Better late than never, I wrote up my thoughts on Katawa Shoujo. Figured it was worth posting here, since I never would have heard about KS if not for the SoS podcast. I hope you enjoy this, there’s more to come (in which I’ll talk about the specific paths): http://www.gregalor.com/2012/04/katawa-shoujo-pt1/
Tagged: Katawa Shoujo Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts
@beige Awesome 😀 You’re a gentleman and a scholar, please convey my heartfelt appreciations to Dude who Made Things. High levels of admiration and respect, especially since he was inspired to make a thing, double points because it’s something I also appreciate. Connections between humans, hearts and minds ‘for the win!’ as… the… kids…. say…
If you haven’t checked the podcast thread above, take a look now for an awesome comment from a new listener, @wrdsmth. We’ve also had a very positive response over on the official KS forums, too — check it out.
@redswirl I dunno, dyson power? I think a full squadcast showing up from it coming together last minute had something to do with it
As for tonight’s adventures, I can say that Soul Calibur V is absolutely a game made for competitive play. this ISN’T a recommendation necessarily. Single player is incredibly sparse, story is crazytime, it’s best features are
1. Training mode is amazingly flexible in testing specific scenarios, randomizing certain programmable movesets which permits recognition training of mixups, setups and Ukemi traps
2. Very balanced, we won’t know for a few month’s yet but I can’t think of anyone besides the mimics who ‘cannot compete’
3. Simplified movesets and revamped engine makes things extremely percise, movelists are smaller, but a larger % of moves are ‘functional’ large changes to the Guard Impact systems encourage ‘exciting’ play (more offense, mixups and traps, no more Step-A battles and such)
All these items are based around things like ‘improving your game’ and ‘an even match of strength’ and suchlike. If that sounds great, then by all means roll in and take a look, but if you like just going story-modes and suchlike, skip it, they really didn’t put much attention there.
Also: Squadcast yaaaaaay~ poor Mike 😀 This is all part of my Devious Plan to liberate Rin you know c_c (but naw, I think I’ll stick with Emi, she’s probably better for me, consider this my peace offering c_c)
Perhaps now that it’s actually out I will stop obsessing over all the things I forgot to say or said wrong (my favorite is I’m pretty sure I said Urotsukidoji when I ment Utawarerumono! Ha! Haha! It’s… it’s funny ’cause… uh…. y-you see… um… w-wh…. where is everyone going… ¬_¬
I hope people will forgive me my nervous vocal ticks =P I gotta say, I have a far greater respect for people who are able to go on a recording and just sound like it ‘ain’t no thang~’ so to speak.
Also: a Katawa Shoujo thread sounds like it might be handy now that there is a podcast for it. It doesn’t exactly have any problem with exposure, plus it’ll help blunt the chilling effect of the minor recent drama and the normal social pressures that normally encourage people to remain silent on the topic of ‘the feels’. My end game goal for everything ever is for people to bring as much of themselves as they can to whatever discussion is at hand. When that happens it is, in a word. Rad.
Come to think of it, why wasn’t there a Katawa Shoujo thread?
@bluesforbuddha You totally have a point about the Zelda series losing its “exploration” roots, but I don’t mind a series losing its roots if it becomes something else totally enjoyable. Mind you, I was old enough, if JUST old enough, to remember the original Zelda in its prime, but it honestly wasn’t a game I was crazy for. I spent most of my time playing Mario and Mega Man games. Mind you, I was like 3-5. Zelda 2 was completely beyond my comprehension. Still is, to be honest.
But it’s good that we have games like Dark Souls to fill that sort of “throw you to wolves” mentality alive. To be honest, I always feel bad that I don’t like Dark Souls more than I do. I played it and certainly appreciated it. In a word, I “got” it. I just didn’t find myself going back to it.
For something completely different, recording the Katawa Shoujo podcast inspired me to play through another route (I am so sorry for cheating on you, Rin). I’m playing the Emi storyline, and WOW, what a difference. Like you guys said, it’s amazing how different Hisao acts depending on the girls he’s after. This route is just so much more…cheerier. I can easily see how Emi can give Hisao a much healthier relationship to him than Rin can.
And yet I still would rather be with Rin. What’s wrong with me?
@Beige Great article. I tend to agree with the overall premise although like @redswir1 I don’t think Nintendo will ever be able to truly satisfy both sides of the divide here. In the end, they will get dinged if they radically change the series and they’ll get dinged if they stick to the current formula. If there is one thing from that article I would like Nintendo to implement, it would be the proper open worldness. I have become more and more frustrated by the obvious “This will open up once I get INSERT ITEM HERE later on” visuals cues that you see as you explore the world.
