This comes from a personal desire to not only replay, but to try and put into words my thoughts of Katawa Shoujo in a manner that will, hopefully, help 4LS with their future endeavors. Considering nothing has been stated of what those might be (other than their announcement), I am honestly not sure how much 1 month of me meticulously going through KS will be worth to them. This is doubly so, since in this time there have been no patches, that I am aware of, to resolve any of the already existing typo or grammar issues. And yet...here I am, posting this anyway.
Now to elaborate on what kind of criticism/review this will be. Considering I have 'professional' experience with translation, and have done some writing and editing on a less frequent basis as well, my thoughts will primarily be centered around the written word. That doesn't mean that I'll ignore anything that occurs to me when it comes to the art or directing, so there will be a few things I'll have noticed there too. Still, not nearly as many as those related to writing and editing. To simplify things, I've marked all artistic issues with the color red and all directing issues with the color blue, so as to save the time looking for them. Plot issues, being very few as well, have also been marked with the color green.
Otherwise, I will focus on this pattern. First I will list the specific issues I encountered during the arc in question, listing the specific scene in which I encountered them first and making a total of all writing and editing issues at the end, usually marking the trouble area with asterisks (**). I have specifically ignored punctuation issues, because I still don't feel good enough to give my opinion on those (english punctuation rules are vastly different from that of my native language), focusing my efforts onto plot, typographical and grammar issues instead. Next, I will list my top three favourite scenes within that particular arc and finally I will give a relatively short, but much more freeform, opinion that I hold of the arc, one which will oft times also include my thoughts on directing, writing or editing within it, but will be laced far more with my own moreso subjective take.
Also...I know that the forum limitations, coupled with my longer posts, might make this difficult so...I'll gladly re-edit my posts here if there are problems.
So without further ado, let's get started!
- Misha's eyebrows being drawn >:) all the time on her 'standard' sprite expressions (the one where she's facing a bit to her left and where she has her arms crossed). Makes it hard to fight against the false feeling that Misha is also a clever schemer alongside Shizune as opposed to being a bubbly/ditzy friend who's there for the ride.
- Smalltalk: Hanako has no sprite when she leaves the classroom the first time and on the 3rd day as well. Something like what was in the scene "Paint by Numbers" would be fine, if not even shorter than that.
- Bizzare and Surreal: No significant reaction at all by Kenji to Hisao's different reply as to wether Hanako was cute or not.
- It Builds Character: As Hisao explains his problem to Mutou: "...so it's not that *I'm* isolated or anything."
- Waylay: As the Nurse leaves, Hisao thinks to himself after Rin's question: "...accidentally lashing out *at* her."
- The Other Green: Hisao's thoughts as Rin is explaining at the mural: "I *don't* think her cotton sleeve could look any sadder than it does."
- The Other Green: As they get to mixing the green: "*The* hint of *a* smile appears *at* the corners of her mouth."
- The Other Green: And right afterwards: "With this exclamation I pour a *miniscule* amount of..."
- Proof of Competency: As Misha addresses Hisao in class, probably thanks to the player choosing "Don't blame me, I've done my part!" earlier: "...despite the fact that she just blew any hope *I may have had* of being discreet."
- Proof of Competency: And right as the exchange ends: "The rest of *the* day passes by uneventfully..."
- Paint By Numbers: In this scene Kenji is working on one of the stalls and Hisao specifically mentions that they'll be up on Sunday, yet somehow Kenji's still surprised later when the festival happens on that day?
- Exercise: As Hisao accepts the note from the Nurse it should be: '...as I can't think of anything else to say, nor *do I* even really want to.'
- Foot and Mouth: As Rin stabs her juicebox with a straw Hisao thinks: "I'm once again impressed by how flexible she is, but this time I keep my comment to myself." Before this he never actually commented out loud on Rin's dexterity at all.
- Mind Your Step: Just after Hisao asks Rin if he really looks like a mind reader he observes: "Rin shrugs her shoulders, which is *the only* answer I get."
- Home Field Advantage: As The Student Council bursts into Hisao's room: "This is kinda intrusive, the feeling of being exposed crawls in my balls." Lolwut? I mean, it makes sense, but that's quite an interesting thought for someone that's on the straight-and-narrow as much as Hisao always is in Act 1.
- An Aesthetics: Right after Emi fails at getting the paint cans on the top shelf, and Hisao says he's kidding about teasing her: "With a grudging "hmph," *she* turns her back to me."
- Creative Pain: After Nomiya shows up, Hisao observes Rin: "Her face is so unassuming that it feels *like* she's just waiting for me to do something wrong."
- Creative Pain: Just after Nomiya introduces himself: "How did you come to end up assisting my *protégé.*"
- Don't Panic: Should Hisao be on Emi's path, his response to Kenji, as to what he's gonna do on the day, should be: "I wonder...I'm kinda hungry, but I made this deal that *I'll* try to take better care of myself."
- Sip (Part 2): "I guess this means the end of my little sojourn though, in any case," might be better phrased as simply: "Though I guess this means the end of my little sojourn."
- Quiet: Hisao says to Hanako in the library that he thought all the students must live in the dorms, even though earlier on in Sip (Part 1) Lilly described, in a very detailed manner, that she had moved to the dorms only last year.
