かたわ少女

かたわ少女 (Disability Girls) is a visual novel, more precisely, a 美少女 (bishōjo) visual novel developed and published by Kawa Soft and Four Leaf Studios (4LS). This is an entirely free visual novel, and even though I haven’t read many [visual novels], I have watched enough anime to know when I find a good plot, so I can definitely say that Katawa Shōjo is worth reading…and crying at, for that matter (although I only cried on Rin’s route).

Plot and Themes

The concept of the story stems from a sketch that dōjinshi artist Raita Honjō (RAITA) created; after discussions on 4chan, the 4LS was created and the VN was brought to life.

The story follows our protagonist (Hisao Nakai (中井 久夫)) as he survives a heart attack caused by the confession of THE girl he loved, only to end up having to transfer to a high school for students with disabilities. There are five routes, and as far as I understood, there is no true route (Rin may have a true ending, but I’ll get to that later).

Screenshot 01

Something to consider: do you think that, on any route, Hisao was bothered by the letter from Iwanako (岩魚子) to the extent to which he would have written to her and try to get back with her?

As soon as you start reading, you become aware of the themes of this visual novel; for example:

  • What does being normal mean?
  • Hisao has to give the heroines time and space, to come out of their own shells; most importantly, Hisao needs to realise that he needs to give himself that, too, in order to accept himself and his current situation.
  • One’s disabilities don’t define them as a person, although to some extent, one must be aware of their limitations and how far to push themselves, before hurting both themselves, and their dear ones.

Music and Animation

The music was composed by Sebastien, “NicolArmarfi”, Skaf, Andy “Blue123”, and Andi. I quite liked it. I mean what I liked the most was that unlike in Togainu no Chi, for example, the songs are rather the full version, not the 1-minute-long version, and they thus don’t end up being extremely repetitive to the point where you want to read faster just to change the song. The songs do follow the mood of the story, and I think I can describe the OST as calm and chilled, maybe even nostalgic…well, except for Kenji’s theme.

I liked the art, too. The heroines are pretty, and the bonus images are really beautiful. The background images were real-life photos (or so they seemed to me) with little to no effects added to them. You might think this is a starch contrast to the anime characters popping onto it, but it actually works just fine.  In fact, I realised that they enhance your imagining of the scene, rather than distract you from it. I also like the fact that I found no absurdities regarding proportions (i.e., boobs and…other stuff), so that’s bonus points right there.

Story and Characters

screenshot 02

Before going any further, I have to say that I’ve read it in English (I know there’s a Japanese version released, too, but that might be just for the first Act? I am not totally sure about this) and I found it very well written. It has a funny and enjoyable writing style, and it gets more bonus points for not using expressions such as limp c**k and rock-hard d**k (like DRAMAtical Murder, Togainu no Chi, and Sweet Pool did); I mean for me, these just ruin the mood. On another note, it has a very nice prose, it is well-phrased throughtout and so I found it a pleasure to read.

So, on to the characters and their routes. But before that, a little note: normally, when I read a VN for the first time, I will make the choices that I just feel I want to make, without thinking too much about any in particular, and see whose route I get on. And I did the same with this one. However, after I do finish a route, I usually look for spoiler-free walkthroughs to help me get onto the other routes. And boy, I wasn’t pleased at all in this case. Most of the walkthroughs out there didn’t work for me, as the 4LS released a final version of the VN (as mentioned on their blog) and people who did the walkthroughs had done them for the previous version(s); so, I decided that in this post I will also write a walkthrough for each route for the final version of this VN – the one I played. Another little note: not all heroines have all three endings (i.e., good, bad, and neutral), so please do not think it is a mistake I made. Also, when you get onto a bad ending, the story may end in the 3rd Act (on certain routes, the bad ending rolls in Act 4 actually); however, it continues in the 4th Act normally on the neutral and good endings. And now I shall firstly mention the order in which I read the routes; then, I will talk about the characters and their story in the order of my preferences (just like I usually do).

