The Fruit of Grisaia doesn’t really have a “true” route or “true” ending as such, since the important plot threads are scattered across all the different girls’ stories.
But if there’s one path that stands out as being of particular importance to the overall backstory of the series, it’s that of Suou Amane. Not only does her route give us some insight into protagonist Yuuji’s mysterious past, which doesn’t get explored in detail until The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s Grand Route, it also introduces us to an important secondary character that, throughout all the other stories, is only hinted at.
Consequently, Amane’s route in The Fruit of Grisaia is a good one to save until last, since it provides a good means of wrapping up that game’s story and a pleasing sense of “closure” to the experience. It also provides some important context for The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s main plotline and an exploration of, for my money, one of the series’ most interesting characters.
Oh, and it’s also worth noting, perhaps more than any of the other characters, exploring Amane’s character particularly benefits from playing the 18+ version of the series, for reasons that will become apparent.
I liked Amane the moment I “met” her. There were numerous reasons for this: she was the character I found most physically attractive, for one — I have a thing for long hair, big tits and womanly curves, although seeing that written down it doesn’t sound like a particularly unusual thing to “have a thing” for — but also there was something about her personality that I immediately latched onto and liked very much.
I wasn’t sure what it was immediately. I thought it might be her “big sister” act that she immediately starts laying on pretty thick with Yuuji as soon as they start to get to know one another. Or perhaps her aggressive sexuality and rather “handsy” nature. Or maybe it was the fact she just seemed like an overwhelmingly nice person, and among a cast of misfits she was by far the most “normal”-seeming out of the bunch.
I knew from my experiences with the other routes, however, that one’s first impressions of these characters never ended up being entirely accurate. Amane is a nice person, of course, but her reasons for being the way she is don’t come to light until later in her route after she and Yuuji have established their relationship. Prior to this, however, Yuuji has her pegged pretty quickly after he dramatically calls her bluff after she comes into his room demanding a kiss; “she puts up a consistently strong front,” he says, “but when push comes to shove it seems Amane’s a pretty timid woman.”
Amane’s timidness initially appears to manifest itself as neediness. She wants to be the perfect girlfriend to Yuuji, but she’s also anxious about the secret life he leads. She doesn’t want to pry into the details of it — and indeed keeps her promise that she won’t bug him for details right up until the end of her story — but that doesn’t stop her feeling uneasy.
“I’m kind of… anxious, you know…?” she explains to him. “In your case, it really does feel like you might vanish into thin air all of a sudden.”
This concern is nothing new for the Grisaia heroines, with most of the other members of the cast having suffered some form of “loss” at one point or another, but something feels a little different about Amane’s situation. Yuuji notices this after a short while dating her, though he writes it off with his own lack of self-esteem.
“Honestly, she’s too convenient,” he says. “The whole thing gives me an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach at times. But then again, that’s just the sort of person I am — the sweeter the deal, the more uneasy I become.”
This continually weighs on his mind, though, and his thoughts turn to Amane’s oddly servile nature when he has free, peaceful moments.
“There are some people out there who find joy in serving others, making them happy, and being necessary to them,” he ponders. “I consider them masochists. There’s no guarantee that such devotion will ever be rewarded. In fact, I think it’s safe to say the opposite is more often true. Maintaining such fruitless devotion for its own sake doesn’t make any sense. There’s got to be some other motive underneath it all… or so I instinctively suspect.”
Indeed, Amane certainly does seem to have her own motivations for being continually kind to Yuuji, though it initially appears to be a simple lack of self-confidence in her own ability to keep him from straying.
“I may not get all the details,” she comments to Yumiko after discussing a teen girl magazine article about the importance of blowjobs to maintaining spice in a relationship, “but the main lesson is clear enough, you know? Men get bored of pretty girls in three days flat, so you better suck ’em off before then! Am I right?” Yumiko, naturally, claims not to have any strong thoughts on the matter, but as we learn in the other routes, she does have something of an interest in all things sexual — or at least in pornography — though at this point chooses not to share her more secret thoughts.
