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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Grisaia Rewatched:

And that finishes the Grisaia no Kajitsu blu-ray version anime rewatch.  It was a very moving anime, the black boxes on the top and bottom made it appropriately epic feeling, it looked great, and of course the voice acting was top notch.  My complaint is that the 'one or two episodes' per route stuff cut out so much that it became a confusing mess instead of the epic tale it was in the visual novel.  Even Angelic Howl was rushed, as you can't depict the grueling psychological wear and tear that happened in just a few episodes, when in the visual novel it just went on and on, things steadily got worse and worse, forever and ever.

I'm not blaming the anime makers here.  Visual novel anime has had a poor track record recently and barely sells any copies.  I can understand why they didn't want to take on the risk of a 24 episode season or a 48 episode season, like Kanon and Clannad got.  But this visual novel was no shorter than those visual novels, and there's just no way to preserve the impact and strength of the story when you're constantly snipping things to shreds.  If you are going to watch the Grisaia anime, I can only suggest that people read the visual novel first.  Or at least afterwards.  The anime just isn't the same as the bona fide experience.

There's a lot more common route stuff in the visual novel, where you gradually get accustomed to school life and make friends with everyone.  This social glueing is necessary for you to care about what happens to the characters in the future, and skipping it is counterproductive.  That early humor is what adds zest to the later tragedy.

Then there's the fact that the most moving moments in Sachi's route are basically cut out of the anime entirely.  One episode for Sachi's route?  You've got to be kidding me.  There should have been an entire episode about the good times Sachi enjoyed with her parents before they got busy working, than an entire episode of how lonely it was once they did start working, an entire episode of her dealing with post traumatic stress disorder after the accident, and an entire episode of her reading her parent's love letter to her in the garage.  That would have been the bare minimum to convey the incredible story that is Sachi's life.

Michiru's route is difficult for the anime because so much of it is her and Yuuji falling in love and dating each other.  I would have just taken the plunge and made Michiru the official girl, so it all works out just fine that way, but then again I'm a huge Michiru fan.  At the same time, Michiru's route in the anime is pretty clearly the best, and it's about 1/5 as long or as strong as it is in the visual novel.  That just gives you a sense of how much we're missing out on here.

Makina's route was also given only two episodes, like with Michiru, and they ended up cutting too much and the story making too little sense.  What happened to Makina taking a job at a bakery?  What happened to Makina crying and complaining to the empty sky that her mother was a liar?  What about Yuuji and Amane teaching Makina how to ride a bike together?  Do these things just not matter anymore?  The visual novel's version of events makes more sense and carries a lot more emotional weight than the anime's version because it's given proper time to do so.

I can't see how anyone can watch the Grisaia anime and feel satisfied.  It teases such amazing storylines, such moving depictions of human triumph over suffering, but cuts them all up into shreds right in front of your eyes and only gives you snippets of each one.  Seeing things in motion is fun.  Yuuji's lines being voiced by Takahiro Sakurai is awesome.  So by all means watch the anime too.  But the anime doesn't even have Makina sitting on your lap, so in the end what is it really worth?  NOTHING.  That's right.  Nothing at all.  This is one show where you need to go back to the source and read it all again from the beginning to understand the true quality of the gemstone you're looking at.  Luckily, the visual novel is not only available fully translated by fansubbers, but even for sale by retail in English, so people can easily get their hands on this visual novel, unlike most others.  There's no excuse not to have read this visual novel.  Greatness awaits.

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