Also noteworthy is the fact that the story starts in Act 1 (which is called “Life Expectancy” for each route), right after Hisao transfers to Yamaku. With these said, I shall move on.

So, the order in which I read the routes:

  1. Emi
  2. Rin
  3. Shizune
  4. Hanako
  5. Kenji
  6. Lilly

As I usually do, on each route, I will save the good endings for last; as I’ve also said, I’ll start with my least favourite route working my way to the one I loved the most. You also need to save at each choice, as this is time-saving, you’ll see why below.

The first one that I want to start with isn’t quite a route. It just happens in the case in which during the 1st Act, you fail to get Hisao on any of the girls’ routes; and in this case Hisao spends the day of the festival with Kenji on the school rooftop and they get drunk…and then Kenji may have pushed Hisao off the building…yeah, he may have just done so, but bear with me and I’ll talk about that in detail below. So, without further ado, Act 1’s bad ending: Kenji Setō (瀬藤 健二) and how to get there:

Kenji 02

Act 1: Life Expectancy

Yeah, of course.

Ask about Shizune’s deafness.

She has a point. Attack aggressively!

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.

She was cute.

Wait for Shizune and Misha to come to a decision.

Yes.

Don’t drag me into this! I’ve done my part!

Go for it!

Yeah, sure, I was having fun fun fun at the nurse’s office.

Note that there are alternative ways to get on this ending, but for me this one worked, so there you have it.

Now, Kenji sort of startled me from the very beginning. But in a funny way. He’s not just legally blind, but also legally cuckoo – I mean it, out of everyone there he’s the biggest cloud-cuckoo-lander! At first, I took it like some sort of funny act – the way he was talking about a more-than-just-possible local and global feminist conspiracy and all that jazz. But then, as I progressed (not only on this ending, but also on the girls’ routes), I started thinking there’s way more there than meets the eye.

Kenji 03

I tried to pay as much attention to what he said, without reading too much into it, and I reached the following conclusions: more than someone hilarious, ridiculous, and more-than-just-ever-so-slightly absurd, Kenji may have had a harsher past than one could imagine. From the way he spoke about his past and his Mum (when he seemed to be lucid about it), I started seriously thinking he may be suffering from either PTSD or paranoid schizophrenia, if not both, really.

See when Kenji and Hisao are on the roof, and Kenji blabs on and on about a possible war against feminists coming about, he says he wouldn’t want dudes who are raised by their Mothers or sisters to help him. Add this to the story he tells Hisao about his Mum’s sitting once on a ship-in-a-bottle (I pondered a little before deciding to take it as a serious account of his past, rather than as a passing joke), and to the fact that he says his Mum sent him whisky to make up for not being able to come to the festival with him (way too many bottles in a story, isn’t it?) and whole anti-females attitude may in fact be too easy to explain (that, or I’m overthinking, but hey, this is just my theory): what if his Mum was an alcoholic who caused her own death and Kenji witnessed this (either or not by mistake) and that was the trauma that triggered his current mental instability? I mean he may as well have been through this at a young age and then his sister might have had to raise him (she may not have been much older either, and thus not been able to replace a parent) – it may seem to be a wild theory, but it just sort of popped into my head. And it stuck there.

Anyway, remember when I said he may have pushed Hisao off the rooftop? Well, even if Kenji didn’t actually do it with his own hands, he kept moving towards Hisao (who was kind of freaking out by now) even though the latter told the former to get back. So by doing this, and knowing what was going to happen (or maybe not, as they were both blasted from the whisky), Kenji didn’t even need to use his hands to push Hisao off, but it can still be considered that his behaviour did, if you know what I mean. Besides, Kenji says it himself once: “if I were to kill someone, I’d push them off of a building and make it look like an accident.