Amane’s worries grow; she starts to believe that the other pretty girls around her will eventually prove too much of a temptation for Yuuji, and becomes somewhat desperate.
“So what sets me apart from the other girls…?” she asks herself. “Something I have, but the others don’t… my ginormous tits, I guess?”
And so it comes to pass that Yuuji emerges from the school principal’s office only to find Amane kneeling in the corridor offering tit-fucks for 100 yen — a somewhat bastardised form of a joke Makina had made to Amane earlier in the day. Yuuji, displaying admirable self-control, is having none of this.
“I, Kazami Yuuji, am not the composed, cool and confident man you apparently think I am,” he says to her. “To be perfectly honest, I was just moments ago worrying myself fairly seriously over my future with you, and what path I should pursue in life. In other words, I was earnestly pondering the possibility of forming a family with you. I’ve pulled you into my life for my own selfish satisfaction, so I feel obligated to give you something more than sadness and regret. I’m not sure what to do yet, but I’ve been thinking it over. When the time comes, I want you to look back and think ‘I was right to choose this man.’ I want you to be happy we were together. I’m reconsidering my very way of life in the hope I can make that happen… and then I get ‘titty-fuck, 100 yen!’ in the hallway. Can you perhaps imagine what I experienced upon reading this?”
Yuuji does eventually relent and acquiesce to Amane’s increasingly demanding sexual appetite, but he still finds himself reflecting on the situation, pondering exactly why Amane is the way she is.
“’Slut,’” he ponders, considering the description Amane habitually applies to herself. “Women are a bit too complex to fit neatly inside the frame of that simplistic concept. Sometimes they want to forget something painful. Sometimes they’re simply lonely. And maybe sometimes, it’s no one easily defined emotion; maybe it’s all of the above and more, an overwhelming jumble of hopelessly tangled emotions. Under such circumstances, women throw themselves at men. Any man will do; sometimes, even someone they despise from the bottom of their heart. Sex is a moment of forgetfulness for them, a band-aid on a wound. Men refer to such women as ‘sluts’. Amane confidently refers to herself as such on a regular basis. But however urgent her sexual demands, she’s far from indiscriminate. Her target has always been restricted to me and me alone. Almost as if she’s decided I’m the only band-aid that can cover up her particular wound.”
Yuuji has hit the nail on the head, as he so frequently does, though it’s an unfortunate coincidence that kicks off a chain of events that results in him discovering exactly what traumatic event in Amane’s past led her to Mihama Academy: he overhears some girls referring to Amane as “cockroach”, and later, he decides to ask her about it, as painful as it might be for her to remember the past — though he notes that since she hasn’t asked about his secrets, she doesn’t have to share them if she doesn’t want to, either.
Amane, however, having grown to trust Yuuji implicitly for reasons that become very apparent in her story, explains the situation without hesitation: six years ago, she was on a bus that crashed into a ravine along with a number of her friends and acquaintances from the school basketball club. One of her fellow survivors was a young girl named Kazami Kazuki: Yuuji’s sister, whose apparent death following the accident Amane describes was the catalyst for the breakup of his family, which eventually resulted in his father being killed and his mother committing suicide. (The exact truth of how all this happened is not revealed until The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s Grand Route; needless to say, it is a lot more complicated than Yuuji initially explains.)
Amane shows Yuuji her diary, an exhaustive account she kept of the survivors’ struggle to keep things together and escape from the situation in which they found themselves. Amane was ultimately the only survivor of the incident, with the others having turned into what she and Kazuki referred to as “ghouls”; driven mad by a combination of malnutrition, illness from eating infected meat — which turned out to be the flesh of one of their fallen comrades — and sheer despair at the terrible situation from which they were unable to escape. “When the world grows warped around you,” Amane wrote, “those who can’t bend simply break.”
