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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.)