As suggested to me by both Rachel and Mattie, I thought I would check out Katawa Shoujo. If Twitter is any indication, all the “cool kids” (e.g. vocal people on Twitter) are playing it. So, I thought I ought to check it out too. And, early this morning, I did.
Since, in the conversation on wanting men to talk to about the game, Mattie asked for responses and I responded with “I’ll write at least 2K words on it for next week,” I thought I would deliver on that too. Here are my actual notes and the written transcript — minus a single screen I missed — for just the first hour of playing it. (Yes, I wrote this much from just the first hour and at 1 AM to boot.)
“A light breeze causes the naked branches overhead to rattle like wooden wind chimes. This is a popular retreat for couples in the summer. The deciduous trees provides a beautiful green canopy, far out of sight of teachers and fellow students.”
Whoa. “Naked branches”? Really? What does that even mean here? Does this narrator prefer a simplicity of dress or is it more to do with loneliness (i.e. without connection)? This imagery is confusing. So, the naked tress are rattling? Also, “Rattle like wooden [wind chimes]”? I thought they clanked and clocked, not rattled. Are these small chimes?
A popular retreat for couples in the summer? So, the narrator is standing somewhere that is not the summer, I guess, then. And, as the screen shows, it must be winter. Or, of course, the narrator is thinking about winter. In fact, when is this story being told from? And who is narrating it? Also, are these thoughts, written items or just spoken words?
“Beautiful…far out of sight of teachers and fellow students”? So, this narrator prefers being away from people? Because, without that reading, I am unsure of what this means. Is it that the teachers and students are not there (and thus it is a quiet and innocent beauty) or that the narrator wishes they were to share it?
“But now, in late winter, it feels like I’m standing under a pile of kindling.”
What does that mean, a “pile of kindling”? Like a fire or the wooden parts? Is this an image of separation (from tree) again or one of something about to explode (from feelings repressed)?
I breath into my cupped hands and rub them together furiously to prevent them from numbing in the cold.
Why aren’t they covered? How long have I been out there in the cold? Am I by myself? Isn’t there a simpler way, like from the snow I see falling on the screen, to note that it is winter and also cold?
Hisao “Just how long am I expected to wait out here, anyway? I’m sure the note said 4:00 PM.”
Yes, a name! Okay, okay. Who is… this? Am I this person? Use of quotes? What does that signify and who I am in context to this person?
Ah yes… the note… slipped between the pages of my math book while I wasn’t looking.
There is a note, huh? And I have a math book. Am I in a math class? “Slipped in while I wasn’t looking”? What does that mean? Do I not pay attention to what I am doing? Did I try to hide it? If I hide it, for what purpose?
As far as clichés go, I’m more a fan of the letter-in-the-locker, but at least this way shows a bit of initiative.
Hmm. “Letter-in-the-locker”? Did I leave a note for this person? “Initiative”? In what way? Like, a dating way? And why this person? Also, what are the genders, roles and society at play here? Is this a secret thing?
As I ponder the meaning of the note, the snowfall gradually thickens.
Oh, like the plot is thickening, right? Right? I get it.
The snowflakes silently falling from the white-painted sky are the only sign of time passing in this stagnant world.
Invoking both individuality and group identity, huh? What does that mean? That I am part of a group yet also alone? “White-painted sky”? That is an interesting turn of phrase. “Sign of time passing” Is time important? Stagnant world? In what way? Is it stagnant in context or has the world not changed somehow?
Their slow descent upon the frozen forest makes it seem like time has slowed to a crawl.
Again with the idea of time slowing! Where am I in this story? Am I looking back at this event, the forest, or am I there and spending time looking around at everything and thinking about it? “Frozen forest” is interesting. Alliteration there with the idea of group not changing. “Slow descent… slowed” are the same words twice in the same sentence.
The rustling of dry snow underfoot startles me, interrupting the quiet mood. Someone is approaching me from behind.
Who is the narrator talking to!? Someone in the present? Him or herself? Dry snow? Quiet mood? Hmm. Rustling? Really? It’s more of a crunch noise not, you know, leaves or the like.
???: “Hi… Hisao? You came?”
Who is that? Am I supposed to know who this person is? “You came?” So, it wasn’t expected then? Why was that?
A hesitating, barely audible question.
Who is narrating this? And why are they judging such things this way? Like, if it’s “barely audible”, how did you hear it in the first place? Is narrator omniscient at this point?
However, I recognize the owner of that dainty voice instantly.
But for a moment you did not? “Dainty voice”? There are a number of interesting connections there. None of them great.
I feel my heart skip a beat.
Do I? Does mine? How do I know that? Should I know that?
It’s a voice I’ve listened to hundreds of time, but never as more than an eavesdropper to a conversation.
Whoa. A Stalker. Great, I’m a stalker. That’s so not good. So very not good. Seriously, who are the people here? Am I supposed to know that by this point?
I turn to face the voice, the voice of my dreams and my heart begins to race…
Good dreams then? Sex dreams?
Hisao: “Iwanakoo? I got a note telling me to wait here… it was yours?”
My name is Iwanako then? And I left her — her? — a note? Is that why I am waiting here in the cold commenting on the various nature about the place?
Dammit. I spent all afternoon trying to come up with a good line and that was the result.
A good line for what? So, the purpose was to take her some place quiet, away from people and then try to seduce her via some words? Really, that was the plan?
Iwanako: “Ahmm… yes. I asked a friend to give you that note… I’m so glad you got it.”
I know someone who knows her. I want to know more about the friend. Who allows their friends to go out into the deep woods, in the middle of winter, just to meet someone?
A shy, joyous smile that makes me so tense I couldn’t move a single muscle even if I tried.
