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Today’s the last day of Katawa Shoujo Week, so I hope you enjoyed this whole experience!
What this post will be covering is my ending thoughts and ultimately, a review on this visual novel and my two cents on if you should play it.
Let me just say this will be a little bit difficult to talk about since Katawa Shoujo was the first visual novel I’ve ever fully experienced. So, I don’t know much about visual novels and how this particular one compares to others, so I can’t really talk about if it’s better or as good as other ones.
However, if we’re talking about story and experience overall, ABSOLUTELY play this VN.
Katawa Shoujo (2012) is a free romance visual novel created by Four Leaf Studios, which by the way, was a group of people who came together via 4Chan. Yes, a small group of people on the internet, a bunch of strangers, came together to create an amazing visual novel. And to quote my fellow anime blogger, The Otaku Judge, who commented this on one of my KS related posts…
“The makers of this VN have more talent than some so called professionals who charge for poor software.”
…it really shows that this is a great story to experience.
To sum up the story, a normal guy who goes to a normal school, Hisao Nakai, is forced to go to a school for the disabled because of a fatal heart attack and being diagnosed with arrhythmia, which is a condition where the heart has an unusual beat pattern. He believes he can’t fit in in an environment like this, where every one has some sort of disability, but ultimately finds out he can make friends and even create a romantic relationship with one of them.
In media, disabilities aren’t really expressed a lot. Because of that, we don’t really know a lot about them, what people who unfortunately have them experience with an obstacle in front of them everyday and how they get by doing regular things such as walking when you don’t have legs, or reading if you’re blind.
Katawa Shoujo takes disabilities pretty seriously and conveys them realistically. They show us what each characters’ disability is, what they can or can’t do and how they get by in life, doing things that maybe they didn’t even expect them doing due to their disability. The theme of perseverance, which means “doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”, is expressed very well among the characters.
We have Rin, she can paint a whole mural with only her feet and mouth since she doesn’t have any arms; also Shizune, she’s deaf but she can still do things such as be the class rep and student council president at the same time and also scold other students of doing wrong.
My curiosity of different disabilities widened while playing this visual novel. When I was playing through Lilly’s route, seeing that she’s blind, I was very interested in a certain aspect they showed about blindness, which is Braille. Braille is a type of language specialized for blind people, where instead of regular words and letters on paper, they feel these patterns of dots on paper in order to read.
It got me curious and I did a tiny bit of research about Braille and saw how the alphabet was expressed with patterns of only six dots. It’s fascinating, really.
What I’m trying to say here, I guess, is that it’s a great learning experience about different disabilities that people have, and see how they can live life and be like a normal person, by learning something and going over that obstacle.
When we look at the story of this visual novel, we can see that it’s a story about a guy getting used to a new environment he’s never experienced, finding friends and even possibly start a romantic relationship. It sounds like something that has been made into a story before (it has), however, Katawa Shoujo conveys that idea differently and as I said earlier, has something that we don’t see often, with all the disabilities. Our main character, Hisao, simply did not want to go into this new world and believed he couldn’t get used to this unusual environment, being surrounded by people who have way different disabilities than him.
But Hisao discovered it’s the complete opposite and these people were just normal people that he could relate with and even fall in love with when he ignored the fact that Emi has no legs or that Hanako has a bunch of burn scars and saw the same great and unique personalities and beauty in these five ladies that someone could’ve had at his regular school.
On the topic of characters, they were all very nice to watch and learn about. Lilly was independent and very polite, Emi and Misha bursted with happiness and excitement, Shizune was very ambitious and Rin was just confused, yet likable. Seriously, seeing every lady’s conflict or problem that Hisao helped them with, all were interesting to read about and sometimes unpredictable. Not only the main characters, but the side characters had some interesting, funny moments but also gave some content to the different routes such as Mutou, Hisao’s teacher, who helped him out while being new to this new environment.
Also, for some odd reason, I barely addressed the adult content of this visual novel. Well, there are sex scenes that happen, some can be passed in something rated-R and only a few are actually, like, hentai level. I think we are all mature here, so I don’t think that’ll be much of a problem. You can also turn it off and still experience the story in the same way, if you’re not comfortable with looking at something like that.
These next two sections will be pretty short, since they weren’t all that important.
The art of this visual novel, honestly, pretty good. It has an anime art style, which is the standard for Japanese based visual novel, and they did a great job at that. The backgrounds are (i believe) just photos and blurred out a little bit, but overall, they give a nice atmosphere. Also, the different scenes where it shows the characters doing something in particular was cool to see.
However, I do have a little problem about the art. The character design for some characters do not match up with everyone else. I was bothered, especially with Emi’s character art. For example, when Emi is next to Rin’s sprite, Rin’s looks polished and detailed, while Emi’s looked like it was drawn sloppily. Just my opinion, you might look at it differently.
The music, oh the music. Probably one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard. Period. It’s just so relaxing and calm most of the time. But, there are some tracks that are upbeat and happy, and some seriously can make you have chills and possibly even cry at them, especially after experiencing a certain scene. I know I did.
Okay, in conclusion, do I think you should play this visual novel? Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
Just looking at it, it’s a regular romance harem story. However, they added a lot more stuff to experience such as the disabilities you may or may not have a lot of knowledge about or even known about. It’s seriously a great learning experience to have, and it may even spark your curiosity a bit. Everything in this visual novel connects and blends in together very well to have a emotion filled story to read and follow along. I highly suggest you should give this at least a try.
Official Katawa Shoujo Website and Download: https://www.katawa-shoujo.com/
Thank you for reading this and if you followed along in this week of KS related content, I really appreciate it! This visual novel was worth talking about for over a week, it was fun and I truly believe it’s something worth experiencing.
Tomorrow, I’ll be putting out a bonus post, talking about the possible spiritual successor to Katawa Shoujo.