Cripple Girl. Katawa Shoujo.
The notion of girls having certain crippling disabilities in a visual novel has caused some sort of… interest. Some have voiced their opinion that it’s just wrong to bang a legless runner up the second portal. Other voice that it’s rather vulgar and even disrespectful to depict a deaf with her lover. However, I have to question if they’re wrong, or even tasteless.
In the end, one can only form a proper opinion after reading the whole visual novel altogether.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to make this into another 10 000 words plus post, thou Katawa Shoujo would deserve that
I have a friend who really hated Katawa Shoujo’s basic idea. Whenever I joked about “crippled wife simulator” he would cringe and look like just killed a puppy with a jackknife. It’s an elephant only if you make it one. This direct quotation from the novel didn’t really hit me, but it did give me a small shudder. I’m not the best kind of person with people with disabilities, at least some years back I wasn’t. Nowadays I treat almost everyone as equals. I made things bigger than they really were. However, I do recognize that me being who I am and trying to help certain people just wouldn’t work, even thou these people have nothing to prove to the world. It’s that they have to prove themselves that they can be independent.
It’s like old people having sex. People really don’t want to think about, and some even are against the idea. Your grandma most likely would like to get banged at least few times if her bones up for the job. It’s a sort of taboo in the society. It’s the elephant.
I’m not really at my best here I must admit. Visual novels by their nature have a fetish nature, and Katawa Shoujo is no different. However, I can’t but to describe it “normal.” It’s still a story about human beings living their life the best way they can. People in their 20’s tend to want to have sex with people they’re emotionally very attached. At least I did, I don’t know about you, my dear reader. How Katawa Shoujo presents its sex scenes isn’t anything out of ordinary. Let me rephrase that; how it presents its sex scenes it natural. For example, during Emi’s route her first sex scene comes out of nowhere completely naturally, flowing in the scene and capturing Emi’s own nature and he situation. She also has stumps for legs if you’re wondering. If these characters were any other, except children, there wouldn’t be any commotion.
I believe this is a good thing thou. Not many people actually get to face something like this, not even in fiction.
Did Katawa Shoujo leave me into same kind of slump and high/low depression as MuvLuv? No. Far from it. This is well written fiction without a doubt, and while I did invest myself into the characters just as much and acted the way I usually do, it was something… similar. I won’t go into details as it would bring up series of bad memories for few people, but there are moments and situations in the novel that we all have gone through in a way or another. Be it someone leaving you for another country or someone saying “I can’t let you be close to me.” It’s what I would call realistic approach, and it has hit a lot of people, especially on a certain video game image board. Granted, I did allow tears to run down my cheeks and my glasses got fogged up few times.
Katawa Shoujo does hold pretty strong stuff, as it should. The subject isn’t the most easiest one to write about.
Writing Katawa Shoujo has been the most taxing thing the studio has ever done in their lifetime. If I’m not terribly incorrect, there has been some talks how they themselves have felt weird looking at crippled porn, searching for crippled hints and researching everything related. I use the word cripple here far too much in order to hope that it loses its meaning. The word disability sounds clean and scientific. Special sounds like pampering. Calling them crippled wives is a joke, but there’s the seed of truth there somewhere.
Not to mention the artists! God what kind time they’ve been through since RAITA’s original sketches. The feelings they’ve must gone through in order to capture every needed detail in the artificial legs, in the facial expressions and everything around that. Drawing aesthetically and visually attractive sex without going far too to the porn side, but still keeping it erotic, is insanely difficult. Even more so when your character doesn’t have arms. It’s the tact and taste that the artists working on Katawa Shoujo have retained all the way through. It’s beautiful to watch scene after scene of these well made sprites slide across the screen. Five years in development, and the results are more than satisfactory.
Well, if you still think limbless girls shouldn’t get some lovin’ I have to say I disagree with you. My intention isn’t to change your mind at this matter, never was. Five years in production is one helluva time for a visual novel in any standards for a software. I can’t imagine the amount of work hours, the tears, the rage and the reward of success the developers have had. I want to pay these guys for this dammit and they won’t let me!
How did Katawa Shoujo touch me, is the question I want to ask from myself with caution. To be honest, it didn’t touch my as deeply as MuvLuv did, but plenty lot. It made the final push that I needed. I’m keeping my promise for a fictional character even if it kills me (and with these words I might add my legs are on fire, throat soar as hell and chest hurts like no other.) While MuvLuv is making me work towards becoming a better person bit by bit, Katawa Shoujo made me run in the middle of the night to a local harbour and then back via reroute. Sure, it was 30min jog but I’m not in the best of shapes, thou I wouldn’t call myself shapeless either.
I’m also finding myself wanting to drink coffee even thou I don’t really like it. It’s not my cup of tea.
However, Katawa Shoujo is pushing me to become to an resolution about one thing since last summer before the army. It’s something that has been beckoning in my head for some time, and now should be time to give myself a closure on the matter.
Whether or not Katawa Shoujo is about a school of students with disabilities or not, it’s a heart (wrenchingly) warming whole. It’s not long, as you can read a route per day, and has multiple endings per route. Do I recommend reading it? Yes, yes I do. It’s the least we could do to honour the guys who have done the work.
Next time; NOT about goddamn visual novels.
Also note to myself; start learning Braille properly and relearn Sign Language.