Katawa Shoujo

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Cobblepotter
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Katawa Shoujo

Postby Cobblepotter » 07 Jan 2012, 01:53

You may have read on the Escapist about a disabled girl dating sim getting a full release, called Katawa Shoujo.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/115047-Disabled-Girl-Dating-Sim-Katawa-Shoujo-Finally-Available

The basic premise is it's a visual novel in which you transfer to a school specially catered to the disabled, and make friends with several girls with their own disabilities, and by making the right choices, you can romance them as well.

From a basic summary like that, it probably sounds more like some disturbing fetish simulator, but I can assure that it's nothing of the sort.

What really makes this game is how tastefully the creators have handled the concept of characterizing the disabled girls. They're defined not by their disabilities, but their own personality. It's interesting to see how much depth have gone into these characters and how they interact with each other, cope with their disability and fit into the world around them.

It's available for free here.
http://katawa-shoujo.com/
or here if the site is still down.
http://katawashoujo.blogspot.com/

Kind of surprising that a visual novel of this quality would come from 4chan of all places, no?
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby andy25100 » 07 Jan 2012, 11:35

I'm not a big fan of visual novels in general but the concept it had interested me so i gave it a go, i am glad i did as it blew me away with writing & characters better than most blockbusters. But what surprised me more as in my first playthrough it went from a guilty pleasure to something i would be happy to talk with my friends about.

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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Geoff_B » 07 Jan 2012, 15:05

I have to admit I feel very challenged by this game. Not in the sense of gameplay but with the concept. My first reaction on reading the summary was more like "ewww" but now I'm thinking to myself why is it ewww? Do I see them as less than people because they have circumstances which are beyond their control? Are they not worth my time and attention because of it?

So now I'm downloading the demo to see what it's like.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby andy25100 » 08 Jan 2012, 14:17

Geoff_B wrote:I have to admit I feel very challenged by this game. Not in the sense of gameplay but with the concept. My first reaction on reading the summary was more like "ewww" but now I'm thinking to myself why is it ewww? Do I see them as less than people because they have circumstances which are beyond their control? Are they not worth my time and attention because of it?

So now I'm downloading the demo to see what it's like.


Could you tell us of what your reactions to it was, as the reactions i have seen have varied, which makes me wonder of your opinion of "ewww" at first has ended up as?
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Geoff_B » 08 Jan 2012, 15:48

Well I've played about half an hour, okay I say played more like scrolled through, and I don't know if it's because of the art style but it's very easy to forget that the characters are in fact disabled. The main character goes on at length about it which is perfectly understandable but the others don't for the most part (apart from Hanako).

Shizune comes across as competitive and overbearing, Misha is a ditz, Hanako is extremely shy, Lilly is very patient and caring and that's about all the girls I've met so far. If you didn't know about their situations you would think they were a normal group of girls.

It looks like the story is mainly about working through the problems you've got and living life to its fullest whatever circumstances you're in. And I think it does a very good job of that.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Dibria » 09 Jan 2012, 03:30

I downloaded the game through curiosity, hey it's free right? I've actually now played one of the story arcs to completion and was pleasantly surprised, the story arc I played through (Emi's) focussed primarily on the effects her accident had on her emotionally rather than physically.

I'll write the my views on the arc in spoiler tags in case anyone here actually plans to play through.

The beginning of the arc focusses primarily on the build up of the main characters relationship with Emi but then suddenly half way through the relationship hits a wall. Emi begins to feel distant and the relationship starts to feel like they're going through the motions without actually sharing anything with each other. You're character begins to feel rather put out by this and starts trying desperately to find out what's wrong, it is clear that she loves him but she continues to push him away.

This comes to a head while having dinner with Emi and her mother, Emi pops out the room for a moment so the main character turns to her mother for help, Implications are made as to Emi having trust issues due to her father but Emi then walks in and, having overhead, feels betrayed kicking you out the house and arguing with her mother.

The arc ends with Emi taking you to visit her fathers grave, it is made clear that the reason she kept pushing you away is that her father died in the accident and since she has struggled to maintain any interpersonal relationships for fear they too will leave her behind.


The story is a touch cliche but works whether or not she is disabled, in many ways that she also lost her legs in the accident adds death as it makes her fathers death, while predictable, a little harder to gauge. It makes things foggy as to what is emotional damage from loss of her father and what is loss of her leggs.


In all I think the game was well executed for what it is, some people may find the concept distasteful but for the most part it's handled appropriately. The main character spends much of the first act of the game trying to work out how he should act, is it rude to make a joke? Would ignoring an obvious disability be worse? Would the person be offended if I drew attention to it or if I pretended it wasn't there when we both know it is?

