Alright, so a few days ago I went into IRC and somewhat incoherently gushed my heart out about Katawa Shoujo to whoever was in there to listen. And I was told that if I really wanted Four Leaf Studios then I should post what I have to say on the forums. (Thank you Pimmy) So here I am, teaching myself how traditional forum software works again after about 8 years of posting strictly on anonymous imagebord/textboard channel sites, and hoping that I can formulate what I said in IRC and what is in my head into a legible and understandable post. Warning, this may or may not have spoilers in it. Play Rin, Lilly, and Shizune routes before reading. Also it is very very very fucking long. Here I go...
I first played Katawa Shoujo when act one first came out. I got Emi on accident, twice, died once, and then finally got Rin like I wanted. The fireworks scene left me with a warm feeling and I really wanted to get to know Rin more. She was my type in both appearance and personality. I drew her in one of the notebooks I should have been using for school and I came out horribly. I've never had anything I've actually been good at and drawing is certainly something I am not good at. But I was still happy I drew it. I was not sure why. I stashed the notebook on a shelf never to look at it again.
Fast forward to 2012. I get on to a small imageboard I own to see a thread about Katawa Shoujo. I thought they were talking about the demo but after reading through the thread I realised that the full game had actually come out a couple days before and tons of people had already read/played it. I later went to a friends house and downloaded it. But I could not wait to get home to play, so for the first time ever I decided to pass on playing a round of Halo with my friends, and commandeer'd his computer and played Rin's path all the way through. By the time I had finished it was 9:30AM the next day. I had chosen not to sleep. Rins path was beautiful and romantic and I loved it but it did not have as more of an effect on me than the demo did. This was because I did not want to get so much into it that I would not notice a friend waking up and seeing me looking at porn of an armless chick, and I did not know where any sex scenes were, so a forced myself into semi-aloof-ness for my first play through so I would be able to notice someone waking up and thus be able to exit the game quickly.
Afterwards I went on 4chan.org's video games board for the morning. Or rather their anti-video games board, the /v/ community is known for having nothing but sheer hatred for all video games ever created.
Except for today. There were Katawa Shoujo threads everywhere. People were losing their minds and all emotional stability playing this "cripple porn game." They talked about feelings they had for women who they knew were not real, they talked about their aversion to anime but loving the shit out of Katawa Shoujo. I watched as fan art of any and all characters were made, photoshoped, re-made, and had accompanying fan fiction written. Everyone found themselves unable to masturbate to anything in the game due to emotional involvement. There is an absurd amount of images of Kenji's head photoshoped onto space marines from Warhammer, for whatever reason. Flesh and blood fans of the characters were going out to live their lives to the fullest as the characters in Katawa Shoujo did, in spite of the characters varying disabilities. Fans of Emi were talking about planning jogging routes and eating more healthy, fans of Lilly were finding out how to learn a second language, fans of Hisao were talking about becoming science teachers, fans of Rin were asking what the first steps were in becoming artists, ect, ect... Overall, Katawa Shoujo, a "cripple porn game", was -literally and without exaggeration- changing the lives of a humongous group of people for the better. I felt like there was something I was deeply missing in Katawa Shoujo. After a hasty explanation to my friends that consisted something of "4LS broke /v/" I took my leave and made the 4 hour walk home through ice and snow to play Katawa Shoujo in the privacy of my own room. For real this time.
I setup my Windows laptop and I took Lillys route this time. She appealed to me most second to Rin. It took me the better part of the day and I did not actually finish it. I had to stop and save at around 4:00AM. I knew I would not be able to function at work without some sleep. And considering I had decided not to sleep the night before, I fuckin' needed it!
