Being an anime fan for the last 6 years or so I’ve heard the term Visual Novel I’ve seen anime produced from visual novels such as Clannad, Air, School Days and Shuffle to name a few. Mainly they’ve been harems or what not then I heard about Katawa Shoujo produced from an unlikely source 4Chan and its free. I played a bit of it and I was ho-humm on it I really got into it then dropped it. Recently though I picked it back up and for the last several days haven’t been able to stop playing until now. Its probably best that you’ve played the game and are familiar with the characters and events of the game plus there are SPOILERS
This isn’t going to be a review more like my collective thoughts and feelings while playing the game. I’ve heard from other people saying you are there to take hte disabled girls and make them feel better or vice versa because after all you the main character has a bad heart. My first girl was Emi, a girl who was spunky and had no legs she wore prosthetic legs or whatever and she ran track a lot. I quickly realized how easily you can become attached to a character I spent a lot of time reading and hoping for the “good” ending and i got it but by the end I felt like I was so connected to Emi almost like I knew her. Now of course this is all made up and fake but I was surprised that I could get sucked into the story and the events around it.
Then I quit for several months until a few days ago I then played Lilly and it touched a nerve. Growing up I went to a school for disabled kids, it was a school for the blind as I’ve stated a few times in the podcast I’m legally blind. I’ve dated a girl for 5 years who was almost 100% blind I KNOW where the main character is coming from and Lilly’s arc touched a nerve for me because it was so related-able. I really loved hte fact that she didn’t let her blindness be a indifference of course anyone in her situation would be limited in some nature but I really feel like the writers were taking a lot of time and care or at least someone who may know someone or can relate in some way. Now I may just be over thinking it but I really liked the writing of her path and overall found it enjoyable I did care for the ending though it seemed to cliche or movie like but man after the credits at first I couldn’t figure out what ending I had got good, bad or neutral? It turns out it was the good ending but I really felt like the after credit stuff was tacked on it would of been interesting to see more.
I also liked Akira the older sister when she has the talk with you about how you can’t always live in a dream or bubble and sometimes you need to make decisions that hurt yourself or others for the greater good and that in life things sometimes just don’t work out I thought it gave very good context to an upcoming event that really came out of thin air but made a big impact on the remainder of the storyline. After finishing Lilly’s path I played Shizune’s and to be honest I was excited when I got to her because in my opinion (this sounds weird) out of all the girls I found Shinzune and Misha the cutest of the bunch and they peaked my curiosity as they are the first two students you meet when you start the game (would this be considered a game?)
I enjoyed the first two acts but the third and fourth really dragged on and to me really felt like Shizune took a back seat to Misha I went though and got the good ending but while playing that I had accidentlly clicked “comfort Misha” and then saw what it lead to so I went from a previous save but I was curious so after getting the good end I went back and did the bad one and was really let down here I thought there would of ebeen fireworks or some kind of big song and dance about how she knew about Hisao sleeping with Misha and how she is felt so betrayed but no. I mean I get what they were going after and I guess thinking back about it now the final scene is emotional because Shizune doesn’t need to say it you can read her like a book in the final scene and the way she says everything you know she knows everything and you’ve lost her trust. The part with her dad though at first I thought it was hilarious but after a while it got old and he looked like a pirate but with a katana.
For the intertwining of Lilly and Shizune’s family tiff I really got tired of all the back handed compliments and fighting it got tiresome after awhile but I did like the fact I did get to do Lilly’s route first because I feel I learned more yes we did learn more about it from Shizune’s point of view but it was nice seeing all that and knowing what was going on from both sides of the characters prospective ut in the end I don’t think it really provided much to the story (maybe I’m wrong here) but what kept me interested what just being engaged with each character.
Those were the only girls I wanted to go down there route finally I went down Kenji’s some how but I didn’t read it and it was quickly over. Speaking of Kenji he is hilarious and other times just really annoying and honestly I found myself skipping over a lot of what he said as I just really didn’t care. Now I may have missed something big but I really doubt it as other than one choice it didn’t matter. Finally we get to hte “H Scenes” first I must say they were done very well they aren’t smutty they are used perfectly to continue the story or show the development of the character reaching their climax (no pun intended). Yes the purpose of hte game is to “date” each girl but Hisao isn’t some guy waltzing around trying to get into every girl’s pants or whatever everything seems to progress naturally and when the H-scenes do occur they feel like they are placed there for a purpose and not to reward the player for sitting though a few hours of text.
Emi and Lilly I was surprised once you got that far with them how both were so willing and able to have sex and then eagerly want more. Not in a DTF Jersey Shore kind of wait but they pretty much took the lead and Hisao was just there to go for the ride. I did find it some what odd that they’d confess or whatever and then the next scene they’d go make love yes they are all of 18 and what not but I thought maybe there was no build up but I guess it has to happen sometime. As far as Shizune goes I was conflicted because the first time Hisao and her made love it was sudden, unexpected and almost like a “we might get caught” kind of deal but then when it was over with there was nothing until nearly the end. With every other girl it didn’t become a central theme or whatever but up until this point every girl was more than willing to go another round or whatever but Shizune it made things not worse but I would say more distant. I would say complicated but the third and fourth act is so heavily focused on Misha I guess Hisao and Shizune’s relationship had to take a back seat because Misha became the focal point. I did enjoy the final H-scene with Shizune though it was a nice way to cap off her route.
Regarding Misha the only way to get her scene is to “comfort her” and at first I thought maybe this is a one time thing only or it will branch into more and honestly I was disappointed that Misha doesn’t get her own story I thought you sleeping with her in Shizune’s story would of meant a lot more in the end she was just depressed and desperate for attention and other them feeling guilty about their actions nothing more came of it especially between Misha and Shizune it also felt like the whole thing about Misha being a lesbian and wanting to date and going as far as confessing to Shizune was just thrown in there to top everything off I really felt it didn’t add anything.
So those are my thoughts on Katawa Shoujo I really don’t know if I’ll be playing any other visual novels as I know they are out there and I’ve found a great resource in http://www.reddit.com/r/visualnovels as they have a great recommendation chart but the reading got to be too much sometimes and I easily would kill 3 or 4 hours not trying on this because the stories in my opinion were that good but I’d also find myself skipping ove t of stuff just so I can get back to the main plot and continue pushing the story forward I guess you could say it is bad but a lot of was filler and in the end didn’t bring anything to the table. If you played htis please let me know your thoughts I’m interested in hearing from anyone else regarding this genre as I’m still new to it and maybe there is more worth going back and checking out.