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The Grisaia Series is Kind of Genius


mitchhamilton

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Until it's not. HA! GOT YOU, YOU STUPID SHIT! I pulled you into false sense of security and BAM! subverted your expectations! 

 

Before you go on, I want you to know that this will have spoilers to all 3 The Fruit of Grisaia games so quickly read all of them and come back if you haven't already.

 

But anyways, I decided to delve a little bit into the anime of Grisaia no Kajitsu and while the opening text displayed over each character as they are presented on screen I began to think about my own interpretation of the characters from the series and how it does a great job of somewhat subverting the anime/visual novel trope with it's characters. Feels like this is what Doki Doki Literature Club tried to do but instead of being smart it instead did "hey, reader, wouldn't be weird if one of the cute girls started bleeding from their eyes? Pretty creepy for a visual novel with cute anime girls set in a school environment." But Grisaia somewhat embraces these tropes and turns them on their head. Instead of taking place in a high school environment where only a few characters matter and therefor have actual names and faces it takes the approach of having it still set in a high school where literally only the important characters exist since there's no one else in the school!

 

I've honestly never noticed the subtle genius of this on Grisaia's part. How many visual novels have you read where the entire school is nothing but background noises? They do away with the pointlessness of background characters altogether and make them literally isolated because that's pretty much how it is in every VN. It's this type of subtlety I enjoy from an almost parody to visual novels.

 

Well, what about the character's themselves? Well, I'm glad you asked, me! You have the usual character tropes in Grisaia, sure. There's the tsundere, the unapproachable one, the obedient one, the slut, the loli, all of whom who you expect certain traits from but again, it subverts your expectations.

 

The tsundere takes on a facade to hide her own identity, so her own action of trying to be a tsundere is simply so she can hide the real part of her. Christopher Nolan must be turning in his grave thinkign he couldn't come up with a character this deep in cliches! The unapproachable girl is so unapproachable that she tries to kill Yuuji, LITERALLY! The obedient one acts like the childhood friend because... well, she is and even goes to far as to dress up as a maid. The slut instantly attaches herself to the MC and offers her body, not out of her own personal feelings but because she feels she needs to be punished. The loli's character is a result of her abuse as a child  causing her to be emotionally stunted.

 

All characters have an underlining dark reason for why they fall into these cliches which pulls the reader in to learn more and honestly, I'm sad I never caught any of this in my first or second read through of the series. It's so well done, so subtle that it makes me really appreciate the first VN more looking back on it and I'm glad I went back to the anime to remember all this. :sachi:

 

...And then the sequels came out. 

 

Yeah, remember that first bit of this blog? If not, might want to scroll up some. It's the bit about bringing you into a salse fense of security.

 

Yeah, you read that right and I did that on purpose. What are you gonna do now? :makina:

 

My comrades @DarkZedge and @Dergonu informed me that later entries in the series involved Yuuji ending up in a harem with every girl. I don't know how to look at this angle as more than fan service and undermining the emotional investment I had with the characters, especially when the first one was doing so well in NOT succumbing to your typical visual novel tropes, although there was the  Makina's sex scenes with Yuuji where this emotionally damaged girl is having sex with someone who she views as her papa shivers but then the sequels do fall into the biggest trope of all, the "everyone wants the MC's dick" trope. Every girl who he slightly breathes in the direction of wants to be a part of his life.

 

This cliche has infested the anime, manga, and visual novel world like a cancer and in visual novels its more acceptable since you project yourself into the character more often than not and therefor feel fulfilled as a person while your visual novel counter part is fully filling your waifus with his massive love!

 

But I digress. Grisaia felt smarter than that, I felt more respect for the character's before I learned they all fell into this overused trope. I feel like the series went on for one more visual novel long than it should have, like The Hobbit movies. We get a whole backstory of Yuuji's training, his life with his master which was nice but to top it all off we get a plot about a father figure of his coming back and causing a mess with all the girls coming together to save him in the end, or something.

 

You know, now that I'm thinking about it, I feel like I remember nothing about the 3rd one, aside from a fight with the dude, and seeing his sister again but when I do think back on it I just feel like it wouldn't have missed anything to be a bit more condensed, cause that's what remembering it is like. I can't remember anything aside from bits and pieces because those were the ones the set itself the most from this overly long series.

 

"No, don't you see, Mitch?! They subvert your expectations again by making each character unique and he STILL ends up with all of them? Isn't that clever?" That's fine and all but the girls were dealing with crippling emotional baggage that was dealt with one by one and felt we had actual climax to, and not the climax Yuuji got in Amane's massive vagina! 

 

I would've preferred if Yuuji died, cause I'm american and that's how we end every series these days. That or they think he died and he decided to start a new peaceful life while the girls must take their once again broken lives and rebuild the pieces but this time with more efficiency thanks to Yuuji. As opposed to the alternative route where they live on an island, ignore their problems and have everything solved by sweet, juicy Yuuji cum!

