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Rape and Child Abuse in the World of Grisaia

vlcsnap-2015-05-30-17h45m23s252Yuuji’s past, as recounted in Grisaia no Meikyuu and Grisaia no Rakuen, is pretty fucked up, but do you know what’s more fucked up? MAL comments.

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES RAPE AND CHILD ABUSE.

(This post also contains spoilers for Grisaia no Meikyuu and the Grisaia no Rakuen anime up to episode 2, but it’s more about the fan reactions than the actual story. The actual story is pretty stupid, so don’t feel bad about being spoiled unless you’re really interested in the series.)

I remember Guy wrote a post a while back discussing “hot-button topics” – issues that people tend to get really heated over. The topic Guy focused on in particular was the infamous “Valvrape” scene, which inspired a lot of criticism from some viewers and also (unfortunately) a lot of rape apologia from others.

The “Valvrape” scene happened almost two years ago now, but these sorts of polarised discussions continue to crop up in the fandom every now and then. I never watched Cross Ange, but its first episode apparently sparked a furore as well.

The Grisaia no Rakuen anime appears to be a slightly different case, because its second episode did not inspire much anger from critics, probably because it’s a sequel to Grisaia no Kajitsu, which wasn’t well received by that particular audience. In other words, hardly anyone is watching Grisaia no Rakuen besides the hardcore fans.

I played the Grisaia no Kajitsu visual novel and thought it had some interesting ideas, even if I wouldn’t recommend it overall. Since I was vaguely interested in what happens next in the story, I checked out the Rakuen anime. And boy, did That One Rape Scene bother me like hell. I’d say it was worse for me than the Valvrape scene, not because it was played for cheap drama, but because it was played for… laughs.

vlcsnap-2015-05-30-17h58m53s166Basically, the boy (Yuuji) rapes the blonde woman (JB) while she’s drunk. The boy’s guardian (Asako) does nothing but egg him on.

The scene is portrayed as comic relief for a number of reasons (all of which are crappy):

  • JB is a grown woman. How can an underage boy rape a grown woman? CHECKMATE ATHEISTS.
  • She said no but she really means YES~
  • B-b-but JB agreed to getting drunk in the first place! Therefore, her drunken consent should be taken as completely valid!
  • JB is a shotacon.
  • JB is such a clueless virgin. Yuuji is an experienced lover who has sex six times a week. He knows all the tricks.

The scene was short and passed over quickly, never to be mentioned again. It also came completely out of nowhere, after Asako casually mentioned at the start of the episode, without any buildup whatsoever: “OH, BY THE WAY, YUUJI’S NOT A VIRGIN LOL.”

vlcsnap-2015-05-30-17h57m06s111At this point, I feel I should talk about the broader context of rape and child abuse in the world of Grisaia.

As I mentioned in my post about the visual novel, the series is about dysfunctional people in dysfunctional relationships. Sometimes, in the more serious moments, the writing appears to be aware that these characters are psychologically damaged. Unfortunately, the series is not consistent with its portrayal of abuse, so it all comes across as rather frivolous in the end.

The JB scene is not the only rape that occurs in the series. In the Meikyuu anime, Yuuji watches his mother get raped by his father. While the overall tone of the scene was dark, the sexual violence struck me as fetishised, and that’s something you can say about a lot of works of media, unfortunately. (Game of Thrones in particular comes to mind.)

There’s also a five-minute scene of Yuuji being molested in the bath by his older sister. Again, the direction is at odds with the writing. The dialogue suggests that the sibling relationship is supposed to come across as sweet but ultimately creepy, but visually, it’s framed in a way meant to titillate the viewer.

vlcsnap-2015-05-30-15h34m53s19

Later on, Yuuji is sexually abused by an older man, who is portrayed as a moustache-twirling villain. It really cheapens the narrative and its themes. I’m not sure the writers entirely understand that child abuse is so pernicious because it is frequently perpetrated by family members or people whom the victim trusts. Sure, Yuuji and his sister share a dysfunctional relationship, but did the writers really understand that it was abusive and not simply “forbidden love”? I’d like to give the writing the benefit of the doubt, but it’s so unsubtle everywhere else!

Similarly, I see the dynamic between Asako and Yuuji as abusive, but I don’t think the writers intended it that way, even if they showed glimmers of self-awareness at times. When they first meet, Asako says that Yuuji is the kind of person who can only respond to abuse, so she tells him that she is his god in order to get through to him. She has good intentions, but it’s still not a healthy dynamic. This uncomfortable fact gets brought up sometimes in the narrative, but ultimately Asako is portrayed as an idealised mentor figure.

Let’s not forget that she engages in statutory rape. She also knows that Yuuji is a victim of sexual abuse but chooses to initiate sexual relations with him anyway. She abuses her position of trust – she knows that Yuuji cannot meaningfully consent, because Yuuji always obeys her commands. These are the actions of a sexual predator.

