Grisaia no Rakuen begins right at the end of the previous installment, Grisaia no Meikyuu. Kazami Yuuji is arrested under suspicion for terrorism. A video showing apparently concrete proof that Yuuji committed these acts, and he is held in custody by Ichigaya.
Ichigaya knows full well that Yuuji didn't commit the crimes he has been accused of. But he did fail to assassinate Heath Oslo, who is the leader of the terrorist organization with an extremely devastating weapon in their possession. In fact, Ichigaya have their own plans for Yuuji...
But all may not be lost for Yuuji. The girls of the Mihama Academy are not about to let Yuuji be used for political gain, and neither may the mysterious new figure which appears before them.
Let me explain something to you guys, before I get on with this actual review.
Is Grisaia no Rakuen (also known as The Eden of Grisaia) an anime that is necessarily an "amazing" one, at least to the eyes of most critical anime fans? And what I mean by that is this; does Grisaia no Rakuen have everything needed for a series to be amazing in the eyes of most anime fans, and use those things well? Things like; serious/deep/though provoking themes, elements of suspense used correctly without deus ex machina, a fluid and linear story, psychological/dark plot lines, well-characterized and developed characters, all bundled together
with stellar animation and an ass-kicking soundtrack?
In some aspects, yes, Grisaia no Rakuen has those things. In others... well...
One thing I feel I should mention before going on with my review of this absolute treat is that, you shouldn't go into Grisaia no Rakuen expecting those things. Does that mean I'm directly implying that this series is nothing more than mindless fun, and can't be enjoyed as something deeper than that? No, not at all. But I think that Grisaia no Rakuen has a meaning to it that's different from the typical "norm" of what makes an anime so amazing. The absolute greatness behind Grisaia no Rakuen is, in a very small way, similar to that of Masaaki Yuasa's masterpiece The Tatami Galaxy. It, in no way, follows the norm of what people consider to make anime as great as it is, yet is still something many people consider to be one of the best anime of all time, if not the very best. Grisaia no Rakuen is similar to it in that regard.
So what I'm saying is, Grisaia no Rakuen should be thought of as mindless fun, because in a way, that's all it really is... yet, it's enjoyable at a level FAR above your typical mindless fun series. Hell, I'd say it's far above ANY mindless fun series, no matter how good it is/how good people consider it to be.
So today, I'm reviewing the recently-finished 2015 visual novel adaptation by Studio 8bit, sequel of the highly acclaimed visual novel Grisaia no Kajitsu, is the anime adaptation for Grisaia no Rakuen. Let's begin.
Small thing to note before we continue:
Do understand that Grisaia no Rakuen is the final installment to the Grisaia anime series. The first 2 are Grisaia no Kajitsu, the main series, and Grisaia no Meikyuu, an hour-long prequel special. If you are here looking for a new series to start, please visit the page for the anime [Grisaia no Kajitsu] which is where this series is meant to be started.
If you're still here, then you probably understand that this is meant to be a review of Grisaia no Rakuen, the sequel to Grisaia no Kajitsu/Meikyuu. With that being said, in my head, there's only 2 reasons why anyone would want to read a review for a sequel series like this one:
1. You've seen the first season, and want to know if it's worth it to watch the next, or...
2. You've seen the whole thing, and want to see what someone else thought about it, purely out of curiosity or because you want to compare your opinions to someone else, or something along those lines.
Whichever you fall under, it proves you've seen the first season... and given that, there WILL be some spoilers (though minor, spoilers nonetheless) to both Grisaia no Kajitsu and Grisaia no Meikyuu within this review. So, I'd advise you do not read any further if you haven't seen the first season/hour long special and don't want to be spoiled.
With that aside, let's begin the actual review.
Initial Thoughts (prior to watching):
Going into Grisaia no Rakuen, I was actually quite hyped, and not for the reasons you'd expect.
After finishing Grisaia no Kajitsu, which I happened to finish about a week after it finished airing, I was left with an EXTREMELY bitter tasted in my mouth... though, I still had hope for the future, but I'll talk about that later.
The reason for my bitter taste was simply because of how terrible an adaptation Kajitsu was. While I firmly believe that comparing an anime too much to its source material is stupid (because if you want the source material, go read the source material, don't give the anime slack for not being an exact copy of it), I usually only say that as an attempt to justify a series that goes the route of being an anime-original adaptation and not specifically an adaptation of any source material. My logic behind liking those things is because it gives is a new take on a story, and basically gives us two different versions of it... since, well, more is always better.
