The Secret CG for 100%-ing the game.

The Secret CG for 100%-ing the game.

I guess I should first apologize for having a spoiler before the usually “read more” cut-off.

But I don’t really care, it’s just a nice reward for playing their game, and not an actual story spoiler. Bite me.

I should start with why, after a bit over 5 years, I am making another post about this game.

Well, it’s because (like I promised 5 years ago!) that I would 100% this game.

21497626eb33e2c11ee954c8fcdef1b4

So I did.

I guess this could be considered a follow-up to my previous blogs about KS (see here for Emi, and here for Hanako&Lily).

It’s been a long time since I touched this game. A few days after I made the second post about KS, I was starting on Rin’s route. I don’t know why I chose to learn her story before Shizune, the other remaining character, but it was probably because of a forum post I read about it. Someone said something like “Reading Rin’s story changed my life”. Yes, it was definitely a bit dramatized, but what can you do? I remember being a little interested, and was generally enjoying the character before I stopped playing.

I don’t think I had a reason I stopped playing – I just did. Maybe it was a loss of passion for the game. I had learned about the 3 characters I was originally interested in, and that was it. I do remember this being the time I was looking for things to distract me from IB, so once I lost interest I just went to something else to distract me. I do know what I found to keep my interest afterwards though. First it was a bit of nostalgia in playing Maplestory. Playing a new class that felt very similar to another class I had always longed to play. Playing the amusing truth or dare games via the still horrible in-game chat messenger will remain an enjoyable memory. At times the game did feel very lonely. Out of the three of us who were playing, I definitely felt like the odd one out. I definitely realized they didn’t fold the same feelings that I did for the game. The nostalgia alone Maplestory illicits is one beyond what my poorly constructed words are capable of. That paired up with my eagerness to actually progress in the game and the lack thereof from the other two quickly ended that tale of nostalgia.

What came afterwards could only be worse though. In my increasing frustration over school and lack of an outlet for that frustration, I ended up installing one of the games I had sworn off of because it looked so dumb – League of Legends. People who know me now might find that incredibly amusing because in the last 5 years League has taken up a large part of my life. In fact, I’m probably only into e-Sports because of League. I know I definitely wouldn’t be in the UBC eSports club if it wasn’t for the game.

But I digress, this blog is supposed to be about disabled girls (Katawa Shoujo).

As I had reformatted my computer maybe 2-3 times in the last 5 years, I had no save file of any kind to work with. I originally was going to just hold CTRL and just skip through all the text for the routes I had already played, but then quickly realized I remembered very little of the actual story and plot of the game. So there I went, playing the game all over again.

Emi

Emi – all art is from the game

I started with Emi’s path, just like last time. Not because I wanted to do the same order as I did before, but because it just happened like that. I just made choices that I would actually make if I were in that scenario (or to the best of my ability) and that’s where I ended up.

While replaying the route, I found myself disliking the main character (MC) a lot more. A lot of the questions he would ask felt very obvious. The things he wasn’t aware of were very obvious too. The reasons that he couldn’t see felt incredibly obvious to me. Maybe part of it is that I have played through the game already, but I did not remember the scenes from my first playthrough. Maybe it has to do with the 5 year gap between when I first played, and now. This could possibly be a sign that I have matured a bit, and that I am now able to see beyond my once small scope. It was easy to see why the characters would react that way once I took it from their perspective.

That didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the story though. For me, Emi’s story ended with a reminder that people who lose things don’t want to lose them again. It’s very obvious once I type it out like that, but once you realize how far certain people are willing to go to prevent the second loss, that tidbit dawns on you again. It’s a bit of a Roll Safe meme, but it was very much a “can’t lose something precious if you never have anything precious again” vibe. It wasn’t that the game over-exaggerated that and made an unrealistic character, because real people do that all the time. I guess you could also give them a pass because the game is about people with physical disabilities, and usually an extraordinary thing like that promotes excessive-ness.

Lilly

Lilly – her outfit is beautiful!

Next I guess is Lilly. I think I played her route before Hanako 5 years ago, but I wasn’t sure. If so, I ended up doing the same thing again. I will always remember Lilly’s route because of the scene where the above CG is shown. The music that plays during it (“Red Velvet”), and the beauty of her outfit was just too memorable for me. That song is actually one of my favourites nowadays. 

