The Grisaia series may explore its five main heroines in considerable depth over its duration and various routes, but ultimately, the central character to the overall narrative is protagonist Kazami Yuuji.
Yuuji is one of the most distinctive, memorable and unusual visual novel protagonists in the entire medium. Through The Fruit of Grisaia’s exploration of him over the course of the five heroines’ routes, we learn a few details about him and his mysterious past. If you had come to the series completely blind, this would have the effect of gradually shifting your expectations: what might initially appear to be a relatively conventional high school-themed ren’ai (romance) visual novel slowly reveals itself to be much, much more complicated than you might expect.
And then you come to The Labyrinth of Grisaia, whose “Grand Route”, also known as The Cocoon of Caprice, finally gives us some concrete answers about who Yuuji is, why he is the way he is and the circumstances that brought him to Mihama Academy in the first place.
Continue reading Grisaia: Yuuji – The Boy Who Was Broken
When we first meet Komine Sachi in The Fruit of Grisaia, she’s introduced almost as a caricature: she plays the role of “the perfect maid” to everyone else at Mihama Academy, right down to wearing a maid outfit when she’s not in school uniform.
But it doesn’t take a great deal of perceptiveness to notice her behaviour isn’t what you’d particularly call “normal”.
Specifically, it’s apparent pretty much from the outset that Sachi’s unusually compliant nature and tendency to take things literally is something out of the ordinary. Protagonist Yuuji isn’t quite sure what the exact problem is to begin with, but it gradually becomes clear to him as he starts to spend more time with her.
“She resembles me,” he says at one point. “Organising her life around diligently following orders, she never allows herself to doubt them, let alone defy those who make use of her. And almost as an extension of that, her ‘private’ activities are little more than the bare minimum routines of daily existence. Looking at Sachi, I’ve been seeing myself… and the discomfort I felt was a reflection of my uncertainty about my own way of life.”
Continue reading Grisaia: Sachi and the Maid’s Burden
Frontwing’s Grisaia series, which kicked off in 2011 with the Japanese release of first installment The Fruit of Grisaia, has come to be regarded as a particular high point for the visual novel medium.
Indeed, back in 2015, the /r/visualnovels subreddit voted The Fruit of Grisaia as number one on its list of top 10 visual novels (later republished on GameFAQs), and the community still holds the game in high regard today, as evidenced by its prominent position on the subreddit’s comprehensive diagram of recommendations.
Grisaia’s high ranking on /r/visualnovels’ list was particularly exciting to enthusiasts of the medium, as growing localisation company Sekai Project had already run a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the whole series West in the twilight hours of 2014 and the start of 2015, potentially opening it up to a whole new audience that was perhaps less familiar with acquiring Japanese visual novels and patching them with fan translations.
But what makes this series so remarkable? Let’s take a high-level look at it.
Continue reading Grisaia: Introduction