Aero-ge impression:Katawa Shoujo

There’s been a lot of hype about Katawa Shoujo lately, which isn’t surprising. Being an English doujin eroge that’s FREE, it targets a very large audience in the eroge community. With its UNIQUE setting and the fact that it took 5 years to make, it seems like it accumulated a huge number of fans before the final version was even released. The overall opinion of the final game seems to be quite positive, but does it really deserve it? So here’s my impression of the game after playing it. To spice things up, Aedes will also be here to give his 2cents about the game. So here comes over first collaborative post. To start things off…here’s the synopsis.

Sorry to interrupt but before going into the synopsis, let me get one thing straight. I did not play the game! With all the hype surrounding it, it is near impossible to not notice it. But being a mild seiyuu fag, I can’t get over the fact that the game is not voiced. I need my sweet voices! Besides that, I don’t have anything against the game. This also means I haven’t played many unvoiced classics, but I’m going off-topic now so I’ll shut up.

Hisao Nakai is a normal high school student, currently in his final year of high school. One day Hisao receives a letter from parties unknown in his locker and waits at the written place for the sender. The person who wrote the letter turns out to be his crush; while speaking to her, he suddenly collapses. He awakes in a hospital bed, and is told by the doctors that the reason he collapsed is due to arrhythmia, a rare heart condition that causes his heartbeat to sometimes become irregular. Due to this, his parents have enrolled him in Yamaku, a school for disabled students of all kinds.

[Taken from VNDB]

Links – The game’s official website. Download the game for FREE! – Katawa Shoujo Dev Blog. Find out how they did it! – Walkthrough.

I guess in real life the whole disability thing is a very awkward subject. I would be lying if I said that I’m completely comfortable around the whole thing in real life. However, this is a game and it’s a lot easier to accept the disability setting. I was able to play the whole thing without feeling uncomfortable or shocked by this element of the game. However, I couldn’t help but think sometimes about random consequences that might occur due to their disabilities.

I don’t understand the antagonism behind using disability as a central theme. The disability isn’t being made fun of, the girls aren’t taken advantage of because of it, and they aren’t portrayed in a derogatory fashion either. The girls are human beings, who deserve to love and to be loved, so I don’t find anything wrong with the portrayal of romantic relationships depicting them. If anything, this raises awareness for the disabled so people can understand their hardships better. This may be because I haven’t played the game, but as Aero said, this is just my 2 cents.

The game consists of 4 acts, with Act 1 being the common route. The common route of Katawa Shoujo is pretty standard. You meet all the heroines, get an idea of their disabilities and learn a bit of their personality. Like most games, nothing really happens until you enter each heroines’ route.

Worth mentioning is that Act 1 is available in many languages: English, German, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese. The full version of the game in those languages will hopefully be available sometime in the future. Never mind how many people play this in languages other than English, Japanese, or Chinese. More options is always welcomed.

Shizune is the deaf and mute heroine of this game. I was quite touched when Hisao started learning sign language to talk to her. However, it seemed like he learnt it WAY too easily. Of course the game explains that he had a knack for it and he practiced quite a bit. But understanding everything Shizune could say after a few weeks? Unrealistic. At the start of the game I found her character quite interesting. The stubborn type who like things to be interesting and doesn’t like to lose. However, as her route progresses, this gets a bit tedious. I found it quite boring how the main focus of the route deals with her competitive personality and how she likes things to be done well. Her route was the most disappointing out of all the routes because it showed a lot of promise in the romantic development. The confession happens quite early on, but basically nothing happens. The end result was Shizune and Hisao being in a relationship that seemed like best friends who happen to have sex with each other from time to time. Friends with benefits anyone?

Learning sign language to pick up girls? Sign me up! Wait, on a second thought, don’t. I’m not the protagonist and learning sign language would take me years not weeks way which is too much effort to simply pick up girls. I wonder how to do the pick up lines in sign language though, but I suppose they are the same, except I probably don’t want to mention anything related to eyes or sight ears or sounds. You know who she reminds me of? Sera, from KoiSora. I’m still bitter over the fact that Sera only have 3 H scenes in the fan disk.

Wait I dont get it, how would mentioning anything related to eyes not be a good pick up line?

Because you know, the girl you’re trying to pick up is blind?

Aren’t we talking about the deaf girl atm?