However, my original claim of "comparing an anime too much to its source material is stupid" is completely null and void when the reason for making those comparisons is due to the series being extremely rushed. Basically, when a series tries to be an animated copy of its source material, but fails to do so because way too much was left out.
As a visual novel reader of the entire Grisaia series, I'm able to say that that's EXACTLY how it was with Grisaia no Kajitsu. A visual novel that took me about 85 hours to complete, crammed into a 13-episode anime adaptation barely even 5 hours long. And my god, when people tell you that a lot was cut out, don't think they're just complaining and not believe them because that's EXACTLY how it was; so much was cut out, and it was almost impossible to enjoy.
Though, I can understand why people do, and I tried to take into consideration how people who haven't read its visual novel felt about the series when scoring it. Thus, I gave it a 4/10; enough to mainly think negatively about it, and enough to be vocal about my problems with it, but not bad enough to curse at it or truly call it bad.
Then came Grisaia no Meikyuu which, honestly, can be said to be pretty dang rushed as well. While not NEARLY as rushed as Grisaia no Kajitsu, a 15-20 hour visual novel being crammed into an hour long special (about 48 minutes in total) can be considered quite rushed as well, as typical GOOD visual novel adaptations tend to be about 1/4 as long as the original source material. However, I still think Meikyuu was given an amazing adaptation for the plain and simple fact of what it "truly" was as a visual novel: something MANY people considered to be, primarily, a fan disc. Meaning, fanservice was the prominent thing here, and the story was only a small part of it. Almost every important aspect of the Grisaia no Meikyuu visual novel was included within these 48 minutes, and to be quite honest, I don't think I'd ever ask for better, even if I was given the chance.
Though, it's a given that I didn't think Meikyuu was the most amazing thing ever, but I won't deny that it was done in, most likely, the most amazing WAY ever. Which is why I gave it an 8/10.
Remember how I said earlier that I still had hope for the future of this series? The main reason I felt this way was due to the confirming of sequels at the end of episode 13 of Grisaia no Kajitsu. While I didn't know what was in store for the future, I assumed another TV series would be on the way, and that's why I thought good things for the future. I though, "unless they plan to make a 3 episode anime adaptation, there's no way they can screw this up."
Well, here's the thing. Despite it being EXTREMELY rushed and barely enough to understand even part of what's really happening, the things that WERE animated in Grisaia no Kajitsu were actually done quite well. So, the way I thought about it was that IF it were given a good adaptation, and wasn't rushed very badly, it would be an amazing anime. So, all we needed was an episode count that made it hard to be rushed, and Grisaia no Rakuen could almost be confirmed to end up being a really good anime.
Once the episode count was announced, the things I said were pretty much confirmed in my head, as I thought there was no way Grisaia no Rakuen could be screwed up... and I was predicting it to be one of my favorite anime series' by the end had that been true. And look who was right.
And now, let's begin the actual review!
Grisaia no Rakuen starts off as a continuation of Grisaia no Meikyuu. We continue on with Yuuji's backstory, visiting his life after his childhood, after being taken in by Asako. With Yuuji's life being as terrible as it has been up until this time, Asako was prepared with the challenge of healing Yuuji's wounds and helping him to live an enjoyable life (flashback to the beginning of Kajitsu, where Yuuji claims he wants to join Mihama Academy so he can live a "normal life.")
This piece of the Grisaia story is one of extreme importance, maybe even the most important in the entire series. While it can easily be noted that Yuuji acts much different within custody of Asako than he does within the story of Kajitsu, you are easily able to tell how each thing that happens to him plays a part in the way he acts as a character within Kajitsu, as it takes place after the events of Meikyuu. And let me just tell you this, Yuuji is an extremely well-written character... though, I'll save that for when it needs to be talked about.
Yuuji within Kajitsu seemed a lot like a mystery. We wondered what exactly happened to him to cause him to act the ways he does; and we were given answers. Many answers. Many of the answers brought up questions we didn't even have, which were promptly answered not long after. Yes, everything was made clear, and what we were given from the story of the first 4 episodes of Grisaia no Rakuen was absolute perfection in what we needed to know. And, really, that's all there is to say about it. It was simply amazing.
And then, we get to the sequel... episodes 5-10.
Given what I said prior about Grisaia no Rakuen and the entire aspect of "mindless fun," it's a bit of a given that the story aspect of the series won't necessarily be the most prevalent throughout it. And, for the most part, that's true.
