Heart’s aflutter: Commentary on Katawa Shoujo – Part 6

[Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. tl;dr: >3K]

[I’m not going to use blockquotes anymore. My comments will be in brackets.]

Previously on Katawa Shoujo

Hisao leaves the Head Nurse office and goes wandering around the campus. He runs into Kenji, a “bespectacled hallmate.” Later, after the conversation with Kenji, Hisao finally gets back to his dorm room, takes his first pills and goes to sleep.

Misha: “So it’s settled, then. Welcome to the Student Council, Hicchan~!”

Hisao: “What? No. No!

Shizune: “…”

Mihsa: “Yup! That’s right, though, it would be boring if it went that smoothly. Oh well~! Shicchan owes me candy now!”

Hisao: “You were betting on it? Hey, my life is not a game here!”

Shizune seems very intrigued by this when Misha signs it to her.

The aggressive glint return to her eyes.

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Wahahah~! That’s interesting, Hicchan. Let’s play a game!”

[Play with us, Hicchan. Yes, Hicchan, play with us.]

Hisao: “That’s not what I said.”

Misha: “How about Rich Man, Poor Man, Hicchan? If you lose, you have to join the Student Council~!”

Hisao: “No, absolutely not.”

Misha: “Aw~, why not?”

Hisao: “Well, because you two have the same incentive, and therefore the same goal, which is to get me to join the Student Council, right?”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Yup!”

Hisao: “Yeah, that isn’t my goal. But what this means is that both of you can team up and I’ll be at a clear disadvantage. So, I will have to decline.”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Hicchan! I’m very offended! Are you saying you don’t trust us, and that we would pull something so d–dis–in–gen–u–ous…? That makes me sad…”

Hisao: “Sorry?”

It’s hard to tell where Shizune’s influence ends and Misha’s thoughts begin.

[Yes, that is very true.]

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “In order to atone for hurting a young girl’s feelings, you should definitely join the Student Council!”

Hisao: “No!”

[I would totally join the Student Council.]

Misha: “How about a game of paper football, instead of Rich Man, Poor Man?”

Hisao: “Paper football?”

Misha: “Yeah~! It’s a game they play in America~! You make a paper triangle, and then you try to shoot it past the goalposts that the other play makes with their fingers!”

Misha: “Isn’t it cool~? It’s the ultimate form of competition between two people, Hicchan~!”

[Long vowel sound? Again?]

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “…And it’s also played by elementary and middle school children, Shicchan? Wahaha! That means it’s a game that really seperates the boys from the men!”

[Questioning his masculinity, huh?]

Hisao: “More like the boys from the slightly older boys. Anyway, I’m not going to play that either. Just the fact that you know about it means you’re probably surprisingly good at it.”

Misha: “Hahahah~! Yeah yeah~, that’s true! How did you know, Hicchan?”

Shizune frowns at Misha, telling me that she probably wasn’t supposed to admit that so readily.

I wouldn’t say that I’m happy with their attempts to get me into the Student Council, but I’m a little curious about what the Student Council does here.

[Yes, and I’m wondering why it is in every game like that too.]

I’ve never been on one before, or even known anybody who was a member, so it interests me. I also kind of like Shizune and Misha, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

[I actually like Shizune. But I admit that’s because I happen to know enough ASL to have a conversation and would like to use it more often.]

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Okay, Hicchan, how about Risk? The game of world domination!”

Hisao: “I don’t know what that is.”

[This conversation is going nowhere and as someone who has written scenes like that, I know it when I see it — or write it.]

Misha: “It’s really fun, Hicchan. You fight for control of the world, with armies and everything.”

Sounds like Shizune would be good at it.

[Because she is competitive?]

Misha: “If you want to play, we can after school.”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Ah, really, Shicchan? We can play just for fun, Hicchan.

Shicchan hasn’t played in a long time, so if you want to , there are no strings attached~!”

Hisao: “Well, okay…”

Misha: “Okay! Okay, okay~! Perfect~! We’ll see you after school in the student council room, then, Hicchan!”

Hisao: “Wait, why there?”

Misha: “Because~! That’s where we keep the game.”

Misha: “Wahahahahah~!”

[She’s totally Don Kanonji (from Bleach). “Bahahaha!”]

I grimace to tell them how much I do not like this, but it’s more for show than anything.

So in the end I agree, but only after getting Shizune to acknowledge that I don’t mean anything concrete just by accepting to take a look around and play a game with her.

Lunch ends, and we go back to class.

[Thus opening the paths to the other girls.]

During afternoon classes, the long haired girl comes back and sits down in her seat without a word.

Again, no one seems to notice, of if they do, no one says anything. I want to ask Misha about it, but I don’t want to be nosy.

