Because we lean on each other despite the dividing wall


Aside from taking an arrow to the knee and spending time with my friends playing LoL, I made it a habit to devote a few minutes of my free time playing Katawa Shoujo with my first attempt at trying to “capture” (As Katsuragi Keima would put it) Hanako Ikezawa.

Now for those who don’t know, Katawa Shoujo is an adult visual novel created by four leaf studios, its development beginning since 2005.

The premise is that the protagonist, Hisao Nakai, after finding himself with an incurable heart disease, gets to attend a school for the disabled where, following the common flow in adult visual novels, he gets to fall in love and eventually unlock adult scenes with any of the heroines as well as covering much of their back story and what not.

Now as mentioned above, I decided to take on Hanako’s route for the same reason that “birds of the same feather, flock together”. No, I am lucky to be living scar-less unlike our female protagonist here but if there’s one interesting discussion that I would like to raise during Hanako’s route, it would definitely be the establishment of her emotional barriers.

A body filled with burns and scars is a sight for discrimination. Whether it be on impulse or simply a means of human beings to isolate what they would know as pure from one they would think as tainted, you can’t blame humanity for showing a WTF expression when their sights set on such a being. But to be honest, despite how sketchy Hanako’s arc wrapped itself up, I was delighted with her character development. If anything, Hanako’s route would be one full of assumptions; the very product of the wall she created to protect herself from discriminating eyes.

Simply put, the decisions that would lead the player/Hisao to understand Hanako is a trap all along. A goddamn troll if you will, since Hisao (and Lilly’s) interests when it comes to Hanako goes against her personal wishes. To be frank, Hanako wants to play a game of tag where she conflicts herself to be caught yet continues to run away. And the indication of that came from when her most meaningful conversation began with the protagonist which is quite misleading (that or I have become incapable of understanding simply dialogues)

I was definitely having a WTFsauce here. Jumping to conclusions, like what I usually do, I really thought here that Hanako was nothing more than a slut and Hisao being a motherfucking bastard, both of them taking advantage of each other’s weaknesses, sucking up to their emotional walls if you will, taking comfort from each of their respective misery. But as the conversation moved on, the bigger picture begins to form itself.

It makes sense, well, by the way I interpret it, Hinako’s way of thinking makes sense. For someone who experienced to be thrown away by society, despite Hanako’s actions of shrouding herself from discriminating gaze, she still yearns to be useful, she still wishes to change, to embrace the fact that she isn’t alone anymore. But like how her visible scars remind the betrayal she had, can we really blame her for being conflicted in what she wants? To yearn for love yet, at the same time, push people away?

It is the realization that completes Hanako’s personality; that all these years that she spent with Lilly and the time that she spent with Hisao, everything that they have been doing was only hurting each other. Lilly and Hisao feeds more to Hanako’s guilt by pampering her, making her think on how she’s been always protected and was never really useful to them. To atone for this, she tries to make herself useful in any way possible. Assuming, in Lilly’s case, Hanako hangs around her and tries to support her since she is blind and in Hisao, she decided to give herself to him in order to make herself useful. And while she does her form of atonement, she continues to damn herself, making her push them away. Haunted by the sadness of betrayal from the past, conflicted by the warmth of the friends around her, Hanako’s emotions are a swirl, proving how complex and annoying the wall she has built around herself.

Pretty fucked up logic if you ask me but from the shit she’s been through, it sounds legit.

In the end, the biggest WTFsauce in this arc was the lack of communication. Well, we can really blame Hanako on this part since her evasive nature makes it hard to learn more about her and truth be told, all that Lilly and Hisao did was assume what was best for her but again, it’s really hard to blame her for all of this since it’s not probably easy for her to get back up after such a high fall.

I have to admit, Hanako’s arc did take a lot of patience off me and looking back, it makes sense. I bet real life people would even have to spend an eternity just trying to penetrate through another person’s trauma. The good part of it though was that once Hanako’s lesson finally sink in, I guess I became a much more tolerable person when it comes to shy individuals.

Like flowers that wither when picked carelessly, one should be careful when reaching out to others.

In closing, let me share a line from Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic.

“If you seek to aid everyone that suffers in the galaxy, you will only weaken yourself… and weaken them. It is the internal struggles, when fought and won on their own, that yield the strongest rewards. You stole that struggle from them, cheapened it. If you care for others, then dispense with pity and sacrifice and recognize the value in letting them fight their own battles. And when they triumph, they will be even stronger for the victory.”
―Kreia to Meetra Surik

While this may sound harsh, I believe this is how Hanako wants to be treated. Not just an object that needs to be protected but to be seen by someone as an equal; Because true friends never look down on you, they see you from where you both stand.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wilco
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 09:00:02

    I already finish Hanako and Emi and almost done Lilly already.


  2. x
    Jan 12, 2012 @ 13:13:07

    “Because true friends never look down on you, they see you from where you both stand.”



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