An overwhelming experience...

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Demosthenes
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An overwhelming experience...

Post by Demosthenes » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:47 am

The bulk of this was written to nobody in particular - since i don't think i can ever reveal this to my friends. It was only afterwards that i discovered this forum and decided to come here and post - which is why some of this seems to be aimed at someone who has never heard of this game. I'd like to think that i'm usually a fairly good writer, but i feel so scattered right now that this is not my usually composed writing...

It’s a feeling that I’m sure I’ve only felt two other times in my life – once after a particularly intense dream, and once after a short but passionate romance. That low level, slow burn of anxiety. A dull ache that reminds me continuously of something completely unattainable – wedging itself deeper into my thoughts with every attempt to dislodge it. It’s the knowledge that a perfect love will forever be out of reach…

I did something the other day that was completely ordinary. While screwing around online, I came across a game which came pretty highly recommended. I downloaded it from the creators’ site, installed it, and began playing - assuming that it might kill a few minutes of my time and be at least mildly amusing.

While that sequence of events wasn’t at all strange, the game itself wasn’t something I would normally have even begun. It’s hard to really even call it a game – it’s much more like an interactive story. It’s a choose your own adventure book made into a little digital story with pictures. A series of choices can change the course of the story significantly, but those choices may have hours of reading between them.

On the surface, the story is perhaps silly at best and crass at worst. A quick summary of the plot would lead any casual observer to roll their eyes or worse. You follow a young man in high school who has a heart attack due to a persistent medical condition. After months of rehabilitation in the hospital, watching his visitors dwindling away and his friends forgetting about him, his parents make the decision to send him to a special school for his senior year – a school populated by disabled kids. The disabilities range from missing limbs to blindness, deafness, and more. Once he has arrived at the school, your choices guide him into a romantic relationship with one of four or five young women.

To leave it at that, or to describe it as a “dating sim” would drastically underestimate the quality of the writing, and would cheapen the almost life changing experience that i had. Everything about it on the surface screams that the game is base and frivolous – geared towards japanophiles and anime fans, neckbeards and forever-alones – guys who have never had a girlfriend. But as I played, I became more and more entangled in the story and more ashamed of myself for how wrong my initial snap judgment was. When I chose to pursue Lilly – a half Japanese, half Scottish girl who had been blind since birth – I was overwhelmed by how strongly it affected me.

Lilly is the most beautiful creature I have ever encountered, and I’m terrified that I may never be able to forget her.

How could I even ever tell anyone about this? Who would understand? Who among my friends wouldn’t laugh, then furrow their brow and reevaluate their perceptions of me when they realize I’m not kidding? What about the woman I’ve been with for the past 4 years, and plan to spend my life with? What would she think if I told her I had fallen in love with a game character over the course of 8 hours spread across a few days? What would she think if she saw me on the verge of tears at the thought of a video game character?

I sit here writing this, feeling like a broken man. I think of Lilly and I despair. It’s not as though she’s just out of reach – she’s not real. It’s even worse than that, because I can even recognize that if she were real, this idealized view of her would surely be shattered. But despite those facts, I can’t escape these feelings.

At 33 years old, I’ve been with at least my share of women. I’m outgoing, reasonably attractive, athletic, and I never had a lot of trouble meeting gals to go out with. But I’m a romantic, and I guess I’m never satisfied. I’ve always been convinced that there was a woman out there who would inspire me. I would look at her every day and be in awe of how beautiful she was – not just physically, but her whole being would bring me to my knees. I feel like someone dangled that in front of me again – after having quieted that yearning for so many years. This game has reminded me again - awoken that dream of the ideal, and simultaneously drown it in the knowledge that it can never be real. It's taken away my contentment with a comfortable and easy relationship.

I can’t believe I feel this way about a character. How could she turn an otherwise reasonable human being into something like a teenage girl clutching a romance novel? I can see so clearly how crazy this all is, and yet I still feel powerless to control it. My thoughts wander and keep coming back to her. I say her name under my breath and shake my head – at first because I’m so overwhelmed by my longing to be with her, and then because I remember how insane everyone I know would think I am.

So I decided to write this out, in the hopes that it might somehow dull the frantic sense of loss I feel at the realization that Lilly will never be mine, and that my real relationships may always feel like a compromise in the face of that ideal. So far, I don’t think it has helped…

I end with a compliment to the authors of Katawa Shoujo. As is probably clear by now, no game has ever come close to evoking the kind of emotional response that your masterpiece has managed to bring out of me. It is a beautiful story, with characters real enough to relate to, yet still idealized enough to pull me in and break my heart. I thank you for letting me experience something so glorious, and curse you in the same breath for laying bare such weakness in me. I hope you all are properly praised and rewarded for your work – but know that there’s a man out there who will go to sleep tonight with his arms around his future wife, all the while wishing desperately that it could be Lilly beside him, and praying to forget about her tomorrow…

Irandrura
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Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:29 am

Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Irandrura » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:03 am

Calm down, my friend.

