Heart’s aflutter: Commentary on Katawa Shoujo – Part 3

[Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.]

Previously on Katawa Shoujo

Hisao is broken. His heart is not normal, explains the doctor, and he will have to live on medication for the rest of his life. Any semblance of normalcy he had hoped for is over. Added to that is his parents sending him off to a special school.

With a new life ahead of him, he stands at the gate to this new school, an academy for the disabled. It’s that last thought that haunts him, that will shadow his new life. Can he ever be whole again? Will he learn to live again and then, with time, learn to love? The door to his future is in front of him.

Feeling nervous and with this realization set in my head, I open the front door.

A tall man with bad posture notices me as I enter. We’re the only people in the lobby, so it’s only logical.

This sentence is troubling. I like that Hisao notices, and comments, on the posture. That’s good. Explaining that it’s “only logical” that he notice you, no. No, no. I’m sorry.

Tall man: “You must be… Ni… Na… Niki?”

Hisao: “Nakai.”

This is a last name… or a first name? A first name, right. It’s family name first.

Tall man: “So you are. Excellent. I’m your homewroom and science teacher. My name is Mutou.”

By the way, I like that the name is only revealed when the person knows about it. Good use of exposition from both the character’s and player’s point of view.

Mutou: “Welcome.”

We exchange a handshake that is neither firm nor sloppy, and he looks at his watch.

This is not good and I am about to explain why. Most people, when they are reading sentences, scan to the end and pick up the last point as the emphasis. In this case, it’s that he is looking at his watch. Which is, of course, the other problem here.

According to the time placement here, Mutou is both shaking hands and checking his watch simultaneously. Then there is the questionable mention of the hand shake. Is that important? There is some… interesting male symbolism there.

Mutou: “The head nurse asked you for a breif check-in visit, but there’s no time for that now.”

I think you meant “The head nurse told me to tell you to go to her office, but there isn’t time for that now. We are running late.”

Hisao: “Oh. Should I go later?”

I like that we are seeing him talk now.

Mutou: “Yes, afternoon is probably fine. We should get going and introduce you to the rest of the class. They’re waiting already.”

Waiting for me? I don’t really like being the center of attention, but Iguess it’s inevitable in a situaiton like this. Somehow, not knowing what is waiting for me makes me feel really nervous.

Thinking of this, I almost miss what the teacher is saying.

Mutou: “Do you want to introduce yourself to the class?”

I picked: “Yeah, of course.”

Hisao: “Yeah, sure. I mean, isn’t that normal?”

Mutou: “Of course. But not everyone likes to be at the center of attention.”

I’m probably one of those people, but I guess I should be the one to give the first impression of myself.

Is the game reminding me or explaining my opinion? Justification or exposition?

Hisao: “Right, but it’s no problem.”

Mutou: “Let’s go then.”

My heart is pounding in my chest and it keeps me thinking about my condition as I follow the teacher up the stairs.

Yes, that heart condition again.

The third door down the third floor corricor is marked as the classroom for the class 3-3.

Do we need to know this? Isn’t the third floor classroom, 3-*, on the third floor?

Mutou opens the door and enters.

Mutou: “Good morning everyone, sorry I’m late again.”

I hesitate for a split second at the door, freezing on the spot.

Same thing twice here.

Ah, get a grip! This is a big step, I know that… But there isn’t any point to worrying so much about it, at least not this soon.

I follow the teacher into the classroom and look around, partially so I won’t have to meet the curious gazes of my new classmates.

Let’s see… I count ten people total here. Two rows of three and a third row of four.

It’s pretty spacious; the ceiling is unusually high and there’s lots of space lef tover around the inbetween the desks.

An entire wall taken by blackboards and the high, old fashioned windows only make it seem larger.

Okay, I think I understand what is happening now. It’s the fight between POV and information. They want you to know more and are thus giving more out than is necessary.

The students’ desks are just standard wooden desks with a shelf underneath for books and wooden chairs with metal frames. Simple and efficient.

Yeah, this says more about him than the information.

I stop walking in front of the classroom and face the other students. They all look normal, like students in any other school. But then, why would they be here?

Interesting observation.

They’re probably like me and have something wrong with them, only it’s just not immediately obvious. Then, I notice that one of the girls seems to be missing the thumb of her right hand.

It’s a little jarring.

Oh, and the scene moved, as if his eyes moved. I like that too. It’s nice.

There are now seven more people. That’s a total of 17 then.

Despite the natural tendency to listen when someone’s talking about you, I tune out the teacher’s speech halfway through while he introduced me to the class.

I notice a flash of dark hair and see that someone is looking at me. A girl with really long, straight hair is pretty eye-catching. As she seems me looking back at her, she covers her face with her hands as if it will make her invisible.

There is one boy with a cane leaning against the lockers at the rear of the class. It’s weird seeing someone so young with a cane.

Good, good.

Another girl seems to be making some weird hand motions. Sign language? She peers at me over the rims of her glasses, then goes back to whatever she’s doing.

I learned some ASL for a project awhile back. Fascinating how fast you can “talk” once you get used to it. Words often seem slower for some things.

She’s kind of cute. So is the cheery-looking girl with pink hair sitting next to her. She’s really hard to miss; I don’t know how I didn’t notice her the moment I walked in…

Again, looking. The pink hair is interesting though. It’s interesting that attention is being called to something that is common to anime but not talked about much.

Mutou: “…please welcome out newest classmate.”

He claps his hands and so does everyone else, except one girl in the first row who has only one hand. I cringe a little, but hide it by bowing in thanks for this applause I did not deserve.

A collective silence tells me that I should open my mouth now.

Hisao: “So… I’m Hisao Nakai.”

And after that?

Fourth wall break.

Hisao: “My hobbies are reading and soccer. I hope to get along well with everyone even though I’m a new student.”

And after that?

I’m being so boring. This is exactly like every self-introduction ever. I should say something more. Something more exciting.

I end up saying nothing, and the teacher picks up from there. Everyone seems to be satisfied even with what little I said, though. A few girls are whispering to each other, throwing glances at me. It could’ve gone worse.


And I was trying so hard to hold back the snark. NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! Stop it!

I listen to the teacher as he drones about getting along while letting my gaze sweep across the classroom.

Everyone seems to be listening to him intently and when he’s done, they clap hands again which feels like a weird thing to do.

The first row girl claps on this round, with her hand against her other wrist that ends in a bandaged stump.

It makes me feel a littl bad.

Mutou: “We’re going to be doing some group work today, so that’ll give you a chance to talk with everyone. Is that okay with you?”

Hisao: “Yeah, it’s fine with me.”

Mutou: “That’s good, you can work with Hakamichi. She is the class representative.”

Mutou: “She can explain anything you might want to know. And who else would be able to do that better, right?”

Who is he asking this to?

How could I know?

Hanging a lantern on this.

The teacher passes out the day’s assignments and announces that we will be working in groups of three.

It hits me that I don’t know who Hakamichi is. Slow. The teacher seems to catch my helpless expression.

Mutou: “Oh, right. Hakamichi is right there, Shizune Hakamichi.”

As he calls out her name, the cute, bubbly looking girl with bright pink hair and gold eyes waves her hand at me. I take a seat next to her, by the window.

Hisao: “Hey, I guess you’re Hakamichi, right? It’s nice to meet you.”