What is most prevalent, however, is something that can be considered even BETTER than just a simple story.
While elements of storytelling remain throughout everything that happens, and not a SINGLE thing happens without playing a part to the main story line (no matter how big or small), what we take from most of what happens is everything but a super developed story. And honestly, that's perfectly fine. No complaints here.
We're given information of a certain enemy appearing at a certain place at a certain time, and that he needs to be taken out. Simple enough, right? Sounds pretty common for a series like this. So what we're given to do just that, is a 15 year old loli girl being given a pink sniper rifle that's just as tall as her.
Did you just drop gas bombs onto the streets of an urban city? Are alive enemies that need to be taken down lurking through the gas? Just give a pink-haired maid a gas mask and two knives. I mean c'mon, it's first grade, isn't it?!
Just in-case it hasn't been made obvious, Grisaia no Rakuen is extremely larger-than-life, absurd, and just plain nonsensical (at least the sequel portion of episodes 5-10). Like really, almost nothing makes real sense... but at the same time, it does.
Now, what do I mean by that? Think about it this way: bad things happen, and things need to be done ASAP to fix them/prevent them from being worse. Those things are the solutions. What's absurd isn't necessarily the situations, or the things happening, or any other thing that plays towards the aspect of battle. What's absurd is the solutions.
These solutions are things like detecting an enemy riding up the side of a mountain. Instead of just trying to block him off on the mountain, why not just fly a chopper with machine-gun-turret equipped over the mountain and shoot straight at the mountain with it? Do you see what I mean by absurd and nonsensical?
And yet, they just seem to work so well. While I'm not going to say this style of writing is the most perfect thing ever, it's kind of the optimal way to do things with a series like this. After all the crazy, borderline-supernatural things that have happened, something like this seems to just be called-for... none of it really feels out of place.
Now, does "it works for the series and doesn't feel out of place" make a good reason for giving the story aspect of this series a 9/10? No, not at all. That only has to do with a small part of what makes a story good. The rest has to do with the extreme awesomeness that exists within this series.
The brilliantly well-thought-out psychological scenes, the erection-throbbing action, and the absolutely emotional scenes of attachment are what make Grisaia no Rakuen as amazing as it is. These things aren't really meant to be described here in the story portion of this review, but I'll go over them briefly.
1. Amazing antagonist introduced.
2. Incredible plot twists (this could be explained, but impossible to do so without spoiling).
3. Well-written characters EVERYWHERE.
4. Everything just feels so amazing. Hard to get a feeling like this from anywhere else.
5. All looks and sounds amazing.
Now, let's start to explain the things that make Grisaia no Rakuen as amazing as it is.
If you were like me, you didn't specifically like the characters of any girl that was part of Yuuji's harem in Grisaia no Kajitsu... you only really liked their stories or what we learned from them.
This was, almost completely, fixed in Grisaia no Rakuen.
What were originally really annoying and slightly one-dimensional "SUPAH CUTE!!" harem girls in Kajitsu, turned a total 180 and turned into pretty dang good characters in Rakuen. While I won't say that any of their personalities changed, it was more the lack of extreme attention put onto them and the WAYS their personalities were used that made them as amazing as they were.
You see, I didn't necessarily think any girl was THAT bad in Kajitsu. What I thought made them as annoying as they were was the plain and simple fact that they were given too much attention, and used in ways that made people think that they were meant to be seen as the most important people ever. When it's proven that that isn't the way they're meant to be seen in Rakuen, they almost instantly become great characters that are extremely hard not to like in some way.
What if I were to tell you, these characters are a lot different than you most likely thought they were after watching Kajitsu? If that got your attention at all, you'll definitely enjoy watching Grisaia no Rakuen.
Though, that isn't to say why I gave the characters of Grisia no Rakuen the score I did. It wasn't quite that simple, nor that effective.
Grisaia no Meikyuu introduced Asako, and she became such a great character within Rakuen once we learned who she really was. She was one addition that I truly thought was perfect, and the emotional value we, as viewers, placed on her after the short time we saw here was just great, and I have to hand it to the writers for being able to do something like that. Honestly, Asako may have been my favorite side character from the entire series if it weren't for one other character in specific.
There was only really one other "introduction" of a new character in this series, and not really one I'd really call much of a true introduction (hence the quotes). Despite that character being, without a doubt, my favorite character in the entire series (and even my 2nd favorite character of ALL TIME), they're a character that I can't talk about at all without giving spoilers. So, please remember the name "Thanatos," and enjoy watching the series.