Getting JB drunk and encouraging Yuuji to have sex with her only strikes me as despicable, but it’s laughed off as a joke in context.

vlcsnap-2015-05-30-22h07m20s215

Now, I understand that the world of Grisaia is not realistic in the slightest. I suspect that the appeal of the story is in its very lack of realism. That doesn’t stop me from thinking that it has a lame sense of humour. Honestly, the VN is probably worse, because the “witty banter” of the Grisaia no Kajitsu VN mostly revolved around the MC making bigoted observations about women. HAR HAR very funny.

I can accept that people can enjoy this sort of anime for entirely innocent reasons. I enjoy parts of Grisaia myself, after all. But then I read the MAL comments and realise that quite a number of commenters don’t actually understand basic issues of sexual consent in real life. Here’s a short sample of comments:

Sometimes I feel like Yuji is fcking lucky despite all the fcked up things that happened to him, not only has he fcked Asako but also JB….

.

What I found funny at the start was a drunk JB getting raped by a young Yuuji, heh. >w> JB was so fun to tease back then.

.

So Yuuji shagged both those older broads, and took J.B.’s virginity to boot? Looks like things are finally looking up for the poor guy.

.

I really don’t get why people seem to think he raped her, the only reluctance she had was due to embarassment(not to mention that there is no door to yuuji and asako’s bedroom), heck she had the hots for him for a while.

There’s also the fact that she got drunk willingly so that she could claim it was a spur of the moment act to herself in the morning.

.

yuji is my damn hero. Dude got so much swagga. Genie indeed. Brilliant and had such a hard childhood. I keep cheering for him. So cool man. Love the past. Episode is so legit. And yes he is a playa indeed.

.

Holy shit. Yuuji is the luckiest fucking bastard. All of his childhood trauma was payment for all of the blessings he was going to receive in the future.

So Asako just decided to fuck him on a whim as his birthday present, and that then led to them fucking like 6 times a week. JB, who wanted to fuck him since he was like 10, was immediately jealous…and then Yuuji got to fuck her too?!?!? Good lord. I am legit fucking jealous of a 2D character.

The rest of the episode didn’t even matter to me since I was so mind fucked over this dude getting to bang 2 insanely hot women when he was like 14-15.

.

Holy fucking shit Yuuji getting pussy since he was a kid. JB is a pedophile and so is Asako LOL

I suppose I hardly need to rebut any of these comments. They really speak for themselves. I know that MAL comments are clearly not representative of the population at large, but the attitudes on display here (i.e. a boy is “lucky” for receiving sex, regardless of the context) are sadly all too common in the real world.

So what is rape, you ask, just so we’re on the same page here? Rape is sex without consent.

That’s it. There’s no “sort of” rape. Consent is a matter of yes or no. It’s either rape or it’s not rape.

Children cannot give meaningful consent and neither can an intoxicated person. Sexual arousal is not consent. Being in a romantic relationship is not consent to sex. Loving someone is not consent. Only saying yes to the individual act of sex is consent.

If you’re still confused about consent, here’s a cool video that explains it… with tea!

Tea and Consent (Clean) from Blue Seat Studios on Vimeo.

These things might sound simple, but they’re worth talking about, because these issues do affect real people. Even if they don’t affect you personally, they probably affect someone you know.

As frustrating and polarising as they may be, it’s important to keep having conservations about rape and abuse in media. Most people can tell the difference between reality and fiction, but sometimes, they don’t know about these issues in real life. I think that stories can be a great springboard for discussion about ideas and values that affect us all.

I’m probably preaching to the choir with this post, but hey, if there’s anything you feel uncertain about, feel free to ask!

(NOTE: I will be monitoring the comments carefully in order to keep this post a safe place for discussion. NO “DEVIL’S ADVOCATE” ARGUMENTS DEFENDING RAPE/ABUSE, PLEASE.)

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Posted on May 31, 2015, in Anime Analysis and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Great post as always.

    That said, did you put the trigger warning as a joke or do you think it serves a purpose?

    • I think trigger warnings serve a genuine purpose in discussions about rape. Some people really do suffer from PTSD. It’s safer to include them than to omit them, and it’s not much extra effort anyway.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. Urgh…the reason why I don’t hang around too much on MAL. How common is this sort of behavior among anime communities?

    That being said, it’s not too much to ask people for a little human decency and empathy.

    Most people can tell the difference between reality and fiction, but sometimes, they don’t know about these issues in real life. I think that stories can be a great springboard for discussion about ideas and values that affect us all.

    I think it’s also important for the creators themselves to be more conscious of how these representations of rape and other sensitive topics affect their audience. This is just my personal opinion but I do think creators/writers have a moral obligation to communicate these kinds of issues more seriously rather than just using them for laughs or for championing some dickish view on relationships. Teens are impressionable folks, after all.

    • How common is this sort of behavior among anime communities?

