Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

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Minister of Gloom
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Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Minister of Gloom » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:47 pm

In ages long past, some idiot from the forum has decided to create a strange little speculation thread: "How would the story change if character X had a different disability?"

One of the things that made the story of KS great is that the writers have managed to find that perfect, thin line on which to write characters which are never defined by their disabilities (as so often happens to fictional characters), but which are still undeniably affected by them (an opposite trope, so to speak, just as common and just as bad. What's the point of having a deaf character in your story if you immediately explain that they are "extremely good at vocalization and lip reading" and the fact of their deafness never comes up anything ever again? I saw that happening quite a few times, and in my opinion, not only is it just as offensive, it's ridiculous from a storytelling point-of-view).
"How much of a person can depend on their physical condition?", that is a question that still interests me very much. In the case of KS characters, for example, do you think Lilly would have been the same kind of woman not for her being born blind? Do you think Shizune would have been the same if she hadn't been deaf? Would Hisao act the same way if his condition had been a clealry visible one, for example?

I hesitated to get too much into any theory back then because I didn't know anything about the story yet. It always made me uncomfortable while writing fanfiction: that since the game wasn't out yet, anything I write has a pretty good chance of being eventually revealed as nonsense by the canon. Any assumption I make about a character's past or personality may end up being trashed by the actual game revealing something completely different (I mean, let's be honest now: how many of you thought Hanako was sexually abused as a child? Or that Misha was going to die?)

But now that the game is out, and we already have as much canon information as we're ever going to get from the devs about the different characters and plotlines, I think that we can finally start to safely throw around wild-assed-theories and arguments about those kinds of things without feeling any worse than we already should for participating in such a discussion in the first place.

So, what about the story would be different (if at all) if characters had different disabilities? If one character had? If all of them had?

As I did on the last thread, in order to provide fuel for the initial discussion I'm going to suggest a basic theory of "condition switches" for you to consider (it's a modification of the one I assumed while writing my first few pieces of experimental fanfiction here):

Alternate Universe Setup #1

Hisao had a stroke on that white winter day, and will forever have to deal with motor control problems, chronic pains and bouts of dizziness.
Shizune has lung cancer- bloody coughs are a staple of the "poor sick girl" archetype. Too bad her personality is the complete opposite...
Lilly is an albino, freakish looking and with terrible eyesight that requires her to wear huge glasses. Constant childhood harassment and the necessities born of her conditions have made her somewhat of a loner.
Hanako's skin recovered very well from that fire, but unfortunately, she lost her eyesight. Even years later, she still doesn't cope very well, and is extremely high strung due to never knowing whether there are obstacles in her path and what the people around her are doing.
Emi lost her arms in some kind of accident. I think she's a swimmer in this universe (swimsuit Emi, people, just focus on that thought)
Rin was born without legs. She's still an artist, although what art she does I have no idea.
Kenji is almost completely deaf, and still raves about conspiracy theories, except now he's louder about it and is even less likely to stop when asked to.

.......

Other interesting ideas that were proposed, for you to consider and speculate on:

Hisao with massive burns and/or Hanako with a heart condition (is she so nervous because she's afraid of flutters?)
Deafmute Hisao and or/Shizune with a heart condition
Shizune is blind, Lilly is deaf (would they still be enemies?)
Emi has aplastic anemia
Shizune has Huntington's disease (focuses her energy on her dream of being a doctor, knowing that her life would be a short one)
Lilly has gigantism (wow, if only WrenchWench was still on the forum...)
Rin has a motor neuron disease (lacking the dexterity to be a good artist, she applies her strange genius to science instead)
Lilly has cancer (her personality fits the archetype far better, for sure)

And so on and so forth.

Discuss on, I'm going to join in soon enough: no way I'm wasting a second of this free evening.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Specter Von Baren
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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Specter Von Baren » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:39 pm

I'm not sure Emi and Rin's first proposed problems would really effect them much. Emi likes to run, losing her arms is even less of a hindrance than her legs, Rin's problems mostly stem from her way of thinking and she's an artist and draws despite not having arms

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Minister of Gloom » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:10 pm

Specter Von Baren wrote:I'm not sure Emi and Rin's first proposed problems would really effect them much. Emi likes to run, losing her arms is even less of a hindrance than her legs, Rin's problems mostly stem from her way of thinking and she's an artist and draws despite not having arms
Obviously, an armless Emi would have no trouble running and a legless Rin would have no trouble painting. But back when we first created this thread, we tried hard to keep the concept of "doing the impossible" going with those two characters- hence we looked for a sport that would seem to be impossible to compete in for one without arms (such as swimming) and an art that would seem impossible to create for one without legs (no luck in finding one, though).