Kazuki apparently sacrificed herself to allow Amane to escape, though we never get completely conclusive proof of her death, and indeed by the end of Amane’s route there are still significant questions as to whether or not she’s still alive. Since Amane is the only one who made it back to society, though, she was the one regarded as the “cockroach”, after the theory that if you put a bunch of cockroaches in a sealed jar together with no food, they’ll eventually turn on each other and the strongest one will survive.
“I’m the cockroach that got out of that jar alive,” Amane muses after Yuuji finished reading her story. “The most durable, most disgusting cockroach of all.”
Finally, we start to get to the root of Amane’s problem; crippling guilt at being the “only” survivor, Kazuki’s uncertain status aside. After suffering hounding from the media, the public and her former friends, she became unable to function normally in society.
“Until I had suffered more than those who had died,” she explains, “no-one would approve of my continued existence. If I could live my life entirely for someone else’s sake, maybe someday I’d be forgiven. But for that role, I needed someone who would punish me for the sin of surviving. So that when moments of happiness found me, when I laughed, I could simply offer a silent apology to the dead. I needed someone who would give me an excuse for when the voices whispered in my ear. I needed an answer to their resentful curses. ‘See? I’m getting exactly what I deserve.’”
Amane admits to Yuuji that initially, despite telling him that she’d fallen in love with him at first sight, she didn’t really love him — at least not initially. She threw herself at him in the hope that he would become the person she craved to “punish” her.
“When I first met you, I decided… since I’d stolen your sister from you… I could at least become a stand-in for Kazuki… That was all I could think of,” she says. “Since I’m not your real sister, I thought I’d compensate by doing things she couldn’t do for you. I wanted… a more dramatic ‘punishment,’ so I started pushing you into those sex marathons, doing all sorts of extreme things… but at some point, before I knew it… being with you, making love to you started to make me really happy. That’s… no good at all. It’s hardly a punishment if I love you. All of a sudden, the nightmares, the hallucinations, the voices started coming back… they’re all cursing me. ‘You’re taking all the happiness for yourself yet again!’”
Ultimately, Amane asks Yuuji if he will kill her, since she came to the conclusion that killing herself would have been the coward’s way out, but having someone else kill her would be an effective punishment for her “crime” of surviving. Yuuji, of course, refuses, having fallen in love with her himself by this point, but does accept the role of the one to punish her.
“There’s only one way I can save this woman,” he muses to himself. “And it’s not by trying to break the curse of her past. I’ll simply accept everything. Knowing her past, knowing her trauma, I’ll accept it all. I’ll provide her with the ‘punishment’ she needs. There’s no other way. Someday, Amane will surely come to understand. The only person she needs to ask for forgiveness is herself. Until then, I’ll be a burden for her to bear. I’ll ease her guilt. I’ll be her punishment. I’ll offer her forgiveness. Even if no-one else in the world does.”
And indeed, it seems there are people in the world who are unwilling to forgive Amane: specifically, one Sakashita, the father of one of the girls who died in the accident. Sakashita has gone completely mad with grief and anger in the intervening six years, and, following the schoolgirls’ chance encounter with Amane some time ago — the same incident that prompted Yuuji to investigate her past — spotted an opportunity to exact what he saw as “retribution” for Amane’s “murder” of his daughter. Cornering them in the valley where the bus crashed as Amane and Yuuji return to the scene to investigate any clues Kazuki might have left behind, Sakashita, an experienced hunter, offers them the opportunity to escape, but there is clear bloodlust on his mind, and indeed he injures Yuuji before the pair have the opportunity to get away.
In Amane’s bad ending, she and Yuuji decide to split up in an attempt to divert his attention; Yuuji, mirroring his sister’s behaviour six years earlier, decides to act as a decoy to draw Sakashita’s attention, hopefully allowing Amane to escape. Unfortunately, Amane chooses this moment to stand up for herself and, after discovering Kazuki’s “treasure” — actually a kitchen knife and a note apparently all but predicting the exact circumstances in which she and Yuuji now find themselves — resolves not to run away any more, and instead to protect Yuuji with her life, as Kazuki once did for her. Things… do not end well for anyone involved, let’s just say.