      Well… that depends on the demographics. MAL forum users skews young, after all. But I think it also depends a lot on how well-moderated/anonymous the forum is. MAL and 4chan are generally regarded as having the most toxic communities because they permit the lowest forms of behaviour.

      I think it’s also important for the creators themselves to be more conscious of how these representations of rape and other sensitive topics affect their audience.

      Definitely. This post was aimed primarily at viewers (I doubt Frontwing would be reading this lol…) but creators should definitely know about these issues. Creators/aspiring creators, take note!

  3. Should I feel bad for enjoying this anime because I want to see how far it will sink into horribleness? But Jesus how can people actually defend all this rape and child abuse…

  4. Hi, hi! Umm, so my response turned out kind of long………and I ended up publishing it on Tumblr because of how decently well-ordered it turned out to be (and because formatting it was easier…)

    “Since the main point of Froggy’s piece is about community response, I’ll skip over the actual content of the anime (noting only that the fact the JB rape scene was done in chibi adds another different, awful dimension to the way the scene was sold & that I think Grisaia is gross).

    But, anyways. On to the rest of post, which I think is good. I really do. However, the entirety of this conversation Froggy raises seems to be screaming at me that there’s a huge, deeper issue that you’ve missed for something that’s really only a symptom of a bigger problem. My Catholic is definitely going to be showing here, so I want to make clear that, as I continue this post, I definitely don’t mean to dismiss what he’s written here consent—I absolutely do not want to hand wave the issue he’s pointed out away, only to make an argument addressing something bigger than this.

    Here’s the line: the real problem here NOT that 14-15 year old boys on MAL don’t understand the ethics of consent, it is that they, in a way that’s so obvious it’s easy to miss, have an inherently disordered understanding of sex.

    The underlying mentality that I see in every single one of the comments Froggy quotes is: “Sex is good. Everybody wants sex all the time.” I don’t think I need to draw the lines between cultural obsession with sex and these kinds of attitudes to show where this kind of through process comes from. And if that’s what you’ve been conditioned to believe about sex, OF COURSE this is going to be the reaction you’d have to scenes like this. If sex is good because it’s sex and if everybody wants sex all the time, why would you believe consent is necessary? Hell, in that kind of worldview, the ethics of consent are like…totally absurd.
    Which, I guess, brings me back to why talking about the ethics of consent on their own inevitably becomes a very low-reward activity (I won’t say pointless because it’s not. It’s still important to do what we can while we can). It’s addressing a symptom of a deeply held understanding about how the world works, not the mentality itself. Talking about the ethics of consent when “sexisgreateverybodyalwayswantssex” is constantly running through the heads of these forum-goers isn’t going to…won’t…can’t change anything, because it’s fundamentally incompatible with their larger understanding of sex.

    And then blah blah blah I can run down all the Catholic talking points about how this issue basically comes down to removing sex from its proper context inside of a committed marital relationship vis-a-vis commodification/commericialism/etc. But I don’t really feel look doing. I’ll simply point out that what we’re seeing in these reactions is, yes, a consequence of the horrific way (I think) society thinks about, talks about, and acts on sex. And if you disagree, I think you’re deliberately closing your eyes to something you probably know is true.
    To close, I want to again note that I think this is a great post Froggy’s written, that it touches on some really important stuff, and that I really don’t intend to invalidate the importance of talking about this.

    But the reality, I think, is that this is nothing more than a stopgap. Until the way people understand sex changes, we will have this conversation thousands of times and keep having it. And, while maybe a few people will be convinced, it will ultimately be nothing more than a drop in the bucket. The least effective, least efficient, most short-term fix.

    So, let’s keep talking about the ethics of consent. Let’s do the absolute best we can to rid people of this notion that consent isn’t a black and white matter.

    But maybe we should start opening our eyes to the real problem, too.”

    • Oh, balls, I forgot to close my html code on the link. Can you fix that for meeeee <3

    • Thanks for the response!

      What I like about your comment is that it made me realise that the ethics of consent is a bipartisan issue. No matter what your political stance / religious denomination is, we can agree that respecting other human beings is important.

      I do agree that those MAL commenters were attaching too much importance to sex and that it’s part of a broader tendency in society to commodify sex. Now, I’m more liberal about this matter than you are. I think people should be allowed to have sex with whomever they want, as long as there’s consent. I also think that part of the reason society talks about sex in such unhealthy ways is because sexuality is repressed. If it weren’t so taboo to talk about sex to begin with, then it would be easier to have meaningful conversations about consent instead of falling back on how “great” or “exotic” sex is.

      I also think that society as a whole is getting better at this. Thirty years ago or so, marital rape wasn’t considered a Thing. Now we’re talking about rape more openly and that’s a good thing. Instead of sweeping the problems under the carpet, we’re addressing them.

      Of course, becoming more open about sex has also permitted sex to become more openly commodified (inevitable in a capitalist society, I think). Saying this through the perspective of someone who has studied global sex trafficking, there are areas where sexual exploitation has only deepened. And yet in some countries, where sex work is more sanitised and the workers feel more empowered, it’s harder to judge whether it’s exploitative or not. I understand that assigning monetary value to sex is inherently uncomfortable to you, but I personally remain ambivalent.

