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Review of Grisaia no Kajitsu -Le Fruit de la Grisaia-

SubjectGrisaia no Kajitsu -Le Fruit de la Grisaia-
ByVote: 4dchsflii on 2021-02-17
ReviewWhile Fruits of Grisaia is a highly regarded VN, I found large parts of it aggressively bad. It's ostensibly a romance/drama VN with a premise and heroines that seem interesting at first, but things are quickly brought down by probably the worst protagonist in any VN I've read and tedious pacing issues.

Yuuji, the protagonist of Grisaia, is by far the biggest problem with the experience, and he reads like a Mary Sue dreamed up by a 15 year old redpill in training. In addition to making him a super spy who can do anything and an edgy dick, Frontwing takes almost every opportunity to highlight how cool, brooding, and aloof he is, and it quickly becomes cringey. Most of the common route is spent reading the pretentious and self-absorbed prattling of Yuuji's inner monologue or else watching him act callously to everyone around him while very little happens.

Eventually you enter a route where a heroine for some reason becomes interested in Yuuji despite him having spent most of his time previously treating her quite coldly. Amane throws herself at him for a perceived past debt rather than actually liking him I guess, but there are so many other problems with everything that this of little redeeming value. Yuuji then spends most of his time acting controlling and doing his best to take away the agency of the heroine while refusing to open up and expose himself to emotional risk, leading to romances that feel both unrealistic and one-sided. Yuuji does occasionally do tangible things for the heroine, but rarely in a way that shows any respect for her agency or nuanced awareness for her needs, and most of this came across to me as yet more attempts to set up Yuuji to look cool and be the hero more than anything else. Even when the heroines seem to have potential, Yuuji's behavior and the game's relentless focus on building him up as an edgy badass prevent the heroines' personalities from ever shining through very much.

Add in Yuuji's lack of meaningful growth or any critical view of his behavior, and the whole thing comes across as some kind of power fantasy. Yuuji can have the girl he wants, on the terms he wants, be the hero, and then decide how things play out, without having to open his heart and take emotional risks himself. To me, it's a little too close to comfort to the idea that what a girl really wants is for a man to push her around, or else an adversarial view of relationships.

Another, lesser problem with Grisaia is the pacing. The writing unfolds slowly, even during parts that should be exciting. For example, an extended flashback started out with an intriguing premise, but before long I just wanted it to be over because of how many thousands of words had been spent on mundane details devoid of any substance or interest.

I will admit I couldn't bring myself to finish Makina's route, so I suppose I can't definitively rule out the possibility that it eventually becomes good. And many people like Grisaia, so you are free to form your own opinion. But I offer these thoughts as a counterpoint to the many positive reviews of Grisaia you can read on this page alongside mine.

Comments

#1 by antherus
2021-05-09 at 02:33
< report >Read the sequels and you'll understand why Yuuji isn't a Mary Sue at all.

Strong character doesn't necessarily equate to a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Only when they didn't earn it. Yuuji earned it. In spades. Guy went through just about the worst life imaginable. He's not a power fantasy. He's someone to be pitied. I sure as hell wouldn't want a life like that.

And I completely disagree with your assessment of his character. He's easily one of the BEST protagonists. His narrative is probably the funniest I've ever seen in any VN.

P.S. Your invective directed at "redpills" says a lot more about you as a person than it does about them.Last modified on 2021-05-09 at 02:40
#2 by dchsflii
2021-05-09 at 05:32
< report >If the writers can't make Yuuji not a garbage character within a self-contained >50 hour VN and need sequels to justify his awful behavior, then they did a terrible job. I feel like there are better uses of my time than spending another 50 hours on the backstory of a character I despise.

It's fine if you like him though. I'm not here to say no one else can enjoy Fruits, just that I didn't.Last modified on 2021-05-09 at 05:33
#3 by omikron
2021-05-09 at 11:03
< report >Yuuji seems like a 'bad' guy who treats (his) women with disrespect, but only because he doesn't know better at that point. Even without having read the sequels the writing got that much through to me. I had no idea what would be narrated in part 2 and 3.
His relationships with the heroines also have siginificant influences on him.
He sometimes is forcefull. But he is pro-active and he thinks out of the box which leads to success in the end.