Kenji 01

I do strongly believe though that all Kenji wanted was a friend – preferably male, not raised by their sister or Mother. But isn’t this what each and every one of us wants? And Hisao was never quite there; Kenji makes this clear on every route and he even tries to include Hisao in his activities, but Hisao plainly refuses without even giving him a chance…I could quite see everything escalating and reaching the boiling point in the bad ending described above.

Notes:

[Kenji also offers a piece of priceless info: “male porn stars only make half of what female porn stars make.” Also, I can’t stop thinking about Rin’s painting a portrait of him for the exhibition…]

[It is hinted that Kenji and the librarian (白川 優子 – Shirakawa Yūko) used to be a couple]

Next, Shizune Hakamichi (羽加道 静音) – I didn’t really like her. She was way too bossy for my taste. Even after finishing her route (which was written by Anonymous22) and getting to know more about her (it was nothing I didn’t have a hunch about), I couldn’t really warm up to her. Anyway, she has one bad ending and one good ending. Also noteworthy is the fact that your choices end on the 3rd Act, regardless of the endings; that being said, once you finish Act 3, in Shizune’s case, Act 4 will be automatically rolling, and it will either be the bad or the good (obviously). How to get these:

Bad Ending:

Act 1: Life Expectancy

Yeah, of course.

I think I got everything I need to know.

She has a point. Attack aggressively!

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.

She wasn’t cute.

Wait for Shizune and Misha to come to a decision.

Maybe.

Don’t drag me into this! I’ve done my part!

Try to dodge the subject.

Act 2: Learning to Read

[no choices here]

Act 3: Sleight of Hand

Comfort Misha

Act 4: To my Other Self

[no choices here]

 

Good Ending:

[make the choices in Acts 1 and 2 and then:]

Act 3: Sleight of Hand

Refuse.

Act 4: To my Other Self

[no choices here]

On the bad ending, Hisao’s attitude becomes too much for her, what with all the drama going on between her and Misha, too, and so she tells him she needs a break…yes, from him. I can quite understand though, why Hisao said “that’s just you making another decision by yourself”, but was it really the right thing to say? I’ve sort of been there…

On the good ending, they graduate, the three of them together, and make fun plans for their future, to which they each look forward to. Really nice, but nothing special here.

As I said, I kinda found her [Shizune] too annoying from the very beginning, not to mention slightly too competitive; she also comes across as rather oblivious to others’ circumstances and she goes as far as to be unreasonable. I strongly believe that not everything has to be won or lost. I did guess that her personality, behaviour, and mannerisms had something to do with her deafness. I did think it may be her way of compensating for her deafness. I mean she says it herself that she wants to draw people closer to her, to bring out their potential, to turn everything around her from boring to exciting. But everybody seems too lazy (in her eyes) and then she retaliates…in her own way, which is what I found annoying. It’s sort of understandable, but annoying, nonetheless. I mean if this way it doesn’t work, why doesn’t she turn to other ways of “bringing out one’s potential and drawing them closer to her”?? Besides, she chose to lose a friend (Lilly), rather than to rethink her ways…

She also says that she wants to be on top of everything (“I’ve always wanted to stand at the top. It didn’t matter what it was as long as I was the best at it, and understood it completely, and made it my own”) … I find that sad. It’s exciting as long as you don’t get to be the best; I mean, you have fun trying and using different strategies, and seeing it from different angles and so on and so forth…but when you’re the best, then what? She answers this herself: then it was no fun anymore, everything had been useless. So the problem might not be entirely with how she goes about things she wants, but about what she wants…and by the end, I think she kind of figured it out. I still find her annoying, but…not that much, I guess.

I also kind of understand why she didn’t speak to her father (Jigorō Hakamichi (羽加道 治五郎)) for so long even after having found an interpreter; perhaps she also considers him guilty for what happened to her. Her brother (Hideaki Hakamichi (羽加道 秀明)) though, is something else entirely. I had mixed feelings about him, but more towards the positive side (although his sister’s competitiveness is certainly rubbing off on him); he’s a good kid.

