Greetings, ladies and gentleman! Wakai finally returns after a long anime hiatus with an anime I’ve personally wanted to watch for a while, Grisaia no Kajitsu. Now, I’m already a big fan of the visual novel (I mean, my avatar is Yuuji from the avatar pack of the game, after all). With Grisaia no Meikyuu and Grisaia no Rakuen getting anime adaptations and the “sex-free” version of Grisaia no Kajitsu visual novel releasing on Steam, I finally got around to finishing this series. First, this is a review solely on the first of the trilogy, Grisaia no Kajitsu. I personally have not read the other two and do not plan on watching the anime adaptations until I do so. Second, this review is probably already pretty biased as I love the visual novel. If you want my opinion for that, here it is: go read it. It’s on Steam, for Meowmel’s sake. The true question I hope to answer with this review is this: should you watch the anime and should you do it before or after reading the visual novel?
The protagonist of Grisaia no Kajitsu is Kazami Yuuji who transfers into Mihama Academy to start a life as a “normal student.” However, Mihama Academy is home to only six students, including himself, each burdened with his or her own past. In other words, somebody decided to take these six messed up high school students shunned by society, stick them a huge school with no one else, and let “the sick tend to the sick.” Whoever thought that was a good idea is dumber than Michiru.
The first couple episodes go through what is the “common route” of the visual novel. In the visual novel, this serves as the introduction of all the characters. An issue with the anime is that this common route is too short. In the visual novel, slice-of-life scenes of light-hearted merriment and the occasional Yuuji-kicking-ass create a varied cast, slowly creating intricate and interesting characters the audience grows to care for. On the other hand, the anime repeatedly falls into the trap of “telling,” not “showing.”
Strangely enough, all of the lewd scenes were kept in the anime. If you’re looking for fan-service, the first few episodes are for you. There are pantie shots after pantie shots to the point of “Holy shit knock it off with the dumb pantie shots. I didn’t ask for sex scenes, please.” Honestly, the anime is very lewd. Watch it alone.
The remaining ten episodes after the first three common route arc are reserved for the five different endings of the visual novel. In the visual novel, each ending is completely separate from the others, as each involve romantic relationships between Yuuji and the heroine of that route, going as far as marriage and living happily ever after in some routes. However, the anime creates one central story line that addresses every route, one after another.
If I had to pinpoint the biggest problem in the anime, it’s the Yuuji is too goddamn sexy. He’s a tough, stoic main character who seems to be completely in charge of every situation. Naturally, this means he tackles every other character’s tragic backstory, as if going down a checklist. In fact, that’s literally what this anime feels like: a checklist of the major plot points of each route. Luckily, the anime gets every point right, though it does cheat on some routes (I’m looking at you, Yumiko).
However, the problem is that a centralized story cannot have Yuuji be in a romantic relationship. Without the romance of each individual route, Yuuji loses the motivation for helping each of the characters out. In fact, the saddest thing about the anime is that Yuuji is less of a character than he is in the visual novel. Yuuji, in the visual novel, is smart, resourceful, and collected. However, he is devoid of emotions such as happiness and love. It is through his interactions with the other characters than he develops as a person. Depending on which route and which heroine is chosen, Yuuji’s changes differ ever-so-slightly.
Anime Yuuji, however, is the same as he is on episode 13 as he was on episode 1. Tragic, really.
A thirteen episode adaptation of a 50 hour visual novel can’t really hope to compare to the original. However, the individual characters and their drama alone make Grisaia no Kajitsu worth it to watch. If you want a mix of cute anime girls doing cute anime girl things with “holy shit that got really dark really fast so much drama omg what,” that’s Grisaia no Kajitsu.
If you have not read the visual novel, I recommend watching the anime first. While some details are glossed over, the anime tells the main story well enough. Then, take your time and read the visual novel. Again, it’s on Steam. If you have read the visual novel, take the anime as a nostalgic walk down memory lane of the story you once enjoyed. The first couple episodes were somewhat frustrating, but after a while, once I viewed the anime as an interpretation, rather than an adaptation, it was far more enjoyable.
Now excuse me while I wait impatiently for the other two visual novels to be translated.