Next point, after saying I would stop after my second go-through of Katawa Shoujo (which ended up being Shizune btw), I am now presently working my way through the other 3 threads. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME!!!??? :p I guess I am truly hooked to the experience. Whodafunkit? Hopefully, I am done in time to truly enjoy the totality of the upcoming squadcast.
I just finished my first play-through of Katawa Shoujo and I ended up on the Emi thread with the “good” ending. Games like these I never would have considered if it wasn’t for the Squad. My initial skepticism subsided pretty quickly and I truly ended up enjoying the experience. It is well-developed and thought out project that doesn’t use the sexual/ erotic imagery gratuitously (despite what one would suspect initially). I was amazed at the quality of the visuals (both characters and backgrounds) as well as the music throughout. The writing could have used a little bit more editing in some spots but the writers did a great job of creating (based on my play-through) well rounded complex characters that aren’t just sex objects that we are trying to “use”. However, I would still be hard pressed to explain myself to family and friends if they walked into the image of anime Japanese characters in erotic situations on my MBP – but that’s what the Squad is for I guess 😉
Anyway, in the end, I fall in the middle category of @unmanneddrone ‘s wonderful sketch. The game was an worthwhile experience, one I am quite happy to have completed but one that doesn’t inspire me to 100% it like @beige or @angryjedi. I’ll probably do one other walk-through just to experience a different thread but that will probably be it.
Next up: Bayonetta completion
Funny (?) story time about having to explain why I stayed up so late last night and was subsequently tired at work:
This guy I work with, who is a pretty big nerd, and once used the term “grok” to describe my understanding of some paperwork, noticed that I was tired today. He is my pseudo boss of sorts, and I know he is in to games, (though not quite the same shit as us, apparently), and I told him I stayed up late playing a game, but that I wouldn’t tell him what it was. A little background: this guy plays a ton of WoW and is seemingly in tune with the MMO scene. He frequently references obscure sci-fi and Lovecraft stuff, so he’s at least in the right arena of people I can talk about games with.
Anyway, we eventually discover that Yogurtland is doing a free frozen yogurt thing and decide to head over there, only to be dismayed by an hour long wait. I figure it’s not worth it to save $4, so we skip Yogurtland and start walking to our cars. On the way, he asks “so you’re really not going to tell me what you were playing?”
And I just start backpedaling something fierce. I start yammering on about how I know these people (super respectable people for sure) from this place online where we deconstruct games and talk about them in a kind of academic way and we often focus on obscure and niche titles, etc… I go on like this for a minute, and I ask him if he knows what a Visual Novel is.
He gives me one of those wide-eyed “what the fuck?” looks and says “aren’t those porn games?”
My response is, “yeah, kinda, but this one is different. It’s about a kid who guys to a school for people with disabilities or other issues that prevent them from being in a more conventional school.”
The eyes get wider. “You stayed up late last night playing a game where you fuck disabled girls?”
“Well, no, I mean you can, but that’s not really what the game is about. It’s actually very tasteful” I say, realizing that makes it sound way, way more lurid than it actually is once the words are out of my mouth. “It’s mostly about getting a slice of life that most people will never experience. I played it for about five hours and saw maybe ten minutes of nudity, tops.”
“You can’t get this on Steam, can you?”
“No, but if you want I’ll e-mail you a link to download it. It’s free.”
“Uh, okay” he says.
And that’s why you reserve talk of Katawa Shoujo for the Squawkbox.
DAI SEI KO~~~!!!
\(^_^\) \(^_^)/ (/^_^)/
Whew! Glad I’m not insane, if you look in the jungle for bigfoot long enough everything with a patch of fur might look like bigfoot… Nice to have some other scientists willing to collaborate that there’s SOMETHING going on at least =)
@cgrajko Yep! I gotta say the emotional punch of this game seems particularly powerful, it explains how it got through so many of the more embittered denizens of 4chan. In fact, the most common complaint in the first two weeks after it released appeared to be “… I can’t fap to this!! D:” and the most common meme posted was ‘feels.’ It may be ‘only a story’ of a game, but it leverages a lot to really invest you in the result. Actually, another notable percentage of comments from those two weeks were people absolutely *ruined* by some of the bad ends. People saying they’ve never felt worse in their entire lives. How interesting!!