Misha (ミーシャ) a.k.a. Shiina Mikado (御門 椎名) is Shizune’s interpreter…and…friend; she doesn’t have her own route, though. I kind of thought there might be some sort of one-sidedness between her and Shizune, from the very beginning. After a while of being on her [Shizune’s] route, I realised that might happen on her bad ending. I liked that twist. I liked finding out more about Misha; to be honest, Misha’s story was my favourite moment on Shizune’s route. I liked Misha, really. She’s really fun and loud (maybe slightly too loud sometimes). Anyway, yeah, what happened between them [all three of them, but especially between Misha and Shizune] was sad, but not too sad. Besides, I’ve seen worse bad endings. Way worse, and I’m not talking only about Rin’s bad and neutral endings.

Shizune 11

One more thing before I move on: the Student Council shite pops up way too often, just every other sentence, and I hate how all three are obsessed with it (especially on Shizune’s route). I expected some of it, but not this much. Actually, it’s not really the Student Council that irks me, but the issue of Hisao’s becoming a member and helping them out – that was a bit over the top. Also, wasn’t it very rude of Hisao to just autoinvite himself oh-so-casually along to Shizune’s family?? Or is it just me??

And now, Emi Ibarazaki (茨崎 笑美). Emi has one bad ending, and one good ending; however, there are two ways to get her good ending (but the ending doesn’t change, there’s absolutely no difference on the good ending regardless of which of the two paths you take), as you’ll see below. Just like on Shizune’s route, your choices end on the 3rd Act. So, how to get onto her route (written by TheHivemind) and on certain endings:

Bad Ending:

Act 1: Life Expectancy

Yeah, of course.

I think I got everything I need to know.

She has a point. Attack aggressively!

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.

She was cute.

Read my book.

Yes.

Hey, come on! Cut me and Lilly some slack!

Go for it!

Act 2: Form

Offer to run with Emi.

Act 3: Perspective

Press Emi.

I suppose I can spare a few minutes.

Sure, why not?

Go after her.

Act 4: Motion

[no choices here]

 

Good Ending (way I):

[make the choices in Acts 1 and 2 and then:]

Act 3: Perspective

Press Emi.

I suppose I can spare a few minutes.

Sure, why not?

Go after her.

Give in and let Misha know.

Act 4: Motion

[no choices here]

 

Good Ending (way II):

Act 3: Perspective

Press Emi.

I suppose I can spare a few minutes.

Sure, why not?

Talk to her Mum.

Act 4: Motion

[no choices here]

 screenshot0020

Emi’s route was rather fun (yes, even on the bad ending). I mean, she’s cheerful (to the point of being extremely childish), she’s energetic, she’s really friendly and helpful – to the point of neglecting herself (as seen in the 3rd Act). I like how she takes care of Rin, I was impressed with that; I also like her determination, especially after the accident she’s had to go through. The only problem with Emi is that just as any other human being, she is scared of losing dear ones (considering that she’s lost her father in the same accident in which she lost her legs…I’m not calling her legs dear ones, though); however, this proves problematic when Hisao tries to get close to her – especially since she wanted to get close to him, too…but without letting him in on her biggest, darkest secret. Obviously, on the bad ending Hisao becomes too pushy to the point where she breaks up with him, as he doesn’t understand her and her feelings. On the good ending, Hisao is still pushy, but knows when to back down, and she finally opens up to him.

I liked Emi’s positive attitude, and how she chooses and forces herself to focus on the positive aspects of a situation (especially her own), rather than mull on the negatives. I mean, she doesn’t let her disability stay in the way of doing what she loves (running) and she calls herself “the fastest thing on no legs”. I really enjoyed her route.