This was one of those "dismissed-by-canon" aspects I was talking about: turned out that neither Emi nor Rin's story put too much focus on the "doing the impossible" angle. It was more like a sidenote to highlight other aspects of their personalities.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by gRaViJa » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:16 pm

Minister of Gloom wrote:
Specter Von Baren wrote:I'm not sure Emi and Rin's first proposed problems would really effect them much. Emi likes to run, losing her arms is even less of a hindrance than her legs, Rin's problems mostly stem from her way of thinking and she's an artist and draws despite not having arms
Obviously, an armless Emi would have no trouble running and a legless Rin would have no trouble painting. But back when we first created this thread, we tried hard to keep the concept of "doing the impossible" going with those two characters- hence we looked for a sport that would seem to be impossible to compete in for one without arms (such as swimming) and an art that would seem impossible to create for one without legs (no luck in finding one, though).

This was one of those "dismissed-by-canon" aspects I was talking about: turned out that neither Emi nor Rin's story put too much focus on the "doing the impossible" angle. It was more like a sidenote to highlight other aspects of their personalities.
Running on a competitive level is harder without arms than without feet/shins if you learn how to use prosthetics. Look at Pistorius, he runs at the olymoics but i don't see anyone without arms running on a decent level. (not trying to sound mean or blunt here, just my 2 cents)
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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Sgt_Frog » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:18 pm

Minister of Gloom wrote:
Specter Von Baren wrote:I'm not sure Emi and Rin's first proposed problems would really effect them much. Emi likes to run, losing her arms is even less of a hindrance than her legs, Rin's problems mostly stem from her way of thinking and she's an artist and draws despite not having arms
Obviously, an armless Emi would have no trouble running and a legless Rin would have no trouble painting. But back when we first created this thread, we tried hard to keep the concept of "doing the impossible" going with those two characters- hence we looked for a sport that would seem to be impossible to compete in for one without arms (such as swimming) and an art that would seem impossible to create for one without legs (no luck in finding one, though).

This was one of those "dismissed-by-canon" aspects I was talking about: turned out that neither Emi nor Rin's story put too much focus on the "doing the impossible" angle. It was more like a sidenote to highlight other aspects of their personalities.
Okay...what if this legless Rin is a dancer? That's an art form, right?

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by russianspy1234 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:44 am

just going to rearange them all instead of coming up with new ones.

Emi: definitely like the idea of her having no arms and being a swimmer
rin: an infection at a young age (around 5) rendered her blind. she still dreams in color, and paints her vivid dreams via people premixing colors for her (most seans would play out eerily similarly)
hanako: during a trip out to dinner with her family for her birthday,a major car accident killed both of her parents, and she suffered a major blow to the head leaving her deaf. she saw her former friends pointing at her and laughing at various times after coming back and is always paranoid that people are talking about her behind her back. this version of hanako also has trouble getting close to people, but in a different way. she isnt as shy, but is still fairly withdrawn worried that while people may be nice to her face, they'll make fun of her when she cant see them. for this to work, shed have to be a more recent transfer to yamaku and so she doesnt know the dynamics and that most of the students respect each other.
lily: has the heart condition, highly dislikes being coddled, and prefers to do the coddoling herself.
shizune: was in a house fire that rendered her scarred. when her friends started making fun of her, she made fun of them right back. any changes made to shizune's disability are far more likely to affect misha's character than her own, and i dont know how that dynamic would work in this arrangement

hisao: actually got through the confesion scene and took iwanako on a first date to an amusement part, a ride malfunction pinned and destroyed his legs. as a transfer to yamaku, he would start out in a wheelchair because he is not fully capable on his prosthetics yet.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Oddball » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:27 am

I think a better (worse?) one for Rin would be if she had Shizune's problems. One of her big issues was wanting people to really understand her and not being able to talk with them at all would make that even worse. It's bad enough for her when she can talk.
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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Daitengu » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:29 pm

I think most all the issues with the girls is one of lack of trust/faith in others. Only that it manifests in different ways. Swapping the disability may change the outward approach, but it's still the same issue underneath. Hell, even if there was nothing physically wrong with them, so long as their past is similar enough, they could all end up the same way mentally.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Minister of Gloom » Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:05 pm

Daitengu wrote:I think most all the issues with the girls is one of lack of trust/faith in others. Only that it manifests in different ways. Swapping the disability may change the outward approach, but it's still the same issue underneath. Hell, even if there was nothing physically wrong with them, so long as their past is similar enough, they could all end up the same way mentally.
That is the kind of argument I have been expecting.
russianspy1234 wrote:just going to rearange them all instead of coming up with new ones.

