Pretty early on during my play through of Katawa Shoujo, I decided I was going to take Hanako's route. Although the other characters seemed interesting enough, I fell in love with Hanako almost instantly. By the time the credits were rolling, I still thought her character was great, but was very disappointed with the story itself. I had a few big problems with it, and felt there was a lot of unused potential. So naturally, I typed up a list of my biggest problems with Hanako's story and I'm now posting it on the internet for all to enjoy.
Firstly, even though Hanako was very shy, the fact she didn't open up to Hisao until almost the end of the game was bad for the story for a couple of reasons. The biggest problem with her never 'opening up' was that it resulted in her getting very little dialog, leaving us knowing only a handful of things about her character by the end of it all. The other problem that this presented was that since Hanako and Hisao never really had much of a conversation, their relationship never really evolved. Having the entire story more or less focus on Hisao trying to get Hanako to open up to him made it one-dimensional and frustrating, especially when it leads to almost no payoff at the end, but we'll get to that.
Secondly, Hisao didn't develop romantic feelings for Hanako until quite late in the story. It's expected in a dating simulator that assuming the player makes all the right choices, the main character ends up with the girl he's pursuing in the end. Knowing that, plus the fact that the player probably chose to date Hanako over the other girls in the game for a reason, the story should have focused on Hisao trying to get Hanako to fall in love with him. Instead, I had watched frustratedly as Hisao contemplated his feelings for Hanako, knowing full well that they were going to end up together in the end.
My third problem with Hanako's story arc is THAT FUCKING SEX SCENE. First off, Hanako, who had still only barely opened up to Hisao, strips naked to show him her scars. This was totally out of character. It seems from what Hanako said at the end that she already liked Hisao at this point, but being so shy and self-conscious about her scars, would she really want to strip naked and show her burnt body to the boy she didn't know liked her yet? Would she not expect this to scare him off? It might have been believable if they were already dating at this point, but totally broke my immersion the way it was done in the game. Then, Hanako says something along the lines of 'I know I'm not pretty like Lilly,' and Hisao doesn't disagree with her, or try and comfort her at all. It was heartbreaking. It made me want to crawl through the screen and punch Hisao in the face. As for what happens after that... I'm not a feminist, and I often cringe when this claim is made about similar things, but there's no way around it. Hisao RAPES Hanako. She was so shy she could barely talk to her friends, so of course she wasn't going to be able to build up the courage to say no to Hisao if she wanted to, especially considering how venerable she was at the time. As a player who had grown attached to the characters in the game, I was fucking horrified watching this scene. Afterwards when considering it, Hiaso thought something along the lines of 'she didn't say yes,' and then pretty much shrugs it off. In real life, someone not explicitly telling you it's okay isn't always necessarily rape, but in this situation it's pretty clear that is was. A girl so shy she can barely talk opens up to him, shows him her disfiguring scars she got in a fire that killed her family and left her traumatized for life, expresses her self-consciousness and he responds by fucking her? Not even saying anything comforting to her beforehand, or expressing his feelings for her, just leading her to the bed and fucking her? What the hell, Hisao? I'd like to know the train of thought that could have even led him to decide to do that. Actually, I probably wouldn't.
Lastly, Hisao and Hanako don't become a couple until the very end of the game. This was the biggest 'fuck you' to the players imaginable. Once you finally get what you waited the whole game for, it ends, and very abruptly too. Possibly the worst part was the 'love' they confessed for each other seemed Platonic. I mean, they said they 'loved' each other and Hisao agreed to stop treating her like she was totally helpless, but the way the ending was, I could only really imagine that afterwards they had a somewhat healthier friendship. Their love still seemed like a love between friends, not a 'love' love. Having played the game for hours and getting this at the end, I felt cheated.
Don't get me wrong, the story was definitely very well written. After all, if it wasn't, I wouldn't care about all the potential I feel was wasted. I just feel that maybe it was gone about the wrong way. I'm not a writer, but I wrote out a summary of how the story could have been done in a way that would have avoided all the problems listed above.
Act 2: This act should have essentially been a condensed version of the majority of the Hanako arc as it is in the game. Hisao has to make Hanako feel more comfortable with him, open up to him more, and so on. Many of the events in this act could have been the same as events in the game, like the the birthday, etc. By the end of this act Hisao and Hanako would have been friends.
Act 3: Throughout this act, Hanako would begin to open up to Hisao, like near the end of the game's arc. Having her become open earlier in the game would allow for more of her character to be revealed. Sometime during this act, maybe about halfway through, Hisao should have realized he loved Hanako. Act 3 would have ended similarly to how the arc ended in the game, with Hiaso and Haniko confessing to each other, crying, kissing and so on, but in a more private setting then in the park, and without the whole horrifying 'sex' scene beforehand.
Act 4: At this stage, Haiso and Hanako should have been 'dating'. This way, the player could get more of a payoff for playing the game up until this point. Here's one way I think the final act could have gone. Hanako becomes more withdrawn then she was in Act 3, and Hisao feels like he's starting the relationship over again. Eventually, Haiso becomes very frustrated and goes to Hanako's room to try to get Hanako to tell him what's wrong. She refuses to say much and tries to run away, but Hisao corners her and angrily insists she tell him. Hanako breaks down and tells him that she thinks Hisao is with her only because he feels bad for her and wants to protect her, not because he's really in love with her. Hisao insists that he's in love with Hanako and promises to treat her differently in the future, but she thinks he's lying, and says she he couldn't love her like he could another girl because of her shyness and scars. Hisao lifts up her bangs, looks her in the eye, and tells her she's beautiful. This could segway nicely into a sex scene that feels a little more consensual and a little less soul-crushingly depressing. After that, there should have been some falling action to tie up loose ends, to make the end feel less abrupt. To show that Hiaso and Hanako will continue to date after the credits roll, and that Hisao's relationship with Hanako has helped her, the game could have ended with a scene where they walk through the halls of the school holding hands, and Hanako kisses Hisao in front of a group of other students. Not that she wouldn't still be shy, but believing that Hisao truly loves her would have improved her confidence and helped her get that far. Cue curtains, audience bursts into treats.
So what do you guys think? Do you have other problems with Hanako's arc that I didn't cover here? Do you have another idea of how the story should have gone? Did you love the story how it was in the game, and think I'm full of shit? Lay it on me.
Last edited by Alpha Morlock
on Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.