Something to note and burn inside our heads: Meiko Ibarazaki (茨崎 芽依子) – is her [Emi’s] Mum and she has a very good point: Emi did just fine without Hisao up until then, and she’d be fine still even if she hadn’t met him. So the best thing to do is to have some patience with her instead of trying to ‘fix’ her. I’m sure each and every one of us had, at some point, a very strong feeling that we could ‘fix’ one of our dear ones (or their problems) – but this ends up doing worse, than better, for both parties. I’ve learned that the hard way…

Note: I didn’t think it would be such an easy thing to do – having such an open physical relationship that even the nurse (he’s another something else…) approves of… I think I’ve watched too much anime if I actually get to think this; but there’s no “oh, no! not here! Someone might come and see us!”, instead you get a lot of “let’s screw everywhere we can, as soon as possible and continuously, preferably!

Next is Hanako Ikezawa (池沢 華子). I found her nice (as shy as she is) and I warmed up to her really quickly. She kind of reminded me of Misaki Mei from Another, perhaps because of how fine she is with her being ignored like that by mostly everybody.

Shizune 02

Hanako has three endings: one good, one bad, and one neutral. How to get there:

Neutral Ending:

Act 1: Life Expectancy

Yeah, of course.

Ask about the library.

She has a point. Attack aggressively!

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.

She was cute.

Go talk with Hanako.

Yes.

Hey, come on! Cut me and Lilly some slack!

Take it easy.

Sorry, I’m not in very good condition.

Go to the library.

Act 2: Hide and Seek

What do you think, Hanako?

Act 3: Castling

Admit it.

Do you want to go into the city?

Act 4: Scars

Trust myself.

 

Bad Ending:

[make the choices in Act 1 and then:]

Act 2: Hide and Seek

I’ve done enough work for the Council already.

Act 3: Castling

Deny it.

How about we call it a day?

Act 4: Scars

Trust my own judgement.

 

Good Ending:

[make the choices in Act 1 and then:]

Act 2: Hide and Seek

I’ve done enough work for the Council already.

Act 3: Castling

Admit it.

Do you want to go into the city?

Act 4: Scars

Trust Lilly.

Hanako 03

On the bad ending, Hisao kinda pisses her off…very much so, so she transforms – well, she has a fit of rage, really. Nobody likes knowing that even the closest people they thought they could trust, look down on them and want to help and fix them, because they think they’re broken. On the neutral ending, Hisao has to accept that he and Hanako will never be more than just friends; on the good ending, as you’d most probably expect, she opens up to him (because he had some patience) and they end up together, obviously.

I liked Hanako’s route (which was written by Camcpl_crudO’Neill); I liked finding out about her past (the fire which killed her family and gave her those scars, living in an orphanage and being ignored by just about everyone, because of her looks), I like that she was sweet and smart. Shizune has a supposition after she and Hanako play chess: that Hanako loves chess (even though she isn’t very good a strategist), because of a memory – most likely because she wants to keep remembering someone she used to play with. I kind of expected more info on that, but that was never touched on…I was a tad disappointed, but hey.

What really intrigued me was that near the end of her good ending, she tells Hisao she doesn’t understand him, and he says he doesn’t understand her, either, but that that’s fine…whoa! Wait a second there! Why the bloody F could you then not say the same to Rin?? This is unfair…just you wait until I get to talk about her route.

So, on to the next route: Lilly Satō (砂藤 リリー) (written by Suriko). I liked her, I liked her demeanour and mannerisms. Very calm, cool-headed, patient, and understanding. Happily, she has no bad ending, just a neutral and a good one. And you can get there like so:

Neutral Ending:

Act 1: Life Expectancy

Yeah, of course.

Ask about the library.

It’s a trap; it’s smarter to play defensively here.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.

She wasn’t cute.

Go talk with Hanako.

Maybe.

Hey, come on! Cut me and Lilly some slack!

Sorry, I’m not in very good condition.

Go for a walk in town.

Act 2: Past

Tell the truth.

Act 3: Present

Humour him.

Keep it to myself.

Address it.

Talk about Hanako.

Act 4: Future

Drop the subject.

