「セカイ樹の種II」 (Sekaiju no Tane II)
“The Seed of the World Tree II”
And so ends the Makina route. Let’s start positive: it was better than it could have been. Starting in media res was a nice touch, since we’re short on time and we really need to get into the meat of things. You may remember that last week I was hoping that they’d do more shoring and less telling, especially of Makina’s kidnapping trauma, and I’m glad to see that they apparently picked up on that and animated Makina spending time with her father’s decomposing corpse. Good times! Something shocking like that is needed to explain Makina’s curious speech impediment (which is not what aphasia is, but whatever) and twisted Electra complex (this is platonic, guys. Of course.). Yet Makina (perhaps to her credit) does not spend a lot of time on psychological navel gazing; it seems we were done with that last episode. Rather, Makina plays the role of a small puppy that we feel bad for when they kick it. it’s somewhat emotionally manipulative, yes, but it’s probably a large part of what the paternal instinct is about. Cute daughters being bullied make dads go action mode.
They were still packing a lot of material into a single episode, however, so overall there is still a feeling that the plot is being delivered in snippets. The cat and mouse game between Yuuji and his handlers was great action (or, at least, as much action as Grisaia really gets; I knew Makina was going to lose but I still rooted for her) but I think it missed some of the suffocating atmosphere of being in hiding and being hunted. It could be Makina’s fault for being irrepressibly chirpy, but in the end it’s still the kind of thing that needs time to develop. Some plot ends also seem to have been played a bit short. The significance of Makina’s sapling was never fully explained, and felt a lot like a strange, ‘it’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.’ moment. The plant, as obvious bait, served more as a plot device than anything symbolic. Speaking of plot devices, the ‘professor’ in the basement also gets an obligatory mention, but will not really be relevant in the scope of Kajitsu. Makina’s photographic memory is also brought up without buildup, just to resolve the plot. Even more conveniently, Yuuji’s assertion last episode that he can’t kill anymore is also promptly forgotten. It turns out, he can! He just needed enough motivation. Of all of Grisaia’s adaptation decisions, this one is actually the most puzzling to me. I usually don’t feel the need to compare anime to their original source, but this one, I think, needs addressing.
*Spoilers for the original visual novel follow*
In the original VN, Makina’s mother does not die. In fact, Yuuji’s most important decision of the route was whether to kill her or not. Pulling the trigger leads to a Bad End. I thought this was pretty significant, and not just because of Yuuji’s oath to never kill again, and doing so being the crossing of a moral event horizon. Yuuji genuinely thought that having Makina commit matricide by proxy was wrong. Irisu Kiyoko may have been scum, but she was the result of a family of scum. She’s the product of her mother, who was the product of her mother before her. In fact, Makina can be considered fortunate for being able to escape that cycle, and having relatively positive parental figures like Amane and Yuuji. Arguably, that’s what The Seed of the World Tree is all about.
Whatever her Freudian excuse, Makina’s mother was not a good person, and I was not exactly sad to see her go. Yet, I feel that by dispatching her so quickly it turns her into a two-dimensional scapegoat villain, with her relationship with Makina and her sister left unexplored. It’s similar to how it was with Yumiko and her father, except Irisu Kiyoko does not even try to look redeemable. It’s too bad we didn’t see more of her before she was assassinated. Her death also raises utilitarian concerns: if Yuuji could just kill her and have Makina expose the dirt on the Irisu family so easily, one wonders why they didn’t do that in the first place. Perhaps I’m also feeling values dissonance on seeing murder turning out to be such a neat solution.
Peeking outside the garden ~ looking ahead
Whatever your feelings on Makina and her mother may be, we have to put them behind us now because next week we are moving on to Amane’s route. I have made no secret of my favour for Amane’s story, and I approach it with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. I’m really hoping they do it well (though I guess I hope that for every route), but I’m not sure how it’ll turn out. 8bit’s budget situation, for starters, is enough to sow some doubts. Shots are losing detail by the episode; just ask this guy’s hair. Yet I still have hopes that they can do good things with a strong piece of source material. Angelic Howl is a story that benefits from taking it slow, and we do have at least two episodes for it. As I have said before, I only really need Grisaia to do one thing really well, and hopefully this final effort produces a winner. On the other hand, if they screw this up I’m going to be pretty frustrated. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again next week, it will mean I haven’t thrown my monitor out the window.
Will Michiru ever get her money back?! We’ll never find out! Nooooo!