Yuuji Kazami is a transfer student who has just been admitted into Mihama Academy. He wants to live an ordinary high school life, but this dream of his may not come true any time soon as Mihama Academy is quite the opposite. Consisting of only the principal and five other students, all of whom are girls, Yuuji becomes acquainted with each of them, discovering more about their personalities as socialization is inevitable. Slowly, he begins to learn about the truth behind the small group of students occupying the academy—they each have their own share of traumatic experiences which are tucked away from the world.
Mihama Academy acts as a home for these girls, they are the "fruit" which fell from their trees and have begun to decay. It is up to Yuuji to become the catalyst to save them from themselves, but how can he save another when he cannot even save himself?
For nearly every minute I spent watching Grisaia, I kept asking myself the same question: "Why the hell is this only 13 episodes long?"
The natural response would be that the studio did not have enough budget to stretch the production any further. And while that does contain some truth, it does not excuse 50+ hours of story from the visual novel being jammed into a meagre four hours of animation. True, there's a lot of crap in the visual novel that could be cut out with little of value being lost. But when necessary story and characterisation is rushed through so quickly that you can
barely even tell what the hell is going on, there is a major problem.
The suits behind the adaptation failed to understand that they could simply lighten down on the pace and leave the rest of the story for later seasons. Cover half the content from the visual novel, and if it sells well enough (and it almost assuredly would given the popularity of the franchise), cover the rest of it in a second season. Great, everyone is happy. Instead of that, we get "Grisaia: The Compilation Series". I can't imagine anyone except the most devoted of fans is satisfied with the result.
It's difficult to judge the Grisaia anime for what it is rather than for what it should be, considering nearly every issue is in some way related to the pacing. The characters frequently engage in acts of nonsense because the anime doesn't have any time to explain their actions. Sachi's episode is just laughable as it immediately transforms the naive, innocent maid into some dangerous psycho without any reasons as to WHY. A few minutes later and again without reason, she changes back into Stupid Lovable Sachi, and at that point it becomes a mystery who or what her character is even supposed to be.
Most egregious is the 'romance' between the protagonist, Yuuji, and one of the heroines. Within the first five minutes of her arc, Yuuji and said heroine become a couple after an impromptu make-out scene. It's all well and nice when an anime actually has the guts to show two characters kissing, but in Grisaia's case, the two are so unfamiliar with each other that they may as well be still be strangers. It does very little to make their relationship feel natural, and until it becomes clear what the girl's reason for hitting on Yuuji all the damn time are, it just feels like the two are incredibly desperate and don't actually care about each other. And that still doesn't change much by the end of her arc. Whereas in the visual novel it is obvious that Yuuji has genuine feelings for and a desire to protect her, in the anime's case it's just "hey, whatever, man". Yuuji is only wooing the girls because they offer themselves to him so easily.
Because the story is whiplashing from one heroine arc to another so quickly and without break -- often with only a single episode to separate them -- it is easy to get a headache from the overwhelming onslaught of drama. It's a ceaseless wave of story bombshells, 'shocking' revelations that in fact do not feel shocking whatsoever because of the needless fatigue it puts on the viewer. By the time you're done watching the first or second heroine arc, it becomes very clear how the rest of them are going to play out. Girl has crazy past, Yuuji comes in to save the day and help them overcome their trauma - again and again.
Yumiko's arc in particular feels very out-of-place and contrived, considering how she suddenly spills her entire past to Yuuji despite hating his guts and trying to stab him IN the guts only moments earlier. Hell, even the reason why she's afraid of men in the first place is skipped over and scarcely mentioned. And Sachi's arc, again, is laughable for the massive 'twist' it pulls at the end, contrasted with the complete indifference of the two people involved. I think only Michiru's and Makina's arcs are the ones that are done even moderately well, and even then I would struggle to label them anything more than merely OK. Makina's route has some issues as well, namely why the hell Yuuji -- especially when one considers his line of work -- is destroying his entire life to help some random loli he knows little about and has only been friends with for a few days. Michiru's route is largely forgettable; I actually had to rewatch parts of it to even remember what happened since the show was such a damn blur.
