One of the anime I was excited for this season was The Fruit of Grisaia, or more technically ‘Le Fruit de la Grisaia’ – for some reason they decided random French was the way to go. This anime’s description hints at a harem anime, but some little elements within the description caught my attention. It’s hard to say specifically what it was, but something made me confident this show was going to be special.
The basic premise is that the main character has asked to be given the chance at a normal school life – what his life has been up until now, the show keeps a secret for quite a while. He shows up at this specialized school with a very small student list – only 6 other students, all females of different ages, who are all in the same class. It is implied from the start that everyone there has reasons for being isolated, for being at this small, unique school.
I’m not going to lie, this anime has definite harem overtones. But the harem aspects are downplayed in favour of impressive character stories for each of our female characters. When you’re first introduced to these girls, you get the distinct impression that something’s out of the ordinary… each of them has something about them that is just not quite normal. Whether it be a strange lack of shame, or suspicion bordering on hatred for the main character, or an odd level of obedience… each character is just not quite normal. And this is fantastic, because it means that you can’t quite be sure what’s going to happen.
One thing I’ve harped on a lot lately is how important mystery is… creating intrigue and suspense helps build attachment to the show. By not understanding what is going on or what you’re going to see next, you build your own attachment through speculation. The creators of Grisaia seem to understand this. They go to great length to ensure that there’s always something left to wonder about – but it never crosses into absurdity. Well, almost never… there is one arc that comes really close to that line, but only one. The rest just do a great job of gradually building story, answering questions, and creating new things to wonder about.
The show progresses in a series of gradual arcs developing one character at a time, and also building a bit of the main character’s backstory all the while. Not exactly a completely unique pacing, but it works so well here. The stories become progressively more intriguing and build off each other very well… and you even get a few really heart-wrenching moments during some of the later stories. The character development in this show is, much like the characters themselves, among the best I’ve seen… well, except for the main character. You see, the main character’s the cold, logical type. He’s not quite the emotionless type, but not far off. He seems to hold his emotions back, and while it does help make him seem a bit mysterious, it also makes it very hard to tell whether his character has developed at all.
The Fruit of Grisaia is not an action packed series, focusing more on character development and story, although it does have its moments. In those moments, you get fairly straightforward but exciting action that, somehow, doesn’t feel at all out-of-place with the rest of the show. While the action itself is nothing particularly special, it was a bit surprising how well it fit in with the rest of the show, since action is the furthest thing from your mind during most of the series.
It’s somehow incredibly satisfying to finish watching a series, get an announcement that the next series is only a few months away and think to yourself that that simply is not soon enough. With top-notch characters and character development, good story progression and pacing, an impressive dedication to mystery, a decent amount of action, and even a very solid soundtrack… this is a series that I have even higher expectations of going forward.