In Amane’s good ending, meanwhile, Yuuji opts to escape with Amane and cooperate in a plan to foil Sakashita. They are ultimately successful, and this leaves them free to live out the rest of their lives in peace. And the ending literally depicts that: we see Amane and Yuuji graduate, marry and grow old together, Yuuji eventually succumbing to cancer in his twilight years and Amane following a while after. Before Amane dies, though, surrounded by her family and feeling at peace with the world, she realises that it has taken her whole life, but she is finally truly and utterly happy; she has forgiven herself, and believes that she’s finally ready to move on and be reunited with her beloved. It’s a truly beautiful moment, and a fitting end for her story.
This puts The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s After story for Amane in an interesting position. Since The Fruit of Grisaia’s ending for Amane is pretty conclusive and final, the only option for Amane’s After story is to explore what happens in the intervening years between the couple’s “victory” over Sakashita and their eventual, peaceful deaths in their twilight years. So that’s exactly what it does, specifically focusing on the pair attempting to prepare for the future.
“‘Why don’t we get married after we graduate from Mihama?'” ponders Yuuji, considering what he should do next. “While I was a bit vague on the details, there’s no doubt that I spoke those words to Amane. And since then, I’ve been thinking pretty seriously about the future. First and foremost, I’ve got to have money and a decent job. I’m sure Amane’s parents would prefer to marry her off to someone they can trust to provide for her. And if I’m actually going to call myself her husband, I want to make sure she can put whatever she needs in her shopping cart without worrying too much about the price tags.”
This vision of the future is somewhat different from Sachi and Makina’s routes in particular, since both of those characters show a specific desire to stand alongside Yuuji as an “equal” in the field, being able to work as a team with him on his dangerous jobs. Amane, meanwhile, has demonstrated no interest in pursuing this particular path in life throughout the entirety of both The Fruit of Grisaia and her After story, instead content to continue acting in the “housewife” or “mother” role she has habitually held for the other residents of the Mihama dormitory.
This is not because Amane is a particularly weak-willed character by any means, despite Yuuji’s earlier accurate pegging of her as a somewhat “timid” woman. Rather, it’s something she proves herself to be good at, and that she enjoys. Indeed, Yuuji becomes keenly aware of her particular talents on a number of occasions throughout her After story, with his most obvious realisation coming that she always seems to put some meat on his dinner plate exactly when he’s craving it: a phenomenon that he can’t immediately explain, but which Amane can without too much difficulty.
“It’s not like I can magically predict what you want to eat, okay?” she says. “I’m just planning out your menu well in advance so that you’ll crave certain things on certain days. After eating something sweet, you’ll start to want something sour. I’ve set up a rotation based on a bunch of patterns like that.”
Amane’s continued desire to be the best possible partner from Yuuji is partly due to her talents and preferences, but also because she continues to feel threatened by everyone around her, and guilty that she’s taking the happiness for herself. Indeed, this matter isn’t helped when during one of the group’s hilarious “meetings”, in which they all clad themselves in white hoods and use painfully obvious “nicknames” for one another under the pretense of anonymity allowing them to speak more freely, when a joke gets rather out of hand.
“To be frank, there’s a part of me that’s been… somewhat bitter about the way you wormed your way into a lonely young man’s heart using your womanly wiles,” admits Sachi with uncharacteristic and exaggerated anger building in her words. “In fact, my resentment on that point hasn’t quite faded yet.” Given Sachi’s rather dry sense of humour, it’s hard to tell how serious she is — and throughout the other routes, it becomes apparent that all of the other girls at Mihama still harbour feelings towards Yuuji, even once it’s obvious that he’s paired off for life.
Makina then runs with this point, delivering a thoroughly plausible and extremely graphic explanation of exactly how she would molest Yuuji in cooperation with her classmates — clearly intended as a filthy joke, but one which ultimately leaves Amane in tears, now thoroughly convinced that none of her peers approve of her relationship, forcing her further down the path of believing that she doesn’t “deserve” the happiness she’s currently enjoying.
