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don't panic, it's just a first post

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:10 am
by Fubard
So. First post. Last/only post too? Who knows? I just need to spew forth some thoughts here. Anyways, hello! I'd like to share my impressions of KS, and speculate wildly as to what the hell just happened to the past week of my free time. This seems like the place to do it, since I'm fairly certain any attempt to discuss the experience with people I know in the real world would result in the sort of lingering sideways glance and furrowed brow that I'm sure many of you are familiar with. Seems like this could get a bit wordy. I'll try not to ramble on too much. We'll see how it goes.

I can't remember how I found it. freegamer? tigsource? I follow that sort of thing, since I have an interest in freeware/hobbyist/opensource game dev. I recall being impressed that a group of hobbyists had devoted 5 years to a project, then put it out as a freeware release. That kind of dedication within a noncommercial/avocational context is really admirable, and tends to be a sure sign that something incredibly froody is going on. That being said, I was a bit put off by the subject matter. Some said it was a lot less objectionable than it sounds, so I wound up downloading it. I think it sat around unplayed for quite a while. About a week ago, I got bored and fired it up. I can't say I was above the usual preconceptions. "oh yeah, I remember - that porn game I downloaded!" thought I. I figured I'd give it a whirl out of morbid curiosity, hoping to get some cheap "anime sure is weird" sorta LOLs, and... well... see some cartoon boobies. So I was not exactly going into it expecting anything high-brow. Knowing it had roots in the 4chan community didn't help there.

It started off slow, and I found it frustrating not having as many choices as I expected. I had never played a visual novel before, so I was judging it more as a videogame, which I now realize it is not. But at some point (and I can't recall just where) enlightenment struck. I started to get into it. I think it evoked a certain nostalgia I have for the jRPGs of the mid-90s 16-bit era. At least the cutscenes from those games anyway. A big part of that is the SUPERB musical score. I'm a big fan of Uematsu, and firmly believe that Hiroki Kikuta needs to have some kind of fucking parade held in his honor (anyone play Secret Of Mana back in the day? That soundtrack is a work of pure unfiltered brilliance), so the KS soundtrack hit me right where I live. Permit me to take a moment to single out "Parity". Oh that tune! I had to immediately seek out an mp3. Awesome.

But beyond the music, I was extremely impressed with the way the subject matter was handled. How in the unholy fuck did the devs manage to take such a seedy premise and turn it into something classy? I got the impression that they saw every one of my misconceptions coming a mile away - then gleefully subverted them. This was so well done that I would go as far as to suggest that people who go into it with the wrong idea (whether that be the fetish types expecting a wank-fest or the righteous indignation junkies just looking for more material with which to punctuate their rants) are in fact the target market here. It does a great job of getting inside the heads of those who came for mindless titillation or moral outrage. When they end up finding neither, they realize they've been trolled - and trolled hard. The more reflective of those people will hopefully figure out that their attitude towards the disabled is at the root of those misconceptions, and perhaps that smartens them up some. One can hope at least.

First playthrough I ended up on the Emi path. She's a very likable character, and she seems like the best choice for Hisao due to her effect on his health. She's got a real Manic Pixie Dream Girl type of thing going on, in that she uses her boundless energy (and strategic pouting) to pry his lazy ass onto the track. That probably added a couple of decades to his lifespan. Oh, also her mom's a total fox. Just thought I'd mention that. The sex scenes didn't end up coming across as all that smutty. Even that scene in Emi's route (you know the one I mean) didn't seem sleazy or exploitative. Anyone who has an actual disability fetish and reads KS for the sex is likely to wind up empty-handed (yeah, I mean it like that - oh how I love language) and instead opt for more graphic material. If KS is (as some claim) nothing but porn, it's pretty terrible at it.

I was quite fond of Rin during the Emi path. I dug her style. Also, "Parity" played every time she's onscreen. Besides, redheads slay me (oh Yuuko, why don't you have a path?) and quirky, sarcastic artists are cool. So I decided to properly aim for her path on the 2nd go. Ouch. This path hit me so hard it left a fucking crater. For a good couple of days, my head was not right. It's about as hard as I can recall being hit by a work of fiction. The writer did a great job making the reader feel the frustration that Hisao feels. Thank goodness for the words "don't panic" written in large friendly letters on the top of this forum. I wound up reading through all 40something pages of the Rin thread. It helped a lot. Rin's so damned captivating (quoth Hisao in act 1: "What an intriguing person...") and I really wanted to see things work out in the end. That final scene of the good path is the peak of KS I think. The artwork on the final image is gorgeous, and that ending totally ruined Aria de l'Etoile for me in any other context. It plays a few times in other paths and every time it does, I'm right back on that fucking hill. Goddamn. What's the word for when something is so ridiculously beautiful that expressing it properly becomes totally impossible?

