Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

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Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Alpha Morlock » Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:33 pm

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.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Mirage_GSM » Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:12 pm

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 perusing in the end.

Well, Katawa Shoujo is not a dating simulator, and if you read it with that expectation you might be disappointed. KS tells a story, and stories don't always - and really should not - follow the same old paths.
Also: "peruse"... I think you were going for "pursue".
Regarding your third point... Read Hanako's final scene. She explains the reasons for her behaviour. If you still think it's out of character for her... Well, the creator of her character obviously didn't think so.
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.

I'm not really following this "payoff"-concept of yours. Hanako's path is a story of her and Hisao coming to terms with their feelings for each other. Once that is accomplished the story is basically over. Any more than an epilogue would have negated much of the story before.
Or, by "payoff," do you mean "more gratuitious sex-scenes?"
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Alpha Morlock » Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:36 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Well, Katawa Shoujo is not a dating simulator, and if you read it with that expectation you might be disappointed. KS tells a story, and stories don't always - and really should not - follow the same old paths.


Having played it, I'm still fairly confident that Katawa Shoujo can be called a dating simulator. And I wasn't wrong in saying that they end up together in the end, because they do. So really, if followed the same old path just as I expected it to.

Mirage_GSM wrote:Also: "peruse"... I think you were going for "pursue".


Yeah, fixed that. Fucking spell check.

Mirage_GSM wrote:Regarding your third point... Read Hanako's final scene. She explains the reasons for her behaviour. If you still think it's out of character for her... Well, the creator of her character obviously didn't think so.


I obviously didn't find her explanation very satisfactory or I wouldn't have any problems with it. I don't think a creator ever writes for something to feel out of character, but it still happens.

Mirage_GSM wrote:I'm not really following this "payoff"-concept of yours. Hanako's path is a story of her and Hisao coming to terms with their feelings for each other. Once that is accomplished the story is basically over. Any more than an epilogue would have negated much of the story before.
Or, by "payoff," do you mean "more gratuitious sex-scenes?"


That's absolutely not what I meant. Payoff is when everything has a satisfying resolution. The end of Hanako's arc felt to me like ending a story about saving the princess when the big bad boss is killed, without the princess ever being saved. All we got was "I love you," "I love you too," "Great, well I suppose that's all then." Not a satisfying ending at all in my opinion.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Evvinartopski » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:47 pm

For the most part I think you should read better. It seems like you've completely stopped reading after the sex scene... Of course you haven't, though- Still, the ending was quite a bit abrupt, though as much as I'd like to see a "director's cut" ending or whatever, it probably was the better choice. Just keep in mind that visual novels are not always dating simulators. They can also be, yknow, novels. It's about solving problems, a conflict.
Also, regarding your first point: keep in mind that shy persons are shy for a reason. They don't just open up all of a sudden. Even Lilly doesn't know everything about her, like the exact details of her accident, other than her scars and losing her parents.

Looking back at this post, there probably isn't really anything new added to this thread...meh, still my two cents.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Alpha Morlock » Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:02 pm

Evvinartopski wrote:For the most part I think you should read better. It seems like you've completely stopped reading after the sex scene... Of course you haven't, though- Still, the ending was quite a bit abrupt, though as much as I'd like to see a "director's cut" ending or whatever, it probably was the better choice. Just keep in mind that visual novels are not always dating simulators. They can also be, yknow, novels. It's about solving problems, a conflict.
Also, regarding your first point: keep in mind that shy persons are shy for a reason. They don't just open up all of a sudden. Even Lilly doesn't know everything about her, like the exact details of her accident, other than her scars and losing her parents.


Of course not all visual novels are dating simulators, but like I said in my previous post, I don't think it's unfair to call Katawa Shoujo a dating simulator. You choose to pursue a particular girl, and making the choices that end up having you date the girl is considered the 'good' ending. If that's not a dating simulator, what the hell is? And as for the shyness, they could have been a time cut or something of that nature. She DOES open up to Hisao, just not until they'd know each other for awhile. It's not that I don't understand why she was shy, or that I don't think she should have been shy, just that if we got to see her open up earlier in the story we would have been able to learn more about her character.
Last edited by Alpha Morlock on Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Ry74 » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:01 pm

Alpha Morlock wrote:Of course not all visual novels are dating simulators, but like I said in my previous post, I don't think it's unfair to call Katawa Shoujo a dating simulator. You choose to peruse a particular girl, and making the choices that end up having you date the girl is considered the 'good' ending. If that's not a dating simulator, what the hell is?


It's the difference between a Flight Simulator like IL-2 Sturmovik and Capcom's 194X series. Actual dating sims do things like track time management, character statistics, money, academic performance, and so on.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Mirage_GSM » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:47 pm

Wikipedia wrote:The term 'dating sim' is also often used in English as a generic term for romance-driven games (ren'ai games), a subject matter which is stereotypically associated with the visual novel genre. This can lead to confusion, as visual novels ... are not technically included in the dating sim genre. While the two genres often share a common visual presentation, dating sims are sometimes considered to be more statistically based than the "choose your own adventure" style of visual novels.

The technical definition of a dating simulation game, ..., can involve several technical elements such as a time limit, several statistics such as looks and charm which can be boosted through exercise, or an "attraction meter" which can increase or decrease depending on one's decisions.