After school, Shizune and Misha quickly find me by the first floor lobby and latch onto me, covering each flank in case I might try to escape.

I feel a little offerend, but I’d been considering it.

Nevertheless, I’m a bit disturbed that enough people have made a break for it in the past that they’re on their guard.

Hisao: “What’s with the escort? This doesn’t make me feel very comfortable.”

In fact, it makes me feel like a dangerous prisoner being transported to his cell.

Misha: “Wahahahah! What’s wrong, Hicchan?”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “That’s right, we’re just going to go play a game of Risk, remember?”

I don’t know, Misha, this all seems a little sinister to me. I start thinking that when we sit down to play the game, they’ll tie me down and torture me until I agree to join the Student Council.

[Bondage. Hmm.]

Well, that’s highly unlikely, but still… For some reason, it seems like it would be so plausible…

[Yeah, I can see that.]

Getting to the student council room is as simple as turning two corner from where we started.

[Then why tell us?]

Hisao: “What? That’s it? This makes you guys being so on top of me seem a little silly.”

[Yeah, he wants to be the top sometimes.]

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “That’s not true, Hicchan, Shicchan says that when their life is threatened, people have shown the capability to pull off superhuman bursts of speed.”

Hisao: “Life is threatened?”

Her expression unchanging, Misha signs something amusedly to Shizune, who makes a baffling face and puts her hands behind her back, looking pleased with herself.

Misha: “Mm~ ha ha ha~…”

Misha feigns deafness and hims cheerily. Stop that, I know you heard me; you have no excuse, unlike Shizune.

[Whoa. That’s… okay. Wow.]

Shizune opens the doot to the student council room. It’s a very plain, sparsely decorated room, although it is quite large, maybe a little larger than a classroom.

There’s a big table in the center surrounded by chairs, and a smaller desk prominently placed in the back that I assume is Shizune’s. There are a few regular desks and chairs stacked to one side, as well. Extras, perhaps?

Aside from the tables and chairs, the room doesn’t have much else to offer. Just a couple of filing cabinets and bookshelves stacked with old school records and documents. Not much else. In fact, nothing else.

This is… a pretty bleak room. They could at least put a potted plan in here, or something. But the most noticeable thing that this room doesn’t have is other people.

[It’s a trap.]

Hisao: “Are we early?”

[Trap.]

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “No~.”

[Trap.]

Hisao: “What do you mean ‘no’? Does it mean nobody else is coming today?”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Yeah, that’s right~”

Before I manage to ask why that’s the case, Shizune claps her hands together very energetically.

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Hicchan, let’s play Risk! Come one, you promised, didn’t you? You have to~!”

Misha: “Hahaha~! Okay okay okay~! Do you want to know the rules?

We can explain to you while we set everything up!”

While Misha is talking, Shizune takes out what looks like a board game from behind one of the filing cabinets and throws it on the table.

Actually, this looks kind of interesting.

[This is also going nowhere.]

After Misha spends a little too long for her liking running through the basics with a somewhat vague and confusing tutorial, Shizune cuts in and declares the game has started with a decisive motion, slicing he arm through the air.

[She knocks Misha out cold. We both laugh.]

Shizune’s aggressiveness is rubbing off onto me. I start feeling more competitive than I intended to be when I agreed to this.

Halfway into the game, while I try to ponder how to defend against Shizune’s assult fromt wo fronts, she breaks my concentration by drumming her fingers on the table to get my attention.

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Hicchan, Shicchan wants you to know that you are taking too long to make a move.”

Misha: “Shicchan also says that she will let you keep Australia if you agree to join the Student Council~!”

[Again, emphasis on consonants and not vowels.]

Hisao: “I thought this was a game with no strings attached.”

Just the fact that she would dangle that over my head as an offer means that she knows I care about the outcome of this game.

Hisao: “And anyway: No!”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Shicchan admires your fighting spirit and would be a benevolent dictator who will spare your people if you agree to join the Student Council~!”

Misha: “Hahahahaha~!”

Hisao: “You’re so competitive, Shizune.”

She seems to take this as a compliment.

Hisao: “I would expect the Student Council president to be a little more magnanimous.”

Misaha: “Mag–nan–i–mous…?”

She doesn’t seem to know what the word means or how it’s signed, so she pulls out a piece of paper and writes it for Shizune, who in return signs it back to Misha.

Misha presses her index fingers against her temples, as if trying to physically imprint the word into her memory.

Shizune: “…”

Suddenly, Shizune bursts into aflurry of gestures. Misha looks daunted by the pace of her heated signing.

Misha: “Ah, wait, please slow down, Shicchan… Um, Hicchan~!

