Thursday, May 17, 2012

Katawa Shoujo - "I'm deaf, not blind"

So with my internship period over and all my work almost done, I've found myself more and more indulged in reading Shizune's arc in Katawa Shoujo. There will be spoilers, don't say you weren't warne~d!

I said earlier here that I consider Shizune's route to be weakest of all five (and half) available in the game, and now I'd like to point out why exactly I think this. Still I'd like to point out that even when it might not have been as enjoyable as the others, I still considered it playable and worth reading. So don't let me discourage you from doing that!

If I'd start from the first arc, I felt like the festival part of this route was the most enjoyable. With others I'd usually just click and click to get it over with (but not skipping text because I still wanted to read it), but in Shicchan's arc you'd actually get some action, feelings, and visual beauty. I got chills when Shizune stood up in the roof and opened her arms. A very nicely done moment.

Shizune's arc has the least interaction of all the routes. I think that in the chapters 2 and 3 you are only entitled in one situation that gives you choices. This is bad, in a way, because the idea of visual novels usually bases itself on "you can make a difference in your story"-approach, and with Shizune's arc I just felt like I was reading a story that was nicely on its rails. In a way it was something different. I didn't like it.

Shizune's arc is, without a doubt, also hardest of these to make. Why? It has to do with a thing I complained already about, and that is that Shizune's personality is left disappointingly 2D throughout her story. I think there is a solid reason for this, and it's because Shizune is a deafmute. She needs to communicate through another person, and this of course affects how much of her own personality we see, and how much exactly is muted, or warped, by Misha's translation.

Of course this is one of the themes in Shizune's arc. "Can you tell me what you think?" Can you communicate with me, and will you see the real me through the language you have only an average grasp on, or through another person communicating for me? However, the way I see it is that the story is constantly wavering between success and failure. Success would mean that eventually we would get to see into Shizune, and to undestand better the difficulties she has with communication. Failure would mean that the theme would be left slightly open, not as in-depth as it could have been, and we're left into the shadow with Shizune: did I really understand her? Did I start to get her?

I've said some personal opinions about other characters, so I'll do it with Shizune as well. Shizune's tremendous drive of ambition is very familiar to me, to the point where it resembles stubbornness (and reminds me of many things I have said and done in my own time). Her sense of duty is how I deal with work I want to be done properly, and we are both very competitive. That, and I think that spending almost two months in a country where I'm having troubles expressing my thoughts and emotions because I don't speak the language too fluently/need to have someone translate for me, has made me understand better the isolation she lives her everyday life in.

Either way, then there is the biggest reason why I thought that Shizune's route was a bit flawed. Hisao is supposed to be the main character of the story, but when the conflict between Shizune and Misha rises, for the longest while, it appears as if Hisao is just a bystander, and the story is happening somewhere we can't see it. Sure, things happen to people when we aren't there in any story, too, but that usually doesn't me feel like the protagonist I'm playing is playing a side role in his own life. Hisao doesn't really seem to have any direction in this story either, and he's just playing along with Shizune and whatever she says. It makes the route far less interesting.

Even so, there is one significant good thing in this route, and it's how it managed to emphasize troubles between friends, and surviving them. Shizune's good ending picture is something I will always remember and hold dear, and her bad ending picture reflects so great a loneliness that I never wish to have real life reference about it.

Looks like this post will be a bit on the lengthy side, but I still wish to add something from a more personal viewpoint. At first, Shizune is, in my opinion, an interesting person. Locking horns with anyone in her way, provoking and stirring people's lives, yet still being a kind-hearted person who wants to make others happy (and takes it very seriously) she reminds the "Shena-at-work" very much. Yes, I know that I've cracked some jokes about my thesis and how I'd rather just sink it to a place of no return, but when I feel myself working with something I feel inspirated about, I can be as hard-working as she is - and, unfortunately, in some occasions, just as pushy.

So, the next up is, RrrrrrrrrRRrrrRin, and that concludes the Katawa Shoujo for now.

On the "lifestyle" note of this blog, I have returned home safely. Marc was being very cuddly and very happy (despite the fact that the poor creature has caught a cold) and very attentive. I really had missed him more than I thought I would, and spent the whole day of travelling from the airport to home (for I live rather far away from it) laughing, chatting and cuddling.

So, being back means back to work for me, but also back to Twilight Princess, Tales of Vesperia, Notpr0n and MuvLuv. So many things to finish.

Got to love being home.

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