WARNING: The following contains spoilers for GLEIPNIR Episode 2 “What It Means to Be Empty,” now streaming on Funimation.
In GLEIPNIR‘s series premiere, we learned something key about the strange transformation Shuichi undergoes so frequently: He cannot necessarily control his ability to turn into a giant, stuffed animal monster, but doing so grants him incredible powers. We also found out that Claire understood, to some extent, how the magical transformations worked.
In the anime’s second episode, we discovered a little more: the empty suit Shuichi transforms into welcomes people to go inside of him. And we’re introduced to this idea through a scene that’s incredibly… sexual. The reason he transforms is that, six months earlier, someone really, REALLY wanted to get inside Shuichi’s skin and wear it.
In Episode 2, another student attacks Shuichi and Claire after overhearing them discuss Claire’s coin. The relentless attacker, Hikawa, charges after them but Shuichi seems unable to land any killing blows on her so Claire takes matters into her own hands by blinding Hikawa. Shuichi has an opening but chooses to run away with Claire instead.
This leads Claire to come up with a hypothesis. What if there is something powerful inside of Shuichi’s body? He has a zipper, after all, so she unzips it… only to find nothing. However, undaunted, Claire concludes that she needs to get inside of Shuichi’s skin, seeing his hollowness as an invitation.
What follows is an overt sexual metaphor. The interior of the skin — fleshy and vulnerable — is sensitive to touch, while the zipper, when opened, creates a shape that resembles the female sex organ. The two teens also speak very much like they’re alluding to intercourse and feel much of what the other feels.
Ultimately, Claire uses Shuichi’s stronger body to kill their attacker, much to Shuichi’s horror, though Claire tries to diffuse the tension by joking that she peed inside him a little.
The reason why all of this is happening is that gold coin Hikawa wanted to steal so badly. The coin is used at a special vending machine that only activates upon being fed certain tokens. Upon using your coin, a mysterious blonde stranger emerges from the vending machine, offering to grant you a wish at the expense of something valuable to you. Hikawa found a gold coin earlier and used it in order to improve her chances of becoming an athlete. The stranger granted her the ability to move faster and be stronger, but activating this power turns you into a monster. She wanted Claire’s coin in order to make a second wish.
However, Shuichi never used the coin, doesn’t know anything about the vending machine and never made a wish. That means someone else forced a wish onto Shuichi. And we learn who is this was at the end of the episode in an epilogue scene that takes place half a year prior to the events of the series. Some girl who we don’t yet know — possibly Claire’s older sister who turned into a monster and killed Claire’s family — wanted to make a wish so that she and Shuichi could be together.
This wish is clearly what turned Shuichi into a hollow stuffed animal as it looks like a keychain she wears on her backpack. If true, it would make the suit either someone’s perverted and twisted sexual fantasy, or a sexual fantasy that has been perverted by an exterior force.
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GLEIPNIR's second episode features a transformation that's quite clearly a stand-in for something… else.