Another problem, if largely irrelevant to anime-only viewers, is the lack of Yuuji's witty monologues. They are what made the visual novel so entertaining and are what turned Yuuji into an actual character and not merely a collection of 'cool' and 'badass' traits like he is in the anime. Sure, he's still likeable in the anime (especially with the addition of an appropriate voice actor), but there is little to make him interesting except in contrast to the billions of mentally retarded harem protagonists. Granted, it's difficult to carry his monologues over without the show feeling awkward -- anime and visual novels are two different mediums, after all -- but it would not hurt to have added a little bit more of Yuuji's thoughts, especially during the comedic scenes. The anime adaptation is inherently inferior for not having that.
I think what frustrated me more than anything was the show's endless, pathetic need to have panty shots at the worst times possible. A character will actually be DYING and it will still have the nerve to stare at her panties. WHAT? Seriously, what the hell? Rather than drool over panties like some 12-year-old who just found out about porn, the staff should try maturing a bit by focusing on things that people actually do (and which are an actual part of the VN's story), like sex and kissing and everything in between. The show does at least have the courage to show Yuuji kissing several of the girls, so it's not entirely a lost cause, I suppose. And yes, 'several' was not a typo; Grisaia is undoubtedly a harem story, even when it decides to throw two characters into a romantic relationship.
On the bright side, the survival backstory within Amane's route is actually given a proper amount of screentime (surprising, I know!) and is a genuinely engaging story as a result, even if it isn't necessarily pleasant to watch. As in pretty much any story about a group of people surviving together, they all fall into madness at some point, and some of the things they do, like eating maggots on their wounds in order to escape starvation, will likely make you feel like vomiting. So do be prepared.
The artwork is... well, not great. The characters look out-of-place and even like blobs in a number of scenes, though the letterboxing effect is a nice touch and gives the show a more cinematic feel. Some praise can also be said for the audio. The OP - particularly its instrumentals - is a great piece of music. Godly, perhaps. It's a shame there wasn't more like that in the actual episodes.
Can I recommend watching Grisaia? If you're an anime-only viewer who has not read the visual novel, I would say no and tell you to go read that instead, especially when it has arguably the best fan translation that has ever been released. The anime is not a worthwhile story on its own, and unless you're craving for a mediocre harem anime with a cool protagonist, you're only going to find yourself frustrated and alienated by the ridiculous pacing.
If you've already read the visual novel, though, Grisaia is still a decent piece of fanservice despite my endless complaining. Seeing the story in animation and not just pictures certainly makes it more dynamic, and the addition of a voice actor for Yuuji makes him feel much more human. It's not an ideal adaptation by any stretch of the imagination, but it works, and for some fans that will be enough.
Let's just hope they don't repeat the same mistakes in the other seasons.
"No matter how much I keep lowering my expectations, I still end up disappointed"
That one sentence sums up the ongoing experience of watching this anime from start to finish.
Grisaia no Kajitsu is undoubtedly one of the most successful and popular visual novels in recent years. It is a game praised for having a godlike character cast, excellent production value, great comedy, extreme lewdness and an abnormal amount of psychological depth and serious storylines for a harem series. Sounds like the perfect recipe for something to make an anime out of, right? Well three and a half years after the original visual novel was released, it
finally happened. However unlike its source material, this anime adaptation of Kajitsu fails in essentially every single department other than the animation, and instead serves as one of the biggest train wrecks I've seen in a long time.
Grisaia no Kajitsu is the story of a little group of teenagers with problems. Said problems are generally some kind of psychological trauma or other type of darker past that in the end results in the person being unable to fit into society anymore. Introducing Mihama Academy, a specially funded high-school dedicated solely in order to educate students that find themselves unable to go to any "normal" schools any longer.
And as a result, they're all a bunch of crazy people. The characters of Grisaia are very unique and completely wacky. Because of their complicated backgrounds, not a single one of them is acting like a normal person, and consequently they give you an extremely unpredictable flow of events whenever they interact with each other. Together they make up one of the most unique setup of main characters you'll ever see, and that's exactly what makes them so likable. Unfortunately however, this anime doesn't give them much of a chance to showcase it.
