This review will make reference to the Grisaia no Meikyuu special. If you did not watch that (or want to read my review of that before this) here you go: http://blazekick.com/grisaia-no-meikyuu-le-labyrinthe-de-la-grisaia-anime-review/.
The story picks up exactly where Meikyuu left off. It leaves me wondering why they didn’t just make Rakuen a 12 episode series and add the stuff from the special into the main series (my only guess is Front Wing wanted all 3 games to be named) Anyway we continue with Yuuji’s past picking up from when Asako finds him. This has her train him to not be Oslo’s doll as well as Yuuji’s introduction to JB. One of the things I didn’t like (and I think I saw an article written on this at the time but good luck finding it now me) was how Asako saved Yuuji but then was pretty abusive to him. From memory she didn’t beat him but she took a more “school-yard bully” approach of calling him names. Not only that but she ended up taking his virginity (I’m pretty sure at like 12) and made him rape JB while she was drunk because Asako felt it was time JB lost her virginity. These events confused me as they seemed to have been added to make us dislike Asako but later events (that I sadly can’t say due to spoilers) as well as Yuuji opinion of her makes it seem like we’re supposed to like her. The only other reason I can think of is to get some extra sex scenes in and if that’s the case they’re intruding into the story but I’ll get to that when I review the visual novel.
We get a lot of Yuuji at a military training camp. We meet 3 characters he spends a lot of time named, Daniel Born (the black man with Yuuji at the start of Meikyuu), Milliela Stanfield (female who looks like she has some relation to Amane but apparently doesn’t) and Robert Wallson who is an eroge fanatic. While I felt it was certainly interesting seeing Yuuji’s past I didn’t like this military training portion. It had some characterization for Yuuji and introduced some characters that become important in the Rakuen portion but it felt it went on way too long. I’m sure that’s what it was like in the visual novel but it almost felt like a case of staying too true to source material to the point of adapting things that don’t work well. Again I’ve yet to read Rakuen but I’m assuming it works a lot better in the VN.
This is a hard review as I have to decide if I should actually talk about the Rakuen portion as normally I stop at about halfway through the anime but that’s right where it starts. I won’t spoil it but I’ll talk about the first couple episodes in this paragraph. Basically Heath Oslo is back and wants Yuuji. Yuuji gets captured where he finds the computer Thanatos which is a computer running off his sister’s brain. The school is also about to be shut down as Yumiko and Makina’s parents have withdrawn funding (what took them so long?) and the heroines decide they’re going to save Yuuji (with the help of Thanatos). Kazami somehow ends up controlling every character that’s yet to die and had any importance to the story besides Oslo which was pretty weird and felt it was like that because the writers wrote themselves in a hole and it was the only way they could get everyone to live happily ever after.
Did you see the first season? There you go! I’m not sure why I didn’t cover visuals (or sound) in the last review as both are pretty much going to be that sentence. There really wasn’t much difference.
Just like I said, watch the first season? Sound is the same as it was there. The voice actors for the new characters (or are they old as they all appeared in the past?) all fit fine. I thought the opening song was disappointing though as it sounds so cool in the first 2 seconds then the instrumental becomes pretty generic but I generally don’t grade the OP and ED unless they play sometime during the series which I don’t recall ever happening.