Oh stupid me, let me fix that 😛

The blind heroine Lilly was probably my favorite heroine of the game. Blindness is something I fear greatly. As an ero-gamer, without my eyes how the hell am I meant to play >_<. Lilly has no trouble with her blindness, so it doesn’t really play a big role with the route. What I found interesting is that she says she thinks Hisao is handsome after feeling his face. Unlike the other heroines, Lilly shows a lot more concern about Hisao’s condition. Naturally this leads to his condition showing up a lot more in her route compared to others’. Family issues pop up in the route regarding Lilly’s family. They don’t strike as anything TOO dramatic, but it does affect their relationship.

I would rather be deaf and mute instead of being blind, for the same reason Aero mentioned. With the advances in technology, such as text-to-speech and hearing aid gadgets, being deaf and mute doesn’t seem like that big of a disability anymore. But of course, I still prefer being healthy and free of disabilities. How Lilly have no trouble with her blindness is beyond me, a third eye and/or a sixth sense perhaps? More realistically though, I read somewhere that a person can make a mental image of the surrounding using tongue clicks as sonar. That’s probably it.

She’s knows a lot of the places she tends to walk around quite well. With the help of a walking stick, she doesn’t really have much trouble to get around. Though it is a bit unrealistic how she gets around without much trouble >_>. I’ve heard about someone in real life who uses sonar tongue click thing and apparently he could ride a bike using that??? Unfortunately, Lilly doesn’t use this dolphin like ability.

Too cool to use her tongue. Amazing, she is simply amazing.

Hanako is the scarred heroine, in more ways than one? Hanako brings shyness to a new level. However it’s understandable, given her tough past. I still found it somewhat annoying though, seeing the relationship move at a snail’s pace. You literally see meetings of the two where they speak 3 lines to each other. There are too many meetings where the two just meet up and read next to each other. BORING~~~. Okay enough dissing the route, lets get on with whats good with it. The slow meetings, though boring, aren’t exactly bad. They provide a nice build up to the end. Hanako often gets blushes, which is a huge plus XD XD XD. I’ve read on forums that a lot of people found Hanako the best. My insight on this is that they’re basing this off her good ending, which was GREAT! If I were to base it off just that one end, I’d probably say that Hanako was the best heroine as well. However, I like to think of things as a whole, taking into account all routes and her personality.

You’re making it sound real bad. Scarred in more ways than one? That’s something I find in horror movies, not supposedly icharabu stories. And blushes worthy of 3 XD’s must be really destructive, I don’t know how you survived that. I would have a HNNNNNGGGG seizure and died on the spot.

When I mentioned the scarred thing, I was referring to emotional scars >_>. Haha maybe I was overexaggerating when I used 3 XD’s, but then her blushing was enough to pull at my heart strings. Is that the term for that? I don’t even know, I saw that from some random anime somwhere.

That really doesn’t make it any better, just so you know. That would be the right term for it seeing you’re here right now. If you died from it, it wouldn’t be just pulling at your heart strings. It would be ripping it apart and put it all down a grinder.

Emi is the heroine with no legs who probably appeals to all the lolicons out there. I’m looking at you Aedes ^^. Her energetic personality is a definite plus and I though I’m not a big fan of loli, Emi appealed to me quite a bit. This is the only route where Hisao starts exercising a lot to deal with the whole heart thing. You would think that he would be a LITTLE bit more concerned about his heart in the other routes as well, seeing as he could die.The confession scene in this route was out of the blue, but good none the less. Trust issues appear in this route. Emi keeps Hisao at a distance at all times, telling him out right that she doesn’t want to rely on him.

Please don’t underestimate the fervor of the lolicons. I do NOT consider Emi to be a loli. Her smaller body size has nothing to do with it, and I would rather not delve into that issue in fear of the morality police coming after me. Yeah, she has the twintails, but that’s not all there is to it. Is she a pettanko?

I will never understand Lolicons >_>. She’s not a pettanko, but she’s not exactly huge when it comes to that department =p.

See? Not a pettanko -> not a loli.