Case in point: this anime is rushed. Incredibly rushed. Actually the word rushed is not even enough to explain just how much of a complete and utter mess the pacing of this so-called "adaptation" truly is. The mere idea of trying to cover about 80 hours' worth of visual novel content in a 13-episode anime is nothing short of ridiculous to begin with but here it was actually attempted, and unsurprisingly it failed miserably. The first three episodes show some promise, when the anime is merely showing the hilarious everyday antics that the characters are pulling off during their school days. After that however, as soon as the story gets into its serious elements, things rapidly start derailing, and it *never ever stops derailing*.
Michiru's and Makina's routes skip huge amounts of content, leaving out key plot elements and just leaves you feeling extremely confused and unsatisfied as a viewer. You also immediately lose all sense of time as sometimes the story pulls a sudden time skip out of nowhere and tries to proceed as if everything's all fine and dandy, despite having just left out several hours' worth of story. Sachi's and Yumiko's routes are even worse, they sincerely get *one* episode each to cover their *entire* story arcs. We're talking 10+ hours of content in *one* episode each. Since this feat is pretty much impossible, the production team's so-called "solution" to this is to simply flat-out cut away 90% of the story and pretend that the rest of the plot just doesn't exist, and unbelievably enough they on top of that even take the time to add totally nonsensical original content of their own into the mix. Especially Yumiko's route might just get the award as the worst adaptation of anything I've ever seen to be perfectly blunt. Finally Amane's route which is generally the most popular and praised one of the visual novel is fortunately also the only one that receives some sort of tolerable adaptation here, but sadly it's way too late to be enough to save this disaster of an anime.
The ones responsible for this whole mess are none other than Studio 8bit; famous for "illustrious" works such as Walkure Romanze as well as both seasons of Infinite Stratos. It would not be an exaggeration to say that people did not have a whole lot of faith in them even before Grisaia began airing, and unfortunately as it turns out; that was not an incorrect mindset at all. If there's one thing I have to give them credit for though, it's that the animation quality of this anime is still very high despite everything else. The characters and the environments both look great. Fans of the Monogatari Series will also notice the awfully familiar-looking character designs, which is quite simply explained by the fact that they are done by the same artist. The anime also utilizes a pretty interesting extreme-widescreen resolution that probably makes the show look a lot better if you have a really wide monitor.
Another thing 8bit apparently decided to randomly add to this show... was fanservice. Now don't get me wrong, Grisaia is incredibly lewd even in its original form but there's a very clear difference here. What the visual novel primarily contains is a myriad of hilarious sexual innuendos that were all clearly written by someone with taste and a good sense of humour. The anime however has virtually none of this. Instead, it goes with the age-old approach of throwing in random panty shots whenever possible, regardless of where or when. The problem is that this is not just a generic ecchi series, so when these spontaneous panty shots are shoved into the camera during life-or-death situations when the rest of the story is actually trying to be serious, it doesn't exactly feel very appropriate. Did the animators never stop to think that this might be *somewhat* out of place? Like really?
The voice acting is all-round very impressive. The same cast used in the original game makes a comeback for the anime and helps liven up their respective characters immensely. Especially Makina's and Michiru's respective voice actresses make a phenomenal performance in my opinion given how incredibly wacky those two roles in particular are. It's just a shame that the anime doesn't really give them a whole lot of time to showcase it since it's so incredibly rushed. The soundtrack there is very little to say about however: while the OST does its job at enhancing the atmosphere in more or less every scene, it is definitely nothing memorable either. The opening and various ending themes are the same story: decent, but nothing special.
Overall, the production value is solid but it's nowhere even close to making up for how incredibly butchered the story in this anime is. If you've played the original visual novel, then watching this anime is nothing but painful. It's like a guilt trip where you start every new episode holding a slight glimmer of hope that things might get better, but end up just as disappointed as the week before every single time. Seeing such a great source material dissected and ripped apart like this just hurts, and I wouldn't recommend anyone who liked the visual novel to watch this anime for their own sakes, at least not if they're expecting a legitimate adaptation. Though if you just think of it as some sort of fan fiction or similar, then it might be okay. If you have never played the visual novel however nor plan to, then this particular issue will not exist as you won't have anything to compare the anime to, so the show is not quite as bad in that case. However then you're still faced with the issue of the blitzkrieg pacing of this show which ends up eagerly skipping past its own plot points, and as a result you'll have some serious problems trying to figure out just what the hell is going on every so often. You might not be aware of what the holes are leaving out, but you'll still sure as hell notice that there are in fact holes more or less everywhere. It's just that blatantly obvious.
