The Eden of Grisaia

The Eden of Grisaia

Mihama Academy is a prison-like school built to preserve fruit that has fallen too far from its tree. It is home to five female students who each have their reasons for enrolling in the academy and live their life idly within the walls of Mihama. One day, Kazami Yuuji the institute’s first male student arrives and throws the orderly rhythm of Mihama off balance. Is Yuuji what the girls need to hold of their lives once more, or will the weight of their pasts prove too steep a wall to overcome? Or is his past even heavier than any of the others?

The Eden of Grisaia leads on from where The Fruit of Grisaia left off, turning its focus from the students at Mihama to Yuuji – and things just go from good to great. For a season that started off slowly when it first launched last year (and which I suspected to be some sort of dodgy harem series), it has managed to evolve into something unique and interesting with touches of military scenes, action, intrigue and key-style harem that kept me entertained from beginning to end. The prequel OVA Labyrinth of Grisaia really helped set up this season, introducing the big tonal shift from the more shallow harem elements to the deeper, darker side of the characters.

IMG_2398.PNGFinally melding everything together, The Eden of Grisaia presents us with the conclusion to Yuuji’s backstory and leads up to a climactic high-octane battle against a ghost from his past, recruiting the Mihama team to help him get his vengeance. It combines the best bits out of lots of different anime genres to create something I haven’t seen in a long time.

It’s not the deepest or the most highly intelligent anime, but it has a carefree yet serious attitude. Perhaps it’s because the two main elements balance each other out – the heavy artillery and the sentimentality. While there are often very serious moments, there’s also natural humour and comedy that isn’t forced just for the sake of it. These moments are handled maturely and much of it comes from Yuuji’s own character. One of the funniest moments is when his old army buddy Milliana runs at him, wanting to hug her long lost lover, only for him to punch her in the face out of the blue. While it doesn’t seem funny, given the context of the situation and the directing of the scene, it manages to add a slapstick levity to a serious situation.

The first four episodes are dedicated to Yuuji’s backstory. It’s good, but it’s only there to give us a finale. In that regard, Eden feels rushed where Fruit was leisurely. It doesn’t have the same level of character or plot development. For example, there’s a supercomputer that can hack almost anything that is a big focus of the plot, though is given only enough explanation and screentime to make it matter. We also meet what appears to be a clone Yuuji, but he’s only there for a final battle that feels like it should have more impact and momentum than it does. Where does this clone come from? And the main bad guy we know quite a bit about from his initial encounter with Yuuji, but he’s not enough of a foreboding presence in this final act for me to care about his ambitions too much. Other characters, such as Yuuji’s comrades from the Naval Academy, are similarly a little less developed than I’d like.

The constraint on the series’ length also affects the directing. Eden is a ten episode anime that really wants to be at least the same amount of episodes as the first series, because sometimes things seem a little bit abrupt. There are rarely transitions between scenes. Things just jump from one thing to another, and that sometimes catches you off guard. There’s one scene that ends with the characters needing an hour or two to prepare, then the next has them all prepared but sitting in the same positions. No indication of a time jump whatsoever.

Other than cramming a lot into a small package, Eden fares well in every other department. The characters are all still interesting and entertaining in their own rights. The animation is pretty good though takes shortcuts during early action scenes, most likely due to budget constraints. The soundtrack is rather above average as well. We still have that great letterbox format, that little cinematic tweak that changes the viewers perspective and makes it look like it were meant to be a film.

The Eden of Grisaia is a sad farewell to a very unique experience. It’s not an overwhelmingly fantastic show, containing issues from beginning to end, but Grisaia has managed to do something I can appreciate: give the harem genre something new. The comedy, the style, the action, the political intrigue and military elements are all done differently than before. If you’re looking for something that spins conventions on their heads, then you owe it to yourself to watch this series.