Shicchan says you’re going to lose!”

Hisao: “Tell her I will crush her world empire with my rebellion.”

Misha: “Ah… Okay…”

Those eyes of hers shine with childlike mischief.

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “She says you have no chance if you keep playing like this, no you won’t~!”

[You have no chance to survive. Make your time.]

===Choice===
“It’s a trap, it’s smarter to play defensively here.”

[See? Trap!]

It’s likely that she’s just trying to psych me out.

Looking at the board again, I have a pretty good defense set up, and I’m not going to wreck it doing something reckless.

I few turns later, I lose the game anyway.

[This is the outcome to both chocies, right? I didn’t test that, but I figure it probably is.]

Shizune adjusts her glasses vistoriously and allows herself to tentatively pump a fist in the air in the celebration.

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Wahahaha~! Hicchan, you lost when you allowed me to take North America.”

Misha: “I mean, Shicchan, not me”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Getting control of North America is ambitious, because it provides a five army bonus, but you can attack it from three fronts, so you must defend them all~!”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “I thought you’d have more guts. How disappointing.”

Misha: “Ambition, Hicchan, your play needs to be more daring! Ambition, ambition~!”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “I was really excited when you took South America, but then you switched to playing defensively just because you gained a small advantage. That’s no good, Hicchan.”

Misha: “You didn’t take enough risks, and when you did, you don’t follow through. That’s terrible, Hicchan.”

Damn, what’s it to her if I played too carefully? There’s no need to rub it in my face.

Shizune: “…”

[Zoom in on Shizune for some reason here.]

Misha: “I wonder if you’d even be any good for Student Council…”

What’s this, reverse psychology?

Hisao: “I guess I don’t have to worry about joining or not in that case.”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Giving up just like that? I expected more of you.”

Seriously, is Shizune trying to taunt me into jopining the council?

Besides, I don’t even want to join. It’s only my second day, I can’t make that kind of commitment.

I haven’t even taken a look at the other clubs yet. And these two, they’re a little weird.

Hisao: “Fine, I’ll consider joining the council, but I want to take a look at the clubs before I decide.”

Misha: “Really, Hicchan? You’re not just saying that to make us feel better?”

Hisao: “Yeah yeah, I’m just not sure that I want to.”

[Do that.]

Misha: “Aw…”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Okay, Hicchan, but we’re not going to give up so easily. You said ‘maybe’; there’s still a chance you’ll come around~!”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Come one, we could really have fun! We could play more Risk and maybe one day you could beat me, unless we graduate before that.”

Hisao: “That doesn’t make me feel any less reluctant about joining, you know.”

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Wahaha~! Surely you are not that horrible at board games? Maybe we can play a game you know then, to give you a handicap.”

Hisao: “I might have said that just to make you feel better, after all.”

[Dude, that’s cold.]

Misha: “Awww, that’s cold, Hicchan…”

[See? See? She thinks so too. What a dick!.]

I take a glance at the clock on the wall and realize I’ve spent far longer playing Risk than I expected.

Hisao: “Sorry, I think I have to go. I wanted to go to the library. It’s not closed yet, is it?”

Shizune scratched her head and gestures at Misha.

How hard can it be to determine whether the library is open?

There’s a clock right there on the wall.

Shizune: “…”

Misha: “Is should be, unless the libarian is absent.”

Misha: “I think you’re right, Shicchan.”

Misha: “We… think the library is open. It’s on the second floor; can’t miss it. Do you want us to show you there it is?”

Hisao: “No, thanks, it’s okay. See you tomorrow.”

Misha: Bye bye!”

One flight of stairs up and I run into problems.

The second floor hallway is a carbon copy of the third floor one.

Wide, of course; and plain, like only hallways can be.

[Plain again.]

The problem is that the library’s whereabouts are not as easily determined as one would think.

The classrooms are marked with signs stating which class they belong to, but then there is a plethora of other, unmarked rooms.

Is the library one of them? Or is it just somewhere down the hallway?

I bet on the latter and choose my direction at random.

After I turn around the corner, an unmakred door draws my attention because it’s not closed.

It’s not open either though, just barely ajar so that I can see it’s open and nothing else.

It would make sense for the library dcoor to be invitingly open, and while this one is not quite that, it’s good enough.

At the very least it means that someone is inside and I can ask for directions no matter how embarrassing that is.

I gingerly push on the center of the door with my fingertips, every muscle in my arm ready to pull back at a moment’s notice.

The feeling of being an outsider to theis school can’t be shaken from my mind, so much so that I instinctively fear doing something wrong by entering.

The door slowly creaks as if groaning from a deep sleep, though is much easier to open than I’d anticipated.