This anime has been the source of a lot of pain and agony for many people over the last few months. In the end despite all that, I'd still say it's a good thing that it came into existence, if only for the reason of perhaps driving up more attention for the visual novel and hopefully getting some more people to try that out instead. At least that's the only thing I can think of as anything good the Grisaia anime might bring us in the end, because at least on its own it remains one of the absolute worst adaptations in recent memory.
And lastly we can only pray that 8bit are going to do a slightly better job at adapting the remaining two parts of the Grisaia trilogy (Meikyuu and Rakuen) which have now been confirmed that they're *also* going to be adapted, starting spring 2015. In theory this should be a much easier job to pull off since they're significantly shorter in comparison, but I still think we should head into them with the lowest possible expectations this time around, just to be safe. It's the only way to make sure to avoid the never-ending spiral of disappointment that Kajitsu was.
So. Where to begin ? Grisaia no Kajitsu debuted as a visual novel, and it was quite highly praised. So, like several other visual novels, since it was starting to get very popular, Front Wing decided that it was time to adapt it into an anime, to further boost the popularity of the VN. However, most of us know that adapting a visual novel into an anime is a very "hit or miss" decision. Either it's a complete success, like Clannad or Fate/Stay Night UBW, or it's a complete disaster, the that will forever tarnish the reputation of the source material.
It's understandable, because most adaptations don't get more than a one court anime, unless they're from some big studio like Key. And trying to adapt a VN of 50+ hours into a 12 episodes anime can be quite hard. So which one is it ? Will Grisaia no Kajitsu (I'll call it GnK from now on) be remembered as one of the few VN that got successfully adapted, or will it be simply another anime to add to the heap of horrible adaptations ?
Story : 5
To be perfectly honest, GnK doesn't have too much of a story. Yuji Kazami, the main character, join a private school, where there's only 5 other students, all girls. We'll talk about each of them later on. Pretty much that entirety of the story after the intro consists of the girls backstory, and how Yuji interacts with each of them. Because of this, GnK's focus isn't on the story, but rather on the characters, which can be both good or bad, depending on how it's done.
Characters : 8
Like I said before, there's not much to the story. So for me to give GnK such a high rating, the characters must be pretty good, right ? WRONGS !! You've got the typical mysterious transfer student, a maid, a generic tsundere, a loli, the Kuudere and a girl who REALLY wants a boyfriend. That said, those unoriginal characters become much, MUCH more memorable when you take their backstories into account. You quickly realize that nobody is normal at this school. It's like everyone is wearing a mask, desperately trying to forget their own history. Everyone has a f***** up past, and that's what make those characters so interesting. Each of the five girls have an arc. During those arcs, I ended up caring a lot for the same characters that I immediately dismissed as boring and uninteresting after the first episode.
Sound : 8
The musics are pretty good and fits well the scenes in which they appear. The EDs were good, but I didn't find them as noticeable as the opening. The voice actors also do a good job, I don't have any complaints here.
Animation : 8
It looks great for a 2014 anime. The dark colour palette fits the dark side of the story, and the character design is pretty good, none of the characters look the same.
Personal Enjoyment : 10
When I first started watching GnK, I wasn't really sure if I was gonna like it or not. But as I watched it weeks after weeks I eventually started to be really looking forward to the next episode without even noticing it. It was especially painful to wait for the next episode during Amane's arc, which is easily the best in my opinion. I've seen a lot of people who said that they didn't like it because it was too weird, but I'm a weird person myself, so I actually enjoyed it's weirdness.
