In depth observation of the girls

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Brisingr
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In depth observation of the girls

Post by Brisingr » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:57 pm

At the request of a few other forumites here, I'm going to give my thoughts and opinions on the personalities on the girls of Katawa shoujo. Brick wall of text. You have been warned.

As these are just my musings, I'm going to start with the girl who hit home the hardest. Hanako.

Anyone who has played through at least the first act knows that Hanako is shy and skittish to the extreme. When Hisao first meets her in the library, he literally sends her running just by introducing himself. Those who pass her off as a delinquent could not be farther from the truth. A delinquent will tend to be the type who will do whatever they can for attention no matter the type and even when they don't, they can still chose to interact with others (granted anybody is willing to hear them out).

Hanako is not this. She would much rather skirt around the boundaries of the more social in her class. She will avoid any conversation she can if it doesn't make her appear overly rude and has done so in the past. She would rather spend her time alone instead of talking to anybody to the exception of Lilly and possibly some of her teachers. Other students have tried to interact with her in the past to no avail as those who have read her path can confirm. Because of this self imposed mental wall she has placed around herself, people tend to ignore her which can be a setup for a stealth hi/by for those not accustomed or expecting her like when Hisao was reading his english textbook in the library close to the end of the game.

Those who haven't read Hanako's path may ask "why would such a cute girl be so jumpy?" Hanako explains that when she was 8 years old, a fire spread through her house from some unmentioned spark or wayward fire or what have you. The fire took her home and her parents, her mother presumed burning to death while shielding Hanako. Not escaping the fire unscathed, the right side of Hanako's body sustained terrible burns, forcing her to recover in what Hisao presumed in a sterile plastic environment in a hospital without even books to entertain her for longer than he was in a hospital following his heart attack. After Hanako was released from the hospital, she was admitted to a nearby orphanage and was allowed to continue he education in middle school. Hanako once stated over a game of pool that she was bullied during middle school. while she was physically healthy after the fire, children, including her own closest friends, would recoil and mock her based on her appearance simply because she was different and was blocked from school activities and social groups because of this. Even adults would partially reel back at the sight of the burn victim before them as evidenced by the shopkeeper of Othello's Antiques.

Hanako's shy and skittish demeanor is born from the belief that she causes trouble for those who catch sight of her and a desire to save those people this trouble. For a large portion of her life after the fire that took her home and family, she believed that she was a broken shell of a once friendly girl and was simply a burden to anyone who interacted with her as evidenced by her outburst in her bad ending. After such a prolonged shunning of meaningful interaction with other people, you could hardly blame her for developing a general dislike of interaction with anybody.

However, over the course of her story, Hanako becomes significantly more social after meeting Hisao. Over the course of what I want to say is 3 or so months, she managed to go from fleeing from the new guy introducing himself to going on dates with him into the city to actually having sex with him (more on that bit later).

After spending so much of her life isolated from others, it was the new guy who showed her the value of interacting with people simply by showing interest in her as a person. When they first met, Hisao showed all the signs that Hanako was all too familiar with: Staring at the scars in surprise, fascinated curiosity at the possible cause of said scars, and then an awkward diversion from said scars after he realized he was staring. You have to give the guy credit however when he mentioned to yuuko that he was trying to avoid making a big deal out of Hanako's scarring. Over time as mentioned by Lilly, once Hanako noticed that Hisao wasn't going to corner her with questions regarding her scars she opened up more.

Granted that Hanako was becoming more social, this didn't mean that her relationship with Hisao was going in the same direction. For a large portion of the game, he treated her as a child who needed protecting. This is somewhat justified in the fact that he wasn't sure just how Hanako would respond to a confession on his part, especially after her breakdown caused by her birthday. I genuinely believe that Hisao would have confessed to her once he believed that she would be able to handle the confession but to Hanako, she was worried that he would just drift away after she got better, which lead to her letting him have sex with her.

The sex scene between Hisao and Hanako has been under heavy debate in the past as to whether it was rape on Hisao's part and a few other things that I'm not going to bother to care about at the moment. From my point of view, Hanako was worried that Hisao would drift away from her as time went on. After she came out of her room after her birthday she would occasionally see him talking to other girls, even letting the cute track member Miki Miura sit on his desk and talk about something as mundane as math homework. She cared so much more for Hisao than she ever let on. While we know that he had no interest in other girls like Miki beyond that of acquaintance or casual friend, Hanako may have felt threatened that another girl was so close to Hisao and could express herself better too.