As a character, Lilly felt very ‘perfect’. Her whole being was one of “perfection” so to speak. She always acted like who you expect someone ‘perfect’ to, and the actual dilemma in her story has very little to do with her actual character. Though, it did stem from her ‘perfectionist’ attitude. The fact that she was unable to make a decision for her own interests, and made them based on what the expectations of her is very ‘perfectionist’ like. So I guess I have to take that back. I guess it just didn’t feel like that the MC was directly affecting her decision or the like, when it’s compared to the other routes. I mean, in the true ending, you fail to stop her at the airport because your heart stops functioning while trying to find her. Then the MC just wakes up in the hospital, laments over his failure, and then suddenly Lilly just appears by your bedside and says she won’t leave you. It kind of just feels like Lilly decides everything, and that your actions don’t exactly affect her decisions, unlike the other routes. Although, it can be argued that the act of failing at the airport is what makes her decide to stay, which is probably true. So maybe Lilly’s story’s decision paths are about in-direct choices when compared to the other routes. It makes a bit of sense, considering the character is blind, and has to make judgements based off of other information to determine what other people would through sight. Interesting.

Hanako - isn't she stylish?

Hanako – isn’t her outfit stylish?

Hanako is the third one. She’s also probably my favourite character of the bunch, I guess. She’s just so… precious, I guess. It makes it easy to like the character. Her shyness and aversion to social situations hits a bit close to home. Although I don’t have half my body scarred due to burns, I always felt insecure about myself because of my weight (I still do, just less now). Mine is much less extreme than hers, but it is so much more relatable I just can’t help but love the character. Her casual outfit is also super cute. The pink night gown is adorable as well. The ending misunderstanding is very possible because of her social inability, and her rejection scene is very realistic too. No one wants to be told what they already know, and the one who knows it best is the one that lives it. It was obvious that she knew her behaviour was a problem. I guess she was seeking empathy from others, but everyone would give her sympathy instead. Pity hurts when you’re looking for a solution to your problems. I don’t want to be reminded of my suffering. If I did, I wouldn’t be trying to fix them. I remember thinking “a relationship is best when it’s comprised of people who were happy before the relationship” when playing. It’s not good to depend on someone for your happiness, which is what the MC inadvertently tries to get Hanako to do with him in her failure route. I need to point out that I didn’t enjoy her conclusion as much though. The explanation while realistic is still very poor, and I didn’t give me the satisfaction that discovering the issue would’ve otherwise brought. I guess that’s partially to blame on the writing of the MC, who doesn’t actually realize the problem until a few minutes before the ending (if ever). And also her sex scene is bordering on rape, which is mentioned in the story. I just wish the ending was fleshed out a lot more than just that. I’m fine with the clichés in her story, since her character is very cliché.

I don’t have much else to say. I actually love this character, much more than the others. Though in reality, burn scars are so much worse than how it’s done in the game’s art. Something like this cosplay would probably be more realistic. I don’t know how much I would love this character in realty though. The burn scars don’t distract from anything in game, and in fact probably are a positive feature, but in reality… I don’t know if I could handle it. However, in this 2D form I am in love with this adorable character.

Shizune (& Misha)

Shizune (& Misha)

Shizune was a character I didn’t think I would enjoy. I’m not sure why I thought that before, but I did. Maybe it had to do with Misha, who is almost always present with Shizune in the beginning of the game. I do wish learning another language in realty was as easy as in the game. The MC picks up what is essentially fluent sign-language in a few months! That’s insane. A bit too unrealistic actually. I might have preferred a story where the MC tries to learn sign-language, but doesn’t become proficient at it 1 hour into the story. A story about the difficulties of communication may have been great too. A read on a forum post that some people did not like Shizune as a character, but I do. Maybe it is because I can identify with some of her characteristics, like wanting to be competitive, and not exactly having a goal in life. To replace that missing over-arching goal, she lets small goals to put her focus towards, and once she succeeds at it, she again finds herself lost. Her personality of seeing a problem and then single-mindedly wanting to fix it ends up being the dilemma in her story. It was a bit surprising to learn that Misha is in love with Shizune, but it made a lot of sense. I enjoyed how Shizune understood her flaws and had to rely on someone else to fix the situation because she didn’t have the capacity too. It shows a bit of reflection to acknowledge your flaws and then ask for help. It made me like the character a lot more than before.