Despite liking that certain character I mentioned above more than him, Yuuji Kazami was without a doubt the most developed character in this series. It can be said, without difficulty, that he's the most well-written harem protagonist of all time.
Speaking of harem, the entire Grisaia series is a very interesting take on the aspect of harems. While it can be said, without a single doubt, that he Grisaia series fulfills everything that's required to be a harem, it has a very interesting take on it. The girls are constantly in battle over who will win over Yuuji, but it's not the focal point of the series, and many other things are paid more attention to than that. Just wanted to mention that, to anyone who might be turned off by the fact that it's tagged as a harem.
Well, really, nothing else can be said about the characters. Development is off the charts for Yuuji, and a specific side character is heart-stoppingly amazing, with the rest of the harem being great as well. I give this a 10 for being perfect in every regard that I could ever ask for.
Animation and Sound:
This won't take a while, since there isn't really a lot to say.
While it was still animated really well, Grisaia no Kajitsu didn't have a lot to animate due to the fact that nothing really required an extremely high budget. For the most part, Kajitsu was a pretty still series that just looked well-done for what it was.
That wasn't necessarily the truth for Rakuen, however. Rakuen was flooded with different action scenes, and a lot of "gotta go fast!" scenes that required detailed animation (commonly referred to as "sakuga"). And yet, the animation received NO sudden decline in quality... it remained amazing for the entire duration of the series, and man, did it look good.
The action scenes were absolutely flawless. The sakuga was a little overused at times, but still looked amazing each time. The battles were so intense, and the incredible artwork just made it so much more engaging. And, like with Kajitsu, the still scenes also looked amazing. There was absolutely no decline in quality at any moment within the series, which was incredibly surprising. Completely deserving of a 10.
The soundtrack was also quite great as well. Usually, I don't place much of a high value in an anime's soundtrack, since it's not something that I really think about beyond watching the series. And usually, soundtracks are done well enough to get by anyways, so there's not a whole lot that's needed to be thought about deeply.
In short, the soundtrack of Grisaia no Rakuen does its job without being completely outstanding. It's deserving of a 9 just because of that, since a bad soundtrack doesn't really exist in modern anime and thus soundtracks kinda "should" be overrated.
Overview and Final Thoughts:
Grisaia no Rakuen is a treat. That's all I really need to say.
What can come off as a huge load of absurd crap ends up being one of the most fulfilling experiences ever, and it's just SO amazing. What you'll get out of Grisaia no Rakuen is a nearly unmatched experience of absolute blood-pumping action alongside emotional sub plots and incredible character writing. It's just simply an amazing series.
While I don't find it to be the most perfect thing ever, it actually is in some regards. Some things about this series are just simply unmatched, and the most perfect example of that thing that's ever been seen in anime thus far.
While there are times where the quality of the writing seems to dip, and ends up being a little too dumb, the overall product of this amazing series is exactly as I just said, amazing.
Story: Given that I try to combine the aspects of the above-average story with the amazing absurd fun, I give the story a 9.
Character: Pure amazing development, writing, and the changes some characters were given was just perfect. Definitely a 10.
Art: Perfect. Nothing more needs to be said. Easy 10.
Sound: I overrate soundtracks because not a lot comes from them. Grisaia no Rakuen's does its job and thus deserves a 9.
Overall score for Grisaia no Rakuen: 9.5/10, rounded up to a 10 for this review.
Who would I recommend this series to: Anyone who's seen Grisaia no Kajitsu. If that was your intent of coming to this review, the answer is yes, Grisaia no Rakuen IS DEFINITELY WORTH WATCHING!
Otherwise, given that Grisaia no Kajitsu wasn't very good, it's really hard to recommend the entire series to someone. But, if you understand, even for a second, my burning passion for Rakuen, then that should be enough to persuade you to watch the entire series, starting from Kajitsu.
Rakuen is a treat, and should be experienced by most people, if not everyone, just because of that.
Thank you for reading my review! I hope you guys enjoyed it!! See ya next time!!!
“Rushed”. “Butchered”. “Unintentional comedy”. “Inevitably lacking development”. “Extremely poor adaption”. Even as an anime-only watcher of this franchise, I could not disagree with the heavy bombardment of VN readers’ harsh criticism and saltiness as Grisaia no Kajitsu emerged as yet another victim in the modern anime industry of being a one cour anime, instead of two. Despite the redemption given by Angelic Howl and personally enjoying Kajitsu a lot myself overall, the fact remains the first half of Grisaia no Kajitsu has deterred the anime-only watchers by portraying itself as a mediocre harem , and to put it mildly, not meeting the bare minimum standard
VN readers expected from the adaption for being a poorly paced anime.