The characters of this VN are imaginary; they are ideas, concepts, pictures, and words used to create an emotional response. The character doesn't exist in this world. Your feelings exist.

Think about the real people you are close to. If you had an emotional experience of love, then let that experience broaden, and soak into the rest of your life. Use the VN as a stepping stone and think about everyone else you love. Be inspired to do something romantic: make yourself a better person. Use your feelings as an opportunity for growth.

Tank

Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Tank » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:56 am

Dude, go do something. Interact. Anxiety goes away if you're too busy to think about it...and possibly medicated. Worked for me anyway.

I have no intention for my writing to seem rude. Bluntly, no fictional character can compare to real human interaction. Even the most dimwitted dead-beats I've encountered here in the heartland of Kentucky have stories if you care to know them, I don't but sometimes end up knowing anyway, but the point is that even dull people have their facets. An ideal, that lacks in imperfections. It's incomplete, only half a person. And a fictional character isn't even half a person, they're like, 0% a person...maybe 0.01% cause they are human characters.

If you've know your lady for 4 years, do you know all you want to know about her? Doubt it. A real person is always more beautiful than a portrayed one, even if they have the beauty of a train wreck or a potato.

Kenji_SpecOps
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Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:05 am

Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Kenji_SpecOps » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:56 am

Lol. I agree, though. This gave has some really emotion stories. Hanako's story made me feel depressed for a week. I have not had a story make me depressed since I watched Clannad.

Lilly as a girlfriend would rock though. So many perks too.

-rich
-hot
-can walk around house in underware 24/7 and look like a slob
-cool sister-in-law
-rich

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C27
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by C27 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:12 am

(don't panic, it's just a game)
-Words to live by.
Rin Tezuka, Painter, withdraws from society...
Rin Tezuka, Painter has begun a mysterious construction!

joeshmoelb

Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by joeshmoelb » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:21 pm

These words fall of ears of understanding.

Joeshmoelb
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Joeshmoelb » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:37 pm

This story definitely left as much of an impression on me, but nothing so specific. It truly is a depressing thought that such incredibly amazing characters only live withing the recesses of my mind and on my computer screen. This game has easily made me think more about myself and the direction of my life more than anything else in my life, and this really cannot be understated. Thank you for the post, I wasn't even sure how to make such feelings known, and I hope you can realize this should inspire you to look into your own life with a fresh pair of eyes, not dwell on the futility of your life, but work to make your life everything it can be, instead of what you think it has to be.

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Harlequin13
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Harlequin13 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:39 pm

That was certainly deep!

I was gonna say that I can't relate 100% with your experience, but now I just realized that I can. With Hanako, not Lilly. However, that only lasted two days for me, now it's aaaaall gone and all is good. But maybe my mind simply works better at this stuff... Or not. Who knows.

Do some other stuff and it will leave your mind eventually. It's actually as simple as that. Do something that makes you think about other things unrelated to it. And once the thoughts come back (they will) they won't have a strong impact on you anymore. What's left are just memories - good ones.

You're probably depressed right now in some form, but it's not gonna stay that way - not over something like KS it won't, no matter how excellent it may be.

Also, you don't really have to tell anyone about it. Except us, that is. You should stick around on this forum, read some stuff here. That's a good start.


Edit: Hmm... You know, perhaps it would be wise to simply consider this whole "ordeal" as a love for a masterpiece of art. This goes for everyone who has played the game and who "got the feels" (love that expression). You've realized that this was a special experience. So be happy about that and perhaps you'll stop being depressed about it even quicker. I'm pretty sure that helped for me. You've experienced a masterpiece, be grateful, now move on to the next (!).

Lanyx
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Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:24 am

Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Lanyx » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:37 pm

I can empathize. But, and I'm sure you realize this.. The girls in this game are just idealized characters. Maybe it's cynical but I don't think anyone could be as wonderful as they seem to be in the game. That might just be my rationalization to help me cope though. Anyway, my point is.. Appreciate who you have for who she is. Nobody is perfect like Lilly or the rest of them, and really, that's why people are interesting.

Or maybe another way to look at it is: the girls in this game, given the assumption that they were real people, for a moment, you spent maybe 5 hours with for a full run? How much could you know about any person with only 5 hours of conversation, or if you were to handpick five hours of conversation over a year of interaction. Maybe I'm not helping, and if so sorry. I'm kinda working this out as I type it. =p But I do hope I made a little sense, at least.