Got home from at at 9:00PM and fully completed Lillys route around 2:40AM. I achieved the Good End. Though I did go to sleep immediately afterwards. There was an ache in my stomach. I am not an emotional person. I consider myself to be very unemotional or lacking in emotions. In fact if you are familiar with the TV series Star Trek I am often referred to by friends as "The Vulcan." But this ache, it was not normal. At least not for me. I felt as if this must be how people feel when they cry, but no tears came. Even though I have told people that I loved them in the past I know I have never really been in love before and I know I was not in love with the Lilly character. I knew she was not real. I knew there was no "she" in the first place. I knew her most tangible form was the dimples imprinted onto the disks of my laptops hard drive by the lazer. But it was not Lilly the character that made me sick like this anyway, it was the story behind the intertwining of Lilly and Hisaos lives.
Hisao came to Yamaku High School feeling that his life was at an end. And even if it wasent he still did not know where he wanted to go or what he wanted to do after high school. Lilly knew exactly what she wanted to do and did where she was going. She wants to be an English teacher. She gave Hisao insight into her life which in turn gave him insight into his own. After her confession (beautiful scene by the way) to Hisao they were linked forever. Even through the issue where Lilly breaks up with to go to Scotland (which I did not understand at all but whatever) they come out of it all the better. And at the end of the game after the credits we see Hisao and Lilly on an unknown grassy hill, together with Akira. They speak of their futures together to Akira. They are both going to the same University. Together. Lilly to learn to become a teacher, Hisao to study science. Together. Hand in hand they leave the unknown hill, with smiles on their faces. Together. It was not untill about three quarters of the way through the game that I realized This is the last year of High School for the cast. I had imagined the story ending with Hisao and which ever woman you choose the chase after, just, I don't know, still going to Yamaku High School together I guess. Just now as a couple. But no. Hiaso enters at the end of high school. And the story ends with the two of them walking off to graduate with their love for each other and aiming for high goals. THIS what was causing the ache in my stomach.
Hisao and Lilly both by the end of the story had goals and drive and potential to achieve anything they wanted to in their lives.
I lack all these things. And Lillys route in Katawa Shoujo made me realize that. I mean, I guess I always knew it, but I never thought about it or cared. There has never been anything I've ever wanted to do as a job or career. And I've always viewed college or university as a means to move money around and and waste of our tiny lives and even smaller youth. I did not want to go to college or university just to spend all kinds of money -that I do not have- to purchase a piece of paper that says I know how to do something that I could have taught myself on the Internet, and then spending what is left of my decimated youth and the next thirty years paying off all the debt I owe for purchasing that stupid piece of paper. I always said to myself "If I ever go to college, it'll be when I'm too old to move about any more." I've wanted to spend my youth just travelling the world, learning from as many people and cultures as possible. My mom agreed with me.That's the only thing I've known I've wanted to do, is travel. But after I graduated from my own High School I looked at what the price of plane tickets out of America were, and factored in Earths current economic depression, and I sadly shelved that dream. Now there I was, sitting on the edge of my bed, feet on the floor, hands gripping the edge of the bed hard enough to tear the fabric, having just played a game that mentally took a baseball bat to my teeth and ripped apart every aspect of every thought I had ever had about a humans tiny life. I staggered out my door and went to the kitchen. I opened the fridge but did not have enough will left in me to find something worth pouring a cup of. Letting the fridge close itself I went and took some pain medication that I normally swallow for pain caused by a spinal problem I have. I got about half way out of the kitchen, stopped and double facepalmed at the sheer stupidity of the fact that I just took physical pain medication for an emotial pain. I got back into bed and whimpered. A grown man. Whimpering. Shinzune's dad would call me pathetic. I would call me that too. Yet still no tears came. Am I even able to cry? Is something wrong with me? Thoughts swirled in my head of Lillys life, my life, Hisaos goals, and my lack of goals. It is two years ago now that I graduated high school. The average lifespan of a human is 70~ years old. In less than a month I will be twenty one years old. When Alexander the great was my age he had survived great hardships, many a battlefield, a had managed to conquer half the known world. What have I done? Since high school I've been in and out of whatever temporary jobs I can find, watching anime, reading manga, doing a little web site administration, slowly teaching myself guitar, reading manga, playing video games, and very infrequently hanging out with a couple friends. What have I done? I know what Shizune's dad would say. I know I would say the same. Nothing. I felt awful. The strange pain in my stomach grew worse. But before sleep took me I had made a decision.
