Katawa Shoujo – Act 1: First Impressions

Gah. Dah. AAAAAARGH.

*One moment later*

Katawa Shoujo is amazing. I mean WOW. I was a little interested in the premise alone. A Visual Novel about girls with disabilities? This sounds soul crushingly depressing! The only problem is that Katawa Shoujo is about as soul crushingly depressing as a person skipping through a patch of flowers under a rainbow on a clear sunny day. I feel ASHAMED for coming to this hoping for Yume Miru Kisuri quality. But you’re not here to listen to me say how much I suck for looking for soul crushingly depressing parts in a generally heartwarming game.

Before we start, let’s have an introduction to the lovely ladies. I’m gonna order these on the ones that I, personally, like the most.

Lilly Satou:

Lilly’s main disability is blindness. She has this older air around her. When I play, I went for the Lilly arc. I didn’t do this out of getting to have an H-scene with her. I think doing that would be disgraceful to my feelings for her. I don’t partically want to get into a relationship with her, and considering this is only act 1 which you can’t get into a relationship, I went for her arc because I respected her. I wanted to see how the friendship turns out, and by god. The payoff is grand.

Hanako Ikezawa:

Hanako’s disability is truama of being exposed to fire. That means that she got some pretty bad burns. She has a mysterious feeling around her. And just from seeing that her character has been burnt, gives a feeling that you want to go and talk to her. Not out of sympathy or some sick fascination of burn victims, but you want to be with her. I can’t explain why, but you just have to. I don’t know if it’s just the big sister aura that, or if it’s just that I have a subconscious love for girls with disabilities, but I just like her character.

Rin Tezuka:

She has no arms. Enough said there. She’s… Interesting to say the least. She’s like that one girl who has some weird kind of headgear on and people look at her and she’s completely unamused. She’s really flexible though. So I guess that makes up for something. She’s cool in my book.

Emi Ibarazaki:

Emi has no legs and yet she’s on the track team. She has some prosthetic legs which makes the Flash look like he’s as fast as a glacier. She’s really enthusiastic and happy-g0-lucky, but she isn’t as happy-go-lucky as another character. She’s awesome. I dunno maybe it’s just her eyes.

Shiina “Misha” Mikado:

Oh sweet merciful protagonist. This girl is so happy, it’s almost yandere. But she isn’t yandere which makes her awesome! She has no disabilities as far I can tell from reading her arc. She’s really hyper and never has a frown on her face. So I think she has ADHD from reading all the speculation on the Internet while looking for hentai of Lilly Satou. In short, her yandere-like joy is so awesome, but she doesn’t have that connection with me that makes her a really loved character.

Shizune Hakamichi:

I don’t like her. I just don’t. Her disabilities are being deaf and mute. I know that should make me a lot more sympathetic for her. Well, to be fair I kinda like her. She’s not on levels of annoyance as bad Visual Novel protagonists. She hates Lilly Satou, but I’m not gonnna pull the enemy of my friend is my enemy card. I’m sort of indifferent to her.

Now that you have a basic understanding to all these wonderful ladies, ON TO THE REVIEW!

Let’s get started on my first impressions.

First impressions are really good. The opening scene is actually pretty good. The music is nice and character art is really great for a western Visual Novel. Yes, I did say that. Western Visual Novel. I know that most of my favorite Visual Novels are from Japan such as Clannad and Kana -Little Sister-, but Katawa Shoujo is actually pretty damn good. But I’m not making any sense are I? Let’s dig deep into why I love this game.

Now we head even deeper. More in depth review for you!

First off, the music. The music is good. It’s not as amazing as other Visual Novels, but it’s a respectable soundtrack. It’s not as catchy as True to My Heart from Nursery Rhyme, but it still memorable none the least. There are some parts where the music sounds off-key, but that just might be because I suck at my Music class and can’t tell if it’s on key or off-key.  Even with that single song with the off-key sound, the music is nice.

Next is the character art, Western artists drawing Eastern anime style characters is a bad combination. It just is. However, this Visual Novels definitely shows that Western artists can draw. It’s on par with Clannad art style. When I say something is on par with Clannad, it is a big deal. Every single piece of art is simply amazing. From the minor details of Lilly’s tea cup to big details of the image of the main protagonist’s face. Oh that’s right, THE PROTAGONIST HAS A DRAWN FACE! And my god, the face is simply amazing. It’s not the face of a high ranked anime studio main character, but it’s a respectable face for Western artists. Interesting fun fact, every character has a different artist. That means that each character has their own
artist and art style. To me, that’s really amazing.
Onto the bigger topic, the story. As the title of the game means, Disability Girls, you have to befriend girls with disabilities. To a mongrel, this sounds like just your average dating sim.

With the man animal saying, “DUH. THIS GAME SUCKS BECAUSE THEY DON’T STRIP FAST ENOUGH AND TOO MUCH INTERESTING STORY AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.”

While us members of the Visual Novel master race sighing and considering on how to erase the miserable insect from the face of history.

Just kidding of course. I respect all of your opinions.

Actually, that brings me to a much larger topic. It’s also a controversial topic too among the gaming community. The title, Katawa Shoujo. At first glance, it doesn’t sound too bad, but when you go deeper, the controversy is revealed. The translation of Katawa Shoujo is Disability Girls. The controversy around it is basically having a Visual Novel based off getting jiggy with some girls with some physical disabilities. Really, it’s just pulling a Resident Evil 5 card on us. Just because it’s set in Africa doesn’t make the game racist. Nobody complained about Resident Evil 4 and that was set in Spain or someone in Europe where the people speak Spanish apparently.

Let me just say that Katawa Shoujo does not deserve all the controversy it gets. I understand that people can be a little touchy about having a relationship with a girl with disabilities in a Visual Novel, especially if it’s a real life disability. But really, don’t get all butthurt. The game pulls off the disability aspect really well. It doesn’t treat us like morons and berate us over how we ought to feel sympathy for them, or make it offensive about describing their condition. It pulls it off flawlessly, in my humble opinion.
And that’s my review of Katawa Shoujo’s First Act. And the only reason I managed to get this review out is because this is a FIRST IMPRESSIONS review! The full game isn’t out yet, so I can’t go all out and say how amazing it is. Going back to what I said, The Snow Sakura review is coming. I just wanna give it time so I can give it all the praise where I can give it, so I don’t half-ass it like I did to Kana -Little Sister- .

That said, Hasta luego!

That means goodbye in Spanish. I stole that line from Mr. Leon “One-Liner” Kennedy in Resident Evil 4.

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