Hanako did allow Hisao to have sex with her but this part isn't up for debate. She only let Hisao have sex with her to convince him that she was worth having a romantic relationship with. She even states this plain as day when she broke down in the park the day afterwards. They were both incredibly nervous after she showed her scars to him and Hisao was even marked noticing that she looked scared before they actually got to it. It took the mental breakdown in the park for Hisao to express his love for her and fear of losing her. They were both scared to make their feelings known to the other for fear that the other would react negatively to the confession and would be lost without them forever. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end and we can assume from then on, they continued to share their feelings with each other as time went on.

Overall, Hanako is a shy girl. No ifs, ands, or buts. This does not mean that her desire for meaningful interaction is non-existent, but only that she fears negative attention and would rather avoid a situation that could lead to this in its entirety before it happened. Her methods for interaction with other people may be different than our own but she still wants to feel cared about just like any one of us.


*Looking back* Wow, that was a lot longer than I intended it to be. I hope that has given you guys some insight (even if it my point of view) on Hanako. I'll get to the other girls as I go but right now, I can feel and hear my wrists cracking. Next up, Emi!... Or Lilly. Can't decide.

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Dr. Casey
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by Dr. Casey » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:32 pm

Great read. I'm too lazy to write anything that lengthy, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Hanako and look forward to your commentary on the other four (or five?). Hanako is indeed a very interesting character, and I would have liked to learn more about her. I think that I remember Lilly saying that Hanako was even worse off before the two of them met... I wonder what pre-Lilly Hanako was like. It's a subject of debate sometimes as to whether Hanako matured more in Lilly's route or her own; I'm not going to touch the matter right here, but I personally enjoy thinking of Hanako in Lilly's route as being the kind of person she develops into after dating Hisao for a time. I like to think of the skittish, damaged Hanako in her own route as the Hanako of 2007 (obviously), and pretend that the more sociable girl in Lilly's route who stutters so much less is the Hanako of 2008.

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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by YZQ » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:50 pm

One thing that had me wondering is how Hanako didn't take other steps to cover her scars. Logically, the male school uniform and a white glove on her right hand will cover up a large area. A white half-mask ala "the Phantom of the Opera" will be a bit outlandish, but acceptable still. That pretty much leaves only her neck, but I don't think a scarf is needed or comfortable enough.

Also, Hanako herself gave mixed signals on how she would like to be treated. If Lily, one of the better readers of people's moods, can be misunderstood by her (Remember, Lily really treated her as a friend), I dare say choosing the right way to interact with her is a minefield.
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by Oddball » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:18 am

YZQ wrote:One thing that had me wondering is how Hanako didn't take other steps to cover her scars. Logically, the male school uniform and a white glove on her right hand will cover up a large area. A white half-mask ala "the Phantom of the Opera" will be a bit outlandish, but acceptable still. That pretty much leaves only her neck, but I don't think a scarf is needed or comfortable enough.
I don't see how the male uniform would cover more than the female one. The female one does have a higher collar.

Wearing a scarf or gloves would just be uncomfortable in the hot summer heat, not to mention she'd stand out.

As for wearing a mask, even if that would be allowed by the rules, it would be like holding up a huge flashing neon sign saying "Look at me! There's something seriously wrong with me!"

Hanako dresses and carries herself in a way to minimize people looking at her without drawing any additional attention.
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by YZQ » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:24 am

The male uniform consists of pants (I do believe Hanako has burns to her leg as well. Do inform if that is not the case.). Also, she only needs one glove. Asymmetry can sometimes work wonders.

On the mask, it may be awkward outside the school. Within the school, a half-mask doesn't sound as attention-grabbing as a cane or a wheelchair, or a girl who has prosthetics like Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius.

On the flip side, I dare say for myself that if a girl comes into my field of vision with hair combed to cover half her face, I'll be more interested to stare.
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"...since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. However, it is important above all to avoid being hated."

