This post is relatively short, but it’s too long to fit into my already lengthy part three of Spring 2015 First Impressions. The entry will be no different in function to what I am already doing for other first impressions, so I’ll be linking to it there too, but for now this will be going up first:
Grisaia no Meikyuu (The Labyrinth of Grisaia)
The first instalment in this series aired last Fall, covering Grisaia no Kajitsu, the second season of the show will cover Grisaia no Meikyuu, followed by Grisaia no Rakuen, the remaining two visual novels in the trilogy.
(Note: I deliberately chose to omit screenshots from this post)
Grisaia is a deeply misguided show. It makes for one hell of a baffling, yet utterly fascinating viewing experience. The original story is weird enough, taking a rather “anime” high school harem premise and crossing it with James Bond, Monogatari and a healthy dose of paranormal phenomena. But it is the anime adaptation in particular takes things to whole new uncanny levels by trying to tell entire hours-long routes of the visual novel in just the span of just one or two episodes. This results in a brand quite unlike anything else I have ever seen, it rushes through these ludicrous events (that probably had ample setup and foreshadowing in the lengthy VN) with nary a moment to breathe, achieving a unique effect that I can only describe with my reaction to most events therein: “Is this parody? Oh god it’s really not, what the f-“.
Rest assured, I do not think Grisaia is a particularly great show, but it does make great fodder for popcorn viewing. The strangest thing is that this isn’t just some bad, obscure relic, it’s an adaptation of a fairly popular visual novel with a lot put into it. Not only is it produced in cinematic widescreen format (that’s why it looks letterboxed), but ill-considered direction choices and cinematography aside, it’s got really good animation, art and production values. It’d be fair to say this isn’t a cheap effort, a lot of stops are being pulled out for this and that is why it returns to air with the double-episode special I’ll be talking about here.
I went to great detail to explain what Grisaia no Kajitsu was like, for me to be able to get across what Meikyuu is like in relation to that without the need for me to describe the specific, depraved events of this episode. This is Kazami Yuuji’s backstory, it’s role in the narrative is to show the events that have lead up to the present, to thoroughly illustrate how screwed up in the head he is. Almost totally bereft of humour, we are presented with a forty-minute descent into darkness and nihilism that is made even more unsettling by just how sincere the portrayal is.
I have mentioned above how the series gets pretty ludicrous with its events, the excesses have been somewhat reigned in here, leaving us with only bleak, “realistic”, unbridled brutality. This was completely emotionally draining, the only brief respite was found in a training montage sequence that was made unintentionally hilarious by what seemed to be videogame boss music playing over it (a pretty common misstep Grisaia always makes). Yes, Meikyuu is technically “better told” and much more focused than the series, giving useful context to ground Yuuji’s personality and outlook – but I honestly can’t say this was a good experience, or even good storytelling whatsoever.
This counts as it’s own title on MAL, and I will be giving it a 3/10, which is the same score that I have already given the series, though I like this much, much less than that. The worst part is that the tale is not yet over, it’ll be continuing next week with Grisaia no Rakuen. I still have the morbid curiosity in me to watch it, so see ya then!