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Katawa Shoujo

Developer / Publisher: Four Leaf Studios
04 January 2012
Katawa Shoujo - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.69 / 5.0
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473 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#607 All-time
#16 for 2012
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Making a game like this even remotely classy had to be one of the hardest things in the world. Katawa Shoujo is an eroge visual novel developed by some people from 4chan (Yes, there are sex scenes. With one exception, they aren't too raunchy). Don’t let that scare you off; it almost prevented me from taking the game seriously too. However, after finishing all five routes after being hooked for two weeks straight, I have to say I’m glad I invested the time overall. Katawa Shoujo is definitely one of the best romance games I’ve played in the VN genre.

Let’s take down the elephant in the room first: Yes, this is a game about dating disabled girls. However, to say that’s the main focus of Katawa Shoujo is missing the forest for the trees. The game is a slice-of-life/coming of age tale about a young man named Hisao, who has a heart attack and learns he’s got an arrhythmia, landing him in a school for the disabled in his senior year. It’s hard not to feel for Hisao throughout the game; he’s suddenly aware that his lifespan is limited and has been thrust into a world that’s basically alien. Katawa Shoujo does an excellent job making the player feel like an outsider.

You are quickly enough introduced to the five main female characters of the game. Shizune, who is deaf and mute but also extremely bossy and arrogant, evidenced by her yes-woman Misha who hand-signs Shizune’s every thought. Emi, a track star who lost her legs in an accident, but refuses to let her disability change anything about who she is and won’t accept help to a fault. Hanako, a heavy burn victim who has developed an intense fear of socializing, understandably so, but wants nothing more than to overcome this. Lily, a blind girl aspiring to become a teacher. Rin, who has lost her arms but strives to create art, always questioning the meaning of what she is doing.

With the exception of Shizune’s, I found all of these characters’ stories interesting on some level. I also found myself surprised by the depth of them at times. For instance, Hanako’s tale has an excellent lesson in it that you don’t see a whole lot in video games: you can’t just feel sorry for somebody in a bad situation; on some level they have to overcome problems themselves. Rin’s tale was especially profound. Conversations with her are packed with discussions of aesthetic philosophy: what it means to create art, why people create, and the value of their creations. What impressed me most about this game was that the disabilities of the characters never overpower what the story is trying to say. The fact that Shizune is mute hardly factors in to her story at all! If you were expecting this game to be a sick fetishist freak show, you’ll be pleased to know you are dead wrong.

The game looks nice with the exception of some minor character sprites. You can tell that more effort was put in to some things than others. Most of the backgrounds are still-life shots from actual Japanese locales with the focus changed to make them look flatter. This has a great effect in-game! I also enjoyed the soundtrack; it was very soothing, even if a little repetitive, but the repetition of songs fit in well with the mundane nature of school life. Overall, no big complaints in this area.

The only things holding this title back are a lack of editing in some areas and the fact that some of the stories are just flat-out better than others. Some dialogue goes on way too long, especially in Shizune’s route, which was the longest for me and by far the least enjoyable. Rin’s tale is the best overall, in my opinion, and it somewhat overshadows the rest of them, but I enjoyed each branch of the story on some level. You get a lot for the time invested. There are genuinely funny, sad, and powerful moments to experience here. I can’t recommend Katawa Shoujo enough.
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jsh357 2016-04-02T21:41:27Z
2016-04-02T21:41:27Z
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I'll warn you in advance, I was skeptical of this game at first, but this game moved me in ways that few other games have.
A visual novel dating sim made by 4Chan members about dating disabled girls. You'd think that this would be raunchy, but it is actually really sweet! You play as Hisao, a boy who has a rare heart condition called arrhythmia which requires him to be on many medications and puts him at risk of his heart fluttering with bad chest pains if he over exerts himself. He goes to a high school that specializes in dealing with students that have a wide variety of disabilities. And the game has you live in his day-to-day life at this school as you pick a main girl to befriend and ultimately date.

