Anime are almost constantly adaptations of something. Generally they adapt a popular manga series however they have been known to adapt visual novels with the more popular ones being the Fate series, White Album and of course, Key’s stuff. A common issue with adapting visual novels is they are so long and often are split into routes that focus on a specific character’s relationship with the protagonist and neither work very well into an anime setting. Some people complain Little Busters! and Clannad cut too much from their original visual novels or changed too much and those each had 2 seasons with the first containing at least 23 episodes, here comes Grisaia no Kajitsu with 13 episodes and, even though it is getting a second season, that will focus on its two sequels. Was 8-bit able to adapt this visual novel correctly or were they forced to make some unpleasant cuts? Let’s find out! Keep in mind however, I have not gone through the visual novel myself. I have read many discussions about how well this was adapted so any direct comparisons will be secondhand knowledge so I will do my best to avoid them.
The story starts off with a boy transferring to a new school. Despite not being an all-girls school he is the only boy here. His name is Yuuji Kazami. He ends up meeting all 5 of the students at this school fairly quickly (although one takes some time) they are, Sachi Komine, a shy girl who was told she fit the role of a maid so she dresses in a maid outfit, Michiru Matsushima, a girl with an obsession with tsundere character so she immitates one, she has bleach-blonde hair in pig tails, Makina Irisu, the only first-year, she wears mis-matched knee socks and thinks of Yuuji as a brother and Amane as a sister, Yumiko Sakaki, a quiet girl that ovoids classes, is the daughter of the East Beach Railway Express Group tycoon that offers funding to Mihama Academy, and Amane Suou, the only third-year, a sort of guardian character to the other girls she also clearly has a crush on Yuuji from the very beginning. All of the girls seemed really interesting at first and I couldn’t wait to learn more about them which leads to one of the biggest complaints about Grisaia no Kajitsu, but I’ll get to that later. The anime starts off like most visual novel adaptations do with the common route which exists in visual novels to introduce each character before you make your choice of which to focus on. In it we get hints Yuuji is some sort of spy and do get minor hints about each of the girls routes before they break off. The common route lasts 3 episodes before breaking into the first route of Michiru. I’d like to point out Kanon, a series with 5 girl’s routes to get through, also spent 3 episodes before breaking into Makoto’s route and Kanon had 24 episodes to deal with. The remaining episodes all are split focusing enteriely on a route which I didn’t like. Sure there were points in other series that focus heavily on the route but they also have moments from other routes or hints to other routes or something, Grisaia just focuses entirely on the route at hand an ignores everything else. I thought we were dealing with a time reset each route because until Sachi mentions Michiru and Yumiko (the two who had their routes before her) seemed happier now, there was no continuity and then again until the last episode it seems time gets reset each time. Compare to Clannad, Fuko’s events affect future events, Kotomi’s events affect future events and so on, they aren’t forgotten completely.
The animation is nice to look at, from what I’ve seen it matches the visual novel perfectly. My only issue (which is probably a thing in the visual novel too) is their eyes are on the layer above their hair making their hair go under their eyes. This isn’t too big of a deal but it always bothers me when I see it for some reason. The music is also pretty good. There might be original remixes but I think all the songs originated in some way from the visual novel. There is also a unique credits sequence each episode a route ends that has unique visuals and a unique song. Michiru’s song was my favourite but they were all pretty good.
Now the biggest complaint you’ll find from anyone talking about this anime, it was rushed. Now at the start I was trying to defend it saying this should have been expected at 13 episodes but let’s take a look at how the episodes were broke up.
Episodes 1-3: Common Route
Episodes 4,5: Michiru’s Route
Episode 6: Yumiko’s Route
Episode 7: Sachi’s Route
Episodes 8,9: Makina’s Route
Episodes 10-13: Amane’s Route
Wow. Talking about poor pacing. Amane’s route was also quite liked by me and other people I’ve seen which only makes me (and I’m sure others) wish it was 24 episodes instead of 13 so every girl could have had 4 episodes instead of some being restricted to a single episode. Another issue is Yumiko’s Route was almost entirely new content for the anime. I know I said some visual novel adaptations are forced to cut a lot but normally what they do is just change content to avoid romance (such as Kotomi’s route in Clannad) while not rewriting the route.