Also, you perused the girls again ;-)
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Alpha Morlock » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:54 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Wikipedia wrote:The term 'dating sim' is also often used in English as a generic term for romance-driven games (ren'ai games), a subject matter which is stereotypically associated with the visual novel genre. This can lead to confusion, as visual novels ... are not technically included in the dating sim genre. While the two genres often share a common visual presentation, dating sims are sometimes considered to be more statistically based than the "choose your own adventure" style of visual novels.

The technical definition of a dating simulation game, ..., can involve several technical elements such as a time limit, several statistics such as looks and charm which can be boosted through exercise, or an "attraction meter" which can increase or decrease depending on one's decisions.

Also, you perused the girls again ;-)


Yeah, gotta start reading the options in spell check more carefully. So the game's not a dating sim then. The point I was making still stands. You know right from the get go that you're going to end up dating the girl you choose in the end.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Ax Maverick » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:29 pm

The point of someone being shy is that they don't let other people know about them :/
I guess you were hoping a lovey-dovey (or whatever it was written) story between Hisao and Hanako which led to Hanako being open to everyone and a lot of kids between her and Hisao.
So, it is what Mirage said. The story is about Hisao and Hanako solving the problems between each other. It's kinda like the Rin-Hisao, where Hisao's goal is to get to understand Rin.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby newnar » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:30 am

Hmm I love Hanako and her arc to no end but I have to say that I don't completely agree or disagree with you.

Firstly, I strongly agree that the sex scene with Hanaki was too much of a rape. THAT WAS BAD. REALLY BAD. In terms of choice of action on Hisao's side.

However on ur compliant with Hanako opening up too late, I don't think that's a big problem. It would be out of character for Hanako to open up in a very obvious way. I think there many points of time where Hanako is opening up to Hisao, but in a more "cloaked" manner. Small things she does, small actions she makes, her small smiles, these helped define her altogether. I think her character development was great.

We might not know as much about her as other main female leads in their respective arcs, but compared to Hanako before, we know loads. And I guess what's important about Hanako isn't her history or faourote things, but more of how she thinks and acts towards external events. Hisao has been observing her and learning about her all this while. Although they don't have much dialogue, Hanako's feelings toward Hisao are portrayed from her decisions and actions. It might not seem much to agree to going out to the mart with a guy for someone like Shizune or Emi, but Hanako isn't like that to other people.

As for the pay-off, I think the sweetest and the most heartwarming thing is to know that you are treated specially by Hanako, that she trusts you with her all, and that you would do the same for her. To me this is Hanako.

Personally, I played Hanako's arc on my first playthrough without using any form of walkthrough or guide. Everything was just naturally happening for me. And I cannot stop thinking of Hanako and how lovely she is. Thank you 4LS for crafting such a well-developed character.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby JimPooley » Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:30 pm

I disagree, sure it wasn't a traditonal romance like you'd expect, but it was much more honest than the typical fair. The awkward, completely unerotic sex scene was pretty refreshing. To me there was a big disconnect between the player and Hisao, more like a choose someone else';s adventure than a choose your own adventure, but that dosn't detract from the quality of the story. Both Hisao and Hanako were flawed characters, it could easily have fallen into the rather boring formula of white night trying to fix girl. And I like that the ending is ambiguous, it's so much more realistic than 'They lived happily ever after'.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby 1337Ftw » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:53 pm

She is shy, but at that point (the sex scene) Hanako had already come to love Hisao, and since they were alone she doesn't mind showing her scars.

And BTW she did say she avoided people because she just did not like them, not (entirely) because of shyness or embarrassment for her scars.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby Tilting Clock » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:04 am

One of the things that I credit KS for is that it's constantly trying to bait and betray your expectations. Here you have this title as blatant about its subject matter as can be helped, and yet from the very first moments of the game you see someone who wants more than anything to escape having to identify and be identified through the lens of his disability. Even as Hisao continues to struggle with this question, as indeed many of us readers do, the narrative continues to throw little preconceptions at us to string us along and ultimately expose down the line as just another layer of superficial wrapping paper. You see Hanako transform gradually from stereotypical shy girl, to idealized princess to be rescued, and finally to just another human being who unwittingly insulated herself against being loved. Hisao and Hanako admit even here that they don't really know much about each other for certain, but that's okay. And there it culminates. There it ends.

Your proposed arc would certainly feel more dramatically-satisfying, that's for sure, but it lacks that quintessential quality of life: it's not messy enough. Hanako's path is about that moment in a relationship where you are standing face-to-face and pouring your hearts out, but the truth that each of you is trying to convey gets snagged on your own preconceptions, on your doubts and fears, and then whats left is filtered through the other's preconceptions about you. Its about good intentions being lost in translation. Any book about relationships will extol upon the virtue of effective communication, but to truly achieve the passing of a thought from one mind to another in any meaningful way is a moment so precious and powerful that it defies telling of it. You don't get a happily ever after in her story, because she's not an ideal by the end and so couldn't be cast into the role of shy lover. She will most certainly withdraw again in the future and there's no telling if Hisao will be compatible with her for any length of time. It's not about that. What you get is a single, beautifully-human moment in the midst of the emotional wreckage of life; two people able to step out of the comfort of their coping mechanisms to see one another.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby ThistlewickVII » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:02 am

I agree that the sex scene was pretty much rape, but their eventual romance and progress at the end was enough for me.
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Re: Dissapointed with Hanako's Arc

Postby megiddo » Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:39 am

it wasn't rape. if anything, hanako seduced and raped hisao, even going so far as to tell him not to say anything.
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