「射界10センチ」 (Shakai Jū Senchi)
“10 Centimetre Field of Fire”
Recently in Australia, a madman with a shotgun held a bunch of civilians hostage in a cafe in the heart of the Sydney. Not everyone survived that incident. I hope you will understand if I say that this episode of Grisaia no Kajitsu was a sensitive one for me, in various ways. I’ll still give my final impressions on the series, but please allow me to go on a bit of a tangent for a spell.
After the 1972 hostage crisis at the Munich Olympics, in which, after a disastrous rescue attempt, all hostages were killed, the German police decided they had to revamp their response protocols. To that end, they reinvented the standard practice and trained response teams that still carry a reputation as some of the best in the field, in the world. Their philosophy is that no one should have to die in one of these encounters, and they take it very seriously. Hostage situations are always very volatile, and the Germans have always been very good at taking things seriously.
In comparison, I found the treatment in this episode rather… frivolous.
Yes, I know it’s just anime, it’s just entertainment. But entertainment can still be well researched, or well thought out, or at the very least well presented to the extent that it doesn’t invite viewers to look for plot holes. Frankly speaking, the rescue plan in this week’s Grisaia no Kajitsu was incredibly flawed. Sakashita was obviously unhinged to some degree; handing Amane over to him was markedly unwise. What if he did just shoot her? What if he roughed her up more than he already did? Hell, what if the sexual assault angle went just a bit further? There’s so many unpleasant possibilities. Don’t allow the madman with a vendetta to feed his vendetta, folks. Hell, why would you give a hostage-taker more hostages? There must be a rule against that in a handbook somewhere.
The actual plan to rescue the girls (which surrendering Amane played no part in other than delivering water) also relied on everything working out exactly and coincidentally. If I were to list everything that could possibly have easily gone wrong I’d be here all day, so let’s just say that at times it really did strain. I’m glad that it worked, because I like our heroines much more than I like the creepy Sakashita, but I would have preferred it to have worked because of meticulous planning, not, ‘thank goodness Michiru has a hard head and no coordination’.
Speaking of Sakashita being a creep, I should mention that in the original visual novel, he was not an attempted rapist. He was still an altogether wretched human being, but not condemned straight to hell like he is in the anime. It makes me wonder why they went to the effort to make him even less sympathetic. No longer is Sakashita Keiji just a delusional father driven mad by the death of his daughter and the collapse of his life. Instead, he is more or less a strawman villain. When an anime tries so hard to make a character despicable it always makes me wary. It’s like they’re trying to manipulate us. ‘Hate this character!’ Grisaia roars, ‘hate him!’. Well, okay… but I’m not going to feel very good about it. And unlike Makina’s mother, Yuuji doesn’t even kill Sakashita. Bah, standards.
If I’m going to comment on changes, I guess I should also note that the entire hostage scenario is new to the anime. I can understand why they did it. Since this is not just the last episode of the Amane route, but Grisaia no Kajitsu as a whole, they needed to let all the girls shine one last time. I can appreciate that. This stuff is fairly obligatory, so rewrite away, even if it’s just to have Michiru melt down or Sakaki get indignant about her daddy issues. Nobody’s going to tell her father that his school’s under siege again, are they? Poor sap.
Also written into this episode: Urinetown (and more besides), but without the social commentary. I’m glad Sakashita at least had the good graces to zip up while he was writhing in pain. I didn’t need my anime to end with that.
ED4: 「創世のタナスト」 (Sōsei no Tanasuto) by 飛蘭 (Faylan)
Perhaps Grisaia no Kajitsu would have been better served ending last week. The climax of Angelic Howl felt stronger than what we got this week, and somewhat overshadows the conflict this episode. The opening scene with Amane and Yuuji visiting the memorial and having Kazuki speak from beyond Reichenbach Falls would actually have made for a fairly neat ending to the entire affair. Sure, it wouldn’t have let the rest of the harem have their one last hurrah, but considering the relative focus on Amane’s story anyway we might as well let her send us off. Maybe the extra episode to be gained from that would have allowed one or more of the other routes to have been fleshed out a bit more.
For a show that didn’t really have time to even tell it’s own story, it’s emblematic that the last episode ends, instead, with a sequel hook. We are already rushing on to the next titles in the series, with March 2015 being the air-date. Should you watch it? Hard to say. Grisaia no Kajitsu was not exactly a bad series, but it suffer its share of problem. The pacing issue is already a dead horse by now, and the budget didn’t even manage to hold for the entirety of the short run. Admittedly, these last two episodes have looked a bit better (trading some stilted animation and awkward art for continuity errors), but overall the show looked like it was spread a bit thin. The biggest problem, though, is that Grisaia no Kajitsu lacked what one might call self-awareness. Have I gone into a huff about the Kasuki pantyshot last week yet? That was perhaps the most baleful symptom. And let’s not forget we’ve had these black bars since the very beginning, and I’m not sure what they achieved other than making my screencapping more tortuous. Was Grisaia no Kajitsu all that… cinematic? Artsy? Avant-garde? There certainly were a lot of shots where they pushed for style for the sake of style, but otherwise the squashed resolution just made them pan a lot.
All that said, for an anime intended mostly to promote a visual novel, Kajitsu did its job. All the routes were covered, and at least one (i.e. Angelic Howl) was done to more or less completion. That’s a good sell; give us just enough to hint at quality, to spice the larger product. Indeed, one can see where all the places for potential are, even if it was not always utilised to the fullest. When it was strong, Grisaia no Kajitsu managed prodigious strength, but it only came in flashes of brilliance instead of a continuous efforts. And commendations should still be given to the staff for daring to rewrite as much as they did to try and fit their vision of an adaptation. It’s not easy stuff, but often necessary.
Of course, Kajitsu not only has to sell the VN, but also sell its sequel anime. Should you watch it? I’m afraid I’d have to wait and see before passing that judgment. I went into Kajitsu with a fair bit of hype, but became somewhat deflated, so I’m more cautious now. But there’s still more to learn about Yuuji, about I think I’ll let my feelings for Kajitsu simmer until March, and then see again. Until then, thank you all for following me here on Random Curiosity every week. Whether you enjoyed Grisaia no Kajitsu or not, I hope you enjoyed the coverage, whether you agree with it or not. May we see each other again in Winter 2015.