Fast forward to 2015, 8bit has further damaged its reputation (did it even have any in the first place?) by producing, in my opinion, a complete garbage of an anime called Absolute Duo (please forgive me for steering off the topic, but I did not like that season very much) and in a season with highly anticipated giant titles such as Yahari Zoku, UBW, Shokugeki no Soma, Gintama, and Danmachi added with the number of discouraged droppers from the earlier episodes, the prospect of the Grisaia sequels, Meikyuu and Rakuen, has been overshadowed and dwarfed out. However, in spite of the strong competition offered by Spring 2015 season, many people will find it pleasant to know that this time it is not prone to a rushed and butchered adaption with amazingly confusing plot with lack of development as Grisaia no Rakuen has rose up to be a lucky find and possibly one of the strongest anime of the season.
Grisaia no Rakuen is a direct continuation to Grisaia no Meikyuu, a short movie OVA depicting Yuuji’s past, where “tragic and traumatic” to describe it would be the understatement of the decade. Therefore I cannot stress enough to say not only watch that before this, but also in case there are people who are tempted and considering to skip Kajitsu due to its score difference, it is unquestionably compulsory to watch it for the understanding of this sequel (or just read the VN, as the readers would say).
And by direct continuation, I do mean straight away from Meikyuu as if that was the prologue to the first episode as the girls of the Mihama Academy continue to learn more about Yuuji’s past through a document. Yuuji’s frightening past continues as his story transitions from being raised as a child assassin, to being raised by his mentor who he respects very highly. This arc known as “Cocoon of Caprice” further continues to portray Yuuji’s life in a military academy as he creates bonds and overcome his own psychological weakness which will be explained more in the later paragraph. The second arc known as “The Seed of Blanc Aile” returns to the present time which is where the meat of the anime is, with the spotlight returning to the original cast of the Mihama Academy and ultimately, the matter between Yuuji and his past is settled so that he can return to his academy or rather, his family.
This is where the most major difference between Kajitsu and Rakuen comes up. In first half of Kajitsu each girls are only given two episodes to develop with Yuuji helping them ultimately out of distress, which not only lacks the sufficient amount of character interaction and development required due to its poor pacing, but also quickly becomes formulaic, repetitive, and dull. However in Rakuen, the story progresses linearly as a single route in a solid manner while seeming like a natural, realistic story and thanks to much lower amount of content to cram into small number of episodes, the story is immune from the confusion and it is made much easier to understand.
What I and probably many other people also loved about Grisaia no Rakuen was how it diverges from a harem setting in a school environment with subtle amount of darkness enough to disguise, which dissuaded many people to drop Kajitsu early on - to a breathtaking, eye-catching thriller from a military setting Yuuji experienced in and where the girls of the Mihama academy becomes involved in intelligence and reconnaissance and putting their specialization to use.
Apart from plot, Grisaia no Rakuen also shined very strongly in the department of character development especially in the first half of the anime. Yuuji’s backstory and emotional development as mentioned earlier has been crucial in this anime as unlike Kajitsu which portrays him as a flawless, robotic human being who somehow specializes in rescuing a damsel in distress every two episodes. In Rakuen however, despite his background as a raised cold-blooded killing machine, Yuuji can be shown to empathize through his representation of his trauma and how he overcomes it and also through his interaction with rest of the cast, especially Asako. His psychological weakness of being traumatized of killing any life form has been a key plot point to this season. And of course, who cannot love his witty, sarcastic sense of humour while putting on his iconic poker face? I also want to add he is probably one of the few harem leads out there who is not just bearable, but so likeable.
Speaking of Asako, her role as Yuuji’s mentor has been crucial to the character development and process of maturity on Yuuji and through his interaction with her and her assertive, confident approach to her philosophy, it is obvious why Yuuji has deep respect for her not only as a soldier and an instructor, but possibly also as an older sister model. His relationship with JB is further explored as well, as she is not merely his superior at work who constantly amusingly irritate and tease at each other, but she is also there to emotionally comfort and support Yuuji whenever she is needed.