Rin

Rin

I played Rin’s story last. For a large part of the story I felt confused and lost. Usually there’s this mental progress bar that lets you mentally keep track of where you are approximately in the story. It also helps to determine how close the MC is to getting his long awaited girlfriend. But for Rin, that mental progress bar did not exist. Every decision choice was confusing, the story was innately confusing, and the character her self was confusing. I mean, even the MC says that he will never understand her because she is so confusing! Near the end of the story, you learn that Rin continues to paint because she is confused about how she is supposed to act in this world. It’s a form of escapism for her, I guess. It’s not that she aspires to be a famous painter, but it was because she had nothing left in her life but art. The part of the art teacher pushing his expectations upon her is relatable by most children. Their family, friends, and teachers all have expectations for them, and their expectations are forced upon them, even if they might not want to do it in the first place. It’s nice that the true ending is her realizing what she is doing isn’t want she wants to do, and then continues on her journey to find what she wants to do, her way. Well, that’s just my interpretation I guess. It’s like what Sae says in the game “Everyone interprets art as they will, and interpretation is as much in the eye of the beholder as in the intentions of the creator…. Experiencing art is always personal, only interactive by chance or circumstances.” The character of Rin is very… complex? confusing? indeterminate? It is very much like a piece of abstract art – it’s up to your personal interpretation.

Which I guess is the problem I have with Rin’s story. The other stories can be clearly understood, while Rin’s is difficulty to grasp. I guess this is the charm of her story, and it does tie nicely into the idea of art as well. These aren’t really problems per say. I guess a story is a lot more satisfying when there is a clear ending. But not everything has a clear ending, life sure doesn’t.

And finally, the soundtrack.

If I remember correctly, the soundtrack is made mostly by two people. I honestly love the sound track. There are so many songs that I enjoy from it. They really capture certain emotions very well. “Red Velvet” is probably the sole reason I ever started to enjoy jazz music (probably an exaggeration, but it’s not that far from the truth). “Wiosna” is a very peaceful but mysterious piece that I can never forget (in fact it is one of the few songs from KS that I still have and can listen to on repeat all day). “Strides” is also another fun track. It very much captures the namesake of the song – someone trying to make progress in this confusing world. I’m almost certain I would not have such fond memories of this game if it wasn’t for the soundtrack, which must be a blessing because of how this game was even made.

I can only imagine how I would have felt if I had finished this game 5 years ago, and took away from it what I took away now. While playing through it, I felt like I was making a lot of observations about the characters. Things that 5 years ago I wouldn’t have thought of. I mean, 5 years ago I hadn’t had the fallout of IB and university, so I didn’t really consider such things like lifestyle and happiness, so it makes a bit of sense I didnt notice them back then. But now I feel like I can appreciate the game a lot better because of my understanding and experience from reality. Things like trying to be yourself, and trying to find happiness in yourself were things that I knew about 5 years ago, but didn’t understand as clearly as I do now. There are also things like the person who knows their pain the greatest is themselves, that I probably wouldn’t have made an oberservation about back then, that I know now. I find it curious how such a game with adult scenes (that I can now legally experience) could have such an emotional effect on me. I’m not sure what the lasting effects on my life will be, but maybe I’ll find that out in another 5 years when KS celebrates its 10th birthday. That would be interesting, and a bit magical.

At the end of the day I can only imagine how many damned stars aligned for such a beautiful game to arise from a sketch image made in 2000.

The sketch page in question. By RAITA a doujin artist who worked on Valkyria Chronicles (another game I love that I've yet to finish).

The sketch page in question. By RAITA a doujin artist who worked on Valkyria Chronicles (another game I love that I’ve yet to finish).

Some deity must have been smiling upon the dev team for it to work out so well. A group of 21 volunteers from around the world that originated from 4chan somehow making this beauty is a bit incredible. Their Dev Blog (start pre-2012 to see the actual development blogs) makes you wonder how the game was even completed. I don’t think another game like this will ever be created again. No matter how the ‘spiritual successor’ of Katawa Shoujo, Full Hearts, goes, KS will remain special. At least to me.

I’m sure 10 years from now I’ll still have fond memories of this game, even if I might not want to play it all again. Ahhh, if only I had made this post on the game’s 5th birthday… it would’ve been so perfect!

My grades sure wished I hadn’t spent this entire week playing the game instead of studying.

And now that I think about it, a bit of me wishes that too.

Advertisements