@rampantbicycle I would be very curious to learn who ended up on what path at the beginning and how it struck them, significant moments and the like, because for myself I ended up with Emi at first and I had the same feeling of “My god, my actual girlfriend has a problem almost exactly like this…” (Emi’s issues of being SO strong willed it becomes self destructive) It was a little stunning at the time but I put it down to coincidence, but in the two week katawa shoujo banazna immediately after release I have heard a similar comment many many times. I wonder if this is because the characters are so believable/well rounded or if the way you end up on a route moves you subtly towards a certain type of girl? I would be surprised if the 3-4 choices in act 1 had that level of scope, but then again, the 20 Questions bobble guesses right so often… The fact that this game and its story didn’t have to go through a ‘translation’ filter might also have contributed. So many questions! I’d love to hear more about people’s experiences with the routes they took
Another fascinating note is how all of these conversations so far are mostly only loosely related to the girl’s disability. The disabilities are used as a seasoning for a larger, well formed personality. Rin has no arms and that’s a primary concern to how she acts, but it’s nested in a far more compelling personality of a somewhat spacy artistic type with a strong philosophical bent rather then the other way around. It’s a significant element, but not an all encompassing one. In discussing the game you talk about the girls as a whole in a very… ‘real’ manner. The personality presented feels very ‘complete’ I’m not sure if that’s slight of hand or fully legitimate characterization. For me at least, the game managed to ‘connect’ on some level and create a certain emotional pressure by the end that I can’t really identify, it’s not love, not exactly… It’s like a contemplative pressure that makes me sit for a minute after the final curtain draws closed and go “…………………… Huh! ……… human potential sure is… big. It makes me want to sit and think about myself and where I ended up, how I am as a person overall and if I really am happy with how things are. It makes me want to get up and fix some of the things I don’t like about myself, to start those projects I’ve let sit idle, and it thuds with the promise of an emotional motive force sufficient to do it. Is that what inspiration feels like? I’m not sure I could tell. I’ve always been curious what drives folk to large endeavors that have no traditionally significant payoff. What is it that drives a man to put a hundred hours into building a tiny ship in a bottle, what does that man FEEL that makes him act that way? It fascinates me.
In the aftermath of the Emi route I prepared things to start running according to that Emi gradual start running chart someone put together and I know a fair number of people on the board (if you can believe what you read) have done so as well. I won’t lie, I haven’t yet, though I tell myself I’ll start the moment I kick this respiratory bug. This is not the first time this has happened to me. Way back (about a decade ago actually, where the hell does time go?! =P c_c) when I was in college for the first time I played an eroge called “Private Nurse” whose story arc involved a boy letting himself go at college and how he gets his life in order (with help from a fairly promiscuous tree spirit to be fair, not nearly as mature as KS) but it really encouraged me to start trying to get my life back in order.
Of course, at that time I didn’t manage much in the end. I don’t know if the pressure is exactly real, or transient, nor do I know where the game’s influence stops and my susceptibility to that sort of thing begins. I know I’m more prone then most and the average call of duty player is unlikely to blink many lids at this story, however well crafted… but I gotta say, I can’t think of any other game I’ve played that was *as* effective at connecting as this one. Normally I’d have put it down to “oh, this again! how interesting!” but judging by the reactions in the /a/ board, it was able to reach a fair number of people who can’t possibly ALL be as sappy as me… So perhaps they really did manage something special here? Dunno, but I’m really REALLY interested in the discussion and dissection regardless of what the final answer is!
(EMF, it’s an electricity joke! Ha! haha!…. ha……. ¬_¬ )
@Pete I fully intend to play through at least a couple of other paths, if not all of them.
@cgrajko: An excellent interpretation. We should talk. 🙂
Have you seen her “bad” ending? If not, I recommend you seek it out. It’s uncomfortable viewing, but in some senses it’s entirely appropriate given some of the things you’ve said there.
You should play through the other paths, too. As Mark and Lynette said to me before I started playing, each path results in a very different protagonist due to the chosen heroine’s influence — conscious or subconscious — on him.
I’ve completed Emi, Lilly and Hanako’s paths so far.
@rampantbicycle I completed Hanako’s path last night. I didn’t sleep well last night (which isn’t related to KS so much as stress), so I apologize for not collecting my thoughts a little better. There are spoilers here, in case anyone hasn’t seen this stuff and doesn’t want to be spoiled.
The biggest reason I found the end of the game so enjoyable (and the biggest surprise) is that I thought the main character was a scumbag a lot of the time, and the end of the game actually provides a peripeteia that I was not expecting. There is some Aristotle level plot construction going on here, and I can’t help but think back to the reversal in Hanako’s path at which the main character realizes he’s infantilizing Hanako and finally realizes that he’s being an asshole, because I had gotten a little worried that the main character was going to save the day and somehow undo years of trauma by just being there for her (or worse, I worried, he would undo it solely by sleeping with her). I think he saw himself as stoic, but he really just came off as an uncaring, unthinking dick. It was amazing when he admitted that he was being terrible, because even though I found a lot of his actions unsympathetic, I don’t think he was a bad guy, just kind of naive and ineffectual. (He’s obviously not the same type of misogynist as Kenji, for instance, but I think there is definitely an aloof hyper-masculinity there.*)
*A good example of this, for me, is when he makes a point to look down Lilly’s shirt because she’s blind and knows that she won’t notice. He does, however, completely forget the fact that Hanako, the woman that’s supposed to be close with is right there, so he not only leers at a blind woman, which is really uncomfortable, but he also does it in the presence of Hanako, not noticing or caring that she’s there. I think this scene is endemic of a lot of their interactions.
