There comes a series, every once in a while, that sort of transcends expectations. I’ve had this show sitting in my “Plan to Watch” list for quite a while, and only when an opportunity to dual-watch it with my friend came up did I finally bring it out for some air. To say that it was among the best decisions of my life, of my life, is not quite an exaggeration.
Grisaia no Kajitsu is a romance/harem series that spins the genre(s) on its head through the use of its obscene drama. If you can think of a dark or twisted plot device, or a grim character background, chances are Grisaia uses it in its show. But its not just the obscenity of it all, but rather the way it expertly ropes in the viewer with its harmless beginning. It grabs the viewer and whispers to them, “Hey, buddy. This show’s gonna be cozy, bruh.” But then everything goes FUCKING CRAZY!
Man, oh man. This show really knows how to speak to your heart. The characters and their situations are all relatable and almost equally as harrowing (though some get more episodes than others, unfortunately). This show is not for the faint of heart; as I said before, think of any grim or dark plotline, to any degree, and Grisaia has probably used it.
Of course, in a drama-driven show, none of the emotional feedback wouldn’t work without a likable cast. There are six central characters to this show: Yuuji, the only male; Makina, Sachi, Amane, Yumiko, and Michiru. The focus of most episodes are on a specific character arc for each of the female characters, with Yuuji acting as the mediator as he helps them deal with their past or present issues. This way, each character is given a good amount of character development and depth, along with showing the reliability and good side to all of Yuuji’s prior training.
Oh, I forgot to mention, but Yuuji is a secret agent of some sorts. It’s not really explained (on purpose), but he has skills not typical of a teenager boy living a normal school life. Think of him as if Liam Neeson was a teenage Japanese kid pulled right off the set of Taken. He has a collection of resources, both animate and inanimate, at his disposal for whatever he may need. Despite not getting a lot of development, I can understand why they left him in the dark for most of the season. His position is full of secrecy, and this is reflected with his cold, calm, calculating demeanor. An overall good main character, if I ever saw one.
The rest of the cast are given development through specific character arcs placed throughout the show. The number of episodes for each character range from one to roughly four. Some of these arcs coincide with the other’s, but are mostly pinpointed on one character. Though, that’s not to say the rest of the cast disappears during these arcs, which makes them a lot more believable and relatable. All characters serve a purpose in each episode, even if it’s only to ask “Where is [this character’s name]?” No one feels out of place and no one feels pushed to the side. Especially Yuuji, he plays a prevalent role throughout the whole show.
However, the best part about the characters by far are their backstories. If you want to know twisted, obsessive, and disgustingly devastating plot devices, Grisaia is the show for you. The situations placed within the show are incredible, while never feeling over-the-top or outside the boundaries of common logic. It shows just enough to feel sorry for the character and more than enough to make them a tragic anti-hero straight out of D.C. Comics. Some of the most insightful and gripping forms of character development I have ever seen, even outside of anime.
But let’s not forget the most important part of what makes this anime so emotionally crippling: animation. The art style is new and fresh, with a notable “red eyelash” style that looks appealing and gives a sense of dread behind the eyes of the characters. Somewhat symbolical of their situations and the hidden evils that lie within them, perhaps. The animation isn’t always fantastic, but there are bits of animation within that can even put Gurren Lagann to shame. The symbolism is also on point, by the way. Just look at the picture above. Translate the title of this anime. Think of what I’ve told you about this anime thus far. There you go.
A fantastic viewing experience. I think my friend can agree with me. One of the more entertaining watches I’ve had in a long time. I would absolutely recommend this anime to everyone, but especially to those picky enough to analyze the show down to its bone. You could get a lot out of the characters, their situations, the story behind them, and the symbolism and what it could represent. This could be something to show to a college class, hell, even Harvard could do something with this. There’s so much packed into just a thirteen episode series that not watching this would almost be unthinkable. And to think… there’s an OVA and a whole second season to consume, too. I’m definitely looking forward to that. (I hope it doesn’t change much.)
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.