But yeah; I understand how it might be hard to comply with him, his thoughts and his actions from just reading part 1.

Still, as stated above, I understood much of his behaviour and such only by what is written in part 1. It was obvious to me that he suffered a lot in his previous life, just by what is told in Fruit.

Agree with #1 he easily is one of the best.
#4 by hansfranz77
2021-08-07 at 01:30
< report >
an extended flashback started out with an intriguing premise, but before long I just wanted it to be over because of how many thousands of words had been spent on mundane details devoid of any substance or interest.

I will put an FYI out at the start, so i hope you can answer that with no spoilers. I only finished the common route and played to shortly after the flashback in sachi's route. Did you refer to that with this quote? Because if you did i have to agree with you there. For now i just want to know if sachi's route is an outlier or if this kind of writing is also a thing in the other routes.

I heavily disagree with you tirade against yuuji already, btw. You seemed to have missed a lot details the game gave you regarding him. Both stories he tells makina for example. I would compare him to keniichi form sharin no kuni, just that he doesn't seem to be a genius and somewhat colder, due to his experience in the past.Last modified on 2021-08-07 at 02:06
#5 by jackyalltrades
2021-08-07 at 01:59
< report >I'm almost certain he is talking about Amane's Route, as she has the longest flashback in the game. I want to say Sachi's is the second longest, but it could be tied with Michiru's, as they are of similar length. Makina definitely has the shortest, by a wide margin. With Yumiko's falling somewhere in-between.
#6 by hansfranz77
2021-08-07 at 02:16
< report >#5 Thanks for that info. Sounds like these are all written in a similar way. But what about the content itself? Pacing in sachi's route and flashback aside i got the feeling - as i saw her parents getting killed right before her eyes in front of a kids playground by a truck, i was suddenly watching some melodramatic saop opera, or some other overly melodramatic thing. I also didn't quite buy the twist with her waiting at that playground for yuuji beforehand, but what followed was even worse, so.. I guess what it boils down to is really, is this far fetched stuff the rule or the exception in the character routes? I thought about putting the game off for a month or so and going in with yumiko's route first again, tbh.Last modified on 2021-08-07 at 02:19
#7 by jackyalltrades
2021-08-07 at 02:37
< report >"is this far fetched stuff the rule or the exception" It's definitely the rule, lol.

One thing to keep in mind however, is that the routes were written by different writers, so it's hard to say how much you will enjoy one against the other. If I remember correctly, Amane and Makina's routes were written by the same writer that did the Common route, while Michiru, Sachi and Yumiko were each written by different writers.
#8 by dchsflii
2021-08-10 at 06:20
< report >#5 - Yes that's what I was referring to. It's an interesting idea and is gripping at first, but for me it dragged out too long.

#4 - It's not that I'm clueless about Yuuji, I just don't like him. For one, having a rough past might make treating others poorly an understandable character trait, but it doesn't make it a likable one. Maybe Yuuji could work as a protagonist in some other genre, but not romance, at least not for me. I want a couple I like enough to actually want to see happy in the end for one. Also, I want to see agency shared by both parties to the relationship. Yuuji fails both of these criteria harder than any other romance VN protagonist I've encountered.

I read Sharin no Kuni a long time ago and thought it was pretty good at the time. But I'm curious to read the remake (if it ever actually releases) because Yuuji and Keniichi do sound very similar. Maybe it's a type of character I could like when I was younger but not anymore. I wouldn't be surprised if I find Keniichi equally insufferable and hate him just as much.