      But yeah, if someone wants to have sex only with the person they love or to wait until marriage, that’s totally their choice and they shouldn’t be ridiculed for doing so. And at the heart of all this sex talk is the fact that we are all human beings, with complex needs and desires. Respecting that is important.

      • > a bipartisan issue

        It is! If you lose track of the fact that there are people out there getting raped for some kind of grand ideal of a healthy society, you’ve entirely missed the point!

        Frankly, I agree with you that repression of sexuality in unhealthy and bad, for a lot of reasons—primarily because it’s not some dirty, gross thing that we need to repress. Now, of course, we probably differ in the specifics of what that kind of discourse ought to look like and how it’s directed and I would definitely have some thoughts on the phrase “allowed to have sex” (versus “ought to have sex”), but those kind of details, I think, I secondary to a need for a motion towards healthier attitudes towards sex.

        In the end, though, we wind up up back at the most important thing: there are a whole bunch of humans out there in the world and every single darn one of them posses inherent dignity simply by the virtue of the fact that they’re human. If we start there, then we can actually move forward in trying to figure out what the best way to make sure that happens is.

        • arbitrary_greay

          I’m reminded of the grand tradition of teen sex comedies, wherein a group teenage guys try to do anything to lose their vriginities and/or bag the hottest girls in school. American Grafitti. American Pie. 16 Candles. Weird Science. Superbad. Even Glee lampoons the stereotype of the frustrations of a boy with a girlfriend who refuses to “give it up” to him. Even one of my favorite Jdramas, Stand Up!, is about the hijinks of a group of perverts who get outed as the last people at their high school to be virgins.

          One point that Stand Up! highlighted to me was that the adults were always trying to push their kids towards abstinence, and both assuming that their kids would do everything to circumvent that, but also that they were darling angels that shouldn’t be thinking about sex at their age.

          The “romanticization” of sex, leading adults to want their kids to treat it as special and to put it off until they find “the one” or whatever, seems partially responsible for kids getting the impression of sex as delectable forbidden fruit to be obtained through any means. (there’s almost a parallel here to people’s attitudes towards marijuana and the criminalization of it)

          On the other hand, as with any milestones of adolescence, power hierarchies spring up between the haves and the have-nots. High school freshmen look down on middle school seniors. Sophomores look down on freshmen. Graduates look down on those still in school. Those with cars are cooler than those who don’t. And those who have had sex literally have more XP than pathetic virgins. (Unless you’re a girl stuck with the Madonna/whore complex. Lose-lose!) I’m honestly not sure how to dismantle some of those jealousies, because at that age, “it gets better” accounts and “be yourself” messages seem hokey and disingenous. The BBC teen series Skins strongly resonates with their audience by hiring younger writers to sincerely write about the things they’re interested in, but man, some of those storylines come off overblown (and the characters like complete buttfaces) from an older viewpoint. Romeo & Juliet is young love, as youth see it, and it’s not a cautionary tale to them.

          In the end, I come to the same answer as always: more diverse media. For every traditional (male-centered) teen sex comedy, include some from the female perspective, like Little Darlings, or Jennifer’s Body. Let them see the alternatives in adult-perspective media that doesn’t also belittle youth. Sure, lots of people rightfully take the piss out of SAO 16.5, but the point that it is a rare and refreshing case of anime presenting a romance beyond confession, (and a fairly healthy one, at least in Aincrad) is just as valid. The case of Grisaia/Cross Ange and the reactions to them wouldn’t be as glaring if there were enough existing counter-examples of healthy sexual relationships in anime.

          • This response is a few days late, but I recently read a blog post on the topic you might be interested in: http://noplaceforsheep.com/2015/06/06/porn-is-a-symptom-not-a-cause/

            It’s about porn, but the blogger’s argument about misogynistic porn as a symptom rather than a cause of unrealistic expectations about sex struck me as on point.

            On one hand, I’d take it as a positive sign about how far the conversation about consent has progressed that a random anime blogger like me can bring it up and people will understand what he’s talking about. But healthy sex education still has a long, looooong way to go. My high school’s sex education program was fairly liberal by Catholic school standards, but I never heard a word about “consent” until I entered university.

            And now I’m remembering high school. Lots of “It’s not rape if she enjoyed it!” jokes from the guys. Lots of girls slut shaming other girls. Lots of homophobia. And I never batted an eyelid at the time. DAMN. Kids these days…

            • arbitrary_greay

              I think there’s something to be said for how most females prefer to read their porn, through fanfiction or smut novels. This leaves the majority of the video porn arena to cater to guys. (Or rather, to what guys think guys should want.) At the point at which romance/harlequin and fanfiction are so looked down upon, is it any wonder that women’s sexual tastes are dismissed in other arenas, both in video porn and meatspace encounters?