These are thoughts many of us have when meeting someone for the first time, I have a friend whom has been partially sighted since birth and when we were around 12 he was told he'd have to carry a white cane. He doesn't care either way if people make comment or not but he sure as hell gets annoyed when people skirt around it or, even worse, pretend not to have noticed when someone brings it up, "Oh really? I didn't realise." yes you did.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Robert Merlow » 11 Jan 2012, 22:18

I enjoyed this visual novel thoroughly, and I even got my brother playing it, despite his tendency to look down on this sort of thing. I think he's even enjoying it.

I've played 4 of the five arcs (Emi, Shizune, Lilly, and Hanako) and all of those are so well handled. How it tackled their disabilities, their difficulties, and their personalities was well done, as was just how tactful they were with the disabilities. Given the fact that this game is free, and it's level of quality for freeware, I have to say I am very impressed. Tugs at the heartstrings just right, and handles it's material well.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby DuelLadyS » 15 Jan 2012, 12:49

I downloaded this out of pure curiosity, always have been curious about these dating sim games and why they're so popular. I've played through Hanako's story and... I still don't fully get it. There was a good story there, but the gameplay is horrid (I set it to auto mode so I could drift about the room and keep tabs on it.) Are they all like this?

Still, the story stuff's good enough that I started again to see Rin's story. I thought playing aloof and disinterested would work... that resulted in me spending the festival on the roof with Kenji, getting drunk on whiskey, and falling to my death.. THAT was unexpected! My second attempt has proven more effective, so we'll see how this one goes.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Geoff_B » 15 Jan 2012, 12:52

I think that's why it's called a visual novel rather than a game. It's probably designed to be more like a choose-your-own-adventure type game.

Although I was expecting to be able to choose locations to visit and talk to people who are there.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Dibria » 16 Jan 2012, 14:37

It depends largely on the studio that make the game and what they're setting out to do, 4Leaf studios is after all only about 5 people or something equally ridiculous.

Visual novels tend to revolve around telling a story and how good a visual novel is tends to be viewed on the strength of that story, Type Moon for example produced the games Tsukihime and Fate/Stay Night, both these games are very strong and extremely story centric, Fate/Stay Night in particular lasts an estimated 50 hours.

At the other end of the spectrum you have companies like Lilithsoft which bother with neither gameplay or story and instead produce pure sex games, it may even have been them that made that rape game that caused all the fuss couple of years back, not sure.

@Geoff_B if you want a little more control the aforementioned Tsukihime is a great visual novel and depending on things such as whether or not you go to the park changes whether or not you meet central characters to each story line. Plus it's Type moon and they gave us the anime series Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, Unlimited Blade Works, Fate Zero, Canaan and the AMAZING film series Kara no Kyoukai: The Garden of Sinners.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Cobblepotter » 08 Apr 2012, 16:07

Sorry for bumping, but I just HAD to post these. Big images incoming.

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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby EikoandMog » 08 Apr 2012, 23:48

I love hiimdaisy's comics. They did a great series on Persona 4 that actually got a solid dubbing on youtube.

On topic, I played through Hisako's route and found it a little too touching even if it ends a little too abruptly. Looks like they took some rather special care not to be particularly offensive but I'd imagine there'll be a few people who will be offended and that's a little sad, really. I also have a little bit of a sweet spot for visual novel games despite not playing many. I need to keep an eye out for the official translation of Saya No Uta now that I think about it.
Last edited by EikoandMog on 09 Apr 2012, 00:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby EikoandMog » 09 Apr 2012, 00:06

If you like bizarre then I'd say keep an eye out for Saya No Uta as well. As for physical defects being the extent of their personality, that's what it could have been but really isn't. They have personality outside of their defects and in some cases are actually a logical step in how someone would deal with it.

Goddamn it, I sound like a fanboy for this game now.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby EikoandMog » 09 Apr 2012, 00:35

Albedo28 wrote:I've actually seen a friend's "play-through" of saya no uta. It had a good twist but the characters were fairly stereotypically with the exception of the main love interest's reason for conflict being a bit more concrete than most romance complications you see coming from anime and the like. I'm a bit numb to the usual "strange" things that you see coming from japan. Though insane characters typically hold the most value for me. Not being able to understand a character's motivations adds a whole lot to the experience in my opinion.


Eh, everyone has a different taste of that they think is strange. I'm more of a setting and general plot kind of person than character. It all adds to the fun, though.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby arch4non » 11 Apr 2012, 12:32

Saya no Uta was quite memorable for its Lovecraftian narrative. The only thing really Japanese about it was the character design for the main girl, but seeing is how that's what she looks like from the perspective of a Japanese man it kinda makes sense in an odd sort of way.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Geoff_B » 11 Apr 2012, 13:19

Back to Katawa Shoujo I've done four of the paths - I haven't done Rin's yet. I'm not quite prepared for that level of crazy.

