Grisaia no Kajitsu is a game that betrayed expectations. This is a game that initially comes across as being a rather mediocre setting with characters which are easily defined by commonly used tropes. Under the surface, the game uses this as a catalyst for character development in an interesting way and goes beyond your expectations. Today on the VN Completionist I will be reviewing Grisaia no Kajitsu, where we will look in-depth to find out if this is a winning formula or if it falls flat on its face.
Grisaia no Kajitsu or The Fruit of Grisaia is a Japanese visual novel developed by Front Wing for Japan in 2011. It was published by Sekai Project for Steam in May 2015. The scenario was written by Fujisaki Ryuuta, Kazuya, Kio Nachi and Kuwashima Koshikazu. The art was by Fumio, Nanaka Mai and Watanabe Akio. The music for Grisaia was composed by Elements Garden.
The story follows Kazami Yuuji as he enters Mihama Academy in hopes of attaining an “ordinary” school life. He inevitably comes across the five heroines of the game; Yumiko, Amane, Makina, Sachi, and Michiru. They to have various circumstances for being at the school involving their dark past. As you then progress through the game, Yuuji comes to understand these girls and helps them overcome their past and live a normal life.
They can mostly be summarised initially by common anime tropes. E.g. Yumiko is a kuudere shut in, Amane acts like an older sister, Makina as a younger sister, Michiru is a pseudo tsundere (pseudere) and Sachi acts as an obedient Maid.
Although these tropes do remain throughout the visual novel, the game uses their past trauma to reveal a hidden depth to their characters. It gives context to why the characters adopt these personas and by developing them further, allows them to overcome their past.
This works well for most of the game but doesn’t work particularly well in Makina and Amane’s routes. Their characters are fleshed out but they never really change or develop in their routes, this leads to them one-sidedly depending on Yuuji and have their problem solved by him with very little conflict.
This isn’t the case in other routes, where the girls become more developed and allows them to overcome they’re past and trauma through their own means without that dependency on Yuuji to save them.
Yuuji is as a main character is actually quite underdeveloped. The game does give us a feel of what he’s like through his cynicism and monologues during the skits in the common route. Outside of this, his character is very rarely explored in main routes the game.
The only time there is much focus on him is during Makina’s route, where we get some insight into his past and what kind of person he was before the events of the game. This did detract from Makina’s route itself, making her seem more underdeveloped in comparison to the other heroines.
Yuuji’s character is presented as being pragmatic. In the context of the game, it ends up coming across as him always being able to solve all the girls problems conveniently regardless of how absurd or beyond disbelief the solution may be. In most cases it ruins the game’s atmosphere, any tense moment feels weak when Yuuji can solve the problem in a trivial manner.
Grisaia’s use of flashbacks stood out in most, if not all the routes. They were used well in developing the girl’s characters and was where I would feel most invested in them. They were one of the most engaging parts of the game, its use within Amane, Yumiko and Sachi’s routes created a captivating and thrilling experience.
A problem that also stood out was the pace of the game which I felt was either too slow or inconsistent in most of the routes. It felt like there was a lot of downtime and some people will probably be put off by slow pacing. Yumiko and Amane’s routes were better paced in comparison to the other routes so were an exception to this. This is made more apparent when you factor in the play time for the game which is over 50 hours.
The long play time on its own isn’t necessarily an issue but a vast majority of the game is taken up by the common route which I felt was too long. The common was mostly made up of Sex jokes and various other skit’s which eventually became quite repetitive.
To the games credit there’s some good foreshadowing of what was to come which always got me excited to find out where the story would take me. The comedy in the common route was also hilarious but repetitive. The best jokes came from Yuuji’s inner monologues and his cynicism towards the odd situations he’s placed in. Sadly they were too few and far between and my enjoyment of these scenes didn’t really justify the length of the common route.
If you play all the routes in the order of which you get the option to divert from the common route – Makina → Amane → Sachi → Michiru → Yumiko – you can break up the repetitive nature of the common route. If you don’t mind the common route, you can play the heroines routes in any order you desire without losing out on content.
Another problem was how the relationships between the girls and Yuuji was portrayed. I felt they were poorly executed and forced. This is due to how they are barely developed upon and used as a means to have Yuuji help them overcome their problem, especially in Amane, Michiru and Makina’s routes. Their relationships are presented as being dependant on him, making it seem one-sided rather than them supporting each other to overcome the conflict. This wasn’t the case in Yumiko and Sachi’s routes where their relationship felt more earnest.
My final problem with the game was that pretty much all the routes, with the exception of Sachi’s route, tended to have a really good climax but the resolution was rather lack luster. This is due to either the ending being rather anti-climatic or beyond suspension of disbelief. This was because of how Yuuji always seems to have the perfect way to resolve the girls problems conveniently, regardless of how ridiculous or over the top the solution may be. This made it feel like there is very little conflict or struggle to overcome the girls problems.
The game has some amazing art by Fumio and Akio Watanabe. They managed to create some high quality sprite art and CG’s with vibrant colours and always seems to compliment the scenes and the atmosphere the game was trying to portray. Sadly there wasn’t a wide variety of background art on display but the ones they did use complimented the sprite art quite well.
On the other hand, the Chibi art used in some of the more comical scenes didn’t strike the same chord. They didn’t look as visually appealing compared to the other art and look quite out-of-place. I guess my only praise for them was that they made some of the scenes more dynamic but apart from that they were a bit of an eyesore.
Finally the music which was composed by Elements Garden was incredibly good. The soundtrack was large and varied which suited a game of this length. The more Emotional track definitely stood out as complimenting the scenes perfectly, enhancing the feeling being presented within the story. Even the tracks used within the common route stood out by creating a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere which worked well in the common route. One problem I did have was that some of the tracks did feel overused and they did lose some of their impact.
My final verdict is that despite some of this games short comings, it does have some good routes which presented interesting themes and created an entertaining experience. The play time was rather long and I feel that this may be a barrier to entry due to its slow pace and really long common route.
The game does succeed in exploring and developing a group of characters from their initial tropes to some interesting and rather unique personalities. This is only to a certain extent as not all the girls are well-developed and remain similar to their initial tropes, whilst others become more unique and compelling characters.
I would recommend this game if you want a visual novel which presents a rare and interesting premise with some interesting characters. I do feel there are visual novels with more compelling character driven narratives which are presented in a similar way.
If you enjoy this game, my recommended Visual Novel is Sharin no Kuni – Himawari no Shoujo. This game tackles a very similar premise to Grisaia but this game is much better paced and the themes presented by the female heroines were more compelling and thought-provoking than Grisaia. This game does suffer from Akabeisoft2’s poor plot twists but not to the same extent as their other titles.
This concludes my review of Grisaia no Kajitsu and the first ever Review on this site, thanks for Reading and I will see you on the next VN Completionist.