*Misha: the long pink-haired interpreter for Shizune. She is really outgoing, and has a fun dynamic with Shizune. It might be wrong to say this but I actually really liked her over Shizune which makes me feel bad. But she has a goofy personality and really puts herself out there with how friendly she is. However, she is also really obnoxious and is very, very, loud. But her giggling and the way she teases Hisao is very cute and the fact that she is able to translate everything Shizune says and sign everything bacl to her simultaneously will never cease to amaze me. Misha is a special person with a noble goal of wanting to teach sign language to people. I adore her personality and the cheeky grin of hers and how friendly and nosey she can be. I wish she had a playable route, but she was an adorable side character.

*Shizune: the short brown-haired girl with glasses who is deaf. We sit next to her in class and she is the Student Council President. She is very competitive and doesn't take "no" for an answer very easily. She takes her job very seriously and can be assertive towards other students. Her arc I did third and it was easily the least dramatic of the three with the main issue revolving around Misha and her friendship. Shizune's personality was cute and I enjoyed her arc, but ver story will likely be my least favorite mainly because I feel like Hisao never really opens up to Shizune like he does to Rin or Emi. But getting Shizune to open up to Hisao and having him learn sign language was rewarding too.

*Lilly: the long blonde-haired blind girl. We met her drinking tea alone. She is a bit odd, but is super polite and has an eloquent means of speaking.

*Hanako: the girl with dark brown hair and heavy burn scars. Because of her appearance, she has a very timid personality with low self-esteem and remains mostly aloof with her face hidden inside a book. She is close friends with Lilly and is very dependent of her but doesn't allow herself to open up to others very easily. I was expecting this route to be a sad one like Rin's, but what surprised me os how rewardingly cute it was. Hanako is really a super sweet girl and certainly gives off a #mustprotect sort of vibe that makes her an easy to love waifu. But once you get her to open up and you see more of her personality, she is even easier to love because of how cute she is! I love getting input from Lilly and how involved Shizune and Misha were despite which made this a super enjoyable playthrough experience until it's heartwarming ending.

*Emi: the sporty pig-tailed girl who is missing her legs and has artificial ones in their place. But that doesn't stop her from running around and rushing into things at full speed. In fact, Hisao met Emi for the first time when she accidentally ran into him really liked her from the start and basically had a love at first sight sort of feeling for her and her determination to be running despite wearing prosthetic legs.

What's funny is, she was my favorite from the start and I ended up having Hisao chase after her (both literally and figuratively) first by accident. I didn't expect to have it be decided on her as quickly as I did, but it was well worth it anyhow. She has such a sad and sweet story with the accident and it leaves her scarred on the inside with deep emotional walls that are hard to penetrate. But it was a pleasure to get to know Emi as a person and to grow close to her because she was a good influence on Hisao and he on her. They had a great relationship together and even though it takes awhile for Emi to fully trust Hisao and to open up to him, it was well worth it in the end. I loved the playthrough for her. Also, Rin being the third wheel friend in this scenario lead to some hilariously awkward situations. Choosing Emi as the girl makes Hisao live a happier and healthier lifestyle and I loved that about this relationship.

*Rin: I wrote A LOT about her arc so she gets a spoiler tag haha. The armless weird girl with short auburn hair. She has an odd vibe about her. But I kind of dig it. She's rude and brash but means the best by it. And despite her disability, she still strives to be the best artist that she can be and actually is pretty good at it. Much like her personality, her art style is super weird. But it is really cool.

*I warn you again, I wrote a lot about Rin because her route is my favorite.

Rin has an aloof personality which makes conversing with her kind of difficult. She seems to speak in meaningless riddles and often times chooses to shrug instead of saying anything at all. Yet, she is such a fascinating person. She is super talented as an artist and is the type of person who once you are comfortable with her, you are able to just sit in silence with and just be comfortable with each other's presence.