              That said, this article is continually relevant. Even within “smut by women, for women,” there’s is absolutely space for the super problematic stuff played straight, as fetish and kink.
              However, the difference between Jaydra here and the MAL commenters you pointed out in the OP is that Jaydra is self-aware. She knows why she likes this kink, how real-life applications involve much more cuationary measures like safe words and the like, and what exactly she is and isn’t taking away from this piece of media. In contrast, the MAL commenters seem unaware of how their comments reflect their subconscious beliefs of entitlement, so then Grisaia goes from “enjoyable as a kink” to “reinforcing ideals that do real damage to real women.”

  5. ” but did the writers really understand that it was abusive and not simply “forbidden love”?”

    I doubt it.

    It is a common idea that men always want sex, and therefore men (and boys by extension) can’t be raped (heck, there are actual legal jurisdictions where women can’t be convicted of raping men). This isn’t confined to the anime fandom. Those comments on MAL are vile, but unsurprising – I’ve heard similar things whenever a teacher is caught having a relationship with an underage student. “LOL, he’s so lucky, he scored” an whatnot.

    I don’t live in Japan or speak Japanese, so I can’t say with authority if this attitude is prevalent in Japan as well. It wouldn’t surprise me, however.

    • Yep, it’s definitely just not a MAL thing or even an internet thing. You hear opinions like that in every walk of life.

      I also can’t speak about Japanese attitudes with any authority but… yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me either.

  6. I agree that consent is important. That said, I think you should try a bit harder to look under the hood and attempt to understand why people think otherwise, especially if you want to speak to it. Or maybe question if they even do think otherwise. Are they defending rape or expressing their own feelings while being entirely confused about what they think? I see a bit of both in the comments you copied. It’s also important to note that people can feel differently than what they think or how they act toward real people. Younger people in particular tend to suck at expressing themselves. Either way this show has made them think about it. That is a good thing in my book.

    I see you asking if the writers understand how this all works. I am wondering if you really understand it either. I don’t entirely understand it myself. I also have to admit that while I have been following the story to a degree I haven’t watched the anime. I plan to read the VNs whenever seki project releases them. Take what I have to say as a general statement. Comedy rape is a frequent enough thing that I feel like a general statement applies to far more than this one story.

    What I can say is that I actually have been sexually assaulted myself, not that it was a big deal. An emotionally unstable girl tried to assault a much stronger boy and it didn’t work out in her favor.

    I’ve dated a girl who wanted to be abused. She all but asked me to rape her on one occasion. I never did mind you, but several of her friends told me about it and she even asked one of my sisters to tell me to do it.

    I want to say one person’s rape is another person’s thrill seeking. I also want to make it clear that it bothers me as much as it bothers you. I do not think anything about rape is a good thing. I think it’s important to note that it can function as thrill seeking because it can and not because I think people should do it.

    The problem is that people can enjoy negative emotions. Fear can be a turn on. I feel like it’s a fairly well know thing that people can become aroused when their life is on the line.

    People are ignorant about rape. I think that is the real problem. More importantly people are ignorant about trauma in a general sense. Some critics make me so mad when they write about trauma. It’s so obvious to me that they have no idea how people who have actually been traumatized feel. A different rant for a different time.

    I don’t really want to condemn the girl I dated. I don’t want to condemn that emotional unstable girl either. Even back then I wished it was within my power to help them. They were both generally wonderful people in their own way. Most of the time…

    I will also say that I laugh about my own trauma. It isn’t rape, but the only thing taking those feelings seriously has ever accomplished is making me want to murder doctors. Comedy can be power over a thing. Should it be looked at that way? I am not going to say that. I certainly don’t look at it that way all the time so it would be hypocritical of me to say otherwise. My only point is that it can be looked at that way.

    I know I’ve defeated my own demons when I can not only laugh at them, but laugh with them. I look at fiction like this and wonder if it fills a similar function. The important thing to note is that some people actually like and enjoy these emotions. It’s their actions and not their thoughts or emotions that define who they are in the end I think. Or maybe I’m completely wrong and I need more Jesus. I don’t think you will find many people who are more agnostic about their own ideas than I am.

    I don’t know if anyone without faces attached to the would be condemned really understands what it is I’m trying to communicate. It feels awful to condemn someone.

    Ignorance be fixed. People can be redeemed. Often I find that understanding ideas is all it takes. People don’t need to change the way they feel, they need to change the way they think. It’s possible to control and contain the way your feel with the way you think. The opposite is… lets just say it’s much harder. I don’t want to call it impossible because I don’t believe that. It’s not easy.

    In my experience most people who feel like you don’t understand them won’t listen to you. If you just want to condemn those people who enjoy awful things then /shrug who doesn’t?(I don’t actually think that applies to you which is why I am writing this) If you actually want to help them and not just their potential victims you have a lot to think about I think.

