What They Say
Yuji Kazami thought that all he wanted was to attend school like a normal teenager, but Mihama Academy is nothing like the places of education he’s dreamed of. And it’s not just that Mihama seems eerily like a prison. There are also only five other students, and all five of these girls seem to have special reasons for having been placed in this institution. Sachi Komine, who always wears a maid outfit and seems to be compelled to carry out any order given her. The unsettling Makina Irisu, whose parents are tied to Japan’s shady underworld. Michiru Matsushima, a combative girl afflicted with dual personalities. Car and motorcycle obsessed Amane Suou. And Yumiko Sakaki, whose “welcome greeting” to Yuji involves the deadly use of a box cutter. Of course, Yuji himself has his own dark secrets, as one of his new fellow students may be the next deadly target on his own hit list in FRUIT OF GRISAIA!
The audio is purely Japanese. There’s no dub. While this will turn off some viewers, I found the Japanese audio to be very clear and there were no issues like the odd background noise or the audio cutting off. I do wish there had been an English version, so I could offer a comparison of the two, but as is, so long as someone enjoys anime in its original language, they’ll enjoy this.
The video for The Fruit of Grisaia Complete Collection is 480i in 16×9 anamorphic. Because it’s not Blu-ray, there is a drop in video quality, but there weren’t any major issues with the video itself. The video remains crisp and clear. Even though the quality itself wasn’t 1080p, the animation was still fluid and the art style never suffered any degradation, which is good because the artistic approach taken to the characters, especially the female characters, is about as outstanding as you could get.
Three discs come inside of a black DVD case. Each disc is given its own place to lay, with discs 1 and 2 being placed in an extension set in the middle and the last disc lying against the back. The front cover features all five main female characters, starting with Amane, then Yumiko, followed by Michiru, Makina, and Sachi. Each girl is holding a different fruit, perhaps in symbolic reference to the title. The girls on the cover are gorgeous, and the sunset background art adds a sort of mysterious allure to their appearance. Meanwhile, the back is fitted into a frame. Several scenes from the anime are added near the top and bottom frames, but they’re fragmented, which, again, seems to hold some symbolism to the series itself. Also within the frame is Yumiko in a pose and holding a batch of grapes.
The menu shows the four episodes that are present on each disc, along with subtitle options. One of the five main characters is on the other side: Yumiko (disc 1), Michiru (disc 2), and Makina (disc 3). The only disc that has more options is disc 1, which has the special features on it.
The DVD comes with opening and closing themes with no subtitles, along with Sentai Filmwork’s trailer for Love, Chuunibyo & Other Delusions, Magical Warfare, Wizard Barristers, and Blade Dance of Elementars on disc 1.
Content: (Please note that this portion of the review may contain spoilers):
The Fruits of Grisaia is one of those anime where, having watched it several times, I am still no closer to figuring out whether I like it or not. At first glance, it seems like your normal, fan service-y high school harem anime. The series starts off with Kazama Yuji entering high school. Right off the bat, we learn that there are only five students aside from him, and all of them are girls. What’s more, this school doesn’t seem to have any teachers, just a principle, who also happens to be a cute girl. Each girl seems to represent a different archetype. Michiru is the most blatant with her tsundere personality, but Yumiko makes a semi-decent yandere as well. There’s also Makina, a little girl who seems to have mental issues, Sachi, a maid who also appears to have some psychological problems, and Amane Sou… who we find masturbating on Yuji’s within the first two episodes.
The anime feels very compressed. It spends around two or three episodes for each girl, giving them some screen time and having Yuji get close to them by helping solve their problems. What makes me so confused is that despite how much fanservice, sexual innuendo, and romantic moments there are between Yuji and the five girls, I still can’t figure out what sort of anime this is. Is it a harem? Is it a romance? Or is it a psychological anime that deals with how hardships and horrifying circumstances can damage people’s psyche?
Part of my confusion stems from the fact that this is a visual novel adaptation. Visual novels are stories in which you can choose specific routes to follow. Generally, each route means picking the girl you’d like to romance and raising enough “flags” that she falls in love with you. Visual novels generally take anywhere between 50 and 80 hours for just a single route—and are much longer in many cases. Since this anime only gives us two to three episodes per route, it means we’re getting around 320+ hours of “game time” compressed into a 325 minute anime. There’s a lot of content that got cut from the series. This means we’re missing a good deal of key information regarding each of the five girls.
While the lack of key background information is jarring, I do not think this is a bad anime. There are some issues, such as the strong sexual content that I feel could have been cut out and replaced with plot focused content. Fan service is always a bit of a problem. I think there were occasions in here where it worked and didn’t detract from the overall story, but then there were times where the sudden fan service was jarring, such as the episode where Yuji becomes Makina’s “father” and she tackles him to the ground and begins kissing him. I feel like the scene itself was important because it showed how broken Makina was as a person, but I could’ve done without the random boob groping.
Setting aside the scenes like that, The Fruit of Grisaia does have a stronger plot than most anime of its type, and I like how it mixes humor and darker moments. What makes this better than most isn’t just the combination of light hearted and dark story telling, but that the director was smart enough not to mix the two. There’s no humor during the psychologically intense and brutal moments. Likewise, when there is humor, there are no violent and dark moments either. I like this because it means none of the serious issues that this touches upon are taken lightly.
While I feel like the anime stretched its story too thin, and there were definitely some problems with the execution, I can’t say it wasn’t entertaining to watch. I didn’t dislike the series. It just left me confused on several occasions. Also, the ending was a complete cliff hanger. It’s so blatant that it basically tells you that you have to watch the next season, The Labyrinth/Eden of Grisaia, if you ever want to have a conclusive ending.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 10th 2016
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 Anamorphic
55″ Class AQUOS HD Series LED TV LC-55LE643U, Xbox 360 DVD player