グリザイアの果実 第1話 「普通の学園生活」
Grisaia no Kajitsu #01. 「A Normal School-Life」
Source Material: Visual novel series by Front Wing
Director(s): Tanaka Motoki (田中 基樹)
Script: Kurata Hideyuki (倉田 英之)
Character Design: Fumio
Music: Elements Garden
Grisaia no Kajitsu, or Le Fruit de la Grisaia, is a Japanese adult visual novel developed by Front Wing. The original visual novel was released in February 2011 for Windows operating systems and was later ported to the Playstation Portable in February 2013 and the Playstation Vita in August 2013. The series has also spawned two manga adaptations, Grisaia no Kajitsu: Sanctuary Fellows, published by Akita Shoten in its Champion Red Ichigo imprint, and Grisaia no Kajitsu: L’Oiseau blue, published by Mag Garden in its Monthly Comic Blade and Comic Garden imprint. In the 2011 Moe Game Awards, Grisaia no Kajitsu won the Grand Prize as well as the Gold Prizes for Scenario, User’s Choice, Theme Song, and True Love.
Coming from a mysterious background, Kazami Yuuji one day decides to transfer to Mihama Academy in order to live out a normal school life. However, upon his arrival to the city he is mistaken for a terrorist of some sorts and taken-in by police for interrogation. A call from the Ministry of Defense’s “Special Organization” is made to the police station where he is being held and the officers are forced to let him be on his merry way. The principal of Mihama Academy, Tachibana Chizuru, arrives to pick-up Kazama, drives him to school-grounds, and briefs him on his new life-style. Kazami solemnly asks the principal as to whether or not Mihama Academy is an adequately normal school, and she replies that although it is the only school that he could be enrolled in due to his personal circumstances, she will insist until the very end that it is in fact a normal school. While touring the student dormitory, Kazami meets Komine Sachi, a first-year student dressed in maid-garb who is, despite her age, the class representative. Kazami and Komine exchange self-introductions and bestow upon each other nicknames before Kazami departs to take a bath and retire for the rest of the day. The next morning, Kazami briefly bumps into third-year Suou Amane and first year Irisu Makina before heading off to school. Then on school-grounds, Kazami comes across Matsushima Michiru, and the two have an extensive conversation about tsundere-ism and bleached blonde hair until the rest of their classmates arrive along with the principal and teacher. The last of the school’s students, Sakaki Yumiko is absent during class and Kazami decides to stay after-school so that he may formally introduce himself to her. When he finds her in the classroom and tries to greet her, she callously ignores him and gets out of her seat to leave the room. When Kazami tries to grab her hand, she pulls out a switch-blade and tries to strike Kazami, only to be stopped by his unusually keen reflexes. When Kazami arrives home to the student dormitory, he notices that Sakaki is the only one not checked-in and also that someone has snuck into his room. When he opens the door, he finds a half-naked Suou getting undressed in front of his bed and casually walks towards the fridge to get something to drink. As Suou is openly changing her clothes, she asks if Kazami has an older sister, considering how used to girls he seems to be. When Kazami reveals that he has a deceased older sister and that her name is Kazuki, an alarmed Suou insists on cooking Kazami’s dinner for the night and leaves to do so in her own room. After she exits the room, Kazami wonders how there can be no sign of forced entry despite Suou entering in his room with the door locked. Outside, Suou leans against the wall in deep contemplation with a lock-picking metal handle in-hand, and an ominous atmosphere develops as the other girls too reside in their respective locations with ominous expressions and activities going about.
Silly male protagonist, the main character of a visual novel story can never have a “normal high school life”. Harems, portrayed as they are in this industry at least, are already probably the furthest fantasy away from reality, but in case you didn’t take a good look into the mirror this morning, you’re a teenager with the body of a special forces officer, superhuman reflexes, and what looks to be a carbon-fiber gun-case under your bed. The premiere of Grisaia no Kajitsu doesn’t escape the generic feeling of adult visual novel premises, but in a way, it does bring to the table the best of those elements you already expected it to have. The first episode’s content plays out like a chain of character introductions, with of course our pivotal, calm, cool, collected, and acute male protagonist, Kazami Yuuji, first in line and the respective harem contestants, each with their own archetypal attractions, subsequent, in no particular order. Disproportionately, some of these debuts last mere seconds and others full minutes, ironically with the only pair introduction being the most short-lasting. And when all is finally said and introduced, the key moment at the end of the episode that really gets the harem-action going is designated to the quintessential walking-in on a girl naked scene. Yes indeed, Grisaia‘s premiere is adult visual novel adaptation at its best because it’s at its most un-novel. But it’s a good thing that the episode did not end after the credits finished rolling because there’s a damn big difference between ending on the note of walking in on a buxom girl changing out of her clothes and ending on the note of realizing everyone in your supposed harem cannot be trusted because they’re all trying to kill you. Wait, what? All of a sudden it’s the stab-happy girl who was introduced with a knife on-hand who seems the least maniacal. It’s not to say such early expositional plot-twists aren’t something of a trademark in series nowadays, but I’m glad that its the categorization that Grisaia turned towards to in the end. As much of a stand-out job studio 8bit did in accumulating the air of romance through its visual production, there was a hint of a disastrous turn of events the moment Kazami was alluded to having a dark past (not to mention the opening sequence about birth, death, sin, survival, punishment, and all the somber thematic like). Yes, juxtaposition goes hard, and Grisaia no Kajitsu utilized the literary device pretty well this week in portraying its characters as well as its narrative. In the end, it’s cliffhanging reveals like this that ensure a watch the following week; whether the viewership remains depends on how well the plot can build upon its bold move.
*Between the time I watched this premiere episode and the time I finished this review, I came across some spoiler-ish content that has effectively become the driving force in me continuing to watch this series. If this part is not adapted into the anime, I will be very disappointed.
*Just because of Japanese animation’s standards for the female body, it’s kind of hard to tell from this shot whether Suou is being portrayed as simply and surely sexy as hell or just as toned and “special forces” as our male protagonist. Regardless, those abs though…
*I can’t be the only one drawing similarities between Grisaia‘s and the Monogatari series’s presentation. The letter-boxing, the primary love-interest with dark, long hair and a switch-blade attitude, the pig-tails, the red “z” blush, the absurdly-illustrated reactions, even the dialogue with Hachiku- er, I mean Matsushima, are pretty hearty.