Yamaku Book Club (20191111 Two Old & Colourful Pieces)

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brythain
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Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Notice: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by brythain » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:16 pm

Discussion on the character, life and times of Mr Mutou is of course ongoing.

However, for the rest of August and the month of September, we'll be discussing the first girl that Hisao focusses on in Yamaku...
Yes, the one who is hiding behind a veil of hair...
Miss Hanako Ikezawa.

The 'big text' for this segment is Guest Poster's enormous and, a year ago, remastered work: SISTERHOOD.
It's a classic. Go read. Many thanks to the author, who kindly granted permission.

Discussion begins any time you want.
We can add any suggestions, just PM me your ideas. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Notice: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by kaserkin » Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:16 pm

brythain wrote:Discussion on the character, life and times of Mr Mutou is of course ongoing.

However, for the rest of August and the month of September, we'll be discussing the first girl that Hisao focusses on in Yamaku...
Yes, the one who is hiding behind a veil of hair...
Miss Hanako Ikezawa.

The 'big text' for this segment is Guest Poster's enormous and, a year ago, remastered work: SISTERHOOD.
It's a classic. Go read. Many thanks to the author, who kindly granted permission.

Discussion begins any time you want.
We can add any suggestions, just PM me your ideas. :)
Sisterhood, heh? One of the great classics of Katawa Shoujo fan fiction, a monumental work held in high regards by many, and one of the first fics I read.

I don't really like it. I felt there was too little drama, especially after the "first end" and the whole Scotland arc. All goes along perfectly with only a couple notable incidents. And even worse, everything ends well, and everyone is happy. Bleh! :P

More seriously, it's difficult to explain why. Maybe it was because I read it during the waning days of my "Hanako is bestgirl" period and when I started to prefer Emi and Rin.

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by Oddball » Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:52 pm

The first version of Sisterhood was great and I'd highly recommend it. It really feels like a good strong continuation of the game.

The revamped longer version ... not nearly as good. It lacks the sense of urgency and the story tends to ramble along and drift without any real direction. Hisao also tends to drop out of the story and becomes completely irrelevant. The sex scenes appear far too frequently and serve no real purpose to the story. It was getting to the point where I was just screaming at the screen "Okay. I get it! They like sex! Get on with it!"

And really, the ending of the story doesn't work for me at all. Hanako is officially adopted into Lilly's family. All (well most) of the story was being built up about her being her own person, and essentially making her own weird little family, only to have her being adopted into somebody elses. To me it seemed to trivialize her struggle and achievements.

Now it does have the best version of Lilly's parents I've seen in any fanfic. I straight up loved how they came across. It was great seeing the two of them show in a positive light. Them moving back to Japan was a bit too neat, but by itself it was forgivable.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by brythain » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:33 pm

Oddball wrote:The first version of Sisterhood was great and I'd highly recommend it. It really feels like a good strong continuation of the game.[/spoiler]
Where can we get that, these days? :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by Oddball » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:34 pm

brythain wrote:
Oddball wrote:The first version of Sisterhood was great and I'd highly recommend it. It really feels like a good strong continuation of the game.[/spoiler]
Where can we get that, these days? :)
I thought he left it on the forum and made a new topic for the new version, but I could be wrong.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by brythain » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:49 pm

Oddball wrote:
brythain wrote:
Oddball wrote:The first version of Sisterhood was great and I'd highly recommend it. It really feels like a good strong continuation of the game.
Where can we get that, these days? :)
I thought he left it on the forum and made a new topic for the new version, but I could be wrong.
The old thread leads only to the new thread. The old stuff is gone... :(
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:01 am

I'm pretty sure the old version is just the first 17-ish chapters of the new one, with a few touch ups for style. I remember reading it when the new version came out and being disappointed that it wasn't as rose tinted as I remembered. Still haven't finished the new stuff and probably never will.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by Mahorfeus » Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:30 am

My feelings on the story haven't changed much. The only difference I would say now would be that Guest Poster maybe did jump the shark a little. I do find the original preferable for that reason, but by no means do I think the True Edition is terrible.