“There’s only one Kazami Yuuji in this world,” she thinks to herself once she’s alone and calmed down somewhat. “And so, there’s a part of me that thinks I should just share him with everyone. Still, if it actually turned out that way, he wouldn’t be all mine any more. And there’s a selfish part of me that wants to cry just thinking about that. Of course, Kazami Yuuji isn’t a can of food. He’s not going to disappear if we all share him. But he’s also a human being with his own free will, not an inanimate object. In other words, since the man himself has decided he wants ‘Suou Amane’, maybe it’s okay for me to just nod cutely and monopolise his affection, while watching my love-starved classmates from the corner of my eye. But is that really what I should do?”
Amane is continually caught up in a cycle of whether or not she deserves to be the one that ends up happy, after her continued sense of guilt over the death of Yuuji’s sister. Kazuki remains in Amane’s thoughts, and indeed she frequently finds herself asking her apparently deceased friend for “advice” — though her relationship with Yuuji in turn encourages her not to put too much stock in the advice of the dead.
Her sense of guilt continues to escalate, and it’s clear that she needs something more to satisfy her. Initially, she proposes that Yuuji sleep with one of the other Mihama residents while she hides in a closet and masturbates, but Yuuji, of course, is having none of this. Amane, however, still needs something more, because the initial reason she started sleeping with Yuuji is no longer proving to be sufficient “punishment” for her sins.
“I thought letting Kazuki’s brother force himself on me might change something,” she explains. “Young guys like him usually want to stick their dicks in anything they can. I’d offer him a convenient outlet for his lust. Simple enough, right? There was something almost poetic about a pathetic sinner trying to redeem herself by offering her body to a man. I thought some physical suffering might be a nice change of pace. But after we actually did the deed, I found myself a bit surprised. ‘Huh, that wasn’t half bad, was it?’ It was kind of anti-climactic in a way, but also a bit of a relief.”
Amane’s subsequent suggestion is to try some “soft S&M” with Yuuji, on the advice of her favourite sexually explicit teenage girls’ magazine Tiger Girl. Amane anticipates that being bound, gagged and blindfolded while Yuuji got to indulge all of his by now well-established sadistic tendencies would satisfy her own masochistic desires for punishment — but as you might expect from her behaviour up until this point, she ends up enjoying the experience rather more than she claims to have anticipated. That said, by this point we can clearly infer that Amane already knew that she would enjoy this type of play, which is why she suggested it in the first place; her feelings that it would be a suitable punishment from her were more justifications to that little voice inside her head that continues to tell her to feel guilty about her relationship with Yuuji.
“I’m sure you’re well aware by now,” says Amane, directly addressing the reader in the midst of this particular erotic scene, “but I’m the kind of girl who gets wet when she’s treated roughly. In other words, a hopelessly hardcore masochist.”
She goes on to explain an incident from her childhood when she ran away from home following a “stupid argument” with her parents, and spent the night in a nearby park. When her father found her the next day, he slapped her hard in the face. But instead of crying, she pissed herself.
“I was scared of my dad’s raw emotions,” she goes on to explain. “I was scared of his aggressive masculinity. But at the same time, I realised how much he loved me, and how much he needed me. And I felt a weird little shiver run down my spine. To be honest, I think I came a little. Being slapped by my father sort of set off my sexual awakening. In retrospect, I was a pretty fucked-up kid.”
From this, we can interpret that Amane’s masochistic tendencies actually manifested themselves for the first time long before her sense of guilt over Kazuki’s apparent death. That guilt, however, served as a convenient hook on which she could hang her fetishes and continue to explore them in more and more extreme ways with the justification that she was simply “punishing herself”. Her guilt is genuine, for sure, that much is clear — but her motivations for getting Yuuji to continually punish her become rather more murky once we know these details about her. In particular, she eventually comes to admit to herself that her behaviour is as much out of a desire to be Yuuji’s “number one” as it is to atone for her perceived “sins”.