 

Good Ending:

[make the choices in Acts 1, 2, and 3, and then:]

Act 4: Future

Mention the letter.

Lilly 07

On the neutral ending, she and her sister, (Akira Satō (砂藤 晃)) return to Scotland, forever (Akira also breaks up with her boyfriend) – well…that was sad. I think I felt more sorry for Akira, than for Lilly and Hisao. On her good ending, Hisao runs to the airport and because of this gets himself in the hospital again, on the surgery table – again! – and wakes up to find her next to his bed. Akira gets her boyfriend a passport and the two of them move to Scotland, while Lilly and Hisao remain in Japan to fulfil their plans for the future. Nothing unexpected.

Now, as much as I liked Lilly’s route, it was a bit too cheesy for me (not to mention that I didn’t think she was that horny; neither that she’d be like a Mum both to Hisao, and to Hanako – I found that slightly annoying, if not suffocating). I was kinda intrigued by the fact that on her route, Hisao seems to be the father, Lilly the mother, and Hanako their offspring – only up to a point, though.

I kinda felt nostalgic when I found out that Lilly’s family was Scottish-Japanese and that her family currently lived in Inverness; as someone who lived in Aberdeen for four years, I felt really happy and nostalgic when I got to that part. Also, Akira, is one of the coolest characters in this VN – I loved her.

So, the best for last: Rin Tezuka (手塚 ) – my favourite route, and by far the best one in this VN. Oh, the feels! No words for those. Rin has three endings: one bad, one neutral, and one good, as follows:

Bad Ending:

Act 1: Life Expectancy

Yeah, of course.

I think I got everything I need to know.

She has a point. Attack aggressively!

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.

She wasn’t cute.

Read my book.

Yes.

Don’t drag me into this! I’ve done my part!

Take it easy.

Sorry, I’m not in very good condition.

I’m interested in the art club.

Act 2: Disconnect

You’re amazing!

It’s refreshing.

I want to be more like Rin.

I think you’d be a big hit.

What about me?

Act 3: Distance

I want to be with her more.

Why did you turn away from being an artist?

Then explain!

 

Neutral Ending:

[make the choices in Acts 1, and 2, and then:]

Act 3: Distance

I want to be with her more.

Why did you turn away from being an artist?

I need to understand.

Act 4: Dream

But aren’t you happy people are interested in your paintings?

 

Good Ending:

[make the choices in Act 1 and then:]

Act 2: Disconnect

You’re amazing!

It’s refreshing.

I want to be more like Rin.

It isn’t like you at all to hesitate like this.

What about me?

Act 3: Distance

I want to understand her.

Why did you turn away from being an artist?

I need to understand.

Act 4: Dream

But if you found someone like that, then what?

Rin 06

On the bad ending, we’re left with a bitter taste: it’s implied she might have killed herself. On the neutral ending, it’s actually worse – if that’s even possible: Rin’s never been bothered by her disability (and her inability to hug people), but on this ending, Hisao’s attitude makes her be painfully aware of that…she decides to move to Tokyo and attend an art college, thus dedicating herself to art, and destroying herself for it. All because of what Hisao said to her…can I kill him now, please?! What’s more, apparently, this ending is called Rin’s true ending, but this isn’t confirmed. On the good ending – which wasn’t that good, if you ask me – she and Hisao end up together, but I wouldn’t see them last…I’d give it about 50-50 chance. I mean yes, both of them realised that it was alright to be themselves and that perhaps in order to accept someone else, one first had to accept themselves; but even then…I don’t think I’m convinced they’d last. Unless Hisao forgets everything he thinks he knows, and takes her as she is. Can he really do that?

