. In that sense, it’s a great display that places it alongside The Summer Hikaru Died for being a series that makes proper use of horror.

Good horror requires good setup though, of course. Thankfully Shima Shinya is more than well versed in that regard and has been constantly dropping hints and developments to lead readers into their traps within this volume. And boy, is there a lot. Glitch volume 3 is the “pivot point”, if you will. It’s a volume that takes the buildup of the first two volumes, adds its own bit of spice to really finish it off, and then blows the cap off the series to prepare for an electric final volume. I’d love to point out some of these more incremental plot points, but once you’re aware of them the conclusions become obvious. Regardless of my spoiling of them, it really does show how well-suited Shinya is to mystery as a genre (as if Lost Lad London wasn’t enough).

Much like its pair of siblings within the series, Glitch volume 3 has a wildly distinct appeal and identity to it, strung together by the more overarching themes within Shinya’s mystery. It’s a wonderfully surreal and oddly relaxing experience, and I can’t quite overstate how impressive a feat that is. Shinya has a natural talent for making a visually calming story, and places that against the larger-than-life and heavy narratives that they tend to prefer in their works- case and point being Glitch obviously. It’s a hell of read once again, and I just want to make sure that people understand that and give this short series an opportunity.

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