With the military academy setting mentioned earlier, there has also been very nice addition to the mixture who have provided enjoyable interactions with Yuuji illustrating the bond he has made during his gaining of military experience, while they also become necessary and relevant in the later episodes. Although there have been several new likeable introductions, the most notable ones are Miliela Stanfield, who becomes slowly attached to Yuuji as a comrade, nicknaming him “Genie”, and Robbie aka James Okada, his weeaboo characteristic and imouto fetish being the running joke.
Despite the girls of Mihama Academy not receiving as much development as Yuuji and his peers did as unfortunately that was Kajitsu’s job which it unfortunately failed at, they have also been given a spotlight to stand on as well as “The Seed of Blanc Aile”, or where the “real fun” starts to return to the present time. Though too much details would end up as a spoiler, from Makina being an awesome loli sniper, to Sachi being Crappy Maid, to Yumiko being the rational and logical strategist, to Michiru being… Michiru (^_^), this season yet again reminded me how the diverse, yet abnormal personalities of the girls and their wacky, comical interaction have been pivotal to the entertainment level of this franchise.
Although the production value is probably not the best you will ever see, there are some aspects to praise. Though background and animation is pretty much the standard you would see in any other anime, the contrast of brightness and dark, bold linings on characters and the details on their faces in general captures the tone of the series well while representing as an unorthodox harem that would not be seen very often.
I have also found the opening and endings very enjoyable as the catchy electronic rhythm of the opening and first ending are complimented well with the panning of the important characters and settings, which I found it as amazingly enjoyable set of animation and direction. First ending especially represents Yuuji’s past very well and how Yuuji still has a conflict unresolved from the past, with the characters important to him appearing in it. Musically, I like the second ending more as it foreshadows the epilogue of the Grisaia franchise, which may represent Yuuji’s will to return safely to his “Eden”, where his family waits for him.
I may be underappreciating the soundtrack and even though I did not find them VERY noticeable, there have been noteworthy usage of violin and piano during dramatic and emotional scenes, and in many dialogue scenes in general which I find it to be very powerful and complimenting well with the scenes, while in the later episodes during dark and mysterious scenes there have been an ominous tones and using electronic guitar very well during climax and action scenes to emphasize on its upbeat and dynamic tone. And of course, Grisaia no Rakuen would not have been nowhere near enjoyable without the appropriate voice acting for each distinct personality and proper use of sound effect in the action scenes.
As for personal enjoyment, to put it into context:
-Grisaia no Kajitsu was my third WEAKEST anime of Fall 2014 after Sora no Method and Trinity Seven (to be fair that was an extremely strong season as well)
-Grisaia no Rakuen was my third FAVOURITE of the season after Yahari Zoku and UBW and equal to Shokugeki no Soma. It was as if it is a complete different anime from the first season
-I would put the eighth episode as one of the best episode of the season, on par with Danmachi 08, Hibike! Euphonium 08, and few of the Yahari Zoku episodes
Although this quickly became a comparative piece between first and second season, through this review I hope I have illustrated its vast difference with the first season very clearly and why it is definitely more enjoyable. As an anime-only viewer, even though I had the confidence Grisaia sequels to be better paced and plot to be more interesting than Kajitsu due to the short teaser at the end of Kajitsu, I have been blown away by the amount of enjoyment and thrill I have perceived from this series and it really makes me glad I did not drop Kajitsu halfway through when my opinion of it was at its lowest.
Therefore I plead and implore not just the VN readers disappointed, discouraged, dissuaded by the unacceptably handled adaption, but also the anime-only viewers who initially dismissed as a mediocre, clichéd harem in a school setting disguised as a dark psychological anime to reconsider picking up Grisaia no Kajitsu (or pick up directly from Meikyuu or Angelic Howl to the VN readers), as this hidden gem is too great to be forgotten and thrown back into obscurity. The miniscule amount of people anticipating and giving attention before it aired was disheartening to see, and in fact it still is not the most watched either as, at the time of writing this review, it is out of Top 1000 in the popularity rankings.
From a harem in an eccentric and unusual setting, to amazing character development and likeable cast, to perfect pacing, to overwhelmingly over-the-top action, every second of the anime surprisingly impressed me with the entertainment level it has offered me and I don’t know why it would not be the same to other anime-only viewers.
Grisaia no Rakuen can basically be summarized like this:
Does it make any sense? Not really.
Does it matter? No, because you're having way too much fun watching it to really give a damn.