Even though I think Emi's relationship is healthier for Hisao, I really appreciated how observant Rin is. Her, lost in thought seeing, the world without actually looking at it approach leads to her making some observations about Hisao's mental health that really put into perspective his overall happiness. She noted that he is always lost in thought and that she's never seen him smile. Something as an observer playing the game we never really heard when we dated Emi, but we hear right away as a friend to Rin. In her own way, she wants Hisao to be happy because she is unhappy and unsure of herself. She loves to see Emi at her Emiest, and wants the same for Hisao and herself but is unsure what Hisao at his Hisaoest and Rin at her Rinest actually is.

So the game presents you a choice for Hisao. Should he try to be more like Emi who pushes herself to her limits and thrusts herself at the world with as big of a smile as she can muster while hoping to rub off on other people or would he rather be more like Rin who is observing the world and seeing others when they are happy and finding fascination in what makes each person unique but failing to realize how unique of a person that she is. I will always choose optimism over pessimism so "more like Emi" is the route that I took.

In all honesty, I'm not sure if that decision really matters. This relationship with Rin is one that takes a lot of time to blossom. And it's not just because of Rin, but because of Hisao and his depression too. There's a beautiful scene where Rin and Hisao are alone on the roof together (since Emi has a cold) and they openly talk about how it feels to be disabled. And that is where we get an interesting outlook from Rin and see how sweet of a person that she can be. Her ability to notice things about other people without them noticing and having the audacity to say it allowed strikes again and Rin took it as an opportunity to comfort Hisao with a hug. An arm-less hug that she had to tell Hisao allowed that was what she was doing. And just like Hisao, this instance made me cry too. As much as I love Emi, no scene in her arc came close to this.

Things become a lot more complicated in the third and fourth arcs though. Rin's difficulties in forming words really start to affect Hisao as she becomes absorbed into her painting for the art gallery and drifting farther and farther apart from Hisao. It feels awful when someone you love shuns you away but Rin was doing it because she didn't see her own self-worth. She sees herself only as a painter and she thought that she could communicate with her paintings not realizing that art isn't something that can be understood but only interpreted.

My friend that recommended me this game said he hated Rin's arc and thought that she was selfish. While I agree with my friend that Emi is still #bestgirl, (mainly because she helps Hisao to live a healthier lifestyle and because Emi's problem is that she's too selfless and won't let herself get close to others in fear of losing them) I found Rin's story to be an emotional one which had tears running down my face both out of joy and sadness on multiple occasions.

Prior to reading this visual novel, if I was asked whether I'd rather lose my arms or my legs, I would have said I'd rather lose my arms thinking about movement and potentially having to be in a wheelchair. But you don't think about how vulnerable it makes you as a person to have no arms. You are helpless in getting dressed on your own. You will draw stares from everyone when you try to eat with your feet (if you are even flexible enough to do that). You can't get things off of shelves. You can't open doors. You can't hold books to read. And the worst one of all, you can't hug. Hell, you can't even wave hello or shake someone's hand. Factor in the way Rin struggles to come up with words to express herself to all that and I can't blame Rin for all of the noncommittal shrugging that she does and for her difficulty in finding her own self worth.

Rin's options for work, play, and love are very limited. But she does excel in one thing: painting. So, for better or for worse, whether Rin wanted to or didn't want to, she forced herself to paint not because she was happy with it, but because she saw it as the only thing she was capable of doing. Imagine those out there with no arms who don't have the incredible foot dexterity and flexibility that Rin has and don't have her artistic ability. Do they have no self-worth? The way Hisao was finally able to reach Rin, in the end, was what made her story arc so beautiful.

My only complaint with the Rin story is that I didn't like how the sex scenes unfolded. And in all honesty, I kind of wish there wasn't a sex scene at all. I really felt like Rin just wanted a friend and someone she could be herself with in her own time as she learned how to process her own feelings. I know the game wanted Hisao to be able to have sex with every girl in the game, but I think for Rin's path, they should have omitted from that course. I don't think Rin was ready for that sort of commitment and it lead to the first sex scene being uncomfortable and forced as he helped her to masturbate and the second one taking away from an emotional and awkward moment where Rin had nowhere else to turn to and she needed Hisao's help to undress her and to get her into something warm.