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encrypted12345
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by encrypted12345 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:11 pm

Try to remember. The good times and the bad times, all the moments that you have shared with your loved one. Lilly, while somewhat idealistic, is still an extremely realistic character, so I can understand why you might have fallen so hard for her. Nevertheless...

Remember. The times you laughed, cried, and argued. The secrets you have shared. The emotions you have exchanged. The memories you have created together. Some are undeniably good. Some are undeniably bad. Such is inevitable for both of you are imperfect. If you remember hard enough, the culmination of what you remember should be enough to shake your being. Once it does then create and work for a great relationship. Like how Lilly and Hisao had an imperfect relationship, you and your beloved will inevitably have one. Yet, they grasped their good end. So can you two.

Ahem, I believe a quote from Lilly's route is in order.
Our pasts may be scattered and at times overshadowed by sadness, but they're also an irrevocable part of our lives and personalities. Even if I could change a single thing, I wouldn't, because my past is what led me here. That's why, even with all that's happened to us before, and all that may well befall us... together, we'll keep walking forwards. Forwards... towards the future. Our future.

I rest my case.

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Valtameri
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Valtameri » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:01 am

Lanyx wrote:I can empathize. But, and I'm sure you realize this.. The girls in this game are just idealized characters. Maybe it's cynical but I don't think anyone could be as wonderful as they seem to be in the game. That might just be my rationalization to help me cope though. Anyway, my point is.. Appreciate who you have for who she is. Nobody is perfect like Lilly or the rest of them, and really, that's why people are interesting.

Or maybe another way to look at it is: the girls in this game, given the assumption that they were real people, for a moment, you spent maybe 5 hours with for a full run? How much could you know about any person with only 5 hours of conversation, or if you were to handpick five hours of conversation over a year of interaction. Maybe I'm not helping, and if so sorry. I'm kinda working this out as I type it. =p But I do hope I made a little sense, at least.
Cynical and true i suppose, but overall i think that is quite depressive fact. I think i'm gonna go sob for a while now... :)
It sits in silence
Eats away at me
It feeds like cancer

Nekken

Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Nekken » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:40 am

The thing to remember is that the pictures this game paints of the characters are, by necessity, incomplete (Hisao's less than most, because you're in his head, but his too). We haven't been exposed to the full force of their imperfections, because they weren't important to the story, though as in any good writing there are some hints of them here and there. But they're there. Relationships, no matter how good, are never effortless, not even in this game.

But people as wonderful as the characters in this game do exist. You can find them in the damndest places. They aren't perfect, but really, neither are these characters. You learn to live with that, and while some problems are inevitable over time, you'll also find some of the greatest joy on this side of the afterlife. That's how it works.

But then, maybe I was just lucky enough to marry one of the great ones.

Bringerof_D
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Bringerof_D » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:45 am

ugh, the scene in the library where Hanako first tries to tell Hisao of her story, then the subsequent classroom incident almost made me cry! the music was too perfect. The only thing that's put me this close to tears in recent years was Clannad after story.

the part where she shows off her scars was pretty powerful too.

*sigh* well i guess i should schedule out my week to work through the other routes T_T
~Hello there Kenji, I'm a psychic spy. But dont worry, I know what you're thinking. It wont hurt at all...~

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Tomate
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Tomate » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:50 am

Bringerof_D wrote:ugh, the scene in the library where Hanako first tries to tell Hisao of her story, then the subsequent classroom incident almost made me cry! the music was too perfect. The only thing that's put me this close to tears in recent years was Clannad after story.

the part where she shows off her scars was pretty powerful too.

*sigh* well i guess i should schedule out my week to work through the other routes T_T
The Scar's scene ís amazing, but, Hanako's bad ending was the most overwhelming moment.
I was not actually sad, just surprised that the Shrinking Violet can actually scream.
Last edited by Tomate on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Don't just eat that hamburger, eat the HELL out of it!

Bringerof_D
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Re: An overwhelming experience...

Post by Bringerof_D » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:53 am

Tomate wrote:
Bringerof_D wrote:ugh, the scene in the library where Hanako first tries to tell Hisao of her story, then the subsequent classroom incident almost made me cry! the music was too perfect. The only thing that's put me this close to tears in recent years was Clannad after story.

the part where she shows off her scars was pretty powerful too.

*sigh* well i guess i should schedule out my week to work through the other routes T_T
The Scar's scene ís amazing, but, Hanako's bad ending was the most overwhelming moment.
I was not actually sad, just surprised that the Shrinking Violet can actually scream.
no spoilers >:( i havent seen the bad ending yet!
~Hello there Kenji, I'm a psychic spy. But dont worry, I know what you're thinking. It wont hurt at all...~

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