Again, I am narrating my life for some reason. Is this exposition? I’m not sure. I mean, it acts like that but I’m not sure if I know why the paralysis is important at this point. Is this narrator nervous in front of people, the gender they are attracted to or just this person?
(There is a red flashing in the trees. What does that mean for us? Is is literal or metaphoric?)
My heart is pounding now, as if it were trying to burst out from my chest and claim this girl for itself.
Oh. My. God. What the hell? “Claim this girl for itself”!? What the fuck? “Claim” is related to dominant behavior. “This girl” is extremely objectified language. Even “itself” is distancing language again.
I am going to be very upset if I end up hurting this girl I’ve lured out into the deep woods.
Hisao: “So… ah… here we are. Out in the cold…”
Yes, that is a good point. We are in the cold, next to a tree. Plus, neither of us are wearing hats or anything.
Note: Why can’t I see her face at this point? Why is it only her back and legs? Why only my face? What does that say about the point of view? I can’t decide if it’s supposed to be a comment about how this guy sees women (as just a body) or if it is some authorial effect like trying to create tension. Either way, it’s annoying and bad.
Once again, the wind stirs up the branches. The cacophonous noice is music to my ears.
Wow, that is very bad. “Wind stirring the branches” is a bit weak. “Cacophonous noise” is very bad. “Phono” means noise. You have just said “noise noise” with “caco” meaning very bad. “Music to my ears”? You just said it was bad. If it is bad, it is not good right now.
As it passes, she rights herself, as if supported by some new confidence.
So, she didn’t previous to that? If it was me, I might be shaking from the cold and from waiting on this dude to say something. “I’ve come all this way out here and this dude just wants to stare at the woods and make comments about how lonely he is.” Yeah, I’d shake too.
Her eyes lock mine and she lazily twirls her long, dark hair around her finger.
What does that mean? “Her eyes lock mine”? What? So, like, both of you were staring at each other? And what is up with her “lazily” twirling her hair? Is she bored? Is this a nervous reaction?
All the while, the anxious beating of my heart grows louder.
Yeah… fine, whatever. The screen is beating too. I got it.
My throat is tight; I doubt I could even force a word out if I tried.
Vascular constriction? Hmm. He might be having a heart attack.
Iwanako: “You see…”
Again, the red flashing. Red for anger? Blood? Passion? What is that supposed to mean for me?
Iwanako: “…I wanted to know…”
Iwanako: “… if you’d go out with me…”
I stand there, motionless, save for my pounding heart.
I want to say something in reply, but my vocal cords feel like they’ve been stretched beyond the breaking point.
Yes, me too. I’m not sure what is going on here. I think, maybe, something bad is happening. I’m not sure.
I reach up to try to massage my throat, but this only sends spikes of blinding pain along my arms.
Wait a second. Did he — me? — actually say that even though he couldn’t breathe or even speak?
My whole body freezes, save for my eyes, which shoot open in terror.
The beating in my chest suddenly stop, and I go weak at the knees.
So… heart attack then? Weak at the knees? I fall over? All metaphoric?
I mean, I really like this idea; that if, when his heart — in both the literal and metaphoric sense — gets excited, he gets hurt. I really like that for limiting the protagonist. It’s a neat idea.
The world around me — the canopy of bare branches, the dull winter sky, Iwanako running towards me — all these fade to black.
WHAT!? We just switched POV? Where was the warning for that?
Or… was I Hisao the whole time? Was I someone else? Now, I’m even more confused.
The last things I remember before slipping away are the sounds of Iwanako screaming for help and the incessant clatter of the branches above…
Again, an emphasis on the branches. Lots of male imagery here. Branches rattling when the girl gets close?
It’s been four months since my heart attack.
So… coma then? Hospital, at least.
In that whole time, I can probably count the times I’ve left this hospital room unsupervised on one hand.
Four months is a pretty long time when you’re left alone with your thoughts. So, I’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with my situation.
What is the situation? Come to terms with what? What happened to Hianso? Or… that other person, whatever their name was?
Heart is beating at the wrong beat, the wrong rhythm. Yes, I know the word.
A strange word. A foreign, alien one. One that you don’t want to be in the same room with.
Prepositions are bad to end sentences with. Also, you were… in the room with it, right? Oh. I get it!
A rare condition. it causes the heart to act erratically and occasionally beat way too fast. It can be fatal.
So, he can’t fall in love now because of this condition? I like that idea, it’s very interesting. “Heart to act erratically”, huh? So, it means, using the symbols presented so far, that I can date or do what ever I want since I can always blame it on my heart condition?
Apparently, I’ve had it for a long time. They said it was a miracle that I was able to go on so ling with anything happening.
I need to be patient again. I’ve been waiting for a signal (of love) for so long that it overwhelmed me. I have been alone for a long time. This was a very bad thing. My loneliness is to blame for the heart condition — both literal and metaphorical.
Yeah, I guess that works as a translation of what was just said.
Is that really a miracle? I guess it was supposed to make me feel better, more appreciative of my life.
Yes, hang a lantern on that too.
It really didn’t do anything to cheer me up.
I’m depressed then?
My parents, I think, were hit harder by the news than I was. They practically had two hemorrhages apiece.
What did they get upset about?
I had already had a full day to digest everything. To them, it was all fresh. hey were even willing to sell our house in order to pay for a cure.
What cure? To “heartbreak” or to a “broken heart”? It’s a bit heavy handed here either way. Unless it is a very rare genetic condition, you might could get a heart transplant. Of course, that depends on such technology existing within this world and the overall year of this story.
I also don’t know why the time scale is important either. What are they digesting?
Actually, it’s 2:15 AM. I don’t care. Time to save and go to sleep.