The next day I went to my current job in a fog. Things that people said to me did not register. I could not function. I just hoped that I did not mess up enough to warrant getting fired. On the way home from work I texted an old ex-girlfriend from high school I still occasionally email and text with. I asked if I could call her. After a few more texts I got her to agree. I called her that night and heard her voice for the first time in two years. She sounded no different except now she was in an Ivy-Leauge University. I had called her to thank her. When we dated it was not good. She played a game with me and was more curious about dating than she had romantic feelings for me. She broke it for and spent the next six months ignoring me because she felt bad about it. I eventually got her to talk to me again, and we're still friends to this day. The last few days before I graduated she gave me a letter and told me not to read it until after thr graduation party. I read it the day after the party and that almost brought tears to my eyes. It was an apology letter for all the emotional turmoil she put me through when we dated. I did not know what to say or how to bring it up with her. I procrastinated and procrastinated and ended up never thanking her. Now two years later I finally did it. She seemed happy that I thanked her but more than anything wanted to know what brought this on. I mumbled about playing a game that messed with my head and made me realise some stuff or something and quickly changed the subject. I talked about how I had made a decision to resume living my life and I was starting by tieing up loose ends. We talked about life and after I answered some of her questions she said I should become a philosopher or politician. I laughed. We ended up talking until 1:00AM. After hanging up I already knew I was feeling slightly better. The next day after work I went and started researching local University's and found one that had courses I wanted. I still have anything I want to do as a career but I am good with technology, so going for a degree in computer science can't be bad, right?
The next thing I did was gather up some medical paperwork. I had been without a doctor since I was 18 and could no longer use a paediatrician. With my current health problems, and a newish problem that I've been neglecting, I need a doctor. I'm going to start taking care of myself. Not "grey". The real flesh and blood me behind the keyboard. That me needs taking care of.
Then onto my mind. I have been learning or gaining nothing from anime, manga, or video games. (Excluding KS) As much as I love them I need to stop. They have been consuming me for too many years. I'm certainly not leaving them behind forever but for the time being and foreseeable future I'm going to take a long vacation from them. My skill in guitar is...non exsistant. (s?) And my knowledge of programming is limited to a Perl script that asks for your name, and then afterwards says your name is gay. I made it my conviction to properly start teaching myself these skills in earnest in the coming days. I am going teach myself real skills. I am going to have something I am good at.
I need to stop being such an Internet addict. I know I can never cut the Internet out of my life. But any time I get on the net is filled with nothing but browsing chans, working on two of my own sites (both of which have to do with the chans), and browsing news sites. I watch as the headlines come and go like leaves on a river and my eyes wearily read and watch, never participating, just watching. An observer on the inside looking out at the world as it passes him by. I may find other people to operate my sites in the coming months. And I'm going to ween myself off it. I'm no basement dweller. I go outside all the time. I love hiking and I walk every where. But there is nothing worth doing here, and what few friends I have, as good as they are, live two or more cities away. I am going to go out and inexperience things for real from now on. I am not going to let myself rot. I am not going to just sit around simply living. I am going to go out and find a way to be alive.
I've been reading the Katawa Shoujo dev blog backwards too. The second to last post really got to me. The only thing as magical as Katawa Shoujo itself is the story behind the people of Four Leaf Studios. Aura sounded like he felt sort of like he was being left behind too. He talked about what he thought the graduation at would be like, with the cast of Katawa Shoujo all there, going up to receive their diplomas. But not to sound too autistic or anything, but what happened to the people of Four Leaf Studios is like something right from a slice-of-life manga or anime. You were brought together by a common bond, and a common goal. You worked and your struggled and you celebrated and you cried and you laughed. Along the way cpl_crud even got married and had child (!!) if I remember correctly. You were just a rag tag group of netizens, whose lives connected and intertwined beautifully and in a fusion of your combined will, heart, soul, and artistic passion resulted in five beautiful story's people all over the world have experienced together, time and time again on the collective communal mind of the Net!