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Eraser35
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by Eraser35 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:39 am

why is it that kids in anything japan related always seem to be giant jerks sure they're kids that don't understand the significance of having your parents die,your house burn down, and suffering 3rd degree burns to about 30 percent of your body but still I don't think kids elsewhere would be that big of jerks with the exception of the ones that already are jerks and to be honest how often does one see a burn victim

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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by YZQ » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:41 am

Eraser35 wrote:why is it that kids in anything japan related always seem to be giant jerks sure they're kids that don't understand the significance of having your parents die,your house burn down, and suffering 3rd degree burns to about 30 percent of your body but still I don't think kids elsewhere would be that big of jerks with the exception of the ones that already are jerks and to be honest how often does one see a burn victim
The social norm of placing the community above the individual. Japanese more often than not like (nay, LOVE) hammering anyone who sticks out like a nail into the board. Bullying was and is still a largely and largely unreported problem in Japan.
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by Xanatos » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:44 am

YZQ wrote:The male uniform consists of pants (I do believe Hanako has burns to her leg as well. Do inform if that is not the case.). Also, she only needs one glove. Asymmetry can sometimes work wonders.

On the mask, it may be awkward outside the school. Within the school, a half-mask doesn't sound as attention-grabbing as a cane or a wheelchair, or a girl who has prosthetics like Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius.

On the flip side, I dare say for myself that if a girl comes into my field of vision with hair combed to cover half her face, I'll be more interested to stare.
Screw the mask, just use makeup. They're not fresh scars or anything. And one glove is still standing out. It's why MJ wore one. :lol:
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by YZQ » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:46 am

Xanatos wrote:
YZQ wrote:The male uniform consists of pants (I do believe Hanako has burns to her leg as well. Do inform if that is not the case.). Also, she only needs one glove. Asymmetry can sometimes work wonders.

On the mask, it may be awkward outside the school. Within the school, a half-mask doesn't sound as attention-grabbing as a cane or a wheelchair, or a girl who has prosthetics like Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius.

On the flip side, I dare say for myself that if a girl comes into my field of vision with hair combed to cover half her face, I'll be more interested to stare.
Screw the mask, just use makeup. They're not fresh scars or anything. And one glove is still standing out. It's why MJ wore one. :lol:
I know too little about makeup to know if there is something convincing out there which will do the job. Also, may need too much time to apply.

MJ himself did suffer some bad burns to his scalp, which went largely unpopularized until after his death. Nothing to do with the glove, but just saying...
"Nothing is beneath man. Everything is permitted."

"...since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. However, it is important above all to avoid being hated."

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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by Oddball » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:06 am

YZQ wrote:The male uniform consists of pants (I do believe Hanako has burns to her leg as well. Do inform if that is not the case.).
She does have some scars on her legs. That's why he wears black pantyhose.
On the mask, it may be awkward outside the school. Within the school, a half-mask doesn't sound as attention-grabbing as a cane or a wheelchair, or a girl who has prosthetics like Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius.
I've encountered far more people with canes and wheelchairs in my life than I have people that walked around wearing half masks, and while I haven't seen anybody with running blades in person, I've encountered far more people with prosthetic limbs than I have people that wore masks all the time.

In the game Hisao mentions people with wheelchairs and canes, not once does he mention somebody wearing any kind of mask. She'd stick out like a sore thumb if she wearing a mask.
On the flip side, I dare say for myself that if a girl comes into my field of vision with hair combed to cover half her face, I'll be more interested to stare.
Sorry. I can't believe for a second that you're be more likely to stare at somebody with long hair in their face than you would at somebody who decided everyday would be Halloween.

That's another thing, from a distance, her scars aren't that noticeable. Wearing a glove or a mask only draws attention to them.
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by Guest Poster » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:17 am

In fact, wearing a male uniform draws attention, period. People will immediately wonder why you're wearing it and curiousity would tempt them to approach for a closer look. (and unlike Rin, it's unlikely Hanako will be mistaken for a boy from far away) Hanako's top priority, even above covering her scars, is not attracting attention in the first place. Hisao mentions that from across the classroom, Hanako's facial scarring isn't visible...you have to get pretty close to her to notice it. Ironically, what most people notice about her immediately aren't her scars, but her mannerisms.

A few details...Hanako was bullied in middle school, but it didn't start there. The thing with her former friends bullying happened as early as elementary school. Hanako already adopted her distrust of humanity before middle school even started.
Over the course of what I want to say is 3 or so months, she managed to go from fleeing from the new guy introducing himself to going on dates with him into the city to actually having sex with him (more on that bit later).
It happened much sooner actually. Hisao enrolled in Yamaku in early june. Hanako officially becomes his girlfriend probably a few days after her birthday, which is on july the 10th. So the whole route took just slightly over a month. It's strongly implied Hanako developed a crush on Hisao very early in the game, which explains the lengths she goes through to keep him close.
For a large portion of the game, he treated her as a child who needed protecting.
It's true he's had a white knight phase for some time, but only during one act in particular. (Act 3) Until then, Hisao is merely puzzled by Hanako and wonders why Lilly is trying to set him up with Hanako, because there's very little he can do to heal the scars she bears (physical and mental). That's kind of the opposite of white knighting to me. He doesn't really start WK-ing until Miki informs him that Hanako's issues run deeper than mere shyness and even then it's not fixed in place until Hanako breaks down in class. (a scene earlier, he and Lilly still agree that they SHOULD take Hanako to karaoke, since treating her as too fragile will send the wrong impression...again, the opposite of WK-ing)