Meanwhile, Amane’s classmates are aware of her tendencies, if not necessarily the exact reasons for them, so when she and Yuuji go on a date to the local zoo, they attempt to discreetly follow them and make sure nothing is amiss — and if something does turn out to be amiss, perhaps jump in and seize the opportunity. Perhaps.
“This is Ama-nee we’re talkin’ about,” says Makina. “Too much happiness ac’shully stresses her out after a while. She might snap an’ start screwin’ his brains out in front of the lion cages. Ya never know. That slutty brain of hers might decide that the shame an’ hyoo-milly-ashun would make th’ fuckin’ feel even better… The other day, I saw Ama-nee burst into tears just lookin’ at a snail on the leaf of a flower. It’s impossible ta tell what’s gonna set her off, ya know?”
The trip to the zoo is pretty conclusive proof that the couple are meant to be, however, a feeling best exemplified by Yuuji falling asleep in Amane’s lap after they enjoy a lunch in the open air.
“Yuuji’s about as wary as a wild animal, so he doesn’t tend to doze off in public places,” muses Amane as she looks down at the man she loves. “But right now, he’s sleeping quietly on my lap with a completely peaceful expression on his face. I guess he’s really come to trust me. It makes me a little happy to know that.
“At some point, it occurred to me that I’d lose my connection to Yuuji once I graduated from Mihama,” she continues. “And for some reason, the thought of never making him another meal actually made me tear up a little. I told myself I just wanted to be ‘convenient’ for him, and I thought that was all I needed. But all of a sudden, I couldn’t even bear the idea of being parted from him.”
This admission by Amane shows that she is starting to move forwards: that she is thinking about her possible future rather than dwelling on the past. Her guilt is still present, of course — something that traumatic doesn’t just disappear overnight — but she is finally starting to admit that she is in a situation where she can be happy, and that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon.
And so, she, Yuuji and her mother hatch a plan for Yuuji to formally request Amane’s hand in marriage from her father — who has been conveniently “absent” or “unavailable” on every previous occasion they have attempted to broach the subject. Yuuji’s proposal quickly degenerates into a physical altercation with Amane’s extremely protective, possessive father, but ultimately he manages to convince the man that he is “worthy”.
“First rule of being a man: ‘some things matter more than your life.'” says Yuuji. “Various circumstances might rouse us to action. We protect our families from harm. We stand up for our friends when they’re insulted. We take responsibility for our mistakes. The man I’m fighting right now is no exception. He’s got things that matter very deeply to him. There’s only one reason he’s struggling like this, even at the cost of his own dignity: he cares for his family more than his own life, and he’s utterly desperate to protect them from the interloper who’s come to steal his only daughter. But no matter how profoundly this man cares about Amane, I’m not about to back down either. I wouldn’t have asked for his daughter if I wasn’t determined to spend my life with her. And if I can’t convey those feelings to him through words, I’ll just have to use my fists instead.”
Having eventually convinced Amane’s father that he’s worthy of his daughter’s hand, there’s just one thing for Yuuji left to do: convince Amane that she shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying the feeling of happiness for being with him, and specifically why she shouldn’t feel bad for being with someone she believes she caused intense pain and tragedy for.
“Hrm, all right, let’s see,” says Yuuji, responding to Amane having the courage to confront him directly on the topic. “Why am I all right being with the woman who abandoned my sister? This might seem kind of simplistic but, it’s just the way I am. Up until now, I’ve seen a lot of things ‘normal’ people haven’t. I saw people I called friends die many times, and no matter how sad or angry that made me, they never came back to life. The same applies to Kazuki, of course. Blaming you sure as hell isn’t going to bring her back. I guess that might sound kind of cold, but like I said, I’m not an ordinary person.”
But then neither is Amane. The pair of them understand one another so completely by this point, that it’s perfectly natural for these two misfits to come together and support one another for the rest of their lives. And while The Fruit of Grisaia’s Amane ending shows that it takes her right up until the moment just before her flame of life goes out to reach complete, total, true happiness and acceptance, she does eventually reach that final feeling of peace and tranquility that she’s deserved for a lot longer than she believes.
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