If there had to be a sex scene, I wish that it would have come at a much later time with Rin out of the blue bluntly asking Hisao, if he wanted to have sex. That would have been funny and also the most Rin way of going about it. Hisao would be startled and probably blushing, then Rin would move in closer and for the first time, stare directly into his eyes in anticipation waiting for Hisao to recover from his embarrassment. (Of course she would have no idea why the question was so embarrassing or why Hisao was blushing) Hisao would recover, laugh, and ultimately the two of them would go into his room and then make love. That would have actually been cute and probably the most natural way the two of them could have had a sex scene.

Even though I thought that the good ending was fine, I think having the "true ending" should have ended a bit differently. The game seems to make it where it's Rin pursuing her career or a relationship with Hisao and that it can't be both. And I don't like that. I wish that the normal ending mixed some elements of the good ending with the normal one and had Rin pursue her art with Hisao being there to support her as her friend like she wanted all along. Rin didn't want a boyfriend. She wanted someone she could rely on for help (which she had in Emi) but more importantly, someone she was comfortable being herself around. But I think there could have been a way to fix this and still have Rin and Hisao be in a relationship too. In this perfect ending, I'd have Rin starting to fall asleep in Hisao's arms with Hisao assuring Rin that he won't let her go and that he would support her whether it's for her art (if she stayed at her gallery presentation) or just by being there for her as her friend. And in turn, Rin will whisper "thank you" to Hisao before drifting off to a peaceful sleep while Hisao adjusts himself to get comfortable, brushes Rin's messy hair, and begins to fall asleep himself. The next morning, Hisao wakes up to Rin still in bed staring back at him. She'll make a comment about how watching people sleep is interesting, but that's more of a Hisao thing and that she'd prefer to listen to Hisao's heartbeat to pass the time while she waited for him to awaken. Hisao will smile both because he is happy to see that Rin stayed in bed with him as she said she would and because this is the sort of comment that Rin would make before she became obsessed with her art and she and Hisao had a falling out. "I guess things are back to normal then." Hisao thought. Then Rin will give him a tender kiss on the lips and place her ear on Hisao's chest while whispering, "Are we still friends?" To which Hisao replies, "Always." It wasn't that Rin didn't like Hisao, it's just that she wanted him to be a friend first and boyfriend second. Having a hint of romance and having the two of them communicating with each other would have been a much more heartfelt and rewarding ending than having Hisao bring her to life with the power of his magic tongue and penis. But, the good ending was still satisfying in itself but I wish the normal ending gave you a bit more.

Overall though, I really enjoyed Rin's arc and was glad that I went with hers second. Emi's optimism, drive, and her concern for others before herself makes her easy to love, but there's something about Rin's peculiarities that I really enjoyed. And even though it is to a much smaller degree than hers, I can relate to her difficulty in forming the right words in conversation. Not because I can't process emotions like her, but because I overthink things and I am thinking about too many things at the same time which causes me to forget some of the things that I want to say. But not only that, I have a cousin who has Aspergers and Rin's character shares some personality traits with her. And that is when I learned that the developers of Katawa Shoujo said that Rin has Alexithymia which is something that I had never heard of before. It is essentially when a person has a hard time describing their own emotions and it is difficult for them to put how they feel into words which often leads to them using abstract metaphors to try to get their thoughts across. Alexithymia is often caused by emotional neglect/abuse at an adolescent age or is often a symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Since we aren't told anything about Rin's parents, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that she grew up in a home that didn't provide her with the warmth and love that she needed. I mean, when she hugs Hisao, she said that when Emi came to hug her, she gave her a kick because she didn't know what she was doing. That unfamiliarity that Rin has to such a simple gesture of compassion volumes about how Rin's parents raised her. Unless Rin also does fall within the Autistic Spectrum and has issues with being touched by others which is partially suggested when she tells Hisao he could touch her anywhere except for on the breasts and on her "left ear". Either way, Rin is a fantastic character and I loved getting to become her friend and I wish that Hisao wasn't so hesitant to describe himself as her friend at first and was more hesitant on announcing his feelings for her. Hisao is a good protagonist, but I felt like he could have handled a lot of Rin's oddities in a different way than he did. I'm not saying I would have done better, but I know that I would not have helped her to masturbate or would not have had sex with her after helping her get undressed. But then again, I might be an Ace (asexual) so my opinion on this subject doesn't matter too much.

