「幸せの手紙」 (Shiawase no Tegami)
“Letter of Happiness”
As expected, this episode comprises the entirety of the Sachi route. I’m sure all viewers are use to Grisaia rushing through its story at relativistic speeds by now, and there’s not much left to say about that which has not already been said. It was inevitable that there would be substantial cuts to tailor the the story to the linear format, even if we weren’t restricted to a single episode. And, to be fair, I actually approve of some of the changes they made. The overarching plot of the Sachi story—about her needing to cancel the test dramatically—was something that could have used some streamlining. I’m going to compare and contrast the original visual novel a bit, so spoilers for that.
The anime version makes Sachi relatively more active and Yuuji relatively more passive, which I consider a good thing. It makes Sachi feel more like the protagonist of her own route and Yuuji feel less like a blunt instrument. It’s also, in my opinion, a far more sensible resolution to her conflict. It’s still about Sachi potentially doing something she’d regret, but with slightly less sensationalism and a lot less wanton property damage. I suppose I prefer my plots straightforward, I suppose; the less hoops the story has to jump through the less taxing it is on one’s suspension of disbelief. It’s still rather outlandish, sure, but a tighter plot leaves less gaps in logic. I still found it a bit right, though, to hear Yumiko concerned about Sachi doing dangerous things when she barricaded the school and faked an explosive death just last episode. That ship sailed long ago. Yuuji simply isn’t capable of doing things in a non-dangerous manner.
Despite the slimmer Sachi route, though, I still think the anime tried to play too many angles in too short a time frame. We have the childhood friends thing, Sachi’s relationship with her parents, Sachi’s warped sense of self, Yuuji reconnecting with his past, blowing up the school, Sachi valuing her friends, Sachi scoring points in the harem race. It’s like someone had a checklist and were just ticking the boxes for what needed to be done this episode. Without proper development, fulfilling the quota of ‘important scenes’ is not enough to give the story proper impact. And some scenes were just not important at all, and I’m not just talking about the usual blatant fanservice. I mean this. Are you punishing me, Grisaia? Was I being too critical? Please, spare my eardrums; they’re innocent victims here.
Peeking outside the garden ~ looking ahead
So with the Sachi route resolved with an emphatic ‘meh’, we’ll be moving on next week to the first part of Makina’s route. I do wonder why they chose to give it (and Michiru’s) two episodes over Yumiko and Sachi. I don’t begrudge them their choice (I take issue with any of the routes being reduced to a single episode), but I am interested to see the reasoning. I suspect that they’ll take the opportunity to develop Yuuji’s background, since Makina’s route is the one in which Yuuji’s shady organisation has a largest appearance. Regardless, two episodes should serve better than just one, and I have higher expectations for the adaptation of Makina’s story than I had for Yumiko’s and Sachi’s, though that’s not necessarily saying much.