Because, one of the interesting things about Hanako’s path is that you spend very little time alone with her, as most of your interactions are mediated through Lilly, so I think it’s really telling that your character would even entertain the notion of not listening to her with regards to how best to approach Hanako. There’s a real sense of “but I want to fix her….” there that I’m sure is at least one part naivete and another part deflection. After all, if he can “fix” Hanako and her issues, then he can also “fix” his own just as easily, particularly since he doesn’t carry nearly as much emotional baggage as she does. I also feel as if the two are related in his mind, i.e. fixing her will also fix him. And, as we all (hopefully) know, shit doesn’t work that way. Relying on another person for your own happiness is an incredibly unfair thing to do for that person.
As the narrative progresses, in fact, we see just how little the main character learns until very close to the end. He frequently refers to Hanako as acting like “a caged animal,” which is not only an offensive description but also largely incorrect and suggests that his sense of interaction is more fractured than he suspects until the final act. We’re meant to see his issues as largely physical via his accelerated heartrate, but there is obviously an emotional component as well that I wasn’t expecting to be brought up. (Perhaps I’m underestimating the writers. I’ll ask this though: how many of us weren’t underestimating this game going in to it?)
Sorry for the awful structure here. I need a nap.
@cgrajko Well, now I have to know: Which girl?
Our team has just completed 4/5 paths; only Lilly remains. Not much time to write now, but two comments:
1) This game has inspired a completely different kind of conversation than most games do in our house, and in greater quantities. It’s interesting to play something that makes you think about your relationships in this kind of serious way.
2) I find it somewhat eerie the number of times the various girls have said things to Our Hero and I find myself saying “Hey, I’ve had exactly this conversation.”
I finished my first round of Katawa Shoujo. I don’t have anything super brainy to say about it at the moment, but the last thirty or forty minutes of the path that I took hit me like a fucking train. I’m sure I’ll collect my thoughts in a little while, but I wanted to post while the game was fresh in my mind. I am absolutely amazed at the level of emotional maturity in this game.
@impynickers Awesome. What class are you playing? I’ve got some bloody work that needs doing this eve, but hopefully I can make some time for the Zone. I want to source some more ammo for my FN2000, and hopefully make a little cash so that drunk aboard the Skadovsk can do a little upgrading on it. We’ll see.
@bowlisimo Man, if you didn’t already nab it, there’s an updated version of the patch. It apparently was an unofficial clutch of reworked code and configs before the actual dev sorted things out. Prior to the updated version, snipers were badly affected because it broke the aiming reticule positions in scopes. Being a man with a penchant for the long shot, that would have busted balls more than the game already does.
@shingro I forgot to mention, sir…I finished the Emi route in Katawa Shoujo! I got a bad ending, I think…no happy happy finale; just the cold hard facts and, dare I say it, an outlook on life strangely dove-tailing a (perhaps slightly embellished) Ukrainian one. I took issue with a few things, namely Hisao being a bit of a dolt and surprisingly (infuriatingly) oblivious to why Emi felt the way she did, despite the cards being on the table rather obviously. Perhaps it was a matter of story-telling emphasis and simply required to paint the exploration of a character aptly.
In any case, thanks for the recommendation. Unique! I went in feeling a little unsure, a little queasy, a little apprehensive…but ultimately glad I sipped that chamomile.
OH, just before I forget! A gentle departure lounge DING, and the following message spoken pleasantly over the PA…a reminder for the Squad Music Mix:
Get Out The Map
Submit two tracks via THIS FORM, supply links if you feel the need, send me MP3s IN ADDITION to your form submission with the appropriate details via email at unmanneddrone ( a t ) gmail (d o t) com IF tracks are really obscure.
Thanks to @Cgrajko, @impynickers and the irrepressible @redswir1 for submissions thus far. Logged and retrieved. Some terrific tunes have been corralled!
@impynickers What a run-down! Great to hear some love for RO2.