So far I would probably say that Lily's my favourite. They seem to settle into the relationship fairly easily and spend time enjoying it rather than the other ones where it feels like you're bashing your head against a brick wall. Hanako's was cute as well.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby arch4non » 11 Apr 2012, 14:40

Geoff_B wrote:Back to Katawa Shoujo I've done four of the paths - I haven't done Rin's yet. I'm not quite prepared for that level of crazy.

Save Rin's for last, it's easily the best thing in there. It's the closest thing a cripple girl VN will get to having legitimate comparisons to A Beautiful Mind. I didn't really much care for the rest of the writing aside from Hanako's white knight trap.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Sieg Reyu » 24 Jun 2014, 15:33

Necro as FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

Now I know that most of you have long since stopped thinking about this game, but I recently went to an anime convention and someone put on a fan panel about it. I had heard of it and knew only the slightest bit of it's premise. Heck, I'd even downloaded but hade never been bored or adventurous enough to actually boot it up. But since I had nothing better to do, Idecided to check out the panel to see if I should finally get around to it.

They didn't give to much away about the game thankfully, and they made mention of more than enough inside jokes to get me interested, so a couple days after getting back, I decided to install it on my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (tm) so that I could play it a little bit each night before going to bed. Over the next few days I found myself spendingmore and more time with it up to the point where I spent the last couple of days doing nothing but trying to round out my 100% completion.

Fuck, I love this game, it is too good. I went in trying to decide between Lilly and Shizune, since they were the most attractive. At the bottom of my list was Rin, I didn't care for her appearance, and to be honest, her lack of arms off put me a little. Everyone else's disability I could deal with, but imagining being with someone like that just seemed to alien to me. Like I feel like personally I could deal with being blind/deaf/legless/burnt but I just don't know how I would have handled that.

But then after meeting her in game, her personality won me over INSTANTLY, and I pursued her path first. And I enjoyed the hell out of it, even for all of its frustrations. And I think what I came to realize is that I didn't need to think what having her disability would be like, because ultimately it's pointless. All that mattered was getting to know her as a person because at the end of the day that is what we both were. Different, but still the same.

I feel like I did a poor job of explaining myself, but suffice to say I feel like a better person after having played this game, and I encourage everyone to play it. It's got plenty of short comings and flaws, but in that way it's almost an allegory for itself, just because it's not perfectly formed, doesn't mean it doesn't have value.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Hepheastus » 25 Jun 2014, 05:56

I'm glad to see you liked the game Sieg Reyu :D I felt the same about Rin myself and whilst I didn't gel with her personality (I still rate her as my least favorite) I had a similar epiphany. If anyone's wondering Lilly is my favorite :P
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby Sieg Reyu » 25 Jun 2014, 11:36

I Really liked Lilly's route. It wasn't the most interesting overall, and her character was blander than I expected, but her bad ending made me want to fetal postion for a little bit, and her good ending, when you wake up and the music box is playing in the background I got choked up a little bit. As predictable as it was, it still totally got me. Really, the only character I didn't care for was Hanako, which didn't surprise me. Not a fan of the scared child thing. Honestly, I enjoyed her more in Lilly's route than I did in her own. She was a lot more interesting then.
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Re: Katawa Shoujo

Postby the_lone_bard » 11 Aug 2015, 21:24

So I randomly remembered this was a thing that existed a week or so ago and checked it out...
I stumbled blind into Emi's good end, then went and found a guide to Hanako's good end, am currently half blundering into Shizune's good ending though I'm kinda terrified without a guide since I know you can accidentally wind up doing a different thing...

So, all I have to say is Emi's awesome, Hanako is built from the ground up to inspire protective instincts, and also Hanako's good ending followed by hearing Evanescences Lithium is probably the sadest thing ever... Why can't I hold all these sads...

I both love and hate the game though, my first playthrough my first thought was "I've gotta learn sign language so this girl has someone else to talk to!" then she just vanished from the story alongside Hanako who I was like "I should be a friend for her!" and I wound up with Emi, emi and more Emi. It's like real life, you can only do so many things at a time and each thing you do sets you on a path neglecting something else, but at the same time, why do I feel so bad every time I focus on one girl like I have to and wind up neglecting all the others! I've seen Hanako's good ending and have NO interest in her bad endings, yet every choice I still wanna go grab Hanako and be like "It's alright, I think you're cool, wanna hang out?"
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