What is the concept? Following The Fruit of Grisaia’s (Gurizaia no Kajitsu) 2011 release in Japan, Sekai Project mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising nearly half a million dollars to fund an English localization for PS Vita and PC iterations. Subsequently, the visual novel struck a chord with stateside readers, introducing us to Yuuji Kazami, an enigmatic and reserved individual who enrolled at the Mihama Academy. Across the work’s fifty-hour duration, information about both Yuuji and the school was pensively disclosed- the former surviving a childhood of unrelenting trauma and the latter being especially peculiar, with its six-member student body and rigorous restrictions.
Encounters with the quintet of female students provided an additional lure for Fruit of Grisaia, with relational reciprocity between protagonist and each girl revealing a number of surprisingly dark backstories and personalities that range from feigned tsundere to an attitude of incessant accommodation accompanied by an ever-present maid costume. In Grisaia characters pasts unequivocally shape dispositions, with almost all characters adopting a temperament as a coping mechanism. While it might sound dreadfully depressing, there was enough power fantasy to ensure that Fruit wasn’t too acrid, even without the inclusion of the eroge scenes.
Subsequently, The Labyrinth of Grisaia extended the first novels’ characterization, offering epilogues for each of the five possible relationships, and well as the ‘Cocoon of Caprice 0’, which delved into Yuuji’s past. Additionally, a ‘Short Stories’ component provided twenty-eight additional abridged anecdotes. While most didn’t contribute much to Grisaia canon, some like ‘Michiru & Sachi’s Butt-Batt Education” allow for a bit of light-hearted banter that will probably appease series stalwarts.
The release of the concluding chapter in the trilogy, The Eden of Grisaia might cause a bit of confusion. Understandably, enjoyment hinges on familiarity with the first two installments, as Eden’s approach is lighter in exposition, with more of an emphasis on action and in cultivating a sense of closure. But what might perplex Grisaia faithful is Eden’s approach, which follows up after the conclusion of “Cocoon of Caprice”. Here, elements from each of the five routes in Labyrinth are assumed to have happened, echoing the storytelling method of the anime.
What are the novel’s strengths? Once again, Akio Watanabe (The World God Only Knows, Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed) and Fumio’s (Tomoyo After: It’s a Wonderful Life) character designs are sumptuous, contributing emotive portraits during the game’s dialog sequences. Detail is expertly balanced, with CGs looking especially opulent without ever being too busy. Likewise, the novel’s voice-work is superb, with the cast of the Grisaia anime recreating their roles. Undoubtedly, the novel’s sumptuous soundtrack is another high-point, extending a multitude of jazzy melodies that are bound to beguile listeners. And if you’re grown accustomed to the lifeless localizations that have become common in the genre, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate Sekai’s work, which brings each of Mihama’s members to life.
Although both Fruit and Labyrinth have their admirers, it’s quite possible that The Eden of Grisaia will be regarded as the consummate chapter in the series. Not only does the entry move at a faster pace than its predecessors, but readers are likely to develop deeper affections for the novel cast. Sure, Yuuji is still the star of the show, but this time Amane, Makina, Michiru, Sachi, and Yumiko are given to a chance to shine as they face a geopolitical crisis.
Beyond a twenty-hour main storyline, Eden also extends “Prologue de aa Grisaia”, a preface which details the girls’ enrollment at the Mihama Academy. Although a bit shorter, the flashback is a welcome addition, fleshing out a few details that will captivate Grisaia diehards.
What are the novel’s weaknesses? Although there’s still a bit of playful, dialog-driven titillation to be found in The Eden of Grisaia, the novel’s hentai CGs and more lascivious dialog has been excised from the Steam version. As such, readers seeking the more erotic elements of Grisaia are advised to wait for the upcoming Denpasoft iteration.
On multiple PCs, Eden had difficulty outputting in a 1080p, fullscreen format. Although a bit of menu fiddling eventually tamed the title, it was an issue that’s rather rare for most VNs. That said, once the desired resolution was imposed, Eden extended a visual clarity that seemed to outshine its antecedents.
Is it worth the price? While The Eden of Grisaia’s reading time is shorter than the protracted playtime of Fruit, the novel also moves at a brisker pace. As such, the twenty-hour tale is completely is what seems like a fraction of its actual playing time. So with a journey through Eden can feel fleeting, it’s one that’s also fulfilling, bringing a sense of closure to the trilogy and tying up several loose ends.
The Eden of Grisaia was played on PC with review code provided by the publisher.
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release date: April 28th, 2017
Launch Price: $29.99 via Steam