ss (2013-01-11 at 03.18.25)

My current start up screen for Katawa Shoujo. You get one image for every chapter you begin.

Well hello there dearest people who read my articles, somehow I find myself here again. As usual it’s been forever since the last article but it’s a routine by now so let’s skip the apologies.
Today’s article will be on a rather popular visual novel that generated quite the fan base in the recent years so you might have already heard of it. It is a free work by Four Leaf Studios titled ‘Katawa Shoujo’, which more or less translates to ‘Disability Girls’.

While Katawa Shoujo certainly is set in a world full of physically disabled people(even your protagonist is disabled!), the plot itself doesn’t really center itself around them(except perhaps one route in particular). On the contrary the characters tend to not be held back much due to their disabilities, probably to send a message that even disabled people can live normal lives.
So for those skeptical of the tales that could possibly come from a setting like this can rest easy, it is no more inferior when compared to other mediocre novels out there. At the very least I certainly did feel contented from reading it.

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Protagonist + Heroines – 1 Semi Heroine

Introduction:
Katawa Shoujo takes place almost entirely in a place called Yamaku High School – a school for disable children located somewhere in Japan. The story begins with Hisao – the main character receiving a confession from a girl that he has a crush on. Everything was fine and dandy but then his heart just got a little too excited and he suffered some sort of a heart attack.

That triggered a series of events over a duration of a few months which he then discovers that his condition is genetic, that he has to take slightly lesser than five million different pills a day to keep his body alive and that he can never go back to living his old life.
But most importantly that is why he eventually got transferred over to Yamaku High School where the plot takes place. Katawa Shoujo being the galge/eroge it is, has it’s main attractions being it’s heroines.

The story then branches off from the prologue into one of the five routes depending on your choices and who you decide to hit on  get to know. You could also show indifference to the girls and go down another route that will totally lead to > Somewhat a spoiler. So far I only completed three out of the five routes and I don’t really plan on clearing the other two so I don’t know how they are, though the public opinion seems to suggest that they are better than the others.

The characters:katawa_shoujo__lilly_satou_wallpaper_by_diespitris-d5r47iv

First off is my personal favourite, the high class lady character Lilly Satou.
Lilly possess a mixture of Scottish and Japanese blood hence her foreigner looks(height, blonde hair and blue eyes etc). Having not seen the colors of the World even once since she was born blind, Lilly enjoys the pleasures of the World with her remaining but enhanced senses(Which is she quite proud of).

Being a caring, responsible and friendly person, she is naturally the class representative of her class. She is also the best/only friend/caretaker of the shy and introvert Hanako. Her demeanor and hobbies befitting her high class image naturally turns up to be something related to tea. Therefore her character is a professional in the tea field and is somehow always drinking tea(at least until she discovers something more addictive later on).

The general feel of her route is very relaxing. Spending time with Lilly feels slow and comfortable, just like the very image of ‘taking it easy’. Its a rather refreshing take compared to the common heroines which you usually  just find yourself/protagonist being dragged along with the girl’s whim and playing to her tune. There is no awkwardness even though some scenes are just basically spending time together in silence as compared to the usual action packed series of events in other novels that lasts till the characters part.

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Then we have Rin Tezuka, the artist with no hands. A child born with severe physical defects that robbed her of her arms so she does everything with her feet.
A philosopher at heart, Rin tends to talk a lot about the concepts of man, the universe and other abstract subjects that just makes no sense to the people around her. She has a mild sense of humor/sarcasm and is a rather interesting person but I suppose weird/strange describes her better. She is somewhat good friends with Emi.

katawa_shoujo__hanako_wallpaper_by_diespitris-d5rbcec Hanako Ikezawa is the the last of the three heroines whose routes I have cleared. Traumatized by events that happened in her past, Hanako is an awkward and withdrawn girl. She spends most of her time orbiting around her best and only friend Lilly, that and haunting the library reading books.

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The school student council president Shizune Hakamichi is a strong willed and forceful person despite being both deaf and mute. She also happens to be your class representative. She is good friends with a girl called Misha who acts as her translator to converse with others. Seems to have some relations of sorts with Lilly.

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This is Misha. Wahahahaha!

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Finally the last of the heroines, Emi Ibarazaki is embodiment of the traditional idea of a crippled person.
Due to reasons unknown to me Emi has her legs amputated below the knee but that did not stop her from being one of the fastest energy ball around town.
She is the cheerful happy go lucky character who always seems to be having fun. She is ‘paired’ up with Rin because each possesses something the other lacks.

Sound and Art:
Being the largely unfunded freeware it is Katawa Shoujo’s art and sound feels fairly simplistic.
Most of the backgrounds seems to be a blurred out and ‘fictionized’ versions of locations and objects in reality, somewhat similar to that of Umineko no Naku koro ni.
The music that accompanies it is also light and unmemorable.
Do not misunderstand though it certainly isn’t bad because of it’s simplicity, in fact it suits the story pretty well, creating a gentle and soothing environment.
With that I will end this article here. Those who are interested can get the game from this link.
And for those who aren’t, still just go take a look, I certainly enjoyed reading it at the very least.

Lastly, before I leave I would like to apologize for this mess of an article. I wrote it over a span of three months in which I constantly lost track of what I wanted to write, hence the various differing tones and length of each section. I will try to make my next article more coherent and pleasant to read.

Thank you and see you again~