~Contains mild spoilers for The Fruit of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia series~
What’s the show? The Fruit Of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia.
And what’s it about? What’s it about… what’s it about… man, never before has that question really stumped me like it has with this show.
And why is that exactly? Because the Grisaia series on the whole is more or less the distillation of everything I love about anime! The 13 episode Fruit of Grisaia series and its 10-episode sequel season The Eden of Grisaia are among the pinnacle of anime experiences—at least in this reviewer’s humble opinion!
That’s certainly a bold claim! Is it though? I’m not saying this is the best anime ever made (though if you pushed me hard enough I would make a case for it) I’m simply saying that the disparate parts of this show culminate in an overall experience both alike and unlike anything and everything I’ve ever experienced in anime—thus making this a rich and singular treat!
Geez, popping out with the thesaurus early I see, just how much of an erection did these anime girls give you? I, uh… err! Well, I never, ah… how dare you speak to me with such crude impunity!
Listen… I know you pretty damn well by now and the only thing that gets you so worked up as to be pulling out the pretentious review style is that this show got you all hot and bothered—and I mean that in the most respectful way possible of course… Tch! Listen here; I’m not going to take that kind of slander from the likes of you! Bakemonogatari is one of my favourite anime series and that show is a deep, complex masterpiece and the same goes for The Fruit of Grisaia and I won’t hear another dissenting words said against it!
Says here in my research notes that this is based on an Erotic Visual Novel… that’s interesting, wouldn’t you say?! Don’t source material shame!
Pardon? You heard me, don’t presume something is somehow lesser a property just because it’s original source material is erotica—truly and I say this expecting a thousand eye-rolls in my direction but the male protagonist—Kazami Yuji is perhaps the sole time I’ve found myself not just actively rooting for a harem protagonist but wholly invested in his journey. Not only is his journey from child soldier of a terrorist agency to top hit-man of the Japanese government a compelling tale but his seemingly effortless ability to charm every woman around him with nary a look and a word is akin to James Bond levels of womanising. The difference being is that not only is Kazumi willing to burden and even break himself for a deserving woman (and there’s more than a handful that cross his path) but he does so in such an effortless fashion that you wonder at times if he’s even human!
So an ‘overpowered protagonist’ whose super power is that women can’t resist him? Pretty much, and while for some that might strain credulity or even grow tiresome the fact that he can not only adjust to the individual personalities of his many female pursuers but also retain the same sense of cool and composure throughout means he is a narrative force to be reckoned with!
Sounds, eh, sounds like you got a bit of a ‘man crush’ on ol’ Kazumi? What’s that James Bond tagline again? “Women want him and men want to be him”? I think that about sums it up…
Well not really I don’t even have the slightest idea what this series is about and we’re already half way through the damn review! My bad! So, Kazami Yuji—despite being you know a super government assassin with an absurd intellect wants to experience a ‘typical high school life’—having lived his childhood and early teenage years in violent service of others. So he’s enrolled in Mihama Academy, a prison like school that has only five other students, five gorgeous girls each with a story of their own for having ended up at this most private of academies…
And therein lies the twist! I know you’re trying to poke fun, but these girls… my god, their individual backstories are among the most brutal and traumatic I’ve seen in anime… you know without going overboard (I haven’t watched that many super-serious anime so feel free to disagree with this point). And you know what’s even more impressive? That we’re not only privy to the darkest thoughts of these girls but it somehow makes them more alluring—at least for me…
Why do I have a feeling this ties into that ‘monster girl’ fetish of yours… you’re going to explain that me in depth one day… Anyway where were we? It’s hard to know which girl is my favourite because each of them embodies something emblematic and truly noteworthy. The easy pick is Suou—I mean she’s practically inserting herself into Yuji’s life from the first day they meet. If we’re going broadly and outside of the established ‘harem’ it’s absolutely Asako, Yuji’s sexually promiscuous master who takes his virginity at age 13—yeah yeah I know I know, but you really have to see the scene for itself it’s honestly kind of touching as much as it is eye-opening.
Anyone else? Well… it wouldn’t be a ‘forbidden fruit’ without bringing up the I-word. Kazuki Kazumi is Yuji’s older sister and well… let’s just say she has a thing for little boys, actually that’s not fair, she’s got a thing for one little boy, her younger brother Yuji. She’s given something of a 4 episode long ‘eulogy’ at the end of Season 1 when we get a flashback to her and Suou’s intense ‘survival story’ when their middle school basketball trip was cut-short by their bus plunging off a cliff’s edge—the ensuing story involves death, disease, insanity, murder and cannibalism and while occasionally overwrought is nonetheless packed with the kind of gritty realism I never expected from a show/series like this! Seriously, whoever wrote this is a madman and a genius!
I, err, well I can’t say I expected that. Oh I’m not even scratching the surface of this series. Season 2, ‘The Eden of Grisaia’ somehow ups the ante in all the right ways. Dealing with such lofty subject matter as domestic and international terrorism, cloning, human integrated AI systems and nuclear weaponry while still maintaining an enviable amount of levity, character development and charm to all those involved. How it managed this deft juggling act is anyone’s guess but it’s all on display for everyone to see!
But this is a harem anime—at its core, right? What about ~those~ elements of the show, do they negatively affect the what sounds like ‘dense’ plotting? Somehow it just works here, it’s entirely complimentary. Admittedly the first season suffers from a bit of tonal whiplash as things go from wildly light-hearted comedic fare to such dark subject matter such as the death of a pet and suicide attempts within the same episode. But it’s never so over-bearing in one way or another as if to feel cheap or exploitative.
So anything else you wanted to add about the series? If it’s not abundantly obvious by now I love this series—I love everything about this show, every single character feels like a well-rounded person with depth and hopes and dreams and fears. The show, while adhering to a lot of anime stereotypes not only subverts them occasionally to feel fresh and interesting but contains so many disparate ones from different genres that the series revels in unpredictability from a place of familiarity. However it does take a while to get there—the three episode rule isn’t going to give you a true snapshot of this show and requires a commitment of 5 episodes at least and even then it’s not even close to a complete picture as the second season changes gears from a harem genre/school setting to a action and espionage heavy/globe trotting adventure series. But even with that seemingly drastic shift in narrative focus it never feels like the show is floundering or overextending itself, it’s a series that’s always firmly in control of its own direction and what it wants to be and that’s something to be in awe of.
Final score and recommendation for The Fruit of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia? If you have an open mind and want a unique anime experience than I whole-heartedly recommend this series, it’s subversive and borderline insane—but that’s just how I like it! The Fruit of Grisaia scores: 93 out of 100, while The Eden of Grisaia scores: 96 out of 100.
Wait! What’s this I see about a movie too? ‘The Labyrinth of Grisaia’? It’s not really a movie, more like a double-length episode that aired between the first and second season—it concerns Kazami and Kazuki’s childhood and I don’t have time to talk about it! This review is already long as it is and I’ll need more than two, now one question to talk about it in any meaningful way!
Right. Sorry, kind of ruined the flow of your review with that question after the score… That’s fine, I was two questions short of 20 anyway. Also gives me the chance to ask the readers (those who’ve stuck it through to the end) if they haven any recommendations for other anime based on Eroge Visual Novels, I kinda wanna watch them all! Leave a comment below with your suggestions!
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