    One final note… Victims can empathize with their aggressors. It can be like a zombie outbreak of negative emotions. There is little worse than understanding the feelings of someone who has wronged you and being unable to express it because everyone else is condemning them. In my personal experience I’ve found that those “bastards” who proudly enjoy their dark fantasies are often much closer to understanding traumatized victims than much nicer people who just want to help. Do I think it’s always like that? No, I don’t. That is simply my own personal experience.

    Sometimes part of understanding a victim is understanding the people who wronged them. Sometimes that empathy is the trauma I think. The cold hearted comedy that pisses you off so much for trivializing awful things can be medicine for the victims you want to help. Is it always? Of course not. Maybe that is why critics end up pissing me off so much… Hrmm… Now I have something to think about.

    As always I apologize if I haven’t been clear enough. I seem to be really good at that when I comment on your blog. You are also really good at making me think. I appreciate that.

    • First off, thanks for sharing your personal story. I’m sorry about your experience. Even if you can laugh about it now, I still think you went through something difficult, and I’m glad you can recognise that it was sexual assault.

      I want to say one person’s rape is another person’s thrill seeking. I also want to make it clear that it bothers me as much as it bothers you.

      This makes me think of romance novels, which I have been reading lately, many of which express fantasies of women being sexually dominated by “bad boys”. Those tropes don’t appeal to me at all, but I believe they do say something about how complex sexual desire is, particularly for women. Of course, there’s a world of difference between enjoying rape fantasies and actually being raped. One is a perfectly controlled environment, the other is not.

      I also understand what you’re saying about victims having complicated feelings about their abusers. It is very important to understand why victims often stay with their abusers. I work with children, and one of the things I learned very quickly is that abused children almost always want to stay with their abusive parent/guardian and will object to being separated.

      One of the things I actually liked about Grisaia is that, at times, I felt as if it understood those nuances. My original draft contained an extra paragraph about Yuuji’s relationship with his sister and why it felt interesting to me. In the end, though, I decided that teaching the basic lessons about consent was more useful to my audience. MAL comments might be low-hanging fruit, but when people don’t understand the basic principles of consent, it doesn’t matter how nuanced the rest of my argument is. You can’t have a fruitful conversation about rocket science with someone who doesn’t understand high school level physics. (Not that abuse is rocket science, but there are steps in understanding.)

      Oh, and I wouldn’t necessarily assume that all the MAL commenters on the Grisaia forum are young. It’s true that the community as a whole skews young, but Grisaia is an 18+ game, and I actually suspect that a good deal of the fanbase is older than me.

      • Don’t feel sorry for me. The girl who assaulted me never really stood a chance of getting what she wanted. I spent maybe 5 minutes using martial art techniques to push her away from me without hurting her before running away. She almost got my belt buckle at one point and that was far as it went. I was more afraid someone else would walk in and think I was responsible for her state of undress than I was of her. It still confuses me. Everyone in that youth group knew I could kick their ass if I needed to. I wasn’t exactly the most friendly kid around. I think half that youth group was convinced I was gay too!(I don’t want to explain that one atm) More than anything else I just remember feeling sorry for her.

        What really made me feel bad was knowing that she spent the whole night crying and that no one could figure out why. I knew of course and said nothing. I didn’t want to anyone thinking I was responsible and honestly I really wasn’t. I don’t even know her name actually and I don’t think I ever did. I felt equally bad when she quit the youth group. Thing is, the only thing I have to feel bad about in her case is that I didn’t do anything to help.

        I think I know what being traumatized is like, but my trauma isn’t something I shared here. If I ever manage to write that up in a way I’m okay with sharing I’ll post it on my own blog.

        I think I am good at understanding people and I also feel like the ability is completely wasted on me. Why can’t someone who has the energy to care more than I do have it instead? That is where my relationship with empathy is at for the moment.

        It’s cool to hear that you are working with abused children. I guess I can understand why this is so important to you. That said, I don’t think you are entirely fair to your audience. This isn’t MAL. The people who really need to understand what it is you want them to get probably aren’t here. Or maybe I just wish you would talk rocket science for my own selfish reasons. lol

  7. And after they drink the tea consentfully they say “You know what, now I regret drinking that tea, RAPE!”

    • oh dear god i hope you’re not serious.

        • I censored your comment. Regardless of whether you meant it as a joke, fat shaming is in very poor taste.

          • I thought being obese gave the entitlement to make jokes of my own kind. Wait, you think fat shaming is worth than rape jokes?

            • It’s not a contest. Neither kind of joke is appropriate here. In any case, your second comment combined fat shaming with a rape joke, so it was the worst of both worlds, tbh.

              Also, your weight is a moot point, because a) nobody can see your physical appearance here, and b) it’s still fat shaming no matter who utters it.

              By the way, the commenting policy isn’t just for my benefit – it’s for anyone who may be reading the comments. This is a sensitive topic, so I decided to be on the safe side. I made it clear in the post that I would be moderating comments, so don’t think you didn’t have any warning.