Although the anime version of Grisaia no Kajitsu remains one of the worst adaptations I've ever seen in my life, Rakuen on the other hand is one of the very best ones. The difference in level of faithfulness to their respective visual novels is so unbelievably big that I don't even know how to put it into words. The pacing is solid, the production value is great and very little noteworthy content is left
out. Overall, it's a brilliant adaptation from start to finish.
The anime can be divided into two parts. Episodes 0-4 (yes, zero; don't miss the double-length special episode, it's mandatory) cover the Grisaia no Meikyuu visual novel and takes place almost entirely as a prequel story about Yuuji's past. It is a quite dark and depressive tale containing physical abuse, rape and death among other things. It is one of the most serious parts of the Grisaia trilogy, and it gives you an excellent insight into Yuuji as a character. You'll realize that he is quite likely the most in-depth harem protagonist ever written when all is said and done.
After that, episodes 5-10 instead cover the Grisaia no Rakuen visual novel, which in contrast to the rest of the series is one of the most exaggerated, absurd and just plain ridiculous stories that I've ever had the pleasure of reading, but it's also those same exact reasons that make it so incredibly entertaining. It is effectively the inverse of Kajitsu, as the original story is about Yuuji having to save all the girls, whereas Rakuen is about the girls having to save him in return. Now that may just sound like more of the same, but I kid you not when I say that Rakuen is *completely* different. It's essentially a different genre altogether. Rakuen almost feels like a Hollywood action film, containing logic-defying car jumps, helicopter chases, submarines and pink .50 caliber sniper rifles, as well as some highly questionable sci-fi elements such as human-computer integration and cloning technology. If Mission: Impossible was an anime, this would be it. All-in-all it's an absolute nutcase of a storyline, but it's so much fun that despite its absurdity everything just ends up feeling awesome to watch. There are countless points throughout the anime where you'll find the flow of events being blatantly illogical, but it won't make you feel annoyed. Instead it'll just make you laugh and/or feel excited for what curveball the anime is going to throw at you next. Another boon with this is that the nonsensical story turns out incredibly unpredictable since literally *anything* can happen in it, no matter how unlikely it may be. And as the cherry on top, Rakuen also has one of the most ridiculous and far-fetched endings in anime history, but given the progression of the story... dammit it just feels so *right* somehow.
As far as the characters go... I'll just say this: taking the entire series into account, the character cast of the Grisaia trilogy is and always has been my number one favorite one of all time. No exaggeration. Seriously, Yuuji is arguably the best harem protag ever, at least in terms of writing and persona, and after you've seen his backstory you might also argue that he's perhaps the only one who legitimately *deserves* to have his harem already. And the girls... they just have so much charisma, all of them. How could you not love them? Makina has one of the most outstanding personalities and speech patterns you'll ever find, Amane is like a mother to everyone else, Sachi is the most badass maid of all time, Yumiko is a natural-born commander, Michiru just has waifu tier written all over her and Kazuki is without a doubt my favorite Onee-chan character ever. Even the side characters like Asako, JB and some others are quite spectacular by themselves.
The animation is as good as it ever was (the only part which even Kajitsu's adaptation got right after all), but the soundtrack of Rakuen is just plain better all-round. It's upbeat and energizing, and has numerous memorable instrumental tunes containing lots of violins combined with fast-paced music. The anime's opening theme is also fantastic, albeit not quite as legendary as Rakuen's visual novel opening (seriously go YouTube it if you haven't, it's amazing).
Anyway, overall what you have is a story which I highly recommend you to not take too seriously. Or rather you can take it seriously, but only up until Rakuen starts (episode 5) because from there on out it's a joyride of insanity all the way to the end. If you try to make a detailed analysis of the story as a whole, then what you have is a plot with more holes than a golf ball... in other words; don't try to analyze it. You'll be the only one who'll suffer from it. Instead, just lean back and tag along for the ride, and you're in for a ton of fun.
Now if only all visual novel adaptations could be this good..................... and yes I'm still looking at you Kajitsu...
By this point, any of fan of the Grisaia should know firsthand the thrill of the experience. Unlike most harems, Grisaia focuses a bit more on story elements rather than just purely to get into the main guy’s pants. As the third and final season of the Grisaia trilogy, it’s important to understand how this series operates. Grisaia no Rakuen is meant to be completed after the first season (Grisaia no Kaijutsu) and the 1-hour special feature, Grisaia no Meikyuu. From those episodes, you will learn much more about the characters as well as our main lead man, Yuuji Kazami. The catch now is that
he is labeled as a terrorist and it’s up the girls to save her. A dangerous journey of cat and mouse, Grisaia no Rakuen (The Eden of Grisaia) exploits military ethnics and psychological ploys that is able to equally adept with action while building on the story.