I just know that my ideal girl is someone that pushes me to my own goals while I push her. Since Hisao doesn't really have goals, the only thing Rin can do is worry about his mental health while focusing on herself and the only thing that she felt she was good at. Emi pushed a goal of her own on Hisao which was for his own self-interest, but she didn't have too many long-term goals of her own either. Rin when properly pushed, can achieve her goals. Emi is so headstrong that I couldn't imagine being able to get anything through to her... Did I just talk myself into making Rin into #bestgirl? I think I did. Wow I loved this story! I just wish it was ended a bit better.


To summarize, Katawa Shoujo takes a very sensitive topic that the writers have to tread very carefully around to not offend people, and they did a masterful job. of it, They offered a lot of perspective into what it would be like to live your life if you were blind, deaf, were missing your legs, or your arms, and if you were dating someone like them, the things you would have to be wary about and how you can help them. But you also learn that having these disabilities of course limits you in some ways, but whether it is through sheer determination (Emi), imagination and talent (Rin), a competitive and playful side (Shizune), or a with patience and poise (Lilly), you can find your place in the world and make the most of your life despite the limitations.. Hanako's case is a bit more sensitive since she has such a tragic backstory and is both physically and mentally scarred so bad from the horrific accident in her childhood. She just needs time and to surround herself with people she can trust to give herself the confidence she needs to move forward with her life and to not always try to find an escape from it all in books. Watching how she grows in confidence due to the choices you make is rewarding and makes me appreciate how much care the writers put in for each and every one of the characters of the game.
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Volgan 2021-02-08T12:55:55Z
2021-02-08T12:55:55Z
5.0
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Not a game, a novel
I am not rating this as some great "interactive experience." It is your average visual novel design with unusually good writing. Backdrop music isn't great, but it gets the job done in setting a mood with every scene. The "choices" you make can lead to frustrating endings, but when you get it right, you'll get some serious gratification. Not even in an erotic way -- like, genuine romance is within the walls of Katawa Shoujo, so I'd recommend it to anyone who can stand to sit and read conversations with anime women.
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ZeeDDD65 2017-10-16T00:33:43Z
2017-10-16T00:33:43Z
7.0 /10
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I had heard of visual novels, but Katawa Shoujo was my first round at the rodeo. Somehow, I doubt I would be as pleased with it now as I was back then, but galling concept aside, there's actually a real story here with a few real characters here and one incredible one. The jazzy soundtrack and animation vignettes in between chapters drive home the experience of a specialty school well beyond home, there's a good enough understand of classic romance tropes for some decent love stories, but definitely not enough analysis or undermining of them to really be anything more.
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Lowlander2 2017-08-23T14:04:06Z
2017-08-23T14:04:06Z
3.5
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Katawa Shoujo is probably one of the more underrated games that I love. It does seem to have a dedicated following (that I've been completely uninterested in checking out, mind you) but weebs seem to be less taken with it. It could be because it is Western, or it could be because some of the character-driven content is more about disconnection than easy relatability. Normally the school setting appears to be used for fluffier contents, waifus, and mundanity. The characters here can be a bit more complex than the usual VN heroines and the game won't always spell this out for you (see Rin, especially, but also Shizune and Lilly). The imperfect protagonist Hisao is also not a character you will always "like" but this is another one of the charms of playing Katawa Shoujo.

The art style is certainly a more westernized Japanese style, which is normally repulsive, but in Katawa Shoujo it is in fact cute. It is downright beautiful when it comes to some of the CGs. There is real heart poured into this game, you get the feeling that everyone involved really tried their hardest to create this work just as it is, and not to pander. The soundtrack, as well, makes for a very cosy experience. Some of the music sounds like ass (anything involving violins, for one) but most of it is really nice, quite a lot is actually great and does a lot for the general atmosphere. Stride is probably my favorite track here, it gives you an uniquely tense yet melodic sensation, like time is always ticking forward, like something important, unseen, is always going on outside of your vision or perspective.