Final Rating :
So. Should you watch GnK ? YES ! But it's not for everyone, so it really depends on your personal tastes. One complaint that I often heard, was that it was rushed, and took out way too much scenes from the VN. But I didn't play the VN, so I didn't noticed that. To me, it wasn't rushed. The character arcs had a good pace, with the exception of Sachi's , which would have needed at least another episode. So is it a good adaptation ? Honestly, I don't know. Those who played the VN will probably be disappointed by how short it is, but as a standalone anime, it's successful. And with Season 2 & 3 confirmed, all remaining questions will hopefully be answered.
So ! This was one of my first review, and this definitively won't be my last ! I have a lot of improvement to do, and I know that. That's why I would really appreciate if you guys would leave me feedback and/or tips to improve my future reviews by commenting on my profile or sending me a PM ! Let me know if there's something you feel like I should improve, whether it be the length of the review, if I need to talk more or less about a certain subject, or anything else that you think needs improvement ^__^
When it comes to risk, Grisaia No Kajitsu (The Fruit of Grisaia) is no stranger to the word. Dare I say a show with based on a popular visual novel only gets a 13 episode adaptation. Take a look at some of the other popular visual novels like Little Busters and Clannad. Even with 2-cour adaptations, there are some problems with their effectiveness. So what happened with Grisaia No Kajitsu? The answer is a controversial adaptation. Or to say the least, this series is one that is a big oddball. I don’t mean it necessarily in a negative fashion but one that may strike some
To get familiarized with the adaptation, one should first realize that the anime is based on the visual novel of the same name. The VN is actually an adult game but the anime obviously obstructs more of the sexual tones of the series for more suitable viewers; although it still adapts the gimmicks of it. Nonetheless, the series makes its presence well known with the first episode. We have starring male protagonist Yuuji who wants to enroll in a normal school. He gets sent to a place called Mihama Academy by his boss JB so his wish is granted. Or is it? The thing about the school is that there are only 5 other students, or more specifically girls enrolled in it. The normalcy barrier can easily be broken down once we see some glimpses of the perhaps what’s to come. Cryptic flashbacks such as a bus accident, bombing making materials, sniper rifle, and box cutter knife all offer a glimpse that the show meets more than the eye. And indeed, the show preys on a more dangerous side of academy life.
Life at the academy isn’t very simple. We have Yuuji, a male thrown into an environment where there are not many supervisors to look after them at school. To top it off, all the students are girls there from various backgrounds. Most of them also seems to be interested in Yuuji in some way although unlike a harem anime, they don’t all just throw themselves at him. But what do you do when you’re the new kid at school? For Yuuji, this gets tricky as he learns more about each girl. Some of them seems to have a connected past with him while others such as Yumiko wants him gone. The basis of the premise also suggests that there are specific reasons why they are enrolled there. If you put yourselves into Yuuji’s shoes, it’s easy to find yourself curious with the events going on throughout the series. That’s because there are cryptic hints thrown there (either dialogue or actions) that suggests the school is hiding something; or perhaps the characters themselves.
A main part of the show comes from the colorful cast of characters. There is one main guy (Yuuji) who is not the typical harem protagonist. He is very self-dependent and is able to maintain his cool in almost any situation. In fact, he treats almost every situation intuitively while also possessing a good judgment and control. In short, Yuuji is the type of guy that thinks before he acts. This trait of his seems to land him into situations with other girls as they also judge him. In particular, Yumiko is the most prominent of the group who declares that she ‘will not accept him’. The show chronicles each of the other girls who interacts with him in their specific story arcs. (in the visual novel known as routes) The problem though is how they are rushed and condensed in a format in which some cases are unacceptable. Yumiko is a strong example of this with her route being shortened to a single episode. In this case, her relationship dynamics with Yuuji is severely cut to a point of being non-existent. Luckily, this isn’t always the case as other routes highlights more of their moments. They also seem to focus a similar path in ways of problem, plan, and solution. Every arc/route does resolve in some way with Yuuji playing a prominent role.