FINE >___>

Okay Rin…sigh~. I would like to get this out before I say anything about Rin. RIN’S ROUTE ALMOST SCREWED ME OVER. For those who don’t know, I go into most eroge and VNs using a set system where I go after my least liked heroine first. Up until now that worked out fine, but with Rin it was hectic. I ALMOST dropped the game after getting onto Rin’s route. Thankfully, the other day when I was super bored in the library and decided to play Lilly’s route, which pulled me back in. Rin’s personality is SO dull and boring, she doesn’t really show interest in anything. She’s a good painter, having no arms, so she uses her feet to paint. Amazing huh? I would think that It would be easier to use your mouth to paint. Her route is as dull as her personality. The romance gets nowhere and even at the end of the good route it leaves you thinking why the hell they’re together at all. If you’re set on playing this game, DON’T PLAY THIS ROUTE.

Playing eroge in the library – that’s what libraries are used for, obviously. I mean, why read books when you can play eroge, right? Don’t blame her for trying to be sanitary and not putting stuff in her mouth! By the way, beware of the Rin devotees; better watch your back.

I can play eroge in the library fine, but when it gets to an H-scene…yeah that’s a bit TOO much. I’ll let the library remain R15 for the time being =p. I would be surprised if there were ANY Rin devotees.

I find your devotion to eroge lacking.

I’m not COMPLETELY on the dark side of the force…not yet anyways =p

Now you may have noticed that I didn’t really go into detail about the disabilities for any of the routes. That’s because they didn’t actually come up that often. The game doesn’t over emphasis the fact that they have disabilities or the problems associated with them. Rather it deals with emotional side of things. What happens if you were to take out the disabilities? Well you get Grisaia no Kajitsu =p. A special school where the heroines each have an emotional problem associated with each of them. That aside, the problems and the development that occurred within the routes were very realistic.

Personally I would like to see the disability theme utilized more, otherwise it ends up being a mere gimmick and fuel for people to hate on. And also, you can’t have Grisaia no Kajitsu without Sachi, or at least a maid. Without one, who is going to take care of everything?

They probably wanted to give off the feel that disabilities don’t necessary have to change your life or something like that. And yes, it’s just not Grisaia no Kajitsu without Sachi.

Being a doujin, I’m guessing a lot of people won’t judge the graphics as harshly and will forgive inconsistencies in graphics. My thoughts on the graphics are that they aren’t bad. The character sprites are drawn very nicely. Some of the CGs give of a painting sorta feel, which I find appealing. There are some inconsistency with CGs here and there; I find it to be most common in H-scenes. Lets not forget that this game had several artists, so there are bound to have some inconsistencies. So regarding the graphics for Katawa Shoujo, I would say that they did fairly well.

For some reason, this game’s art is giving me the Shuffle vibes. Regardless, this game has 6 artists working on it, which is more than just a several. I wouldn’t give them too hard of a time on it.

Not much can be said in the sound factor for this game – no voices >_>. The lack of voices make the names a lot less memorable, I can barely remember them at all. The BGMs normally fit in nicely with the mood, but sometimes I felt it was a bit out of place. I remember for one of the H-scenes the BGM gave off a really…scary feel? It really didn’t match the moment, but I can’t actually remember which scene I’m thinking of, so I might be completely off.

Any vocal songs? For the game I mean, the characters don’t have to sing their own songs.

Not that I know of. Also I doubt it, being a doujin and all.

They should make the staff sing one. To show how serious they are at this, you know? Just pick a girl and make her sing! There has to be a girl in there, I hope. If all else fails, a guy can sing too.

I’m not really a fan of songs sung by guys.

Guess the makers of Katawa Shoujo, probably ero-gamers themselves, would know what to put into their system. I loved how Katawa Shoujo gives you the ability to create new save states. I haven’t tested how far you can go with this, I would imagine its indefinite. I would have liked it if they included a feature to sort these saves. Another small annoyance is the skip feature for this game. There’s nothing wrong with the skip function itself, but you need access the menu to turn it on. Alternatively you can hold ctrl, but who has the time? Like your typical eroge you can access CGs and sounds from the extras menu. Katawa Shoujo also has the feature where you can rewatch scenes, given that you remember what the scene is called. This is a rare feature, but not unheard of in eroge. Overall, a good system with minor flaws.

So uh, whats a save state?

A new save slot

That doesn’t sound too revolutionary.

Haha it normally would be useful for me, seeing as I like to save at nice scenes. However, seeing as the game as the scene watching feature, the usefulness of this feature seems to decrease significantly.