I'm sure you're already familiar roughly with what the game is "about". Dating disabled girls. Though, it should be mentioned, that it is not a dating sim in any way, just the typical galge except with the clear twist that it takes place in a school for the disabled. The protagonist suffers from a heart condition and it is doubtful that he'll live past 30. The setting and main heroines all come alive in my opinion but the side characters often fill no important role. The "friend" you meet is nothing but wacky comic relief, though he is without a doubt better at this role than most such characters, and has his moments. The other side characters have more or less pointless roles other than the occasional preaching, to make sure less intelligent or mature readers can follow (the librarian is the best example here). The setup is normal, you're in a school, in the first chapter you meet some girls, and depending on which choices you make the next chapters will follow the "route" for that girl. Furthermore, you keep making choices in the routes, there's usually plenty of them, and they might lead you towards a good or bad ending (though there are also neutral endings for some girls)

Katawa Shoujo has 5 heroines: Rin (armless painter), Emi (legless runner), Hanako (scarred and traumatized) Lilly (blind and laid back) and Shizune (deaf and bossy). After giving out this rough outline of the characters you might think the game's trying too hard to contrast the character with their disability but honestly I wouldn't worry about that whatsoever, that's only really a bit objectionable in Emi's route but not in a particularly annoying way. For the most part I'd say the characterization and storytelling is quite heartfelt.

So now that that's out of the way, I'd like to talk a bit more about the different routes in particular, avoiding spoilers and all as much as I can. So I have to mention this very important fact first. Katawa Shoujo is a very uneven game. Each route was written by a different person and Rin's route is by far and away the best one. The others will not come anywhere near, and so my high rating is because I found Rin's route very moving. The others are definitely a bit more of a mixed bag although I would say I like all routes except Shizunes. The contents and tone of the different routes all feels different, the writing style is different, and I think most notably, Hisao's personality is different.

Hanako's route is straight forward and easy to understand. On my first read-through, I felt a tad underwhelmed by it until the ending, but upon a reread I find it a bit better. The main issue on this route is that Hisao is very difficult to cope with and that it spends a bit too much time preaching to the reader about something that is more or less obvious. When it comes to its portrayal of Hanako, I think it succeeds at what it's trying to do, but when it comes to the portrayal of Hisao, it is tedious having to accept how stupid he is. I think Hanako's route has two key points that truly impressed me. There is one scene that takes place in the classroom, Hanako has a nervous breakdown of sorts, she's frozen in place, unable to move or act or do anything. At this point the reader is given a chance to understand Hanako's condition firsthand. This scene is effective and made me feel like I was right there in that classroom, just as unable to grasp the sheer scope of Hanako's emotions as Hisao, yet still witnessing this seemingly unreal culmination of emotions and events. The other impressive part of this route is the good ending which is simply put a fantastic climax that is effective and even poetic in its brief simplicity. I find it really moving, honestly. It's definitely a shame that the bulk of the route is only vaguely interesting and has some rather uninspired writing and that the main point is unsubtly spelled out to you throughout, that is until the ending comes along and makes things more interesting. Somewhat mundane route, but the best parts makes it good and well worth the time.

Emi's route is another good one, but still has some really glaring flaws. This route could've in fact been great if it hadn't been so goddamn stupid much of the time because Emi is really likeable and the contents of the first half are the kind that makes you giddy. It's just fun to see everyone so happy and carefree for a while. Then, things gets more dramatic and at this point you have to slog through some really dumb stuff. Especially, a dramatic turn of events that takes place at Emi's home. This part was I think the most cringeworthy part of the entire novel, very bad writing, absolutely nothing makes sense if you think about it for even 1 second, it's very clear that this is the definition of forced drama. The subplot with the nurse gets stupid, too. Actually, there's a gimmick used to forward the drama in general in Emi's route that was also used in Hanako's route, but in Hanako's route this gimmick made sense and in Emi's it just feels out of place. Overall, Emi's route is more actively enjoyable than Hanako's, but it has more stupid stuff in it, can be annoyingly dramatic and a bit preachy, and lacks impressive material.

