Maaya UchidaYoshino NanjoMikako IzawaGrisaia
Grisaia: Phantom Trigger The Animation
Medium: film
Year: 2019
Director: Tensho
Actor: Atsumi Tanezaki, Ayane Sakura, Kaori Nazuka, Maaya Uchida, Mikako Izawa, Yoshino Nanjo
Keywords: Grisaia, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 90 minutes
Website category: Anime 2019
Review date: 16 September 2019
I like Grisaia and I enjoyed this latest instalment of it, but it's a very loose sequel. Same world, similar set-up, all-new cast. You don't need to have seen the 2014-15 anime to watch this film. All you need to know is that Mihama Academy has got much less subtle about what it does. It's still a haven for troubled, violent schoolgirls, but it's now openly and officially a 'specialist training school' where the students are being trained in assassination. What's more, they regularly go on missions for private clients. They don't know or care who's employing them. This is authorised and encouraged by the school, who regard it as on-the-job training. It's like an internship. The film opens with the girls being ordered to keep one of their targets alive, but killing them all anyway. Rena beats hers to death, then shoots someone else in the room who's still moving. Touka inflicts a headshot when shooting to incapacitate.
Later, in the classroom...
"How did the job go? Weren't you supposed to be on standby for nine hours?"
"Yeah, if the target didn't show up. But the guy strolled through two hours in, so I got the job done early."
That said, though, they're also a bunch of lively and goofy but troubled girls. The bubbly idiot Rena is funny, but also grew up on the streets with only two career options: prostitution or killing people. (There's a flashback scene with her and an equally underage childhood friend being interviewed for these roles by a gangster.) Touka is a tsundere. Christina is the team mother (despite being the same age as everyone else), Murasaki claims to be a "Russian ninja" and Haruto (their minder) is a woman with a man's voice. (I think he's actually male, but look at that hair.)
The film's split into two unequal episodes.
The girls get a new teacher. Her name's Arisaka Shiori and she's completely normal, so goodness knows what happened with Mihama Academy's recruitment procedures. (Maybe the headmistress just likes messing with people's heads? Hmmm. That appears to be true, actually.) Arisaka arrives, needs everything explained to her and is understandably horrified.
Then, after school, she's sitting outside when a man appears, dumps a sinister black bag in front of her and orders her to take the goods. "What to do?" wonders Arisaka. "Maybe I should hand it over to the police or something?" No, that wouldn't be a safe idea.
You can guess how things go after that.
An agent in a coma is being brought home. How sad, how heartwarming... uh, wait, his boss wants to use him as human spare parts, for a heart transplant. That's less nice, although one has to wonder why these people are being atypically roundabout. You want a heart? There are lots of donors walking past on the street outside. Why don't they just snatch the first innocent person they find down a quiet alley? If you're worried about tissue rejection and so on, whack six or seven victims to be on the safe side.
This is a Rena episode. She does some headbutting (literally) with some rival hit-girls who don't like her. (These are girls who'll, apparently out of habit, shoot someone who's surrendering and might have known useful information.) After that, we learn that Rena's crazy. Funny and friendly, but crazy. This is where we get those childhood flashbacks, after a reunion with someone she used to know. There's very little difference between them. One got sold to the government, while the other got sold to a crime syndicate. Unfortunately this means their jobs have just collided.
This episode ends up being charming and nice, which isn't a conclusion you'd expect in this film. It's also extremely violent, though.
Apparently the original computer game isn't pornographic (which is a first for Grisaia), but it's also not a game. It's a "Kinetic Novel". Visual Novels are like multiple-choice gamebooks on your computer, but a Kinetic Novel doesn't even give you any choices. It's got one plot and one ending. It's basically a short story with voice actors and computer graphics.
I enjoyed this film. I'd watch another one... which is good, because they've announced a sequel, called "Grisaia: Phantom Trigger the Animation Stargazer". The subject matter is dark (although lighter than certain earlier Grisaia story arcs), but it's also pretty silly and the girls are fun. They also remind me of the original Grisaia cast, without being outright rip-offs. The show's walking a tonal tightrope and could easily have become either stupid or off-puttingly evil, but in fact it's a good laugh while also having stronger emotional content than you might expect. I'd give it half a recommendation.
"Sorry. I carelessly ran him over in my car."