Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grisaia No Kajitsu (The Fruit Of Grisaia) Review

"Hey Yuuji, what's it like to die?"
Ever since middle school, I've been particularly fond of psychologically damaged girls...Actually, I don't think that's the right way to start this review off. Let's try again. Ever since middle school, I have been being psychologically damaged by girls and...oh screw it, let's just do this thing.

Grisaia No Kajitsu (The Fruit of Grisaia) originally released as an adult visual novel in February 2011. Packed to the brim with with compelling flashbacks and story-driven action (And SEX), it quickly gained recognition and took off without a hitch. Being as successful as it was, Grisaia added two more additions to its franchise, those being Meikyuu and Rakuen. Needless to say, it has been speeding down a hill of publicity for it's unusually dark and twisted heroines, as well as it's protagonist (Yuuji Kazami) who is -- for lack of a better word -- a man on the edge without nothing to lose.

In Grisaia No Kajitsu, we become acquainted with Yuuji as he transfers out of a military/secret-service type gig and into a lavish high-school built to house mentally disturbed teenagers with a history of intense psychological trauma ranging from Aphasia to murderous tendencies. The catch is that the school is still relatively new and there are only five registered students (All female) at the moment. This first section of the trilogy serves as a method for viewers to become acquainted with those students and learn a bit about their pasts and how they wound up in a school so bizarre. However, things don't stay that simple and quickly become a bit more hectic as the pasts of those girls come back to haunt them.

This anime, at least on the surface, is more than just a bad-ass guy becoming acquainted with five disturbed adolescents. It is a tale set there to illustrate how different people deal with different traumas. Packed with revenge, twisted memories, and death, Grisaia immediately becomes a story that viewers will not want to separate themselves from. Allow me to break it up into a few key components to better illustrate this.

Music: 9/10
What sets the music of Grisaia apart from many other anime is, simply put, the range and diversity of it. Every song is immensely different from the former. Had it been constructed any other way, the show would topple down almost instantaneously. But Grisaia needs this varied collection of music, seeing as it deals with extremely varied feelings. Psychological trauma isn't a simplistic topic, and the way it is captured by different melodies in this soundtrack is near perfect. However, the music can become repetitious seeing as songs must be recycled once a previously-noted emotion becomes prevalent again. It's an unfortunate occurrence, but it doesn't deprecate the overall tone by that much.

Characters: 10/10
The character's in Grisaia No Kajitsu are easily the shining point of the series. And in the first episode of the show, each one is introduced in a well laid-out and timely-manner, not giving any single student the "Upper-hand" so-to-speak. What's great about Grisaia is that you meet every single character that matters in the first episode and don't have to deal with that rush that normally occurs when new characters show up halfway through the series. With everyone being introduced in the pilot, viewers continuously have time to grow attached to either a specific one or all of them in general (But Makina is mine so back off). The range of traumas you will encounter within these females will help grab hold of your interest and maybe even teach you a thing or two in the medical field. Another thing is that those traumas are presented in a way that doesn't necessarily make them look weak or insignificant. The fact that these girls were able to cope with situations so hopeless sets them up to be strong characters, much deeper and more complex than you'd typically encounter in the slice-of-life genre (Which this show somehow happens to fit into).

Art: 7/10
The art, being irrefutably the weakest part of the show, is at least somewhat decent. Tolerable would be a good way to put it, seeing as it doesn't distract you by any means, but it could have been done better. There is a noticeable drop in quality when compared side-by-side to its visual novel counterpart. This, in turn, left a few high-strung fans of the series upset and sprinting toward the forums on MyAnimeList to break their keyboards as they complain about why the show sucks. It really doesn't though. The art is on-par with anything else to come out of a non-major studio in Japan. One thing to be noted though, is that the art becomes somewhat...less good as the show goes on, making it look more rushed -- like it was done with less care than in the earlier episodes. All in all, it's not something to worry about and it doesn't take away from the overall feeling Grisaia No Kajitsu has to offer.

Story: 8/10
The story potentially could have been the shining part of Grisaia no Kajitsu had it been done correctly. But instead, it feels more like something written in simply to complement the characters, focusing more on flashbacks than the tasks at hand. The pacing of this show is ultimately what drags it down more than anything. Like I mentioned earlier, it gets off to a fantastic start and the playing-field is completely leveled for everyone immediately. But you'll notice as it progresses that the creators payed more attention to the characters they thought had better, more anime-style stories that would fit the production better. The playing-field was no longer leveled anymore. Some of the girls had just one or two episodes detailing their experiences, while some of the others had three or four. On the other hand, the story in the visual novel seems more fair and branches off into five different routes, giving you more time to understand just what is going (Or what went on) on in the lives of the girls. On top of this, there was one scenario near the end of the story where things just got a little too ridiculous. It's hard to get into it without spoiling anything, but there was a sequence of events that completely exuded all realism for a good 5-10 minutes, ultimately ruining the mood for me.

Grisaia No Kajitsu is a show I'd recommend for either lovers of the darker-side of anime or entry-level viewers looking for something more "Adult" than shows like Dragonball Z or Naruto (Or anything else wrongly mistaken for what anime is as a whole). Grisaia does a sufficient job carrying itself to the end of season one and definitely leaves room for the story to improve in the two more seasons slated to come out for it. And even though the pacing can be a little rough, I'm sure you can enjoy the show just as much as I did.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

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