@shingro Played more Katawa Shoujo this eve, I think I’m on the same Emi route as yourself. Post-dorm room antics *wink wink* and I’m still intrigued. Although some encounters feel a bit long sometimes (my fault, rather than the genre/game), it continues to impress in its writing. There’s the classic J-drama tropes, and rather than be irritated, I strangely find myself shrugging and going “those guys certainly know their business!”.
With systems to subjugate via trade and influence, Prussian heathens to see to via the business end of Teutonic steel, Iranian armour to rent…even enemy creeps to infest with the plague-tainted claws of my Unclean Beast, Galciv2, Real Warfare 2, Steel Armour and Demigod wait impetuously as their governor, for some reason, is seeing to his amputee date.
@shingro Fascinating…. my mind feels expanded. This can only be a good thing.
If your taste for the alternative game experiences isn’t satiated after Katawa Shoujo, look up an unsettling “game” called ‘Hatoful boyfriend’.
It is a game about a human girl who decides to go to a high school for birds, St. PigeoNation’s Institute. There, she dates pigeons. Yeah.
Now I would like to finally take some time to toss some memorable video games into the funeral pyre of 2011, and explain what essence of them lives on in me as a humble scribe of 2012. Bare with my belated reaction.
I willfully discard whatever inner hipster resides in me, as I just passed 95 hours in the popular Skyrim game.
The fact startles me for a number of reasons. First, that I am still regularly discovering new things.
Also, that the majority of these new things are given the same level of polish as pretty much everything else, which is to say = shiny. I had been waiting for the game to get boring so I can just finish the main quest and leave the game behind me. In the process I have just given up and become invested in my wandering adventurers throughout the many communities of Skyrim.
Everywhere I become known as ‘that guy’ that did ‘this’, or ‘that’. It is truly remarkable when you see it, the world here contains a mighty mighty canvas of mythology in which you can paint your own tales of victory. And it will vary. This is the true delivery on the promise of 2 friends talking about the same game, but having completely unique stories.These stories will include encounters with characters, towering monsters, magic, and dark deeds… but they will be yours to tell.
I am pleased as punch. Great game.
The battle for praise, if there must be one, is the cage match between Skyrim and The Witcher 2.
I loved the Witcher 2 a ton. Its deliciousness made me accusingly stare in the recent directions of Bioware, as their offerings appear in places only partially cooked in comparison. It was also an incredible leap from Witcher 1, which had the taste down but lost a lot of points in the course texture.
Geralt as a lead character just carries an incredible variety of flavours. Enough room for player choice, but with a distinct personality that keeps you coming back. The dialogue as a whole just feels so natural, even when you are forced to make hard contrasting decisions.. its always as if that is what Geralt would have done. I dug everything in the game, even the unbalanced combat. I was fine with all of it. I am just so glad a game as smart as this can exist. However it took a game like Skyrim to take things beyond my reasonable expectations, and truly give me a ride to remember. Skyrim to me was a more addicting and impactful experience, even though I think the overall writing and nuance of Witcher 2 was handled leagues above.
Trench coat. Check. Augmented sunglasses. Check. Deus Ex- Human Revolution had style and substance, it was certainly a living manifestation of my cyberpunk fantasies. The game seemed to do everything right for me, with the exception of the enemy A.I which seems to have barely evolved from the original game released in 2000. I did find the art style was unique enough to make up for many of the technical shortcomings of the game engine, and all the details of the story and environment felt a part of larger cohesive subtext. I love stealth games, I love RPG’s. This game was clearly made for people like me. I loved the original game, which was a magnum opus for its time. Human Revolution is precisely what a modern version of that game ought to look and play like, with all the modern gameplay strengths and pitfalls. At the end of the day this game filled a missing piece of my soul with delicious story and badassedness.
No other game I have played this year has attracted classic couch co-op like Little Big Planet 2.
It one ups its predecessor by opening pandora’s box, allowing the community to create basically whatever they want… and its great. The base game mechanics can feel a little loose sometimes, and it certainly doesn’t typically involve a lot of depth, but it actually keeps me coming back every month or two to check out what is new. I would claim that this game is the PS3’s answer to the 360’s indie games lineup.
Equally intimidating and rewarding, Red Orchestra 2 has given me some of my favourite moments this year. This selection is from the heart, because I know this online shooter could easily get beat up by the bigger games of its genre. For most people I would point to Battlefield 3 as this games superior in a large number of important areas, but for the exceptional few I will reveal that RO2 is the choice with more depth.
The game strikes a balance between shooter and simulation, and this runs the risk of pleasing neither crowd.
I found it to be just accessible enough not to alienate me, which kept me interested in mastering the myriad nuances of the games mechanics that lay hidden behind a modern shooter exterior. Once you learn the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of Stalingrad the old habits acquired from other shooters start being transformed or abolished.