 

Though I will say I did like the implication that the routes at some point all converge, so he sleeps with all of them while solving their problems. But then the problem arises with Amane's where it goes deep into the future with them being happily married then eventually dying. And you know what? That's perfectly fine with me. :makina:

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Funny, I felt the opposite. Grisaia doesn't subvert a thing to me. It's quite literally the cliché all over. The twists are incredibly weak because turns out having a completely external and dark reason to have any given personality trait is in itself a cliché; also, doing away with everything in the cliché but the cliché itself (say, the school setting) doesn't subvert anything. It's really only smart if you're comparing it to an incredibly small and skewed sample space.

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9 minutes ago, Palas said:

Funny, I felt the opposite. Grisaia doesn't subvert a thing to me. It's quite literally the cliché all over. The twists are incredibly weak because turns out having a completely external and dark reason to have any given personality trait is in itself a cliché; also, doing away with everything in the cliché but the cliché itself (say, the school setting) doesn't subvert anything. It's really only smart if you're comparing it to an incredibly small and skewed sample space.

incredibly small and skewed sample space? like every visual novel ever? that i already said it was parodying by doing this? :makina:

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And this is why i consider Kajitsu a near-classic while Meikyuu is borderline good and everything else in the series is just decent. I will always praise how the long common route drilled the girls' comedy traits into your head just to reveal the disturbing reasons for those in each route, making you look at the common route in an entirely different way.

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I felt like the things you criticise about the sequels (which I haven't read) are already visible in the original. The girls all being in love with Yuuji and his cum/superpowers healing their mental wounds and so on. That there is no harem route in the original doesn't mean there is ever any doubt that he is the harem master.

Grisaia isn't as much a subversion of anime/eroge tropes but rather a darker and edgier iteration. I don't buy that it's supposed to be a parody of certain clichés, as their overexaggeration rarely ever says anything about them. Yumiko trying to kill Yuuji does nothing to expose inherent problems with the "unapproachable heroine" trope or how it's typically handled through way of comedy, it just takes said trope and turns it up to eleven.

If anything I'd say Grisaia imo actually takes the whole eroge formula to its cynical conclusion. There are the incapable heroines, only this time they are total emotional wrecks. The self-insert protagonist is the only one capable of solving their problems, only in Grisaia he is a super soldier because because the development team realised that a high proportion of the target audience reads these stories to play out a certain kind of power fantasy and Yuuji embodies this completely. 

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1 hour ago, alpacaman said:

The self-insert protagonist is the only one capable of solving their problems, only in Grisaia he is a super soldier because because the development team realised that a high proportion of the target audience reads these stories to play out a certain kind of power fantasy and Yuuji embodies this completely. 

and is this possibly the intention of the writers to begin with?

 

2 hours ago, Palas said:

"Visual novels" are an incredibly small and skewed sample space, so yes

:amane:

my point still stands thats its basing its tropes on ones heavily in visual novels. its whole bubble IS visual novels. you get it yet?

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1 hour ago, onorub said:

And this is why i consider Kajitsu a near-classic while Meikyuu is borderline good and everything else in the series is just decent. I will always praise how the long common route drilled the girls' comedy traits into your head just to reveal the disturbing reasons for those in each route, making you look at the common route in an entirely different way.

yeah, it almost, almost felt like there was never any plans for a sequel but we get a small amount if hints here and there of a possibly bigger story happening.

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34 minutes ago, mitchhamilton said:

:amane:

my point still stands thats its basing its tropes on ones heavily in visual novels. its whole bubble IS visual novels. you get it yet?

No, because that'd only account for something to someone who only ever consumed visual novels (and visual novels of one kind, I should add) as entertainment in their entire lives and literally nothing else. Which doesn't happen. So it just comes across as more of the same, except hypertrophied -- like @alpacaman said -- and obnoxious.

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Grisaia... ah Grisaia...

Sorry, couldn't resist.

People often try to present the series as something completely unique... and there are some elements to the series that stand out.  However, these elements were all drawn from earlier VNs in one way or another.

School for exiled rich kids and problem children: Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no anyone?

Protagonist is a deeply mentally scarred individual who lacks common sense:  Akatsuki no Goei anyone? (also Full Metal Panic, as Sagara and Yuuji have so many common threads it made me seriously laugh my ass off at the time)

Incestuously mutually dependent relationships between siblings:  So many VNs it isn't even funny.

Heroines with extreme emotional disabilities and traumas:  Again, numerous games, even before Grisaia came out

Twisted relationship with a heroine that began with a near-parental bond: Haruka ni Aogi, Uruwashi no (again)

The list goes on... but I'm going to come right and say this.

Just because it isn't perfectly unique doesn't mean it isn't good.  I will go farther in saying that anyone who is playing Grisaia in English is missing out, because what is said is often less important than what isn't said (the comedy aside), and English sucks at that kind of thing.

