(Yep, another one of these "is it just me" topics, and as you might expect, thar be spoilers ahead, from Hanako's and Lilly's paths)
I just finished Lilly's path, and I was struck by just how much progress Hanako made within the course of Lilly's story. She learned to handle social situations naturally that would have paralyzed her, earlier. She joined the newspaper club and made new friends...friends close enough to go with on a trip across Japan, mere months later. Considering how long she was glued to Lilly alone, this is pretty remarkable.
...But then there's Hanako's own path.
I was particularly unhappy and... well... shocked(?) at where Hanako's path went. I mean, she takes her clothes off as a meaningful, symbolic gesture of the revelation of all her physical scars, and Hisao, King of Boners that he is, thinks "OOOH SEX." Worse yet, his advances are totally silent on both sides, and you find out Hanako didn't really want to have sex. That may not actually be rape, but it comes really close... and it highlights some of the dangers of not communicating openly enough with your lover.
While I don't have much basis of comparison, having played through no other proper visual novels, I have one significant beef with KS: many of the paths have unavoidable scenarios where something goes very wrong because of something Hisao could have prevented if he had only been a little less of an idiot. Given, real life romance is similar in that it is never perfect...but it'd be nice to maintain the feeling that true love always gives at least the opportunity to sidestep disaster. In Hanako's path, I feel disaster could have been averted if the player were simply given the choice of whether to bed her or not. Yeah, the "correct" answer would lead to fewer sexytimes... but KS is surprisingly grounded for a hentai visual novel, so hey, why not?...
Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that Hanako really needed a friend much more than a lover. The relationship of the Hisao-Lilly-Hanako trio I find particularly touching, and it's a rare gift for three people to each find just the right companions whom they sorely needed in their lives.
Aw, heck... since I'm already approaching sappiness, I might as well give in to temptation and quote Lilo and Stitch:
(For added effect, open up the Katawa Shoujo jukebox and play "Aria de l'Etoile")Stitch wrote:This is my family. I found it, all on my own. It's little, and broken, but still good. ... (looks at Lilo and Nani) ... Ya... Still good. "
There's something really touching, to me, of the idea of people with broken families joining together to maintain their own little makeshift family. Being as I'm an adult who has had to return to my family of origin, where my father has passed away and both my mother and I have acquired minor disabilities, that really strikes a chord with me. Our family isn't quite as broken as some, but come Thanksgiving and Christmas we always feel sad at the family members we're missing, either because they've passed away or have become scattered across the country. Our last Thanksgiving dinner was a real patchwork of three different families coming together as a group effort.
So... I think what Hanako needed was a much slower and steadier recovery. A group of kind, calm, regular friends, rather than one overly intense romance.