The Fruit of Grisaia

The Fruit of Grisaia

IMG_1179.PNGMihama Academy is a school that also acts like a prison. It’s been built to preserve ‘fruit’ that has fallen too far from the tree. Right now it is home to five female students who all have their own reasons for enrolling in the academy – a dark secret that they would like to forget about whilst living their days within the protective walls of Mihama. Enter Yuuji Kazami – the first male student. His arrival throws of the peaceful rhythm of the academy and threatens to unsettle the other residents. Could Yuuji be what the girls need in order to seize control of their lives again? Or will being made to face their pasts become too much of a burder to overcome? And what of Yuuji? What secrets is he withholding?

Based on the visual novel of the same name, the initial plot of this anime is a simple one: cool and aloof male student Yuuji makes his entrance to Mihama Academy and catches the eye of every student immediately (granted, there are only five of them, so this isn’t going to be a harem of epic proportions). He’s come to the academy because he just wants to have a ‘normal’ school life, but Mihama is not exactly the best environment for this due to the obvious eccentricities of the current students. But with hints of Yuuji’s military training and physical abilities, it doesn’t seem like he’s a particularly ‘normal’ student either.

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We are quickly introduced to the other characters and see brief snippets of their quirks, such as a girl very dedicated to always acting the tsundere to the point of bleaching and styling her hair to maintain her character, one who’s particularly good at breaking and entering and a quiet one with an unhealthy attachment to box cutters (it’s always the quiet ones). Before the plot begins to unfold, this anime makes a real point of demonstrating the odd aspects of the girls’ personalities and setting the scene for their future interactions with Yuuji.

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Since this is an anime series based off a visual novel that has no real ‘main’ plot, I am prepared for things to be a little vague (like Girl Friend Beta, which has similar origins, but succeeded in this not being particularly detrimental to things overall). However, this does conflict with my original expectations for this series. The overview really intrigued me and had the potential to be something great… but I haven’t seen anything yet. The main plot of The Fruit of Grisaia, whatever it may be, in only vaguely alluded to in favour of more interactions with the female students. I appreciate that this is the best way to get to know characters in a harem situation, but some of the scenes didn’t seem to contribute anything at all. I’m not sure if these somewhat extraneous scenes are quite poignant within the visual novel, but to someone who hasn’t had any association with the franchise up until now, it is a little confusing.

That being said, the interactions are slowly becoming more focused between one female character and Yuuji, but it has taken its sweet time to get there. After struggling to get invested in any of the characters due to Yuuji’s disinterest and lack of inclination to get involved with any of his fellow classmates, we are finally starting to see some solid development. Things are beginning to get interesting as we see deeper insights to the girls’ pasts and their dark secrets. There are some rather harrowing scenes included, which were strong enough to make me physically recoil, but this shock factor was just enough to keep me engaged and wondering what else would be happening in the future.

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The art style in this anime if often played around with, sometimes making the characters simpler in their designs and expressions and well as brightening the colours and making use of extra backgrounds. These kind of techniques often mean that certain things stand out and make an interesting aesthetic clash with some of the darker undertones of this series. There is a juxtaposition at work here that gels well with both the series scenes and the lighter, comedic scenes in which the characters become rudimentary drawings of themselves.

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What The Fruit of Grisaia has that I haven’t seen an anime use before is a letterbox format. It’s an interesting little cinematic tweak that ever so slightly changes the viewers perspective, which I think makes it a little bit more mysterious. This coupled with the clean and sharp animation almost makes it look like it were meant to be a film.

Granted, this anime is not off to the quickest of starts and has all the criteria of a slow burner, but a certain amount of fait has been restored to me after seeing some more in-depth interactions and some revelations behind the mystery of Michiru and Yumiki. Hopefully this title will continue to pick up the pace that is has been gathering and run with it.