I have not played the visual novel, but the series should be easily be understandable as long as you’ve seen the previous season and the special, Grisaia no Meikyuu. The first few episodes shows more of Yuuji’s past life and his role in the military. We already learn about the dark tragedies he has suffered in his past but now, we really get to see a close glimpse of what it’s like. It’s not a pretty picture to think about but at the same time, it’s important to see the events that made him become the person he is today. Yuuji is indeed a complex person and the time he has spent in military has caused him to develop traits that he carries on later in life. One of the most important characters in his life is a woman named Asako, who trained him after his parents’ tragic death. Their relationship can be described as a sort of master/apprentice/guardianship/lover all at once. His relationship with his sister, Kazuki is also very important as she seems to be only other close person in his life. Regardless, the present Yuuji shows a sharp contrast prior to his parents’ deaths. Previously, Yuuji was more of a coward and often did whatever others asked him to. Now, he adapted a more sarcastic sense of humor with cold calculating behavior (especially during missions). Despite not being a cold blooded killer, Yuuji does not hesitate to eliminate others when the time comes. And that’s really makes Yuuji quite an interesting character to understand. No one will probably know the real him though.
The other parts of the season involves a recuse operation involving the girls from Mihama Academy. A tricky part to execute this section of the plot is how to get all of them together. Essentially, the series shows that they have little clue to help him until they receive the help of an unlikely ally. This is where the mystery of the show comes as this particular character will seem to be very familiar to any fans who watched the franchise. Transitions during these episodes are good and makes its purpose fruitful to answer our viewers’ questions. And while the gimmick of a supercomputer operative may seem like a trick from the old book, it pulls successfully with a blend between humor, creativity, and trust. In retrospect, the second half of the series becomes a thrilling cat and mouse game. Unlike the first season where Yuuji helps the main female leads one by one, Grisaia no Rakuen involves them helping him. Every main female character participates in some sort of role that collectively has the same purpose – to save Yuuji. To skillfully do this, the show delivers action, drama, humor, chases, and mind games. One thing I do frown on sometimes is the humor that practically seeks to advertise attention with its characters. While it’s good for some fun, it quickly gets old. Thankfully, the psychological aspect makes up for this.
I’d think to Grisaia no Rakuen as a combination of action and psychological flick that embraces human emotions. A downside about the season may be the main antagonists. There’s little emphasis on them and their main boss, Heath Oslo hardly has a personality that is explored; we do see that in the special though. Instead, this season barely puts emphasis on them as well his goons. There’s also some mystery regarding their true purpose although by the buildup of many events, it probably won’t look pretty. The plus side however is that the show manages to capture spectacular action features. All sorts of weapons are involved ranging from guns, sniper rifles, helicopters, and hellfire missiles. The show also captures the thrill of a full throttle chase that really is worth waiting for after all the necessary buildup. In retrospect, this season is able to keep its audience at its feet and always wonder what may happen next. Plot twists can be unpredictable including those that gets involved or anything that can happen along the way.
In retrospect, the artwork and soundtrack is standard to the franchise. It doesn’t change much except for the OP and ED theme songs with its many foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolisms. However, I have to give praise to the well-directed choreography. It lives up to the promise of the thrill and each episode builds more on that until that climatic moment. Character designs also runs fluid with many of the female characters dressed in their casual attire (except for Sachi in her maid attire). Fan service is still present although is hardly distracting in most cases. Finally, I have to give some praise to Kazuki’s presence in this season. Her ability to command attention through her voice is a highlight and offers that impressive smart package the audience deserves to see.
Surprisingly, Grisaia no Rakuen is actually a pretty fun show to choose if you want some thrilling action and dark storytelling. Rather than repeating some of the mistakes from the first season, the show plays with a lot of its themes and transforms into a product that is grappling. It’s a worthy successor with the style of the story building and characterization. And while some characters doesn’t shine as much as the others, it can appealing to see their roles. It can even make the audience feel jittery at times with this season’s surprising elements. Now, don’t go into this season expecting a blooming romance. In fact, Grisaia hardly can pull off a genuine romance on-screen despite its attempts to do so in the past. Instead, experience sensational feel with the flow of this season’s story as it pulls of its daring risks.