Emi: definitely like the idea of her having no arms and being a swimmer
rin: an infection at a young age (around 5) rendered her blind. she still dreams in color, and paints her vivid dreams via people premixing colors for her (most seans would play out eerily similarly)
hanako: during a trip out to dinner with her family for her birthday,a major car accident killed both of her parents, and she suffered a major blow to the head leaving her deaf. she saw her former friends pointing at her and laughing at various times after coming back and is always paranoid that people are talking about her behind her back. this version of hanako also has trouble getting close to people, but in a different way. she isnt as shy, but is still fairly withdrawn worried that while people may be nice to her face, they'll make fun of her when she cant see them. for this to work, shed have to be a more recent transfer to yamaku and so she doesnt know the dynamics and that most of the students respect each other.
lily: has the heart condition, highly dislikes being coddled, and prefers to do the coddoling herself.
shizune: was in a house fire that rendered her scarred. when her friends started making fun of her, she made fun of them right back. any changes made to shizune's disability are far more likely to affect misha's character than her own, and i dont know how that dynamic would work in this arrangement

hisao: actually got through the confesion scene and took iwanako on a first date to an amusement part, a ride malfunction pinned and destroyed his legs. as a transfer to yamaku, he would start out in a wheelchair because he is not fully capable on his prosthetics yet.


I like your ideas. That's another interesting way of thinking about things - I especially like your alternative Rin.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by WorldlyWiseman » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:34 pm

I've been thinking about this too much at work;

While the girls' are not defined solely by their disability, their disability does affect the circumstances that they develop in. At the very least, it would change which characters have befriended each other by the time act 1 begins. Misha wouldn't be paired with Shizune as an interpreter is she weren't deaf, after all. There's emotional development, as well. Just Google Harry Harlow's wire monkey experiments on emotional attachment, and suddenly, Rin's canon behavior makes more sense.

Here's my set;

Hisao was caught in a housefire during his sophomore year. Scars on his left side, and a left arm tat never healed properly from the debris. His parents were away at work. His story is similar to what we know, with his classmates and friends slowly drifting away. He spent all this time in a burn ward, however, and his worldview comes out much worse for it. He blames himself for the fire, thinking that he had left the stove on. It was actually caused by faulty wiring elsewhere in the house, but he won't know this until much later. All he knows at the beginning of act 1 is that he gave his entire family a blank slate and that instead of buying a new house and having him finish at his normal school, they downgraded to a tiny apartment and sent him to Yamaku at great expense. He carries this guilt with him, and it makes him lash out at others

Rin has been blind since birth and has taken up fiction, poetry, and music. Ambiance and the structure of sounds and sensations are recurring themes in her work. Even though she has a better command of language here, she is somehow harder to understand. The school only has a handful of braillers for administration purposes, so she uses an mp3 recorder to dictate her 'writing' and to record sounds from around her to fiddle with later. She might record what you are saying to use in a story. She might ask you to stop midsentence and repeat that last word in a very weird way. She might not even be talking to you at all, just dictating to her recorder. Hisao likes that she tends to lead the conversation and finds just about anything interesting.

Hanako has epilepsy. Medication and surgery have been unsuccessful in completely controlling the seizures, and Hanako is old enough now to be able to tell that this is wearing down her parent's energy and finances. She has become obsessed with not burdening anyone, even to her own detriment. Buying anything is agonizing for her, and she has learned to dodge and guilt people if they try to buy anything for her. She hides in the library to avoid the possibility of restaurants and vending machines, even though she really needs to be around people due to the seizures. Hisao thinks she is a sweet girl with plenty to talk about, but this behavior of hers is grating.

Shizune lost her arms early in life, and has been able to hear her father's nonstop complaining the whole time. It's taken a toll on her self-image and confidence, and by the time she has enrolled at Yamaku her competitive spirit has been tainted with some insecurity. She has never been on the student council and has instead delved deep into competitive online PC gaming with the help of extensive keyboard macros and voice-recognition tech. It may or may not be a good thing for her. Misha is the only one who can stand to be around her when her temper is at its worst. Hisao visits her after class sometimes, drawn to the commanding presence she still has. They make jokes about 'stupid people' together. The relationship is convenient because bitterness likes company, but Hisao wonders if her skills couldn't be put to better use.

Lilly has brittle bones and runs the student council. The council has more members without Shizune on it, but is focused more on student outreach than anything else. She worries about Shizune, who is family after all, living such a solitary life. She regularly asks Misha, who lives across from Shizune, and Hisao, who seems to be able to talk to her, to try and get her to join the student council. Even something small, like mail delivery, would help her tremendously. She also worries about Hisao, who worries about her physical safety. This creates a near-insurmountable barrier between them and their ideas of a full relationship.