Is Yuuji a Mary Sue? Some people argue that because his past sucked and you might not literally want to "be" him for that reason, he's not. Plenty of others think he is, and I'd say I'm more in that camp. Being an ex-military badass who can pretty much do anything and can have the girl he wants on his terms even if he treats her like crap? Definitely some wish-fulfillment going on there. He has a savior complex going on too. For example, in Sachi's route Yuuji quite literally gets to hold the key to Sachi's redemption and dispense it to her as he sees fit. I'd even say the tragic stuff is often part of the Mary Sue experience. The genesis of the term referred to characters in Star Trek fanfics who often died heroic deaths in the fics. Probably not something the reader literally wants to do. But that's part of the appeal--the Mary Sue can have the tragic past or heroic death or whatever and the reader can imagine themselves in the fantasy without having to pay the costs involved in really experiencing those things.

Someone else did suggest reading Yuuji as a satirical inversion of the typical wishy-washy harem protagonist. That's an interesting idea, but in my opinion to accept it is to view the whole VN in a very different light. Either everything is so over that top that it's supposed to be absurd, or else the VN has massive tonal and thematic inconsistencies. Though (likely to due to the different writers) that already exists to an extent. The epilogue of Amane's route feels extremely out of place compared to everything else.

Even if you don't mind Yuuji's controlling behavior, eye-roll-inducing levels of badassery, and general dickishness, his internal monologue is super cringey. Like his musings on "what's wrong with being a cog in the machine?" Who thinks that kind of stuff with a straight face and believes they're actually being profound?

I can understand why others might like Yuuji. He's hypercompetent. He's proactive and makes stuff happen where many VN protagonists don't. He's always in control. He has the "mysterious tragic past" that people seem to go for. Some people might even like the fact that he's an edgy dick and won't take nonsense from anyone. I think a lot of it comes down to what kind of relationships you want to read about in romance stories. For my tastes, Yuuji is about the worst possible protagonist one could dream up.Last modified on 2021-08-10 at 07:04
#9 by maligned-loon
2021-11-11 at 15:06
< report >#8 Interesting that you mention the savior complex. It's almost as if you haven't played Grisaia no Meikyuu. Judging by your #2 comment, you probably didn't. You made a lot of remarks about his personality, but you do know that a person's personality is kinda like a reflection of the environment that he grew up in, right? He grew up in a VERY different environment. Why would you expect him to act like a normal person when he clearly isn't? His common sense is a bit different from a normal person's, in case you haven't noticed.

Your hatred of him is a bit confusing to me. I can understand people not liking him, but calling him a garbage character and the worst possible protagonist? It feels like you misinterpreted something. It sounds to me like you pre-judged him based on your initial impressions of him, and then proceeded to judge his succeeding actions in a negative light because of your initial judgment of him. Idk, just a feeling.

Grisaia no Kajitsu is focused more on the heroines' stories, rather than Yuuji's. And yet, you talked about Yuuji a lot even though you haven't played Meikyuu, the game that actually focuses on Yuuji. If you want growth, you should look at Meikyuu and Rakuen. Btw, Grisaia no Meikyuu isn't a game with 50 hours full of Yuuji's past. It's a sequel, not a prequel. The Grisaia trilogy isn't like the DaCapo series, where the games only share the setting and some characters. No, Grisaia no Meikyuu is a direct sequel of the events of Kajitsu, and Grisaia no Rakuen follows after that. The Grisaia trilogy is one story, split into three parts. Judging the series just by playing one-third of it is a bit... premature, for a lack of a better word. I say this because of your words in your #2 comment. You want Yuuji's character growth to be done by the end of the routes and got disappointed when it didn't happen, when in fact the story isn't even done yet. I'd tell you to play the sequels, but you probably won't. A pity.
#10 by dchsflii
2021-11-11 at 22:17
< report >#9 Well the nice thing about Yuuji being a fictional character is that if I don't decide to give him a pass because of his tragic past, I'm not hurting anyone. And I said he's the worst possible protagonist for what I want in a romance story. Not that he's universally the worst protagonist in all of fiction.

It's true, I can't rule out the possibility that maybe my opinion would be different if I read the whole trilogy. But I also think it's perfectly reasonable to stop after spending 50 hours on the first game and finding it quite bad.