May 2014, Grisaia no Kajitsu is officially announced to be receiving an anime adaptation. Fans of the Visual Novel are excited to see how Juicy this animated Yuuji can be. But fans are also apprehensive, as it is being adapted by Studio 8bit. The same 8bit that butchered the adaptation of another fairly popular Visual Novel title not so long ago (Walkure Romanze), however people were hopeful that maybe, this time round, they learnt their lesson. Well did they?
Short answer: not so much. Long answer...
Well I certainly was hopeful after the 1st episode, which did a fantastic job of introducing all the important characters the viewers will eventually follow. Characters that break the mould of the typical 1-dimensional cardboard cut-outs, you usually find in your average Highschool Harem. Where you cannot just label a character simply as a "Tsundere", "Kuudere" or "Dandere" and say that's all there is too them. Because even our generic male protagonist is opted for a more intriguing stoic individual, where you cannot help but wonder how he came to be the way he is (Unfortunately the series does little to explain this). And to top things off, the voice acting turned out to be quite superb, with the VAs able to portray their respective roles so well.
And yet I could not wholeheartedly enjoy the series. Mind you the comedy is fantastic, both intentional with its character interactions and unintentional with the haphazard developments. However it is the latter which creates one of the numerous flaws with the story.
Like in any VN adaptation, the first couple episodes are dedicated to the common route, where a lot of the "intentional comedy" takes place. Yet the story at this point tends to jump around, taking random events from the original source material and plopping them wherever it pleases the director. This causes the story to lack some much needed connecting tissue and unfortunately it only gets worse once it reaches the heroine's storyline. That is when the story shifts from 2nd gear straight into 5th, bringing with it breakneck speed pacing, but with it damaging the engine the drives any emotion you may feel towards the characters. Yumiko & Sachi's route suffering the most damage, where it sped through 7+ hours worth of story into single episodes. At least they did not completely ruin Amane's route but that's not much of a consolation when even her storyline is marred by pacing issues.
Another noticeable issue is with the show's animation, which at first, looks quite alright with its vibrant backgrounds & character designs. But that makes it easy to notice where they cut corners. Just pay attention to any scene a character is animated walking/running and whenever a vehicle is involved.
Honestly I find it hard to review Grisaia no Kajitsu as a standalone anime series, as this so happens to be my favourite VN (so far) and it's the main reason why I'd rate the "sound" so highly. But I cannot help for agree with this particular comment I noticed in the forums: "The people involved in this are obviously professional butchers and Grisaia was another piece of juicy meat for them to chop up." Because I saw how they were butchering the routes, by taking chunks of the VN "they" deem "most important" and cramming them into a 1-cour anime series. Thus creating a series that fans of the VN will not fully enjoy and non-fans will struggle to follow, due to its breakneck pacing. Nonetheless I can say that I enjoyed the series enough to give it this score. Does this mean I'll watch the sequels? Heck No! I'll just wait for those VNs to come out on Steam.