And Isn't that exciting?
How have you changed yourselves? How have you changed each other? In all those years since that omake page was first posted to 4chan's /a/ board? I was not lucky enough to be a part of what you guys are, but I can't imagine that you haven't all been affected by your time together in some way. How have you grown and changed as people? As humans? I wish I could know. Please tell if you're comfortable with telling me. And the best part of it all is that you are not done yet! Would I be right in guessing that most of you are relatively young? Your lives are not nearly over yet and already you've flourished together and created something of worth! Something of value! You read that giant wall of text above this right? In the same way that your creation has affected me it has done that very same thing to thousands of people all over Earth!! That many lives! Changed! Or even completely turned around overnight! All because of something you, the people of Four Leaf Studios created. How does it feel? Can you put it into words? Can you tell me? In a PM please? Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I do not think I am. And if I am, I do not care.
I really wish I could meet each and every one of you in the real world. I just want to shake your hands, look you in the eye and say thank you to each and every one of you personally. To thank for everything you have done for me. In a way, you saved my life. Not in the mortal way. But you saved me from wasting mine. You saved me. You saved me from letting myself live a terrible waste of a life. You did this.
So that's it. This is The Aftermath of Katawa Shoujo and what it did to me. It's a lot to read, right? Really sorry for that. I played Shizune's route afterwards because I wanted to read more of Kenjis crazyness but I don't think I can touch the game more than that. Even Shizune's Good End still left me with the same feeling Lillys route left me with. But thankfully not as severe this time. Even after all that text I still don't feel like I've gotten everything I want to say to you guys out. But I just needed you, the 4LS staff I mean, to know...I'm not sure how to word it. Everything I felt I guess. Even now I don't have the slightest clue what I really want to do with my life,(except for travelling) especially with what little of my youth I have left. And I don't know how I'm going to get into University/College, or how I can possibly pay for it without going into 30 years worth of debt since I effectively have no money, or what I am going to do once I'm in college. Most people, and all the students in my classes, will be younger than me since I'll be starting almost 3 years later than everyone else (if I plan everything right). So it will be hard for me to identify with them or make friends as easily. But the point is that I'm doing something instead of nothing. I'm moving "Forward with Gusto!" Like Lilly and Hisao. Like I said when first I connected to the Katawa Shoujo IRC to gush my heart out, "...I'd rather make bad decisions than not make any at all! I know that now!" I want to be like Lilly and Hisao. I want to be like the Four Leaf Studios staff. I want to be more like you. You people and the characters you made have inspired and changed me. Like I wrote before, you saved me from letting myself live a terrible waste of a life. Years from now when and if I graduate, you better keep that 4LS contact email running because I'm going to email you a scan of my degree and remind you all once again that you did this. Thank you.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for making Katawa Shoujo in deferent languages so more people can experience it. Thank you for making it for all platforms and not just Windows, for the same reason. Thank you for making it free so even poor people like me can play it. Thank you staying together over the years, despite everything. Thank you for working so hard on Katawa Shoujo. Thank you for taking time away from your own lives to create this, even when you could have been doing other things. Thank you for Never giving up.
Thank you, Hivemind. Thank you, A22. Thank you, Cpl_crud. Thank you, Silentcook. Thank you, Delta. Thank you, Moekki. Thank you, Kamifish. Thank you, Raide. Thank you, Pimmy. Thank you, Weee. Thank you, Mike Inel. Thank you, Yujovi. Thank you, Climatic. Thank you, Kagami. Thank you, Nicol. Thank you, Suriko. Thank you, Aura. Did I forget anyone?
Thank you for changing my life for the better.
To the staff of Four Leaf Studios, past and present: THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
Last edited by grey_
on Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.