Katawa Shoujo Review


I was at first doubtful of playing this visual novel, but due to general positive reception, and a lot of procrastination, I went and tried it, and it is indeed surprisingly better then I thought. It’s been more then two or three months since the game is released so I’m guess I’m kinda slow, but better late then never right? Sadly, due to time restrictions, I only managed to finish two heroine’s paths, namely Emi and Hanako.

The fan-made VN, deals with the concept of disability, and the struggles of said disabled people in being accepted into society. You play as Nakai Hisao, a high school student with heart attack issues, arrhythmia, and was forced to transfer to Yamaku school, a school specially designed for the disabled. Here, in his new surroundings, he will meet the heroines of the game, all obviously disabled one way or the other: meet the deaf Shizune (and her interpreter, Misha), the blinded Lily, the arms-less Rin, Emi whose legs are amputated and finally, Hanako, whose part of her face and hand are burned.

Other then dealing with physical issues at hand, which is the disability prospect obviously, it also deals with other intangible problems; isolation, separation, adaptability and so on, all stems from the mindsets of the characters themselves. Of cause, when one had to live the disability permanently for life, it will effect him or her mentally one way or the other, and the VN presented these issues accurately. It is interesting to see how they cope with their limits forced upon with their disability.

The story is broken up into different “Acts”. Act 1 is basically the common route, and Act 2 is where your choices will effect the routes you end up with. The routes progression aren’t really that hard to figure out. I’m sure from the most veteran of visual novel players to even the beginners, would be able to figure out which choice to make in order to access their desired heroine’s route.

The characters in the game are colorful and rich in context. They are very diverse in personalities and each of them handle their disability in different ways. I didn’t finish every single route so this may be a bit biased, but Emi easily won me over as the favorite character. While I have a thing for twintailed lolis, she herself, could be one of the strongest character ever. She never lose her positive altitude, even when she lost her legs, she kept running on the tracks, via the use of artificial legs. She literally became known as the “Fastest Runner With No Legs”. She has a bubbly and straightforward personality and like Hisao, I’m weak to that sad puppy eyes too.. so weak I totally prioritized her route first and foremost.

I played Hanako’s route next. I’m quite interested in hers because in her case, she isn’t disabled physically (no deaf, no blindness, not mute and she has all her limbs intact) but sustained a psychological pain. Ever since she survived in a fire outbreak, parts of her body is burned, most visibly seen on her face and her hand. Of cause, it had healed over the years but the scars remained permanently. The scars made her interaction with people difficult and she faces a lot of social mishaps just because of it. I should try not to spoil too much but overall, her route is just sad, yet awesome. I think in terms of scripts, Hanako’s is superior then Emi’s.

If I had more time, I may consider playing Rin’s route. I like her for her philosophical remarks and random statements. I will quote what Hisao said about her, as I think it clearly sums up Rin’s basic characteristics in an essence. “Talking with Rin is like playing chess with a supercomputer who does seemingly random moves as if to mock everything you know about chess.“

For a fan-made VN, it is quite professionally made, especially if we are talking about the visuals. The backgrounds look good and the character designs are great. The CGs are beautiful too; it’s lush graphics look like it’s painted by a professional painter. There are even short anime animations. These animations always appear before the start of a specific girl’s route, showing you that the story will be focusing on her from now onwards.

The sound department is.. I’m afraid to say.. unsatisfying. The tracks aren’t THAT bad, of cause, but my problem is probably the quality itself. Most can easily notice that all the songs are made via MIDI, and these low-producing sounds made the game lost a few professionalism points.

There are also other minor issues like the fonts, as I actually prefer a different fonts, and that having colors for the character names don’t really do them good anyway. But overall, the makers of the game did a job well done, in terms of technical aspects. Ironically, in it’s quest to mimic the capability of a professional visual novel, the client lagged at times, due to the how they went way past the “limit” of the visual novel engine’s capability. Though the lagging may be just my only problem, does anyone suffers from similar lagging problems too? Like how when some of the dialogues may take a few extra seconds to load up.

Katawa Shoujo, a visual novel manifested by a group of 4channel-ers, and with even five years in the making, it certainly lived up to it’s expectations. The realistic premise and well-written scripts the visual novel contained, makes the game quite an excellent well-made visual novel worthy of attention. It is philosophical, it is deep, and it teaches us humans new points of views which we had always taken for granted.

Story: A+
Character: A-
Visuals: C-
Sound: C
System: D+

Final Score

This entry was posted by Kai.