Leaning over and poking my head even further inside to gain sight of the room as fast as possible, the meek “Hello…?” on

my lips is quickly snatched away.

This is… not as I was expecting.

I mindlessly let the door open to its full extent, taking in the sight of the solitary figure taking center stage in the otherwise abandoned room.

The situation steals my voice, leaving me standing at the doorway staring at the beautiful girl.

Evidently having taken her time to assess the situation, the girl gently puts down her teacup and opens her eyes, but doesn’t look at me.

Wavy-haired girl: “Hello there. May I help you?”

Staring directly in front of herself, the movements of her lips seem to break the silence rather than the words.

[Emphasis on looks again.]

However it’s the soft, measured voice that reminds me she’s a being separate from the room itself.

Not only is she likely the tallest girl I’ve ever laid eyes on, but even among the foreigners I’ve met she’s strikingly distinct.

[When did you meet “foreigners”?]

Hisao: “Uh, hi. Sorry for intruding. I was just… kind of lost.”

She takes a moment to formulate a response before speaking.

Every sciton she takes feels as if it’s carefully choreographed beforehand.

Wavy-haired girl: “Care to take a seat?”

…unexpected, considering that I’m intruding upon her.

Hisao: “Ummmm.,. thanks.”

I slowly step towards another seat opposite her, the girl resting the teacup and saucer on the wooden table in between.

[…us.]

The way she doesn’t track my movements with her head is telling… that, and the slight cloudiness to her eyes means she must be at least partially blind, like Kenji.

Come to think of it, her voice doesn’t have any detectable accent either. I guess she must be half-Japanese.

[What?]

As I take my seat, her composure takes me slightly off-guard.

Her air of relaxed confidenxe makes the silence entirely comfortable.

The calming atomsphere is so very different from the student council office.

Wavy-haired girl: “I take it you’re a new student to Yamaku?”

Hisao: “Ah, yeah. I just transferred in yesterday.”

I get the distinct feeling my speec patterns don’t match the formality of hers, accentuated by her restrained bow of greeting.

One which I hasten to match, before realizing the futility of the action.

Wavy-haired girl: “I’m Lilly Satou. Pleased to meet you…”

Hisao: “Hisao. Hisao Nakai.”

She gives a nod before gesturing roughly in the direction of her teacup.

Lilly: “Would you care for a drink?”

Hisao: “Sure.”

As much as it pain me, I can’t keep step with her formality in the proceedings.

She gives a kind nod, taking the request in stride.

Without another word, she steps off the chair and prepares a second cup of tea from a collection of supplies laid out along a shelf.

A brush here, a brush there, her left hand often lightly touching the side of whichever container she’s pouring into… it seem to be a process she’s followed dozens of times before.

As I mean sideways to see around her back, she seems to use her long, dainty finger to measure the right amount of water in the cup.

[Dainty again]

It’s one thing to see the different disabilities the student in my class have, but it’s quite another to see how everyone seems to adapt.

Shizune and Misha have no problem working together to communicate to me, and Lilly herself seems ot have workarounds for problem I’d never thought of.

While I feel slightly guilty about her doing the work, she seems pleased to be following the “correct” proces of the offerer preparing the drink.

2 thoughts on “Heart’s aflutter: Commentary on Katawa Shoujo – Part 6

  1. ===Choice===
    “It’s a trap, it’s smarter to play defensively here.”

    I’m not far in the visual novel myself, but I know where this choice will lead to.

    With both choices you lose, but attacking shows you are daring which is a quality Shizune likes. Choosing to attack will lead you to Shizune’s path. (probably as long as you aren’t to nice to the other girls otherwise you will get Keni’s ending).

    • “With both choices you lose, but attacking shows you are daring which is a quality Shizune likes.”

      Really? That’s not good. I was hoping to go after Shizune too. I’m interested to see how they explain the communication issues and if Hisao can learn enough sign language to ‘talk’ to her or not.

      I’m generally liking the inclusion of a deaf person in the game. I’m not happy about the translation process (and lack of grammar in places) but really like that we, as audience, often see her ‘talk’ too. Even if it is just a quick movement of her arm to signify that she is making a sign, I think it’s neat and that it shows Shizune is as much part of the conversation as Misha and Hisao.

      If nothing else, this game has me thinking about ways to include deaf and blind characters in my own works. What ways are there to highlight not a disability but an adaptation? What struggles do many have that go unnoticed for “normal” people? What ways are there to give a greater emphasis while also not giving them superpowers to compensate for the perceived “loss” of a sense or type of mobility? Like I said, it’s got me thinking. Which, I guess, was the whole point and, of course, the power of games like this.

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