I think the biggest takeaway from the story has been Miss Yumi, who has guest starred in more than one popular fanfic around here. The added scenes did really spoil her character for me, though. It got to the point where I was wondering what she wasn't capable of.
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Post by brythain » Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:44 am

Would anyone like to compare Sisterhood with other Hanako works? Or is this the best Hanako of all worlds?
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by dewelar » Sat Aug 22, 2015 4:59 am

Ugh. Sisterhood. *pinches bridge of nose* What do I even say about this thing that I haven't already said either on its thread (especially here) or scattered here and about within the Developments thread, or hasn't already been said here? Well, let's give it a go.

I think a lot of my problems with NuSisterhood stem from the fact that GP has chosen to portray Hanako as clinically depressed, which I just don't think she is. In the original, the flaws were a lot more readily excusable because the last 3-4 chapters (beginning with the accident that sends Hisao back to the hospital) are pretty much perfection. There was a sense of hope and optimism at the end, and it felt like Hanako was actually emerging from the prison she'd kept herself in for all those years.

With the extended director's cut ending, though, it turns out it was never really within Hanako's power to emerge. That light you saw at the end of the tunnel wasn't the outside, and in fact wasn't even an oncoming train. It turned out to be just a flashlight that somebody dropped alongside the tracks, and now it's just tunnel forever ahead of you. It's a perfectly valid and perfectly realistic representation, but I'd argue that based on what we know in the game, it's not Hanako. It doesn't really follow from the game's ending, nor from GP's own false ending, that this is Hanako's fate. Instead, it takes those endings and stomps on them.

I do have to wonder how this story would stand if we'd never seen Original Flavor Sisterhood. For my own part, while I'm not big on bittersweet endings, they do work sometimes. Let's face it, anything based on a game with the premise of Katawa Shoujo is going to attract bittersweet endings like flies, especially when they involve, say, Saki. A couple of my favorite stories on the boards, Tomorrow's Doom and Kagami Pseudo-Route, are rushing headlong to bittersweet endings, and I'm okay with that. However, when a story like this gives me a conclusion that's, as I said above, at least hopeful and optimistic, and then rips that away and leaves bittersweet in its place, I feel kind of cheated. It makes the bitter sharper and the sweet gets lost underneath. Maybe I wouldn't feel so strongly about it if I had never been told that the original ending was the ending. Or, maybe I would, because of the whole different-take-on-the-character thing, but obviously now we'll never know.

Is this the best Hanako on the boards? Well...no. Even before NuSisterhood, I thought Trivun's Hanako was more true to the character, at least until he started phoning it in Image. I also think Hoitash's Hanako from his various stories is really well done, if a tad over the top (although, hey, it's Hoitash). I haven't read a ton of Hanako stories, especially in proportion to how much has been written about her since the VN came out, but there honestly aren't many stories about Hanako where she's much more than a cipher. Strangely, a lot of stories where Hanako is done well wind up going off the rails (Trivun, the FluffAndCrunch stuff, BlackWaltz, etc.), so there isn't as much competition as you'd think. It is, at the very least, internally consistent, and for everything I've said here it's certainly well-written, so it's among the better ones.

All in all, though...the fact that to this day, every time this story gets mentioned on the boards or I talk about it with my reading partner, I get worked up thinking about all the things I used to like about this story but don't now. I guess that's an accomplishment of some kind Image :?.

ETA: On the other hand, I think GP's Hisao might be the best Hisao I've read on the boards...
Last edited by dewelar on Sat Aug 22, 2015 6:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by Blank Mage » Sat Aug 22, 2015 6:45 am

Eh? But I haven't even finished the Mutou readings yet! Ah well, I'll get to them, sorry Fardel.

Like Kaser, I hit the boards here as a newly-minted Hanabro, back when I was on TV Tropes nigh-constantly. (I wouldn't have even bothered with the fanfic recommendation page if it wasn't for Touhou Ibunshu, which is a series I will plug until I die.) Praise on the recommendation page led me to Sisterhood before any other fic, and I was shocked at the quality of GP's writing. Although there's nothing particularly unique about it, I still feel like (at least in the original) he manages to perfectly match the pacing and tone of the original material. It just reads like an extension of the existing work. So encouraged, I ended up hitting all the other threads, and here we are.