- Is Carnival!: A suggestion this time: Kinda missing the fireworks visually popping off, like at the end of every other pre-Act 2 scene, rather than Hisao just "reading through" them. Perhaps have Hisao's introspection about his place at the school and Emi while he takes a moment to look out of his window at the display?
- Clouds in My Head: After Hisao's first examination of the mural he studies Rin's face: "...making her look detached from everything that's going *on* around her."
- Clouds in My Head: After the fireworks end and as Rin is looking straight at Hisao: "...something *that* I feel has not occurred..."
- Clouds in My Head: And finally, right after that: "But it wasn't...so why *is* blood rushing to my cheeks and my speech stammering?"
- The Deep End: When Hisao reaches the top of the stairs "cyclone fence" is probably "chain-link fence."
5 plot issues
1 art issue
2 directing issues
-Bizzare and Surreal
-Clouds in My Head
Thoughts: Overall I'd say it's pretty solid on all fronts, except when it comes to Rin. I wouldn't say that her character had to be that much more serious and less silly in Act 1. But what would probably work a bit better is that during every encounter with Rin in Act 1 she'd say one thing, buried underneath her usual pondering, that is somewhat pertinent to Hisao's interests.
A perfect example of this is the blind boy analogy during the 'Things You Can Do' scene, although that one only comes when you're already on her path so...A Private Lunch would need its own pertinent thing to stand out too. Also, the fact that, without the flowchart, getting onto her path involves you somehow guessing when exactly you *shouldn't* get on someone elses' path becomes annoying as hell. The amount of times one gets Kenji's path as opposed to Rin's is downright staggering; you never know if refusing another girl will wind up with a point towards Rin or if it'll railroad you to your death.
- Advanced Game Theory: Hisao mulling over things in the cafeteria: "If I want Shizune to be able to treat me as an equal..." and "If I want to treat Shizune as an equal..." is rather unnecessary padding when a simple "And viceversa," would suffice.
- Spring into Action: Right after: "I'll devour you," there's: "This is no time to celebrate, *though.*"
- An opinion in regards to this act: There were quite a few opportunities to design player choices when Misha tells Hisao she'll have to make up on studying (Hisao's reaction to that announcement), right after she and Shizune get back in the cafeteria (Hisao suggesting a welcoming back celebration or simply shrugging or such) and when Misha tries leaving them at Tanabata (trying to make her stay so they could have fun together and not succeeding, or simply acknowledging her decision). Still...if there wasn't enough time or energy for such choices to make it in the novel, I understand.
- When Stars Embrace: Right after the "Guess who!" part, Misha has hands still wrapped in the "fencing." It's just fence I think, as fencing would suggest a far different activity unrelated to a fence.
- When Stars Embrace: Right before its conclusion there's a very good build-up to Hisao asking Shizune to be his GF, but the aftermath is really...lacking. Could've perhaps done more there and let Romance in Andante II play out at least a little longer.
- The Anchor: At the very end there's a lovely picture of Misha sitting calmly. Hisao may be a bit inattentive, but still...another opportunity missed for something interesting or nice, maybe to give a few more hints about Misha's past with Shizune if the player makes a good choice of inquiry.
- Acute Triangle: When Shizune bumps into Hisao's chest, Hisao in his internal monologue mentions both the time when Emi knocked into him and Shizune got mad and her seeing his pills. While the first is indeed necessary to even get on her path, the second is not in case the "Slow Recovery" scene unfolded and thus might have never even happened.
- Dewey Decimated: Right as the grape juice gets spilled, Kenji says: "You're gonna get *canned.*"
- I wish the encounters with Kenji would add more to the central story of Misha/Shizune. You see so much of him, but always as comedic relief. Might've been interesting for him to actually stumble onto something important by pure dumb paranoia. During Iwanako's letter he does, but it doesn't noticably tie into the main arc.
- The Summit: Shizune claims she never got to enter Hisao's room in the good ending...even though she might have when she saw Hisao's pills in the "Home Field Advantage" scene.
- Succession: "On top of that I feel more sensitive than I was before and push myself into Shizune even more to make up for it." Shouldn't it be "less sensitive" if he is "making up for it?" Would make more sense.
- Sneaking Mission: "Teacher is yelling at the top of his lungs" is Hisao's description, whereas the drawing of him is just his moreso usual annoyed self. Also, it doesn't go together well because his lines do not contain any exclamation points whatsoever.
- The biggest issue is in how little extra content there is leading up to the bad ending and in the end it just comes out of the blue and Hisao's mistake is never even mentioned again, other than indirectly right after it's made, let alone that it would contribute moreso visibly to the bad ending.
6 plot issues
1 art issue
1 directing issues
-Spring into Action
Thoughts: Interestingly enough, I liked this path moreso on my 2nd playthrough than on my 1st. Probably because I could begin to appreciate the smaller touches too, such as Jigoro's last few lines during the final argument he has with Hisao being strikingly relevant to the arc, Kenji actually being given a slightly moreso prominent role and how Shizune's thinking in the end finally changes. Jigoro's irrational logic trains are also disturbingly similar to Kenji's. Would probably also explain why Kenji is so well-written in Shizune's arc.
The downsides were, however, all the listed criticisms (especially all of the noted plot issues), making me think that had this arc been handled with a bit more care, I'm quite certain it would be a lot less unambigously least popular. Then again, I never put that much stock on popularity anyway.