              You’re still free to make comments on this post and elsewhere. Just try to be sensitive about how others may interpret what you say. Thanks.

            • ‘your second comment combined fat shaming with a rape joke’
              – If you can read this sentence with a straight face, I have nothing more to say here XD

  8. Japan is a weird place where a lot of things are taken as fetishes (Rape’s one of the most common, incest, twincest, Lolicon, cheating, the childhood friend, bestiality…. I can’t finish this list),

    I haven’t watched or read anything related to the Grisaia series, but after reading your post, I assume the writers tried to pull out the story using some of the supposedly most common paraphylias in Japan (Perhaps being Shotacon, incest and Female Domination this time) in order to attract more fans. It happens a lot in Anime, the original story of any Manga, Light Novel or Visual Novel can be really astonishing, but in order to sell more, they have to add fanservice, Anime is full of fan service nowadays, so they have to use some fetishes considered as “hot” in Japan; it doesn’t matter how despicable it is, it’s considered hot here (Incest, Rape…) so I guess there won’t be any major trouble.

    I think that it would be really interesting to compare the Anime with the VN since I’ve seen a lot of awesome stories being crushed in Anime adaptations; for example: I really liked Yosuga no Sora, I have to admit mostly it was for the fanservice, but not only because of that, I thought the story was really interesting and heartwarming to some extent (two siblings that lost their parents and moving in by themselves, still teenagers and surviving the every day life with their friends, I guess it sounds kind of cheesy but, I like it.)

    unfortunately, in the anime the plot was: “Haruka (MC) is fucking everybody, even her sister!” (Talking about fetishes again..) but since I liked Yosuga no Sora a lot, I played the visual novel and I have to say that they focused the anime in a different direction. The VN is obviously about MC-kun doing her friends and sister, but not only that, there were some scenes in which MC-kun explained the pain of living alone with his sick and introvert (Probably due to the loss of her parents) sister. The lack of affection in the house, the loneliness, the financial struggles and something that really shook my heart: the direction of their lives and where were they heading with their actions. in conclusion, the VN is hundreds of times deeper than the anime. But, hey, the anime was pretty popular (Thanks fanservice-sama!). So I guess the VN may be deeper than the anime, just a guess though.

    At some point, I guess the writers are reaching the goal with the anime considering the fact that the fandom reacted more to the fetishist fan service than the dark past of the MC. The fandom (including myself, of course.) is so used to this type of topics that they can only root for the poor MC. I have to clarify that I do enjoy fanservice, but I think that sometimes the way is portrayed is not the best. I think the writers have a moral responsibility to NOT glorify the rape or child abuse.

  9. I have to say I didn’t think of any of the scenes with JB or Asako as rape/child abuse at the time. In my opinion it’s because of how these ‘scenes’ were portrayed explains the fact that many of those scenes were celebrated and did not invoke outrage. If the animators, and directors had conveyed a more sinister spirit in their depiction even something as simple as JB crying in her sleep I believe more people would have felt differently.The sibling stuff I found very creepy and unfortunately wasn’t surprised that many didn’t. This is something that many in the anime fan base have grown accustomed to, and openly accept as a trope now. At least from what I’ve seen the only outrage/anger I saw from commentators pertained to when it was a man abusing a little boy(Yuuji in this case). It’s a shame that the anime had to stoop to such a level, but they could be restricted by the VN or the pressuring of catering to those who will buy their product.

    I don’t have any knowledge of the VN or what’s going on with the series at this point, because I dropped it a while ago. Anyone who is honest with themselves knows that the plot is pretty much non-existent, and it’s a show that’s hard to get invested in unless you are very familiar with the VN.

    • Yeah, framing is super important. I’d say the blame falls on the creators for not getting the creepiness of the scenes across, but like you said, these are accepted fanservice tropes. It’s clear that the creators do know that rape/child abuse are wrong in the abstract because of how they portrayed Heath Oslo (I had to look up his name because I forgot it lol…) but of course women are more than capable of abusing young boys too.

      I dropped the Rakuen anime after episode 2. After foreshadowing Yuuji’s past so much in the VN, the end result was kind of… underwhelming.

      • There’s a scene in the VN where Yuuji’s mom fucks him, I think she was his first time..

        I read your entire article and while I do agree with stuff I think you’re overreacting too much, it’s an anime based on an eroge, of course there’s incest, sex and some rape. The fact that the MC got fucked by his mom and that his master fucked him as a birthday present and then his military instructor and so on and on should tell you the simple fact that it’s a game made so that people can jerk off to it(I do enjoyed the story of the first VN though, it was fun).

        In the end it’s not real, so who cares if rape is considered a minor issue? That’s the problem with you people, you think everything should be translated to RL and you’re wrong.