Lilly's route is the "good" route that I feel the least for. To me, it just never really comes together. Some of the events are clumsily written, such as the confession and following H-scenes, and the endings, which are just trying too hard. On the other hand, I do sorta like how Lilly is written. She has some flaws that come as a surprise, which is nice since because otherwise I wouldn't really have liked her character. For the most part, the route is just generally decently enjoyable. Not a lot of highs, not a lot of lows. It just gets a bit contrived sometimes.

Shizune's route is definitely the worst one, because I think the writer didn't really know what they were doing. It does have its good points, but it is quite tedious and has a lots of awkward events that either feels forced or is just a weird attempt at doing something it fails at doing, like being funny, etc... The trip to Shizune's dad strikes me as utterly pointless, and the subplot with Misha is fairly annoying. Also how fucking fast can Hisao learn sign language. Anyway, on the good side, I like how Shizune is written and I like this route's take on romance as being fleeting. I like the uncertain relationship in this route, but I just don't like the route.

Rin's route is amazing. Absolutely wonderful and almost life-changing. Are most people going to agree with me? No. Just getting that out of the way right now. In order to really get this route you need to have a certain empathic nature that many people don't have. You need to be empathic towards what you do not understand, towards people that do not fit into society, toward people that might appear unlikeable but are really suffering. It might help if you're a bit of an outsider yourself or if you have a lot of experience with people with mental illnesses and trying to understand and accept them as best you can. This route is all about troubled, disconnected people that cannot find their place in the world, and when I talk about how great Katawa Shoujo is you can count on that this is the part I'm referencing. In this route, Hisao is quite different from in the other ones. His love is of the frustrating kind, because he's confused and doesn't understand Rin. Rin is genuinely a mystery and is at first written in such a way that she might come across as simply quirky, but it doesn't take too long until it's evident that there's a lot more to her than that. You could say that her quirkiness is the crowdpleaser part of the route, something to entertain the people that aren't going to get how deep this is anyways, and I wouldn't say this part of her makes the route any less amazing, but it definitely serves as a Wall built to make less understanding readers judge her character the wrong way. The real meat of the route is utterly obscure. On the surface, Rin's issues are about self expression, She has trouble getting her thoughts across and it's often hard to understand what she's really saying. Her painting serves as a contrast to this, to assure the reader that she has other means to express herself through art, and so the simplest conclusion to reach, is that she's a stereotypical misunderstood outsider artist or something. But really, there's not all that much to the "art" part of the route. This part is completely dependant on character development and doesn't really express anything new by itself. What does Rin really suffer from? Some could make an educated guess and say alexithymia fits her pretty well, but I think just settling on one answer is missing the point. Another thing that you see on the surface is that her personal crisis is clashing with personal love, leading to various misunderstandings and dramatic developments. Still, I implore you to try to get "closer" to this work. Pay close attention to the things she says, and to her relationship with Hisao, and I find that there's so much more here, such wonderfully written characters. These are real people, I feel close to these two. Hisao is the one you're following, and from his perspective, Rin is just an enigma that he loves, cares for but cannot understand. Oftentimes the easiest way to make a character unreadable and enigmatic is to limit their actions, limit their lines, limit their facial expressions. Rin has not been artifically limited by anything yet she is still incredibly obtusely written. I normally connect better with characters that don't act, that don't talk, that you observe more than you listen to. Rin is such a winner because she does act and it does work. As someone who has been very confused when in love before as well, I can completely relate to Hisao in this route.

