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

SubjectGrisaia no Kajitsu -Le Fruit de la Grisaia-
ByVote: 8.1applemons on 2021-02-23
ReviewGrisaia is one of those VNs that is difficult to quantify in a single review score. It's nothing short of extreme - I've seen it summarized as a "harem on cocaine", which feels very accurate. Most plot elements are ballooned out of proportion onto a scale you rarely see with other VNs, especially not harems. And while, for the most part, many more people seem to like rather than hate it, Grisaia is a very polarising VN. I don't think I've seen a single person say that it's just "okay" - it's either an extreme love, an extreme hate, or an extreme love/hate relationship.

My recommendation here differs based on how critical you are as a reader. If you're emotionally focused when it comes to reading, then Grisaia will probably be a fun ride that'll make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. If you really like tropes and how various works play around with them, Grisaia will have you covered on that front, with love put into many offhand remarks that subvert or play straight a wide variety of anime conventions. If you fall into neither of those categories, you'll probably hate this VN.

One of the major divisive points in Grisaia is its protagonist, Yuuji. He's very much a hard inversion of the wishy-washy self-insert protagonist common to many harems. He's not some ordinary high-school student or class-skipping delinquent - he is a military nerd with an impeccable physique. He's an embodiment of pure testosterone - and since he's the POV character, that means you're experiencing the story through an aloof and unique lens. Some love him and some hate him.

Yuuji himself is also highly representative of how Grisaia does things in general. It's a work that pokes fun at a lot of the stereotypical archetypes and conventions of the harem genre - largely by means of questioning their realism. Ever been reading through a harem and wondering why a half-dozen women are all falling in love with a fairly ordinary guy? Grisaia has a female cast so starved of interactions with men their age that as soon as the improbably masculine Yuuji arrives, many of them openly masturbate to him and are constantly vying for his attention. While a lot of the common archetypes and conventions of harems are kept, any liberty possible is taken in order to make them believable, which ironically makes them unbelievable in terms of how contrived they are. Grisaia takes great refuge in its contrivances, which makes it feel incredibly genius at times and incredibly stupid at other times.

I might be making Grisaia sound like a comedy, and while there is a lot of comedy present in the common route with slice-of-life sections, this VN does get plenty serious. It just doesn't do half-measures - every heroine will have an incredibly complex backstory that'll likely take an hour to read through on its own, there's almost always some sort of over-the-top action scene present in each route, and you'll sometimes have to sit back and let the events of the story really sink in.

It also goes without saying that Grisaia is not some perfect work only held back by the fact that it's not for everyone - there's a lot of legitimate faults you'll have to overlook. Sometimes the story treats you like an idiot, going over the point it's trying to make several times in a row. There's some plot holes every now and then. And, perhaps most damningly for a romance-focused VN, the chemistry between Yuuji and some heroines in their routes is barely even present. That's just the general flaws - there's no shortage of more route-specific faults to nitpick.

So, if you're okay with a divisive protagonist, outlandish events, and some serious low points at certain times, Grisaia is a one-of-a-kind VN that just might be for you. Otherwise, it's a very risky read.

Comments

#1 by dchsflii
2021-02-23 at 06:00
< report >I'm one of the people who strongly dislikes Grisaia (I wrote my own review), but I think your review is insightful and does a good job explaining why some people might like (or hate) it, even if we came to different conclusions with regard to the score.

A couple thoughts I had:

-I think I'm an emotionally focused reader, and I still hated it. While the events do have a rollercoaster quality to them, I always had a hard time buying into the emotional stakes. Like you said, Yuuji is aloof, the girls seem to like him just because he's there/an alpha male, and he has little to no chemistry with the heroines. It's hard to get drawn into the emotion if you have no emotional connection to the characters and they have no emotional connection to each other.

-Yuuji is not a blank slate, but I experienced him as a self-insertion protagonist of the wish-fulfillment variety, rather than a subversion/commentary on Tenchi Muyo-type harem leads. He always gets to to be the hero and get the girl he wants on his terms. I think it again goes along with what you said about the girls being attracted to "the improbably masculine Yuuji." That's a stereotypical masculine wish fulfillment fantasy. You're just so manly that all the girls want you without you needing to make any emotional connection with them. In reality the way Yuuji treats people would be a huge turnoff for many women, even if they do think he's hot.Last modified on 2021-02-23 at 06:15
#2 by zakashi
2021-02-23 at 12:55
< report >Yuuji is awesome.