Wow. Well. I never thought I'd ever admit this, but I just finished playing a more or less dating sim. But really, it was more of a story than a sim, and what a story.
You follow the life of Hisao Nakai, a young man with a heart defect requiring him to need medication, and nearby medical staff should his heart give out.
We first meet Hisao after recieving a letter to meet someone. After a lengthy introduction, poor old Hisao has a heart attack after being asked out by a fellow classmate. This leading to his hospitalization, and diagnosis of his condition.
After months of recovery, people stop visiting, even the girl who asked him out stopped. Eventually Hisao is getting healthier, but he is to go to a new school, for students who require medical or other special attention. A school for the disabled. At first Hisao is reluctant, as he feels his chance at life has been stripped from him.
Now, in this sim, there are 5 romantic options available that you dont choose, they just happen based on a couple random dialogue options. My partner ended up being Emi Ibarazaki, a senior who had lost her legs just below the knee, but thanks to prosthetics and an unbeatable will to succeed, had become an amazing athlete.
Before I go further, I'm writing this out of sheer amazement for the story. I expected to some issues, but the story as just so engaging... I actually found myself drawn into Hisao and Emi's relationship, wanting to see where it ended up, rather than just see the perv artwork, which, there are only a few per girl.
Surprisingly, this added a whole new level to the almost graphic novel like story telling. I really found myself drawn in, and am going to work on the other girls just to see their stories, but really, Hisao feels destined to be with Emi. The hardships the two share, and the love they build, was so touching on in so many ways.
A few life points are actually hidden pretty well. One, revealed later on only if you're careful. If you don't understand something, try looking at it differently. It might not be the subject matter, but your perceptions.
Also, don't force things to happen, but don't let fear let you give up on what you could miss. You don't want to lose something because you're overbearing, but if you give up, you lose it anyways, so striving for that balance between chasing your dream and forcing it, is extremely important.
There are many other hidden messages, but sadly I'm just not that deep of a person to be able to elaborate on all of them. Overall, the story was heart wrenching. Even poor Hisao himself leaves you almost in tears over his situation, and the poor girls surounding him, drag that to a whole other extreme.
I'm actually sad it ended. I really felt myself almost falling for EMi's character. Her cheerfulness, and never ending drive made her so appealing, but it as all to hide the damaged, lonely, and fearful little girl who lost her legs and father to a horrific accident.
The writing may not be the best, but the dialogue is absolutely amazing. Some of the banter back and forth between Hisao and his classmates is just downright hilarious, while the serious talks between characters can be simply tearjerking. You really feel for the characters, their trials, and their take on the world. And the pictures to go along with the text provides a great way to help visualize the characters. Such as the armless Rin using her toes to hold a fork and eat.
Gross and surprising as hell? Oh yeah. But, it shows how the girl adapted. None of the characters are some broken damsel waiting to be saved. They're their own person, complete with strengths and weaknesses. For as small as it is, the depth of the characters is stunning, especially with some of the bad blood between some, and deep friendships for others.
This "Dating Sim" not only gave me almost two days worth of reading material, for just one of the five girls, but it told an amazing love story between two people. Their disabilities, while key to the story, add just another layer of wow. Even the hidden messages of friendship, trust, loyalty, compassion, love, and much more, leave a great feeling at the end. The story didn't just open up my heart, it gave a whole new perspective on how to look at things. I'd even admit that it's made me look at how I personally view others, and made me want to really rethink how I feel on certain subjects.
Long story short, Katawa Shoujo, was incredible. I fell in love with the teachers, the school nurse, the characters, and even the idea of enduring love. I HIGHLY suggest you at least consider giving it a chance. You might even surprise yourself and come to like it. I for one, am greatly better for having done so.
Addition: I just played through my second time with a girl who suffered through a horrific fire leaving half her body greatly scarred. The story was once again amazing, but unlike the cheery and upbeat Emi, Hanako is depressed and blames herself for her parents death even though it couldn't be farther from the truth.
This was the one that brought tears to my eyes. The heartbreak of everything with Hanako is just so sad and gutwrenching. The whole story revolves around her inability to associate with people and your character giving up himself to help her. Even till the very end, it's just so tearjerking. Even the scene of admitting love is sad.
I almost balled it was so much. I wanted to stop to recover, but the story was so engaging I couldn't. I had to know more about Hanako.The final scene of the two kissing was stunning though. It's obvious there will be bumps, but it's just so great to them trying to overcome it for love.
Well, if I still have your attention, feel free to talk to me about this sometime.
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