If I had been able to go back in time and add one additional thing to the story, it probably would have been a small chapter featuring Hanako and Hisao taking place after the two of them spent a week with Hisao's parents, but before Lilly and her mom arrived back at Yamaku that had Hanako ponder a bit about the "crippled little family" that was brought up both in Lilly's route in the VN and the first part of Sisterhood. The family-like chemistry that Lilly, Hanako and Hisao had in those parts was sweet, but it wasn't a coincidence that they clung to each other during those moments in time. It conveniently took place at a time where both Hisao and Lilly felt distant from their biological family; Hisao still felt like his parents left him at Yamaku to be forgotten and Lilly just got back from a trip to her mother and father and found the atmosphere between the four of them distant and awkward. In a way all three of them were without a family at the time, so they sought solance with each other.Oddball wrote:And really, the ending of the story doesn't work for me at all.
Over the course of the story, however, Hisao starts regaining his appreciation for his parents and starts making more of an effort to repair his relationship with them while Lilly becomes committed to ensuring her mother, father, sister and herself become a close family as well. Having noticed both these processes taking root, Hanako feels that if Hisao and Lilly succeed, the "crippled little family" the three of them used to be will be gone, now that her friends will have their real families back. While Hisao assures her their neither his nor Lilly's relationship with her will change, Hanako still wouldn't be able to help feeling a little wistful.
About the ending,
Hanako simply being unable to emerge from her self-constructed prison wasn't the message I tried to convey. "Emerging" isn't the word I would have personally used in combination with Hanako to begin with because the word emerging suggests a sudden radical and permanent change, rather than a slow process. My interpretation of Hanako and her post KS-life was based on a statement by Cpl_Crud that Hanako probably wouldn't be completely self-sufficient for several years but she'd get there eventually. By that logic, the light that truly signifies the end of the tunnel wouldn't be visible for many more years. The lights you see among the way for the most part aren't the exit, nor a train or a flashlight. They're illuminated exit signs saying stuff like "Exit, 10 miles ahead" and "Exit, 9 miles ahead".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.
"Two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward" is the main thought I kept in mind when writing Hanako. Both the original and the expansion follow this pattern. Getting a boyfriend, strenghtening the relation with that boyfriend and her best friend and then slowly making more and more new contacts would be high points in Hanako's life, but I'd hesitate to call them endings. Because in the end, most of the everyday hurdles Hanako faces in day-to-day life will still be there after those high points. Hanako's mental baggage didn't disappear just because she got into a relationship. Only time, therapy and support will eventually achieve that. So I'm not even sure I'd describe the process as a tunnel at all since it would suggest that Hanako cannot truly start living until she works out all her anxieties.