Focusing on the stories of the girls, we find out that each of them have some sort of tragic past. Rather than telling their story, the series shows it with precision. And by that, I mean getting directly involved. Yuuji strives to help the other girls get through whatever problem they have regardless the consequences. This is clearly seen when Yuuji takes daring risks to help Michiru dealing with the loss of a friend or protecting Makina from assassination. The moral is that Yuuji is a guy who can be depended on and the girls seems to appreciate his deed in kind. For a special case of Amane’s arc, Yuuji learns of a secret from years ago that has some connections to his family. While he isn’t directly present in such the arc, it still provides the viewers with the fact that Yuuji can provide emotional support and later on get involved during the present timeline. The past isn’t easy to deal with after all especially once you’ve seen this show and realize how tragic some of the girls’ pasts are.
On a scale of 1-10, this show’s generic traits for the girls would rank pretty high. I don’t say this as neither a backlash or complement though; at least not with the way the show is advertised. Each of the girls have different personalities. Amane could be labeled as the talkative and flirty type who also plays a guardianship role of the other girls. Then, we got the lone wolf Yumiko who is almost the exact opposite of Amane. Michiru would be a fake tsundere although some people could see her act far too die-hard to be like one. There’s also the childish girl known as Makina who really needs someone to take care of her. And finally, we get the oblivious yet very polite maid Sachi. Get the general kind of picture now? Some may dare say that it would be like a dream come true to live at the academy like Yuuji is. But on the surface, this type of setup screams cliché that can test the patience of some fans. It also doesn’t take long to realize there’s romance in the show; some more noticeable than others. Unfortunately, most of this isn’t characterized too strongly by the length of the show. There are some noticeable parts that can be emphasized especially in regards to relationships. However, it just feels like important parts are cut out or should be there to raise the focus of such relationships. There is also less focus on some of the themes in the show. One other question raised is in regards to the symbolism found with the fruits. The tree that seems to symbolize the Garden of Eden while the fruits suggests that each of the girls relates to their personalities. Unfortunately, it’ll be up to the viewers to decide how to interpret these symbolisms. Go figure.
Artwork is surprisingly well done on most parts even for a studio like 8-bit. They had time to prepare the budget after the announcement of the anime adaptation after over a year prior. The series has a unique way with a movie feature like format to enhance the overall quality. For the characters, each of them are designed well to fit with their personalities. While being inferior to their VN counterparts, I would say it’s mostly consistent. The setting is also highlighted well with the high class designs of some of the interior rooms and structures. Not only that but we also get action in the series as well thanks to Yuuji. His kickass attitude brings an action flick in particular with a route involving Makina. On another note, the show does have brutality and fan service. Sexual suggestive scenarios are also present with characters like Amane (*see pillow humping scene). This show might not be Makoto Shinkai level with its artwork but still remains strong in the department
On most parts, soundtrack is above average. The OP song offers foreshadowing and a catchy way of giving each character some spotlight. Similarly, there are various ED songs for each arc featuring each of the girls (from both past and present). With the tragic pasts of the girls, you’d also have to expect a good voice acting team to play their roles. Luckily, the original voice actors and actresses does that from the game. They reprise the roles of the characters to bring them to life with adequacy. There are some problems occasionally with the way the tone of voice that are done though. In particular, Makina and Michiru can be annoying to watch while even Yuuji can seem dull at times. The good part relates to the humor done with the dialogues. Mix in that with emotions and you get a balanced tone backed with a soundtrack. It’s a decent resonance of the two halves to balance out the show.
With just 13 episodes, don’t come into expecting a strong story with clever characterization. What you get is a bold story that takes risks with the characters. It’s weighty with the way Yuuji’s role is carried out in each of the arcs in this adaptation. And although some relationships aren’t as strong as the others, the show does emphasize on creative scenarios without rising a big question mark in the end. Still, do be aware that the series showcases some of the most generic tendencies from the get-go. Rushed is also another word that’s no stranger in this series’ vocabulary. In the end, it’s an adaptation that could have been better but still can offer some moments to remember.
Note: it has been confirmed that the series is getting sequels so expect expansions on this season later on.
A perfectly-timed gust of wind. A low camera angle. Once in a while we get a peek under a skirt. And sometimes, just sometimes, we get a glimpse of the legendary striped anime panties that are shimapan.