Monday, April 16, 2012

Katawa Shoujo - Hana Koi?

Warning: the text above will most likely include spoilers about Hanako's route in Katawa Shoujo. If you haven't played it yet, I won't recommed that you continue any further.

Hanako was my one true love in this game. Her route was the first one I played and after that I felt kind of icky at the thought of playing anything else.

I spent my junior high years feeling just like Hanako (just without the scars). I was mortally afraid of people, any people. I had friends, but even around them, if I had to open my mouth and say something, I blushed scarlet crimson and uttered one or two sentences. Especially guys. I had a knack for reading, too, so I just made a habit of reading whenever I was at home. Didn't really fancy people much.

Still, I don't connect with Hanako's mindset like I did with, for example, Emi. I just know how it feels. I have never been bullied at school (I have a terrible temper, so whoever ever tried to bully me usually just backed away with their tail tucked between their legs) and my fierce pride forced me to shrug off anything that I might have thought as "scary". So because I felt I was afraid of people, I wanted to shrug it off and act like it was no big deal. So I deliberately put myself in situations where there were people. Logic? There is some.

Again, I think Hisao is stupid. (I think this game is slowly making me misandristic.) When the long-awaiteed sex scene arrived in fourth arc, I was like... "Wait, no? She doesn't want it? Hisao, stop, you can't just..." And there I watched, dumbstruck amidst my facepalming, as he acted like it wasn't a big deal. And there I watched, in horror, feeling for Hanako.

Then when Hisao finally realized it ("wait, she never actually did say yes, and since she's the really shy type she would be really easily convinced... ohgodwhathaveidone") I felt like yelling at him. Yelling at a character. Not something I haven't done before, I assure you. It was a miracle that it all ended like it did.

Still, even when I managed to reach the happy ending with little to no effort, I can't say I think I perfectly understand Hanako. Even after playing her bad ending and the friend zone-ending, I wasn't sure if I had fully understood her. She didn't want a knight on white charger ("I know I'm broken! I don't need someone to tell me that!") yet she was willing to *bleep* Hisao in order to make sure he wouldn't slip away?

This is fortunately where real life comes to my help.

Just like Hanako, I had my Lilly in junior high. (And in high school as well.) She wasn't a blind girl, but a really refined, very elegant and very much tea-addicted, beautiful and serene girl. Parapluie (the very same person who helped me with the cosplay suit) was and is two years older than me, and we were inseparable.

Sometimes it was hard to tell which was getting more support from the other, though; she was bullied at school (because of her sense for gothic lolita fashion; all I ever learned from fashion I learned from either her or Indie) and I was, already back then, very protective of my friends. So while she was my Lilly, I was the one who barked at her bullies when they started to get on her nerves.

And I guess that there is a person in my life who resembles Hanako ever than I ever have. That person is Hachiko, my dear little sister by soul, who doesn't carry any scars on her face but carries even more of them in her soul. She is something my mother likes to call my "pet project", someone who I've become too attached to not protect them.

I think that comparing Hanako to Hachi has helped me to understand them both a bit better. Neither of them wants a knight in shining armor to keep them in the smothering safe of their arms, because neither of them are helpless. They just want support, yet they want to be equal to you, not treated like little kids. So there's the conflict of "how to be protective without being patronizing?" and the issue that if you start protecting someone because you think they can't take care of themselves, you will end up treating them inequal to you.

And that's my take on it. Hachi has been my Hanako, and I hope that I have managed to be even a fragment of what Lilly meant to Hanako, to her. (She says I have; that she'd never have mustered up the courage to go and talk to people if I hadn't been the buffer. But I think she's stronger than she gives herself credit for.)

I enjoyed Hanako's arc (except the heart-rending bad end) because it portrayed emotions of solitude, being abandoned and holding walls around you so sincerely and so openly. Compared to others, Hanako wears her emotions on her sleeve, her pain, her happiness, her fears.

And that goddamn Hisao. "Boo hoo, I don't know anything about Hanako. Oh Hanako you're about to open up to me? Please don't, I don't want you to go through the pain and effort it would require." F. F. S. "Hanako why don't you talk to me about yourself? Oh, you're talking about yourself. Stop, I see it's hurting you."


I think this was the last I have to say on the matter of "Hisao y u so STOOPID". He showed a lot more reason and intelligence in the other arcs. (Also, if you fear that you're gonna fail in other arcs, I noticed that if you play Lilly's arc if offers you a great deal of hints how to deal with, for example, Hanako and Emi, in order to get the good ending.)

For now, I'm going to finish placing an order to Etsy. Hachiko has her birthday next week, and while she doesn't feel as mortified about it as Hanako, I'm sorry for not being able to be there for her and not being able to give her the biggest birthday hug (and chocolatest birthday cake) ever. So I'm going to order her something from Etsy.

What's that? Oh, I can't tell it before she gets it. Otherwise it would be telling.

Next up will be Lilly's arc. Even when Hanako is by far my favourite character in Katawa Shoujo, I think Lilly's arc is the best-made. I'll just need to play it through to remind myself about it.

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