15 thoughts on “Katawa Shoujo Review

  1. The thing that impresses me the most about Katawa Shoujo is the level of respect and tactfulness the writers had in making their scenarios. If I had learned about this a few years ago when this was still in production I would have thought it was a sick idea to have disabled girls be the heroines in an eroge. But we all know that KS is much more than just an eroge, and I was more than glad to be proven that.

    I definitely recommend trying out the Lilly route. Compared to the other routes it has a nice warm, heart-fluttering feeling. And yeah, Lilly’s is my fave route. But..Misha is my favorite girl in the cast :3

    • The script is really written well. The writers had really thought well, incorporating the disability of the heroines into the game, and yes of cause, KS is more than just an ordinary eroge, and I’m kinda glad they didn’t even emphasize on the sex scenes much. Even if you turn them on, they end really fast, or is it because characters in KS orgasms very fast? lol.

      Ahh sure, I’ll try it out when I got some time to spare. Misha eh? Too bad she doesn’t have her own route D:

  2. I have to agree, lily’s route is … something else… while i feel really moved in Hanako’s Route, Lily’s is… heart-warming as Leap said.

  3. I’d never “played” a VN but I stumbled across a reference to KS somewhere about a month or so ago and out of curiosity I decided to try it, it being free and all :)

    I approached it as a novel with a few choices rather than a game, so I think that helped my reaction to it. Overall, I thought it was fine and usually interesting, though it did drag in a few places. I followed every girl’s arc except Shizune’s arc – I couldn’t bring myself to do what was needed to get her route. I never hit a bad end – not sure if that was luck or good guessing (probably a little of both).

    I fell into the Emi route by accident the first time I played (I was sort of trying for Hanako the first time), but it was the most fun of the four I did. The route I found the most interesting was Hanako’s, and I think I connected with her the best anyway. I found Rin’s route very frustrating – not because of Rin’s mental issues (really, her physical issues were mostly irrelevant, which was a good aspect of the story of all of the stories) but because Hisao never convinced me his thoughts matched his actions. His inner dialogs never convinced me he was in love with Rin.

    The one other complaint I had was the “all or nothing” nature of the exercise approach Hisao took regarding his heart condition, which was probably a result of different authors for each arc. The entire point of him being at that school was because of his condition, but only in one arc was dealing with it ever properly addressed, while in the other arcs it was just occasionally drug out for show.

    • If you’re interested, you should try out some famous VNs like Fate/Stay Night, Ever 17 or G-Senjou :D Just give me a holler if you want more recommendations. VNs are fun :D

      I believe the plot is quite straightforward, I had read some other VNs with even more draggy parts. I think you just need to favor her? Not sure, though, as I had never thought about accessing her route, lol. Yea, that’s why it’s so straightforward, with plots like these, it’s easier NOT to hit a bad end.

      Emi is awesome no doubt :D Ahh that’s good to know regarding Rin’s route. That’s actually a constant issue in the VN world, sometimes, the romances are like there just for conveniences.

      It’s because it’s only that particular route where the character is more connected with the doctor :D Or nurse for that matter.

  4. One of the few VN’s where I wasn’t actually look for the H stuff but plenty of ai and moe from the characters. Have been playing this since the Act 1 demo was released and was seriously looking forward to it. Enjoyed the Rin and Emi routes, Rin in particular had great dialogues with the main character, really loved that to bits :D

    • Ahh so you had been following it from the start. I never was really interested in any fan-made stuffs, but I totally underestimated them. Dialogues eh? Rin is certainly good with her mouth, I mean that in a non-pervy way btw.

  5. Pingback: Visual Novels I Had Been Messing Around With – Part IV « deluscar

  6. Can’t believe what I’m reading, I didn’t even manage to get to any part, I just fell off a roof drunk and died… xD
    There weren’t even that many choices, what the hell xD

  7. It really is an interessting idea, allthough i was a bit skeptical. I mean it sounds a little bit pervy, but the story itself is very good. I think its interessting that some guys eventhough they have a handicap still want to do things they normally cant do. :)
    i have finished 3 routs.. hanako, emi and.. well the route were i fall down a roof, cuz i was too drunk.. (can u call that a route too?)

    but i personally hold this vn dear, cuz three weeks later i was hospitalized, because of a heart attack like the main character :/ so i really can identified me with the main character :)

    • I do feel skeptical and slightly disturbed at the premise of the visual novel’s settings – a story about disabled girls at a school. But it’s still an oddly satisfying experience nonetheless playing the visual novel.

      Same ones I did xD And that drunk route feels pretty random, thought it’s going to be a dark one, lol. Is it the Kenji’s route by any chance? Think I remembered you could get that.

      Sad to hear that. Hopefully you’re all right :(

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