I loved Rin’s route (Aurasama did an impressive job here); it seemed to be the best written and the most developed, but also, the most intriguing. In the beginning, it’s easy to mistakenly think a few things about her, such as: she has this unassuming air and doesn’t care about much; she’s insane, incomprehensible, and unstable; she “has a knack for being alone even when in company” (to be honest, so do I…and yes, that does hurt my company) – but are these impressions truly accurate? I wouldn’t say so. I’d say Rin’s rather philosophical (whether or not she knows or thinks she is…well, that’s a different story altogether). Sometimes it may come across that she doesn’t know what it means to have a friend, but more often than not, I think she wonders whether Hisao is her friend, or more than that. On all the other routes, Hisao seems to come pretty soon to the conclusion that he and the girl whose route he’s on are friends, and then more than that. In Rin’s case though, I think he actually wonders constantly, not if they’re friends, but if they’re more than friends, or rather, he hopes they are. And Rin herself seems to be puzzled by the same issue. And they just run in circles after one another.

All throughout this visual novel, the reader finds themselves in a pinch: you’re seeing everything through Hisao’s eyes, but you can also think for yourself; so you’re bound to notice the things he’s not supposed to do but still does…however, this isn’t bothersome, until you get to Rin’s route. I felt awful and wanted to slap him, constantly. With all the other girls, he was fine with giving them some time for themselves, but it wasn’t the same with Rin – why?!?! Also noteworthy is that on all the other routes, he realises they [he and the girl whose route he’s on] are friends, and this happens pretty quickly usually, and it’s what helps him the most to come to terms with his condition; on Rin’s route, though, his depression doesn’t go away, but is enhanced by Rin’s personality and behaviour, so they both grow more and more confused: what is he to her? What does he want to be for her? What does she need/want him to be?

It’s all so much harder when Rin does things her own way and expects everybody to see it the way she does – but this isn’t bad; it’s subjectivity at its peak, at its best; it’s to be respected and accepted, it doesn’t need to be understood. Think, for example, of when she wanted to confess to Hisao, the day after she was sick and supposedly didn’t remember she had kissed him: picture the traditional Japanese way to confess, and now remember Rin’s – Hisao was an idiot for not realising what she was trying to say (see screenshot below). Instead he tells her to slow down and take a breath, which, as with everything else, she takes literally and thinks Hisao didn’t accept her feelings. That was frustrating to accept.

Rin screenshot

Another reason why I loved Rin’s route is because it’s awfully puzzling, just as she is. And it’s hard to think hard and at the same time to try not to; that’s what one has to do to understand her and her story. There’s a huge chance that you’ll miss a clue when she talks, because of the way she talks; as in, she talks in the now and here, and it’s hard not to think ahead; as in, she’s honest and will say anything and everything frankly, but she also makes jokes, or says stuff which appear to be jokes, but they’re not. But there’s no mistake as to what she feels, and wants, if you pay attention. It’s hard not to be frustrated at having to play Hisao, when you want to do everything he doesn’t [do]; you kind of want to slap him and say ‘oy! It’s blatantly obvious, how can you be so blind? I thought you had probs with your heart, not with your eyes or brain!’

The biggest problem Hisao has on Rin’s route is that he’s constantly puzzled by her, by his inability to understand her, and even by her inability to understand herself; and the biggest mistake he makes is that he tries to explain Rin and everything about her according to his own definitions…that was plain wrong to do. I mean, think about it a little: when you’re at a crucial point in your life, and you feel not only that you don’t understand yourself, but also that you don’t know who you are anymore, the only thing you want is someone to know those; also, if you don’t understand yourself, figure yourself out, no matter what others say, you’ll feel they can’t get you either. It’s exactly Rin’s case…she expressed these as best she could, and they’re all out there for everyone to see – everyone who wants to see, that is. Everyone who has patience and who can look beyond appearances. Hisao is stuck and apparently cannot go beyond that line. Also, I never found she didn’t know how to express herself; I just found she thought she didn’t know how to express herself; there’s a huge difference.