There are several parts that are moving. I think the most moving part is the Neutral ending which is just so fucking sad and beautiful. Absolutely chilling and heartbreaking, I could safely say that this is one of my most beloved moments in anything ever. It really shattered me. There are other parts that really, really got to me, like when they take turns smoking, or when they walked around aimlessly at night. I felt such a deep connection to this work, really, to me it's up there with something like Un homme qui dort (1974 french film) in its sheer emotional value. Though, if I'm going to be picky, I would say this is perhaps not quite as perfect as that. Nonetheless, If you are empathic, if you feel misunderstood, disconnected, like everything's meaningless, overwhelming and confusing, if you can get emotional about what's beyond your understanding, read this. Read this route in Katawa Shoujo. Skip all the others if you want but at least read this one.

So if I were to grade the routes individually, I would say something like this:
Rin: 10/10 - Essential
Hanako: 6/10 - Good
Emi: 6/10 - Good
Lilly: 5/10 - Fine
Shizune: 3/10 - Poor

So in the end, I love this work mainly for 1/5th of it, but thankfully the rest is quite nice in its own way, even the worst route is not without its good points. It's also really different from Japanese VNs. It doesn't pander much, and it has a very comfortable mood. It does preach at times, so beware of that, but I would warmly recommend this work and argue that it is a highly underrated VN. I think it has an oddly huge fandom, but I'm not a part of that. I'm talking about people that actually read more than 1 or 2 VNs tend to say this is overrated and not like it, making it actually underrated in my opinion.
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Surprisingly great
One of the most controversial and popular visual novels out there, particularly in the west. I think that this game is the very first visual novel for a lot of people, and im one of those people. For those who dont know, its an erotic dating sim in which you get the chance to date girls with physical disabilities. I was also interested in it since i read a lot of people stating how well it portrays people with disabilities.

They were not wrong, the game definitly has a few heartbreaking moments and its surprisingly easy to get attached to the characters. The actual writing is a bit so so, great in some sections and cringeworthy in others. Actually the erotic part of the game might just be the worst thing about it, as often it feels forced and takes me out of it. Apart from that, it has very little input from the player, and sometimes there is a big disconnect between what i would do and what the protagonist does. That said, the visuals are barebones but enjoyable, and the narrative hook is strong enough to grip you to its 6 hours story (for each arc).

it is a really hard one to rate. But its definitly a game which im glad i gave it a chance.
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Threntall 2016-11-27T23:59:51Z
2016-11-27T23:59:51Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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Catalog

Great_Skull_Music Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-29T20:57:50Z
2024-05-29T20:57:50Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
cannedhamsters Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-29T17:24:51Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2024-05-29T17:24:51Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Kmarksman Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-28T11:42:34Z
2024-05-28T11:42:34Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
lol1slayer Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-23T00:36:25Z
2024-05-23T00:36:25Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Tk_23 Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-22T05:18:01Z
2024-05-22T05:18:01Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
calys Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-19T15:45:17Z
2024-05-19T15:45:17Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Silexeo Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-18T01:11:22Z
2024-05-18T01:11:22Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Sophonax Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-11T18:58:26Z
2024-05-11T18:58:26Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
r0bob Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-11T01:32:25Z
2024-05-11T01:32:25Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
anitahegerland Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-10T06:41:18Z
2024-05-10T06:41:18Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
torreslmao Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-08T09:57:31Z
2024-05-08T09:57:31Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
charredwind Katawa Shoujo 2024-05-03T14:26:27Z
2024-05-03T14:26:27Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (38) Loading...
  • tezukababe 2023-08-09 08:46:08.957931+00
    I think yall can guess who my favourite character is
    reply
    • cassisarobot 2023-08-15 22:26:42.20843+00
      Rin is best
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  • Straisand 2023-08-24 23:49:11.047567+00
    great
    reply
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  • DomMazzetti 2023-10-22 01:01:21.480622+00
    reply
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  • Drizoen 2024-05-20 15:46:50.978881+00
    https://youtu.be/ow0wVS9S3a4?feature=shared
    Hanako is best girl though.

    Interesting how this game came together too, and that it was actually completed. The internet can be pretty cool sometimes.

    Also, the goofy male friend is perfect. Almost like it's poking fun at some of the sterotypes of 4chan. Amusing route too.
    reply
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