And yeah, Hanako shows some subtle signs of jealousy (the only girl to really do so), more passive than anything else. (not just for Yuuko and Miki, but also for a random waitress serving them drinks) Given her own opinion of herself, her insecurity is somewhat understandable.
Last edited by Guest Poster on Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by YZQ » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:01 am

Points taken. Definitely agree on the "mannerisms over scars" first impression. In fact, I suspect even Hanako herself didn't realise that it was her ways which was now gathering more attention to her than her scars, since it was initially her scars which led to her being singled out.


The WK issue is also affected by Hanako's perception. When she can imagine things that are not there (how she sees Lily's treatment of her), it can be rocket science figuring out exactly what needs to be done.
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"...since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. However, it is important above all to avoid being hated."

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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by pandaphil » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:51 am

Thank you so much Brisingr. That was touching, and sensitively written. I really loved it. Really looking forward to your Emi analysis.

I guess the thing that still frustrates me about Hanako is the notion that as Hikao there's something bad about wanting to help her. What she and many people think of as WK'ing, I think of as reaching out to another human being who's hurting and seems unhappy . Does this make me a bad person? Sorry if I'm missing the point or making dumb comments. I'm just trying to wrap my brain around an aspect of human nature that I've never thought about before.
Last edited by pandaphil on Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by YZQ » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:58 am

pandaphil wrote:Thank you so much Brisingr. That was touching, and sensitively written. I really loved it. Really looking forward to your Emi analysis.

I guess the thing that still frustrates me about Hanako is the notion that as Hisao there's something bad about wanting to help her. What she and many people think of as WK'ing, I think of as reaching out to another human being who seems unhappy. Does this make me a bad person? Sorry if I'm missing the point or making dumb comments. I'm just trying to wrap my brain around an aspect of human nature that I've never had to consider before.
Not at all. I dare say that Hanako's perception is a little warped. She... sees things that are sometimes not there. I blame it on her sensitive nature. This is also why I don't see her Bad End as THE end of her relationship with Hisao. If Hisao is thick-skinned enough to see her again after that outburst, they could start on a more even footing.
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"...since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. However, it is important above all to avoid being hated."

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Re: In depth observation of the girls

Post by Guest Poster » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:36 am

White Knighting has become a very overused term (more than was justified by the route) and there's a very thin between wanting to help someone out of kindness or because of some other subconcious motive. True White Knighting is done for somewhat selfish purposes. It's done with the subconcious motive of a quick ego-boost. Being needed by someone else makes the rescuer feel good about himself, so he seeks out people who appear fragile or damaged in some way. It creates an unhealthy dynamic, since the relationship isn't give-and-take and the rescuer places himself above the rescuee all the time. Often, the rescuer has self-esteem issues of his own he seeks distraction from. It's called co-dependency.

You may have heard about them. True White Knights are those girls seeking out alcoholics, addicts or other people in "need" of being saved from themselves. True White Knights are those guys seeking out the partners of alcoholics or addicts who are in "need" of being saved from themselves. (and their partners) There's something very patronizing about it.

Hisao's brief fling with co-dependency was a light one...but he was definitely obsessing over Hanako in order to run away from his own issues. He started entertaining thoughts of becoming her prince who'd save her. Lilly points this out during that fateful phonecall. Hisao's been an emotional mess himself...not really knowing what to do with his future, still feeling bitter about the past. He and Hanako are the same in this way. (Hanako's just a heavier case) He's avoiding having to think about his own issues by hyperfocussing on Hanako's problems. That's the actual problem, not so much the well-intentioned desire to help. In the bad end, Hisao becomes so fixated into his role as Hanako's protector he starts patronizing her and she calls him on it. Hanako's at fault too for the bad end happening, but she rightfully shouted at Hisao. In the good end, he backs off in time and starts getting his own life in order first. (which has unexpected consequences, but does end with Hanako becoming Hisao's girlfriend)
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