Clever use of movement, equipment and cover systems ensure that you and your enemy are capable of moving without being exposed. You will die really easily. Sometimes it isn’t fair. More than about racking up a kill score this game is about survival, battlefield awareness, and eventually getting the drop on your enemy. You will sometimes die regardless of how good you are. Tanks, Artillary Shells and Machine Gun emplacements can all show up where you don’t expect them and ruin your day. There is also someone more weathered or sneakier than you that can get the drop on you in almost any conceivable situation.
Other games have this kind of hectic atmosphere, but never has it been so deadly and so reliant on cover.
The game doesn’t let you shrug off standing near an explosion, or taking a bullet to the leg. You need to act appropriately. That is its appeal, is its unforgiving and visceral war time experience that other games refuse to give you because it is too ‘hardcore’ an experience for most people. I loved the adrenaline rushes, and the moments of sheer panic when allies are dying on mass around you. It is an experience I haven’t found anywhere else.
Dawwww, that’s awfully nice of you guys, squad love ❤
Normally I roll with the 'no shame' theory (heck I referenced a pretty serious eroge in my greeting post way back when <_<) but what this game *might* have been isn't something aligned with my normal tastes and something that could easily get censure. On top of that, you never know what people will believe on the internets…
Still, Squad duty called.
Anywho, in the Whatcha Been Playin list has been: Revenge of the Titans (HARD!), Civ 5(One more turn…), Dungeons of Dreadmor(rougelike goodness), and Katawa Shoujo(@_@).
Echoing @rampantbicycle‘s fine words, one Squaddie’s taste is simply one proud piece of the SoS puzzle – if I can humbly speak as a relatively new fellow. Would never have tried Katawa Shoujo if @shingro hadn’t been so adamant in recommending it, and while it’s certainly more a chamomile tea instead of my preferred Earl Grey, it’s an interesting new flavour.
@shingro I have just read your Wall o’ Text to Beige while he defended a base in Assassin’s Creed. He wishes me to say:
“IMO, we wouldn’t be who we are if this wasn’t the kind of place where people could come and testify about erogalges or whatever the fuck else.”
Which I will interpret to mean that he supports you. 😉 For myself, I will show my library nerd background and quote the inestimable Betty Rosenberg, reader’s advisory hero:
“Never apologize for your reading taste.”
The world has room in it for all manner of things, and all of us are free to like and dislike the things we choose. So long as we’re not hurting anyone, it does none of us any good to feel shame over loving what we love.
We’ve recently played To The Moon, which treats similar subject matter. The difficulties were primarily mental rather than physical, and the condition in question is never once named (though a little judicious internet research can identify it.) Mark says he’s been wondering what you were up to since Dark Souls and that he appreciates hearing from you, and there is talk of investigating Katawa Shoujo in the household, moving problems permitting. 🙂
By the way, lest it get lost in the shuffle, new squad mix, yay! I will begin looking for tracks as soon as I can…again, moving problems permitting.
@shingro Ah! I forgot about that Misha character!
It’s a long weekend, so I’ll see if I can slot more time in today at some stage. Any word on a how long a particular story or outcome takes?
(my wife just loves to give me shit at every opportunity. This was prime target material, but hey, your hard sell worked!)
@unmanneddrone I would believe it, last I checked the term ‘otaku’ wasn’t exactly a mark of high praise over there 😉 and yeah the word thing is difficult, apparently the developers didn’t have much/any Japanese skill and didn’t realize that the title of their game can be taken as somewhat incendiary in Japan.
The non physical ones are far less obvious, they list Kenji as ‘borderline hikkomori,’ but he struck me as having some sort of serious paranoia. Also though it’s not listed many people have decided, and the game hints heavily, that Misha has some variant of Angelman syndrome. Though I’m not sure if an actual sufferer of it could turn the hand flapping mannerism into sign language. besides which Misha seems to have far more of a vocabulary then most sufferers. Perhaps that’s why she’s just listed as Shizume’s interpreter.
But yeah, make no mistake, it’s an anime VN, with everything that implies. From the saccharine art to extremely light gameplay elements. It is ONLY the story.
Still, that story is making some real interesting waves wherever it seems to land. Even among people predisposed not to like anime stylings *or* VNs. It’s an interesting application of amateur talent and game development, and where do interesting things of that nature go? TO THE SQUAD!
(also, before the boards went down I poked back over there to see what people were up to, found this)
So I don’t even know wtf is going on @_@ maybe people don’t give the different boards enough credit
@shingro I’ll nab it, but I don’t know how long I’ll last. Not that it has any bearing, but my Missus is an art teacher at a school for the disabled (or whatever the goddamn PC word is we’ve had deemed okay), so should be interesting. I’d show it to her, but she has a remarkable disdain for the manga stylings and tropes borne of her own country – would you believe it!?