In retrospect, I think that the reason it works as a story is because Hanako is, and will always be, a work in progress. As Dewelar so neatly summarized, 'two steps forward, one step back'. Sisterhood does a phenomenal job with that same concept, and over the course of the story, she goes through both highs and lows, and all of them seem very natural. It allows for greater sympathy, since you're never upset or frustrated with Hanako's actions, as can sometimes be the case with less skilled writers. In the end, I still think of original Sisterhood as the gold standard of Hanako fics, for it's sensible take on characters and events, and for providing a much more satisfying ending for what felt like a hurried route. I even recommended it to my sister, also a Hanako fan, with the review; "It's just Act 5. It's the Act 5 they didn't include in the VN."

The 'True Edition'... yeah, I know, but I'm not going to bash it too hard. Yes, it's very lengthy, yes, it kind of loses momentum, and most damning, it begins to drift into the writer's trap of conflict for the sake of conflict. (In particular, I remember Hanako's bullying dream sequence as being an incredibly low blow.) All the same, I always respect anyone who an write that much, as I can hardly bring myself to write more than a few paragraphs before scrapping them and starting over. More importantly, I feel like it's kind of mean to only point out the flaws in the expansion. I mean, it's free, and it's only badly received in comparison to the original, which was great. In that regard, maybe GP is just a victim of his own success?
dewelar wrote:Is this the best Hanako on the boards? Well...no. Even before NuSisterhood, I thought Trivun's Hanako was more true to the character, at least until he started phoning it in Image. I also think Hoitash's Hanako from his various stories is really well done, if a tad over the top (although, hey, it's Hoitash). I haven't read a ton of Hanako stories, especially in proportion to how much has been written about her since the VN came out, but there honestly aren't many stories about Hanako where she's much more than a cipher. Strangely, a lot of stories where Hanako is done well wind up going off the rails (Trivun, the FluffAndCrunch stuff, BlackWaltz, etc.), so there isn't as much competition as you'd think. It is, at the very least, internally consistent, and for everything I've said here it's certainly well-written, so it's among the better ones.
Actually, I'm inclined to disagree. I always held Trivun's Hanako as far too bitter. Like, MTtB-Class Bitter, and I felt like it really didn't mesh with what we know from canon. It was an interesting alternate character interpretation, but I honestly think of it as just that; alternate. Sisterhood strikes me as more realistic, and Hanako's flaws seem more grounded here than in most. (Again, at least in the original version.) Seeing you disagree with GP's Hanako is almost amusing, given that I've always held your two works as guidelines in Hanako writing.

I, ah, haven't read Waltz's or Hoitash's Hanako works. I'll fix that in a second, though!
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by dewelar » Sat Aug 22, 2015 7:24 am

Blank Mage wrote:Actually, I'm inclined to disagree. I always held Trivun's Hanako as far too bitter. Like, MTtB-Class Bitter, and I felt like it really didn't mesh with what we know from canon. It was an interesting alternate character interpretation, but I honestly think of it as just that; alternate. Sisterhood strikes me as more realistic, and Hanako's flaws seem more grounded here than in most. (Again, at least in the original version.) Seeing you disagree with GP's Hanako is almost amusing, given that I've always held your two works as guidelines in Hanako writing.
IMO, Hanako is bitter and has been for a long time, and it's only meeting Hisao (and to a lesser extent Lilly) that starts to change that. Actually, she might have even more reason to be bitter than MTtB!Iwanako. She just doesn't feel like she has the right to express it because she's internalized a lot of how other people feel toward her. Actually, come to think of it, there are a fair number of similarities between the two characters on that count.

This comes out pretty heavily in the first half of "Adulthood", where she's describing her experiences after returning to school. She was rejected by all her friends, she saw them as only treating her nicely when they were forced to, and even Lilly she saw primarily as someone who wanted to fix her. She had basically lost faith in humanity, and is only now starting to learn that she might be able to trust people again. I think that's also part of what drives her decision to have sex with Hisao -- she feels as though it's the only way to keep him. After all, bitterness and cynicism often go hand-in-hand, and that was a highly cynical move on her part.