        • i never read the Visual Novels but as far as i heard, that scene with his mother is just a fanservice, not real. his father raped his mother though.

          also just because it’s not real doesn’t mean one shouldn’t care. many fictional stories and characters inspired many people in different ways, and they are most of the times fake. people get attached to fictional stuff and it’s totally ok as long as they don’t get delusional. it’s not like the author wants everything to be translated to real life, he/she just didn’t like how this subject was handled and wanted to talk about it.

          personally as far as i heard, i don’t believe Asako abused Yuuji and i don’t believe Yuuji raped JB. otherwise both JB and Yuuji would be bitter about it in the future. it’s not easy to forgive and forget abuse and rape so Asako obviously knew what she was doing. however i agree that it was handled poorly imo.

    • You should be atonished that in the VN, JB is CRYING while Yuuji is going to rape her:

      http://www.mcanime.net/foro/viewtopic.php?p=10880635#10880635

  10. Quite a late comment, but the article was worth the read so I decided better late than never.
    I’ll start by mentioning that I’ve never played the VNs myself (I’m not of legal age yet), and haven’t watched the anime, but I’ve seen my brother play all three games and basically dictate the story to me. I wasn’t aware of JB’s first time being rape, and although I knew Yuuji’s with Asako’s was a statutory rape, I wasn’t told well about the part that he can’t really refuse. I decided that I can still sort of pass off the latter (without knowledge of the part he can’t really say no) as it is an eroge when it comes down to it, and that they both said fine.

    But wow, this one with JB is really not on. Even in the anime, if you take out the part that the characters are shown in SD form, the setting is almost everything that would be needed in the classic rape situation: being dragged away, drunkenness, being egged on, romantic feelings, and of course, no consent. I’ll probably think more than twice about touching this series, and not just because of the odd red lines on the eyes.

    Not at all in defense of this though, I would like to point out that there is a culture in Japan of ‘initial refusal’ – for example, when a neighbour who recently came home from a trip came to your door and offered you a somewhat good gift (maybe a large box of local specialty sweets), it’s generally the norm to initially refuse, though you intend to receive it in the end. A strange hassling of both sides to budge goes on for a bit (it’s a really useless formality) until finally the receiving end would budge and accept the gift with lots of thanks. As I said earlier, I’m not quite at the age to understand all these antics people in Japan have about sex and formalities prior to it, but I’m guessing this is meant to lead to the ‘no means yes’ when it comes to sex.

    Finally, I’d like to ask you to repay me because those comments from MAL most definitely decreased my lifespan as I went through half of them before I gave up. I may have been dead had I gone through them all.

    • From my experience with Japanese H doujinshi, “no means yes” is a prevailing trope. I assumed it was a fetish so I didn’t think too hard about it. But it turns up even in supposedly romantic stories, so it’s I’m guessing it’s seen as one of the more “softcore” fetishes. Mind you, “no means yes” is a common trope in Western smut as well, so I’m not sure it is entirely to do with Japan’s “initial refusal” culture. I don’t think it’s actually expected for people in a relationship to go through that whole rigmarole of saying no to sex when they mean yes, unless they’re roleplaying. But that trope has definitely been used to justify some really bad stuff irl.

  11. thanks for all the hard work. i know i am late to the “party” but just wanted to thank you for the hard work you put into this.

    i am not a Grisaia fan and i never read the Visual Novel, but as far as i heard and know, both Yuuji and JB are cool with their past and cool with Asako. if for example JB believed that she was raped, i highly doubt she could let it go that easily, so i can only assume that she doesn’t consider what happened to be rape. however i agree that the subject of abuse and rape wasn’t handled well enough and that’s the issue and that’s why i understand why you are displeased with it and felt the need to write this article. for the same reason i felt the need to make this comment and say thank you for this effort.

    • Aww, thank YOU for the comment.

      There are realistic reasons why JB would not believe that she was raped. (i.e. she might have figured that it was her responsibility since she was the one who decided to drink.) That doesn’t mean the scene was justified or that it wasn’t rape. Perhaps one can’t expect an anime like this to depict a situation like that with the nuance it deserves. But it is certainly fair to expect that it wouldn’t be the subject of a tasteless joke.

  12. The anime is fake. Yes,the scene with Oslo was nasty. Yes,the scene where(I think) his sister may have done some oral was gross. I was sitting next to my younger brother,we are both adults a b d don’t do incest (gag). Some people will react worse than others,it was there to be gritty. I personally do not hate the anime.

  13. I think is extremely irresponsible to bring a huge amount of your own personal issues and idiosyncrasy into something that isn’t made for your region, this is a japanese show made for japanese view, for a japanese moral compass and idiosyncracy. The fact that most of you are asking japanese creators to take into account your own views is proof of how arrogant and narrow minded you really are, or do you think that every habit you have is view as normal in the rest of the world?
    Despise my thoughts on wether the anime is good or not, before I watch a movie, series, anime, etc. I take into consideration that what is normal for the author might not be normal for me.

    • Whoa there. You’re putting a whole lot of words into my mouth that I didn’t actually say. For what it’s worth, I’d also feel irritated at someone if they said the things you think I’m saying.

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