EDIT: So I’m checking this out…and, black-hearted, military hardware-loving old me is *gulp* finding this somewhat fascinating. There you go! An even bigger “would you believe it!?” situation.
EDIT FOR SUNDAY EVE IMPRESSIONS: Alright, up to a certain festival. It’s definitely interesting, and being acquainted with events such as that do resonate with legitimacy, as well as the dynamics of school life with club activities and whatnot. Outside of a certain character claiming the gender balance is an intentional conspiracy, it would have been nice to have a little more in the way of male characters outside of teaching staff and the odd lad. Is it fan service? In any case, while unnecessarily verbose in parts, it’s quite a disarming little experience thus far. There are some reasonable depictions of disabilities, but they’re packaged in manga/J-drama fluff that does bevel the jagged edges off, and outside of classical depiction over-emphases (bordering on and certainly within the realm of parody), I’m yet to see a non-physical handicap. Time will tell.
But for two and a half hours of my Sunday eve, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the levity, irked by certain tropes (why oh why do most VNs need to sport such juvenile art?! There are plenty of terrific manga artists and styles that don’t make me embarrassed to have pics open on my desktop – more than once my wife looked over and uttered a few rueful descriptors), but intrigued and shall continue to play.
What the hell have you done, Shingro?! I should be in Angola or something, trying to stop my Soviet armour from getting its tracks blown off. Perhaps it’s a karmic balance, with the STALKER Misery mod coming out this week…
(It’s like… 3:30 am, hopefully this isn’t a horrible idea, I’ll know in the morning probably =P)
Oh man, you think you’ve seen a hard sell before? You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen…
SHINGRO’S OMGWTFBBQ!? GAME OF THE WEEK
But no, in honesty I just have to tell the story of this game, because whatever you think of what happened the waves it’s making is real interesting.
So, five years ago, a doujinshi writer in japan released a work which, (in the normal tradition of doujinshi everywhere) he included various sketches in the back of the book, both finished and not, of various things he was thinking about. I’ve seen everything from a lexicon of anthropomorphised beetle-girls to short stories to design work, 4koma etc.
and in the nature of things this doujinshi in its entirety found its way onto the net. This is not the story of that doujinshi. This is a story of one of the note pages included in it
So, it caught some attention on 4chan particularly the /a/ and /jp/ boards, even if people didn’t understand the text they kindof got the idea and shared it in the spirit of “oh hey, look at this messed up thing” then some other someone translated the page and it became apparent that the doujinshi artist had outlined the idea for a VN where all the girls had a serious disability. burn scars, no legs, deafness, blindness, etc. This idea took root in the board in a “man wouldn’t that be something” and suddenly there’s development forums and large amounts of people are doing all sorts of crowd sourced work, suggesting everything from tender love stories to depraved sex romps.
So at some point, someone with that ineffable quality that makes a leader started roping people together and 21 voulenteers started an amateur game dev studio named Four Leaf Studios to make this thing happen
Now I don’t know exactly what happened in the middle, I knew about the project but I never bookmarked anything or waited with bated breath. I’ve got otaku net feelers in the various chan boards but I’m not a regular by any stretch of the imagination. But somehow, 5 years later (apparently to the day! o_O) they actually came out with this thing, and I was instantly alerted by my friends to its existence. Just by the nature of how it was made I had to see what actually came out of this enormous mess. After all, if I didn’t, who else would lack the shame to dare?
And what a crazy ride I let myself in for, the main character discovers he has arrythmia and it changes his life, he’s supposed to go to this school because it has a 24/7 nursing staff on hand to be sure he can continue studies but not die doing so. He meets new classmates, etc. the thing that’s so crazy about what happens next. All the girls are really interesting characters completely on their own merits and irrelevant to their conditions. This could be a completely normal VN without a thought, but the devs then took extreme care (apparently the did a boatload of research and got involved in actual people’s lives) to make sure that each girl’s condition influences but does not define the person. the game examines the pressures that these things can put on a person and the mechanisms by which people cope and how much more fascinating a personality can grow up around limitations. The main character is no exception and addresses how difficult it is to know how to act and be polite. “I don’t want to stare, but pretending not to notice something so obvious seems rude too.” He asks a lot of questions I’ve asked myself and the relationship I ended up in bore some striking and distressing resemblances to my current relationship. (which probably biases me terribly)
You also can’t simply White Knight everyone and end up alright. I’m told there’s a great many routes and branches and a great many endings, many tragic. The route I ended up on was funny, touching, adorable and poignant without being overly sappy or crass. Something not often achieved by even the most experienced teams in the most normal VNs.