It’s really easy for both Hisao and the readers to get the following message about Rin: she paints in order to communicate. Only? No. In order to figure out who she is. Only? No. Because she also enjoys it – that matters a lot to her. Hisao takes it like Rin’s short on words and expresses herself through art, which is only partially true. She does express herself through her art, but she also seeks to understand who ‘me’ is and whether it’s good to remain what and who she is, or to which degree she can change while still remaining that ‘me’. Also, she’s not at a loss for words, on the contrary, she has magnificent and impressive vocabulary. It’s just, as far as I understood, she feels that ‘conventional’ words are somehow off…they do fit what she wants to say, but there’s a part of what she wants to say or of what she feels, that cannot be explained by existing words; yes, painting helps, but what would help even more is for someone to exist, who can not only help you figure yourself out when you don’t know who you are anymore, but who also knows the meaning that you’re trying to convey regardless of the medium you use – e.g., painting, speaking, actions.

I cannot emphasise enough how frustrated and livid I was with Hisao’s confusion when she asks him whether he’s her friend; when she asks him to be quiet a little, but still stay there; when she asks him to come back and watch her paint. It’s really simple: Rin is changing as she’s painting – and she knows it. She wanted Hisao to be with her during that time (she also wanted him not to distract her). She said it herself that she was scared of change (just like any other human being, honestly), that she decided she was going to try to change herself, and that she thinks this was going to be “really very hard”; all she wanted was someone [Hisao] to be with her during the process, but also on the other side – the one she’d come out on after she destroyed her current self and created a new one. She wanted a friend to be there and understand her no matter who she was – and don’t we all want this?! It’s hard to try to change yourself and to start a romantic relationship at the same time; also, more often than not, friends take change better than romantic partners do – it’s plainly easy to see why she asked Hisao not to talk about more than friendship for the time being. Hisao took all this the wrong way, thinking she was only using him for inspiration…

I also think I was a bit frustrated with her art teacher, Shinichi Nomiya (野宮 紳一) …but just a little. He did do everything he could to give her a chance, but at the same time, he was also blinded by personal ‘stuff’ (past, desires, expectations) so much so, that he failed to notice that this could ruin Rin…which it did; even on her good ending, we see that “the current her wasn’t quite ready for that”. I think with regards to Rin, the most important thing to take [scratch that, with regards to everything, really] is what Sae Saionji (西園寺 さえ) – the owner of the art gallery – says: “Everyone interprets art as they will, and interpretation is as much in the eye of the beholder as in the eyes of the creator.” I’d like to finish talking rather extensively about her route with some quotes from her and with some ideas that stuck with me (some little notes, if you will):

It’s alright to be me.

What is the word for when it feels inside your heart that everything in the world is all right?

I am different every day, but I’m still me every day. Who am I, then?

Rin 01

[does the idea of having no idea count as an idea??]

[it’s also interesting how Rin can recognise peeps just by throwing a glance at their crotch]

[I am most definitely planning to try shaking ‘thinking’ out of my head, just like Rin does – maybe it can work like some sort of Pensieve?]

[I did, in all honesty, love her art; I also loved her concept of a Worry Tree – I am a person who worries a lot, I might look for something similar for myself, perhaps it could help me]

[her description of Emi “the girl with the bubblegum foam bath jelly head” is not only accurate, but it made me feel like I know someone like that…]

Some end notes:

  • This visual novel is very well written, like I’d said already;
  • It also mentions some brilliant pieces in literature, such as: Murakami’s Dance, Dance, Dance, Christie’s Death on the Nile, And Then There Were None, and also one of Kafka’s books (but I’d forgotten the title);
  • Rin’s route rocks, thank you Aura!!!
  • Thank you 4LS for creating this wonderful visual novel; anybody wishing to play it, feel free to click the banner in my sidebar, or on the following image:

ks_banner

 

Thank you for stopping by and for reading! Hopefully you’re still alive, after such an extensive read – if you bothered, that is. If you did [enjoy this post], let me know in the comments below, as that encourages me to keep writing! Cheers!

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