Katawa Shoujo, girls with disabilities. Was it really worth the hype? The game didn’t stress the disabilities of each heroine. To some degree I feel like the whole setting was pointless. BUT, when I was playing through this game, I never really felt sorry for the heroines because of their disabilities. They were just girls, who were slightly different. If the makers of the game were going for this kind of feel, then they were probably geniuses. Those who find that they are put off by the whole disability theme will be surprised at how little it actually affect them once they get into the game. Judging the game overall, it was good, but not fantastic. At most I would give this game a 7/10, and that’s being generous. Being an english doujin, they did a good job. Heck, I’m impressed that they were able to make the game have such an eroge feel to it.Though I’m not a big fan of doujins, I hope that more groups will start making english doujins to expand the eroge community.

Slightly different, is putting it lightly. Seems like a solid effort put forth by an English doujin with some minor flaws, I heard that word choice is one of them. Nevertheless, I applaud them for their commendable efforts for spending years of their lives on this. I’ll be looking forward to more titles by this group and I hope this will inspire more people to do the same and start creating eroge catering to the masses instead of the tiny Japanese speaking niche. Anything to breath some new life into this slowly declining industry is much needed. 

Haha I’ll admit that’s true, but when playing the game, the girls only felt slightly different ^^. I have to say congratulations to them for being able to stick to the project to the very end XD. Well done.

There you have it, our first collaborative post. Hope you enjoyed it ^^. Atm I’m playing through AngelRing. They did a much better job with Princess Evangile, but I should be able to finish it.

16 thoughts on “Aero-ge impression:Katawa Shoujo

  1. … I’m a Rin Devotee if that counts for something lol. With you saying “DON’T PLAY THIS ROUTE” and with me say “I PLAYED THIS ROUTE SECOND TIME AROUND!” We certainly have contradicting ideas. I value your criticism, but at the same time, I take a different thrill from you on this one. For all the reasons you hate about her, all the more reason to love her even more.

    • Well everyone has their tastes ^^. Rin’s personality just didn’t sit well with me. I prefer a more lively personality.

      What did you think of the other routes?

      • The more I think about it, Rin’s route would be the first route I’d wanna go at another try, as conflicting our opinions go. Her route was so complicated the first time around in terms of leaving me hanging, I would certainly enjoy it once more. I did all the other routes except Lily’s and they all felt all right. Shizune’s was incredulously long but I took the time to enjoy the character development. Hanako’s was well worth it at the end. Overall i just enjoyed Hanako’s and Hisao’s togetherness. Rin’s route just kept me guessing and that unpredictability when it came to the choices and stuff… I truly enjoyed that to it’s extent.

  2. “Rin’s personality is SO dull and boring, she doesn’t really show interest in anything.”

    …ಠ_ಠ I have a feeling you weren’t paying attention. Rin’s personality is the most complex out of all the girls, it just requires some thought in order to sort it out. Her issues weren’t tied to disability, they were dealing with her communication issues and her fear of change, and the consequences when she tried to change herself for others. It’s less romantic than the others because Rin has so many barriers around herself, and she has the darkest problems to work out.

    • All stuff written here is my personal opinion.

      I wasn’t put off by her disability, and I’ll agree that issue in her route was quite complex. When I said that I thought Rin’s personality was dull and boring I was referring to how she is very passive and neutral towards everything. She doesn’t really show that she likes or dislikes anything. From what I remember, the conversation between her and Hisao was usually pretty plain and didn’t really get anywhere. I guess when I referred to her personality, I was referring to the way she portrays herself to the world? I can’t really explain it that well, but I guess it has something to do with her communication issues. I’m not really a big fan of dark routes, and as a fan of romance, I was hoping that the end romance would be a lot more fulfilling. My tastes PROBABLY made my comments about Rin pretty biased, so sorry if this annoyed you.

      • I suppose that’s where our difference lie, I’m a big fan of character exploration and dark routes, but if it’s not your cup of tea, it’s not your cup of tea. Although, yeah, I admit that her and Hisao’s conversations were generally very sparse, as during that period Rin was trying to focus on nothing but painting, and she didn’t want to be distracted by a relationship. I think she is actually very serious, but because she speaks in riddles all the time, no one could really understand the point she was trying to make. so she opted to try and let nothing bother her rather than deal with those difficult emotions.

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