I've seen quite a few stories with Lilly's parents before but I think this is my favorite version of them, and one of the few that makes them into actual people instead of just one note villains. Oddly enough, this has the side effect of making Akira come off to be the "bad guy" on a number of occasions and I'm not too sure how I feel about that.
It wasn't really my intention to make Akira come across as the bad guy, but rather a bit like Emi came across while she was busy keeping Hisao at arm's length or shoving him out of her house. (in other words, harsh, but obviously hurting) Akira was also used to remind people that Hiro and Karla did abandon their children 6 years earlier. And she did have some very valid reasons to be upset with her parents. Most of the time Akira appears in fanfics, she's just the cool big sis. I wanted to explore her more damaged side a little bit, even if it wasn't always pretty. I tried to keep Akira sympathetic by making her feel bad about her outbursts afterwards and trying to be a sincerely good older sister figure to Lilly and Hanako when she wasn't grappling with her parental issues.
However, I feel the "True" versions of your story is far more flawed than the original. There was a sense of urgency in the original, while this one just kind of meandered all over the place. While it did give sections a more slice of life focus, at the same time, the story really had no consistent flow to it. It didn't help the fact that you would often have scenes that just felt like repeats of earlier stuff and we'd get write ups of what sounded like actually interesting invents just throw in as comments in Hanako's journal or emails.
Yeah, that's the thing with writing up a story that finishes with graduation...it's different from the "Lilly's going away"-plotline that was central to both the original version and Lilly's route. As for the journal/email stuff, unfortunately while I could have written all of those scenes out, it probably would have tagged another year to the development cycle.
Speaking of that, what happened to the dolphin? Hanako said it was a new part of their family and then it's never mentioned again. Not even a postcard hanging on her wall. The stuffed dog returns several times, but nothing about the dolphin? I know. Minor detail. It just stuck out to me. Maybe it's because she actually says that it's part of her family and that's not a word she tends to throw around.
Good point, I missed that one. Hanako does have a picture of the dolphin in her picture collage, though she and Lilly eventually ended up not renewing their subscription, to give others a chance to adopt the dolphin instead. Looking at the site
, there's usually only a handful of dolphins at a time they offer for sponsoring. Hanako's dolphin wasn't part of it when I wrote that chapter (her mate was), but she is now, so I guess they rotate things.
About Hisao, I agree he eventually stops being central to the plot. Part of Hanako's development of her own network involved her life no longer revolving around him and having her own small circle of friends to do stuff with in addition to Hisao and Lilly. I didn't have any real conflicts lined up for Hisao, other than the examination hell mini-plotline, which was more about Yamaku as a whole than about Hisao in particular. Since Hanako's fear of life outside and Lilly's family became the central plot points, it was kind of hard to keep the spotlight on Hisao, seeing that he wasn't a vital plot element in either conflict. (though it WAS mentioned that Hanako and he played several chess games a week and frequently went on dates, so their interaction remained there, it was just told rather than shown)
About the H-scenes, point taken. It appears to be a rather recurring point. It's a shame, since those scenes were more excruciatingly difficult to write than other scenes.
I also really see no point in the alpha chapter that goes over the details in the relationship of Lilly's parents since you then later have them explain it to characters anyway. The whole chapter just feels out of place and interrupts the flow of the story.
I wrote it because I wanted to give the reader a glimpse into how Hiro and Karla ended up meeting and how they got to the point where they decided to get married, which is something Karla's story near the end doesn't go into. Also, I felt it was important to their characterisation to give them at least one major scene where it's just the two of them. During most of their scenes, only one of the two is present and even when they're together, they usually act as a unit. Chapter Alpha was there to show the reader how the two of them interacted with each other when nobody else was around.
I did like Akira staying behind though and not quite fitting in as well as she thought she would. That was a nice touch.
Thanks. For Akira's arc I looked up some stories from actual people with mixed blood and feeling like the odd one out in either of their parents' country/culture was a bit of a recurring element, so I integrated it into Akira's personality. (though not fitting in well ends up something that all three of her fellow-Satous and Hanako have experienced personally and can ironically relate to extremely well)
I'm also surprised about the lack of Shizune's side of the family appearing. I expected at least Hideaki to make a few appearances. Iwanako I could have done without, as that appearance doesn't really add anything. It felt like it might go somewhere, but doesn't. Sure, it gives her some more closure, but as she's never seen before in the story or afterwards, it has no real effect. If it was for Hanako's benefit, it still doesn't work. Maybe if there had been some scenes of her still subtly feeling jealous like with Yuuko and the waitress in the game it may have meant something, but those were lacking here.
The lack of Shizune's family was due to Hideaki and Jigoro being my two least favorite characters in the VN, so I didn't really trust my ability to write them well enough to do them justice. Iwanako's appearance was written to introduce the topic of "moving on" to Hanako, which becomes a topic central to her plot arc.
It's the ending that really gets me though. It felt a both a bit too "fairy tale ending". At the same time though, Hanako being adopted actually feels rather condescending towards the character to me. The story had been building up the idea that she had her own family now (a very nontraditional one but still one of her own) only for it to end with her be allowed to join somebody elses family instead.
I can't really say I agree with the condescending part. Assuming she and Hisao stuck with each other, she'd eventually join someone else's family at some point in the future. Near the beginning, Hanako did have the small family unit of Hisao, Lilly and herself though that was also at a time when Hisao was still feeling abandoned at a strange boarding school by his own parents while Lilly was struggling with how she viewed her parents. At that point in time, the three of them forming a small pseudo-family made sense for all three and not just for Hanako. After Hisao started mellowing out to his parents again and especially after Lilly started working to mend the rifts between her parents, herself and Akira, the situation started changing. Lilly still looked upon Hanako as a sister, but she probably would have felt extremely awkward talking about the three of them as "their little family" while at the same time doing everything she could to turn her biological family into a tight-knit family again. Asking her parents to adopt Hanako fits in neatly with a trait of Lilly that's highlighted at several points in the story: the unwillingness to choose between family members.
I played with the thought of merely implying Hanako was playing with the thought of signing the form in the near future instead of letting her take the actual leap in the final chapter, but I felt that a loose end like that would have felt unsatisfying to the reader and I also felt that by the time the final chapter rolled around, Hanako already had a new family in all but name and making things official was a rather small step in practice.