So I return to the boards and the threads are full of people waxing philosophic about the nature of love and what it means to be a person who faces adversity, about how loving something beautiful is easy, but loving something imperfect is hard. About how their greatest regret is they’ll never know a person like (Name of girl goes here.) Inside this great outpouring of love there’s people posting fry Shutupandtakemymoney.gif and demanding a donation link to the devs, and in response to all these misc people waving credit cards at them the Devs said “No. If you want to donate, give it to charities who help people with these problems.” The studio dissolved itself and as far as I know everyone went their separate ways. The response to this was by and large “yeah, in fact, lets put the money into the troubles of whatever girl we liked the best.”
Through all that wove a thread of people who came to a game which would be filed under “fringe eroge” and came out of the experience thoughtful and filled with love for their fellow man. How INTERESTING is that? I’ve always said that the three most dangerous things in the world are love, patriotism and religion, because those are the things that wield so much clout over the mind that people will override their own survival instinct to help a cause. Somehow, the devs baited a hook with taboo, drew them into a strong emotional story, filled them to the brim with that certain VN ‘psudo-love’ and then leveraged that to turn an empathetic eye to the trials of people who don’t have it so good and they did it to one of the most sarcastic, savage, irreverent groups on the internet.
After writing all that I still am flabbergasted that it came out half as good as it did. I’m sure that in time the experience will sour, that if picked apart properly someone could point out some amount of rough edges, extrapolated from this or that scene. I guarantee there’s something in there can be taken to task for being crass. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I haven’t just signed up for ‘pariah’ status to everyone who reads this just for bringing it up, but having just emerged from the Emi route I still retain that charge of ‘psudo-love’ which encourages me to irrationally express myself to whoever I think might listen (like pretty much anyone in an endorphin high come to think on it.) I want to share that feeling with someone else. I want to let people know how interesting and wonderful this weird little gem of a game is. To point out a strange little story from the otaku corner of the internet where something special and wholly unexpected happened. Hopefully, as long as we still hold some of that Squad Analysis impulse, it will be an interesting story to someone, and we will gain a greater understanding of what moves people and how devs can make that happen despite the audience.
And suddenly I realize that this is kindof the thing I’ve always wanted to see, that all things can be helpful to the greater line of society. That just because something exists well on the fringe of what most people consider normal or acceptable that it can still contribute to the empathy and the well treatment of mankind. That in the tasteful evolution of idea no one would consider anything but terrible in concept, I could see for validation my own eccentricities. If a game like this can exist and fill people with even a temporary empathy, then surely cosplay can teach self confidence, ferment self expression and socially outgoing behavior. Anime can be a fun diversion, but it can also expand on someone’s capability with cultural relativism. If nothing is wasted, then perhaps everything moves us, by little or by large amounts, towards being better, smarter more understanding and more empathetic people.
And maybe, just maybe, this world’s going to eventually be alright after all.
(Aaaaand maybe that’s all a stretch brought on by my vulnerable ‘sappy’ switch being thumbed particularly hard and mixing liberally with my optimism… despite the outpouring of emotion and donations it didn’t exaaaactly take long for the boards to revert to more… standard… behavior, but hey, no one said the world has to change entirely in one thunder of sound and fury. Like any good story, even if most forget, some will take something permanent away with them. )
So uh, anyway. That’s the story of Katawa Shoujo. You can also take this as my recommendation, I’ve played a loooot of VNs, of the eroge and Ren Ai variety, and I’ve only had a handful that ‘got to me’ and of those only one I’d say would be artistic enough to be worth playing for anyone just to see the sort of odd gestalt of its story. (That one ironically was a tearjerker called Kana – Little Sister) We’re probably a bit old to be so easily impressed and yanked around, but if nothing else it’s worth opening to see what it DOESN’T do, which is all of the strange exploitation and leering you’d expect from something with the history and subject matter this has. A very interesting diddy made entirely of notes you’ve never heard before arranged in a way that should be impossible by the very nature of music.
besides, it’s totally free, has fully drawn animated cut scenes, a gorgous soundtrack and you can disable all adult content with a single button in options. You’ve got nothing to lose but all your respect for me =P
home site and download should be here http://katawa-shoujo.com
TL:DR: Someone made VN about girls with serious disabilities from a doujinshi source page, but instead of making it salacious and fetishistic it came out very tasteful. The response from 4chan of all places was not leering and perverse, it was thoughtful and emotional. Cats and dogs… LIVING TOGETHER!!