The three Grisaia games from Frontwing are absolute classics of the visual novel medium — and some of our favourite multi-language visual novel releases on Switch. They feature compelling and lengthy narratives with some of the most memorable characters you’ll ever get the chance to hang out with. Today, January 13, it’s the birthday of Makina Irisu, a fearsome young lady I doubt you could forget if you tried.
Early in the Grisaia series, Makina is presented as a rather shy and young-looking girl — she even happily refers to herself as a “loli” — and it’s clear that she has difficulty trusting new people. When protagonist Yuuji shows up, shrouded in mystery and sporting a personality best described as “somewhat peculiar”, she obviously doesn’t quite know what to make of him at first.
Over the course of the Grisaia series as a whole, though, the pair manage to forge a bond with one another — to such a degree that Makina actually ends up offering to “buy” Yuuji in exchange for him playing the role of her father. Up until this point, she’d been referring to him as “Onii-chan” — big brother — but she wants more. She needs an authority figure to look up to and to teach her the things that she doesn’t understand. And, having somehow ended up with more money than she knows what to do with, she believes that making use of that money is the best way to satisfy her desires.
As you might expect, Makina’s odd request is a sign that she grew up without a strong father figure in her early life. I’ll spare you the details — go read the Grisaia VNs! — but suffice to say that her circumstances were not pleasant, to say the least. In fact, they left her hospitalised for several years — during which time she had no-one else to interact with other than the elderly patients around her. This explains how she managed to pick up her foul-mouthed, perverted, slang-filled manner of speaking which forms such an entertaining juxtaposition with her distinctly youthful and cute appearance.
To speak with Makina in the “present day” of first installment The Fruit of Grisaia, you wouldn’t immediately know she had a traumatic past that she had been on the run from for many years. In fact, in contrast with several of the other characters from the main cast with more immediately obvious “quirks” about them — most notably Sachi’s maid obsession, Michiru’s deliberate attempts to hide behind an artificial tsundere personality and Yumiko’s tendency to attack people with a box cutter — there might not initially seem to be anything “wrong” with Makina at all.
She’s fun to hang around with — if a little hard on the ears after a while — and, having already developed a bond with the complete ensemble cast by the time Yuuji joins the story, often seems to be the life and soul of the party. She and her best friend Amane make an enormously entertaining pair, with Amane’s rather motherly tendencies contrasting nicely with Makina’s rambunctious childishness.
Her complete narrative arc is both complex and harrowing, making her a memorable character not just for the fact that she swears like a sailor, but also because she has a fascinating story that deserves to be told. There’s a lot more to this noisy little loli than there might seem at first glance — and you’d better be ready to make some difficult decisions as Yuuji if you decide to get involved with her complicated life. The rewards are worth it, though; Makina is as loyal and committed a friend as you could ever ask for — and despite her seeming immaturity, she is intelligent, talented and extremely quick to pick things up.
Happy birthday, Makina. May you find that light of kindness and hope you’ve been always searching for.