Emi was hit by a car shortly before entering high school. Miraculously, the only lasting damage after her bones healed was that her hearing was extremely damaged from impacting the ground. Misha was assigned to be her interpreter, and the two get along well. Emi doesn't run as much any more because of how she remembers the accident. Misha, being Misha, suggested tennis, and Emi agreed once she found out that she could eventually compete in tournaments against hearing players. She can handily beat the school's few other players, and has her eyes set beyond the school's grounds. Her next challenge might be communicating with others. She hasn't put nearly as much energy into learning to read lips or sign language as she has sports, and is now conversationally stunted and lonely. She sees Hisao being bored and sad and gets him to play against her. He sees her being energetic and unstoppable and finds it inspiring.

Misha is caught between her interpreter duties with Emi and slowly being drawn to Shizune. Lilly implores her one in a while to try and convince Shizune to join the student council. She is being pulled in many directions at once and can't say no to any of them. What will she do?
Hanako's favorite joke is The Aristocrats, but she never tells it because Lilly finds it really offensive. Instead, she practices her delivery in front of a mirror when she's alone. It's the only time she never stammers.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Minister of Gloom » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:58 am

That was an awesome writeup. You obviously weren't joking when you said that you've been giving it some thought.
A few questions, though:

1. I've heard about painters without arms in real life, but not about hardcore gamers without arms. Do you really think that it's possible to control a serious game only with voice commands with today's technology?

2. From what I know, people with brittle bones disease are often pretty hideously deformed. Misshapen limbs, faces, all that. Do you intend Lilly to be like this or am I just missing something?
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by WorldlyWiseman » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:45 pm

Shizune would probably do a good job with one of those arcade stick/button pad combos that are common for hardcore fighting game players. As for using a PC, its more likely that she would gravitate towards Starcraft or a DOTA type game, since they emphasis resource management and handling competing priorities more than being able to hold down multiple keys. She could free up her other foot by using a head-mounted mouse manipulater (I forget what it's actually called, but it uses a laser beam to move the mouse where your head points I think). For a more casual pursuit, I've heard of people playing classic gameboys with their feet. I don't think she would be able to use most modern consoles, though, what with the underside triggers. Maybe teaming up with someone to play a Wii. Who would hold each part of the controller?

As for Lilly, I wanted to emphasize the 'slow, graceful' aspect of her character. When I typed that I was mainly only aware of posture problems and bluish skin being caused by the condition. Some quick research shows that the serious deformations (yikes!) happen only if the condition is really severe. We don't need to go that far for Lilly to be a viable and interesting character. Her family being what it is, she would have had access to the best medical care, so she has likely had a number of implants put in and would have a medication regimen. I'm unclear at this point if a wheelchair would be necessary for her. Perhaps she only uses it on long days, or maybe she uses it regularly but can get up if she needs to handle something. Someone who's ignorant might give her shit for that, though.

http://www.juliefernandez.com/career.html
Julie Fernandez has the condition and has been able to have a successful career as an actress, and I don't think all of her roles have involved her sitting, so take that as you will.

Actually, doing the research for Lilly kind of brings to light the role of money in the game. Life would be awful for alternate Lilly and Shizune if they didn't come from serious wealth.
Hanako's favorite joke is The Aristocrats, but she never tells it because Lilly finds it really offensive. Instead, she practices her delivery in front of a mirror when she's alone. It's the only time she never stammers.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Lurker.No9 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:44 pm

That post of yours had a bunch of really neat ideas, WorldlyWiseman. In particular, I think it's very interesting how your "version" involves more interactions between the various girls. I can understand why, in general, that didn't happen much in KS itself - it detracts from the straightforward romance plot - but it's still something that I'd have liked to see.

I'd also like to note that a scarred male protagonist in a romance almost automatically seems a reference to "Phantom of the Opera".
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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by Minister of Gloom » Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:57 pm

Lurker.No9 wrote:That post of yours had a bunch of really neat ideas, WorldlyWiseman. In particular, I think it's very interesting how your "version" involves more interactions between the various girls. I can understand why, in general, that didn't happen much in KS itself - it detracts from the straightforward romance plot - but it's still something that I'd have liked to see.

I'd also like to note that a scarred male protagonist in a romance almost automatically seems a reference to "Phantom of the Opera".
Now we need a picture of Hanako with a mask and a cape. Or possibly a picture of AlternaHisao.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Re: Giving the Characters Alternative Disabilities

Post by WorldlyWiseman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:41 pm

I just realized that armless Shizune would have a hell of a time with glasses.

A school performance of Phantom of the Opera would be an interesting late-game event. The canon first act felt really strong because of the swirl of activity generated by the festival. Adding another similarly branch-crossing event later on would really hold together the mid-game.

Hisao would obviously be drafted to play the phantom, who would star opposite from him?
Hanako's favorite joke is The Aristocrats, but she never tells it because Lilly finds it really offensive. Instead, she practices her delivery in front of a mirror when she's alone. It's the only time she never stammers.

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