3rd run I did Hanako's path. It was more or less what I expected, but kind of short. Not sure why it didn't resonate quite like the first two. Maybe I was still pondering the WTF-ness of the Rin path. It had some endearing moments, and Hanako is pretty cool. I can't remember if it's on her path or the Lilly path where she talks about reading Dune - any gal that's into Frank Herbert is awesome (I'm re-reading Hellstrom's Hive at the moment - so good!). Hanako's route contains what I think is the single most emotion-inducing image in KS - this one. What's the nomenclature for that around here? "The feels"? Yeah. That.

I did the Shizune path next, wanting to save Lilly for last. I found it to be the least interesting by far. Probably because I don't like Shizune much - Misha was more interesting throughout. Also, Jigoro. They went overboard with him, and he ends up being a caricature instead of a character. I got spoilered on this path a bit, in that I knew there was only one choice and what it was. I meant to go for the comfort option, I really did. But when the choice came I ended up refusing. I guess I'm just too much of a boy scout. I did save though, and went back afterwards to check out the other story branch. I think I prefer the "bad" ending. Shizune's just not that sympathetic a character, and it was hard to care whether or not they end up together.

Finally I wound things up with the serene miss Lilly. I really liked her path, and her character (half japanese, half scottish? Oh my, yes.) even though it's the most conventional romance novel type story. I was surprised how well Hisao holds together in some parts. I'd probably more resemble Hanako in the above-linked image. Speaking of which, I think the devs missed out on the opportunity for some symmetry in the Hanako/Lilly routes when it comes to that image. I guess this is kind of spoiler-y so here come the black bars: When Lilly leaves for scotland the second time (presumably forever) and Hisao/Hanako are outside the airport as Lilly/Akira walk away, imagine an image similar to the Hanako one above, but with roles reversed. Hisao is crushed, Hanako becomes the comforter rather than the comforted. Hisao took the whole thing too well. I'd have collapsed into a puddle of goo. Seriously. If I had any talent at all I'd draw it. Overall I liked the Lilly path second only to the Rin path, mainly because of Lilly herself. I'm reminded of a line from Cat's Cradle - "There, God love her warm and creamy soul, was peace and plenty forever."

So... a very interesting read overall, and quite unexpected. I've gained respect for the visual novel. I may seek out other VNs. I never would have assumed this kind of thing would appeal to me. Hats off to all the devs. Very, very well done. Wow, this turned out to be wordy indeed. Guess I needed to do a full brain dump. Catharsis and all that. This crossed into tl;dr land half a page ago, so I'm gonna shut up now. Hell, you folks should charge for these sessions!

Re: don't panic, it's just a first post

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:38 pm
by BananaPudding
welcome! people say it all the time (and I'm sure they will say it to you) that a lot of people feel this way after finishing (the feels, as they say). But I'm fairly new here and it is sobering to see someone going through the same depths of feels that I did, just a few weeks ago.

I know what you mean about the catharsis of spewing forth your thoughts, I had to make a giant tl;dr post in the feels thread after nearly every route, more for myself than for meaningful discussion

Again, welcome, you are among friends here

Re: don't panic, it's just a first post

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:56 pm
by pandaphil
Bravo sir! That was a finely written analysis, and we're proud to have you in our little group. I hope you'll stick around awhile.

Re: don't panic, it's just a first post

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:07 am
by Fubard
Thanks! Good to know I'm not the only weirdo perv out there that likes this stuff! (I kid! I kid!) :lol:

Took me a second to realize this thread got moved! I came back today to see if anyone replied, and it was just... gone. I thought maybe the moderators had nuked it, either for being a rambling, long-winded pile of tl;dr, or for my potty mouth. Pardon me, make that my fucking potty mouth. But eventually I clued in that they shuffled it over into feedback. Makes sense, as it is rather feedback-laden. Bear with me, moderators - it's my first day. (fucking new guys, eh?)

Anyways, yeah it's nice to get some of these thoughts written down. Like I said before, I don't think trying to talk about KS with the uninitiated would go well. Feels like I'm part of some kind of odd, esoteric secret society now. We Who Know That Cripple Porn Can Be Done With Style And Grace or somesuch. I'd suggest we need some kind of secret handshake, but I'm rather fond of Rin, and... well...

It's funny, after I wrote that bigass post, yesterday was the first day in more than a week that I didn't play any KS. Of course, that's probably because I've finished all the good paths now. I'm not looking forward to doing the Kenji path, since that guy annoys the crap out of me. I'll do it anyways, cuz I'm a rabid completionist. I'm definitely going to have to re-play the Rin route soonish as well. That one was a riddle... wrapped in an enigma... smothered in secret sauce.

Thanks again for the warm welcome!

Re: don't panic, it's just a first post

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:20 am
by pandaphil
Oh I agree with you about Kenji, During the game you're sitting there thinking "Why am I sitting here listening to this idiot rambling on when I could be spending time with my girl?" I've found that my opinion of him softens considerably after finishing the game. He feels more like a slightly loveable eccentric.

I wonder sometime sif we're that small a group. Judgign by the hundreds of pieces of fanart, Lord knows how many Facebook pages, and page after page of hits in Google and Youtube, I think there are more of us out there than any of us know.