Now for second and third game... I seriously bashed the second game for being a repeat of Akagoei's second game, as both of them end after blasting you with the protagonist's past, though Grisaia took it a step further by making it a cliffhanger (which was horrible, since I had to wait a year or so to see the rest).   Getting to know Yuuji's past was great, since the limited bits and pieces that are dropped as hints or comments in Amane's  path aren't enough to give you a good idea of how Yuuji lived until now.

The third game is basically one solid storyline to the end, which is its primary draw and the one area where it completely trumps the original game, which was SOL heavy in comparison.  The fact that it was a harem ending didn't bother me... I love harem endings, regardless of genre.  My problem was with Michiru's standing in that ending, lol (Michiru being my least liked heroine of the original... no make that I just actively disliked her).  

I did think that it channeled a little too much of the 'unify the original game's paths' drama into a single comprehensive story thread' idea.  It reminded me of what a lot of early anime made from visual novels did, where all the heroines paths were sort of mashed together in the anime in an attempt to accelerate the story, often with mixed results.  

With VNs, due to most of them being multipath, sequels rarely work out in a way that isn't awkward, and Grisaia is not an exception to this rule.  I love Grisaia, but that doesn't mean it is lacking in flaws. 

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11 hours ago, mitchhamilton said:

and is this possibly the intention of the writers to begin with?

Of course it's their intention. That's why I called Grisaia cynical, not poorly constructed.

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First of all I would say that it's pointless to explain Grisaia good point if someone already determined to see that it'll be a bad VN, especially when the part of the VN in question is Kajitsu in that it's the best part of Grisaia to me. I'll confess in that in the past I was the one who fiercely defended Kajitsu from a negative review, although after I see an example on how toxic someone who keep defending a work from a critic/negative review can be (From the moderator of all people astonishingly) I decided to just agreeing that negative comment is should be accepted as well (Although granted some negative comments can be said as someone who didn't fully understand the work).

Enough about my personal baggage above, and as for Kajitsu once again it's really the best part of Grisaia because Frontwing here is basically do what they can to make this as basically their last VNs because back at 2011 they're in financial difficulty situation in that if Kajitsu fail it mean that they wouldn't be around anymore. Granted that they already prepared for the trilogy plan, but as I can see they decided to just make it as charage and end Amane's route as conclusive as possible so that they didn't need to make the sequel in case they goes bankrupt (And thanks to that I dare to call Kazuki's reunion in Rakuen as mere fanservice). Of course history says otherwise and thus they decided to make the sequels (I prefer to call it as fandiscs) as soon as possible in order to fulfill their plan. I can try to ramble more about this, but I afraid that I would lose focus on this so let me give a link to Reddit's discussion thread that explain about Frontwing about to be bankrupt situation.

For the 'unify the original game's paths drama into a single comprehensive story thread' problem that mod Clephas mentioned, to be fair it can be happen on anime that adapted VNs. It also happen on Kajitsu anime, in that it's the most ideal prequel for Meikyuu to me rather than Kajitsu VN itself. Normally VN can avoid that kind of situation because obviously it's the original source and that most of the VNs did have multiple branches. And of course I know that initially Frontwing want to make Grisaia as trilogy, so it's understandable they need to combined all routes into single continuity. So is it impossible to make Rakuen not ended in harem route and therefore it's excusable that Frontwing cut some development from other routes in Kajitsu? My answer is still not, because if you some research enough you'll find out that Galaxy Angel did have same format as Grisaia trilogy, and yet they can make Tact didn't have his own harem ending in the last part of the trilogy. So in light of Galaxy Angel, I would say that 'made one route canon would only piss off fans of the other girls that didn't get chosen' is a weak excuse because player can just chose the love interest that they want in Grisaia if Frontwing following Galaxy Angel format (The format is like the player can chose which is their chosen heroine in the sequels).

If Frontwing can use Galaxy Angel format for the sequels and yet they decided to not use it, the only reason is because of the main writer (Fujisaki Ryuuta) want to write harem ending in Grisaia, and while I didn't mind harem ending I think Grisaia here is not exactly fitting for the harem ending in the VN just because the first part is charage and we still didn't have the unseen route in Kajitsu. If anything at least I can see on how Frontwing realize that dilemma so they made the anime as one continuity in that Yuuji manage to help all five heroines in single continuity, so if you wonder on how Yuuji can save five girls in one continuity I would recommend you to just watch the anime and I think the reason on why the anime is messed up is because it's really the inherent issue from Frontwing decision to make Yuuji help every heroines in one continuity in order to fulfill Meikyu's canon (So-called) while at the same time the VN didn't make that route.

I think that's all for what I can write in regard of Grisaia.

tldr - Like I always says I treat Kajitsu as the main part, while for the second and third part (Meikyuu and Rakuen) I treat those two as Kajitsu's fandiscs.

Edited by littleshogun
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