On the other hand, Developments!Hanako has, to a certain degree, passed that point. By the beginning of the story, her bitterness has already started to fade, but it still bubbles up now and then. OriginalSisterhood!Hanako is in a similar position, but even further along in her recovery due to having experienced "Adulthood" (ha), so the bitterness should be less present there anyway.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by Blank Mage » Sat Aug 22, 2015 8:22 am

Fair points, but I feel like bitter anger is a very short term emotion, and that it's not exactly sustainable for the long haul. One of the reasons Trivun's Hanako struck me as odd was that she acted as though her friend's abandonment happened very recently. In my experience, that kind of resentment only lasts for a few months or so, and that rationalizing their behavior as justified would be the next logical step. I think doubt and fear would be far more prevalent in her internal monologue than anger and resentment, at least early in her route. (Although Lilly and Hisao might change that, IE Misstep.)
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by SirKaid » Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:38 am

Ahh, Sisterhood. If I were to sum up my feelings toward it and the expanded version, I would have to echo Yahtzee's review of Portal 2: if the first one is three cherries, then the second is five cherries and some sawdust.

The original is basically perfect. All the characters were on point, it was tightly plotted, the conflict was engaging and realistic, and the ending was heartwarming. All good, five stars, would read again. The expanded version is still very good, but it's marred by a few flaws that keep me from placing it on the same pedestal of excellence as the original.

To start with, it tries to be a continuation instead of a sequel. You can't just blithely continue a story after the climax, it drains the climax of its power and cheapens the experience as a whole. It's why there are seven Harry Potter books despite them being ostensibly only parts of one overarching plot - each year had its own conclusion and needed to be treated as such. If each of the major arcs had been treated as linked but ultimately separate stories then it would have worked much better.

Secondly, as dewelar pointed out, Sisterhood!Hanako suffers from mental issues that VN!Hanako does not. VN!Hanako is bitter, cynical, and suffers from crippling shyness and anxiety, while Sisterhood!Hanako suffers primarily from anxiety and feelings of worthlessness. (Notably it's not really depression - depression is when you don't really feel anything and lack motivation. I suffer from it intermittently and have a history of such in the family. Sisterhood!Hanako still feels things, even though they're unhappy things, so she doesn't really count. But I digress.)

That leads into the third point, being that all the other main characters are so much more interesting that Hanako. The elder Satous are fantastic, the other Broken Quills (I think that was the club name? Been a while and Sisterhood's a heck of a tome, so...) are really fun, and so on. Given that Hanako is supposed to be the lead, this is something of a problem.

That being said, I still recommend reading it at least once. The first 17 chapters are a must-read, being the first arc and the "original" Sisterhood, while the rest is a more tentative, if still positive, recommendation.

For what it's worth I think the best Hanako I've read is in Developments, but I'll save that for another post. Gotta get back to work, plus this is hefty enough as is :p

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: Aug/Sep—Hanako)

Post by dewelar » Sat Aug 22, 2015 11:25 am

Blank Mage wrote:Fair points, but I feel like bitter anger is a very short term emotion, and that it's not exactly sustainable for the long haul. One of the reasons Trivun's Hanako struck me as odd was that she acted as though her friend's abandonment happened very recently. In my experience, that kind of resentment only lasts for a few months or so, and that rationalizing their behavior as justified would be the next logical step. I think doubt and fear would be far more prevalent in her internal monologue than anger and resentment, at least early in her route. (Although Lilly and Hisao might change that, IE Misstep.)
In return, I also say "fair points" :). Admittedly, I have not read Trivun's early chapters in two-plus years, so my nostalgia filter may be on. Still, due to my own experience, I can say that while bitter anger might be stronger in the short term, if it's not addressed it can easily fester inside, surfacing when one thinks about it and igniting the anger all over again in an instant (e.g., as you mention, "Misstep"). For instance, since Sisterhood's Chapter 0 is canon to Hanako's Story, Miss Yumi's rejection of Hanako's friendship overture likely stoked that flame. After all, nobody said this stuff has to be rational. I think Hanako's bitter anger in Trivun's piece in particular, though, is IMO being used more as a defense mechanism, reminding her why she can't let people get close. Overcoming that is the requirement for allowing herself to accept her feelings.

Also, I think a person who says a line like "Friendship… was something I thought I'd given up on..." shows that, if the bitterness has gone away, it has done so only fairly recently. All of this could be just me, of course :wink:.
SirKaid wrote:For what it's worth I think the best Hanako I've read is in Developments
Oh! Well, thank you kindly! :)
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Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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