Raita will be all over this
January 4, 2012 8:30 PM   Subscribe

12 years ago, a Japanese doujin artist drew a sketch of five handicapped girls as an extra page, musing that it would make an interesting dating sim game. 5 years ago, a group of 4channers discussed making that game. Today, the free visual novel Katawa Shoujo was released for Windows, Mac and Linux. (previous discussion about demo)

Katawa Shoujo's faceless protagonist is Hisao Nakai, sent off to Yamaku High School for disabled children after his confession to a classmate reveals a potentially fatal congenital heart defect.

The five main female characters and potential love interests, all based off the original sketch by the artist Raita, are:

Emi Ibarazaki: "Can you stand up for yourself?"
A young track runner whose legs were amputated after an accident.

Hanako Ikezawa: "Can you face your fears?"
A shy girl who was scarred by terrible burns, and now hides in the library.

Lilly Satou: "Can you see what I see?"
An elegant class representative for class 3-2, blind from birth.

Rin Tezuka: "Can you seize the day?"
A painter without arms and a very different way of looking at things.

Shizune Hakamichi: "Can you tell me what you think?"
The deaf and mute student council president with a penchant for Risk.

Better summaries are available at the usual suspects, while reviews so far have been positive.
posted by dragoon (61 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't tried it myself yet (lack of time and interest), but from all accounts I've heard this game is remarkably good, especially because it treats the characters very well and avoids treating their disabilities badly.
posted by flatluigi at 9:23 PM on January 4, 2012


I think what I'm supposed to say here is "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!" I mean. 4chan? sensitivity?

In fact, I think americans could really benefit from some of the dating sims. Most of my friends didn't really figure out how dating works until their 30's.

Be aware that there are also dating sims that are horribly offensive or confusing. Still, I think I might give this one a whirl.
posted by poe at 11:59 PM on January 4, 2012


especially because it treats the characters very well and avoids treating their disabilities badly.

That may be. I haven't played it and there's a pretty good chance I never will. But from the outside it sure looks a little like a soft-focus but kinkier -- one guy patiently trying to seduce one of five "crippled/deformed" schoolgirls! -- version of those Leisure Suit Larry games. Which I suppose doesn't sound very fair, but after all the thing did grow out of a 4chan forum and a sketch of short-shirted schoolgirls that starts right out with "Big boobs [heart]".

Leisure Suit Larry: "The games follow him as he spends much of his life trying (usually unsuccessfully) to seduce attractive women."

Katawa Shoujo: "The goal of the game is to make certain choices that will advance a relationship with one of the five heroines and result in the viewing of the corresponding heroine's erotic scenes and ending."
posted by pracowity at 12:44 AM on January 5, 2012


Hmmm ... if the dev team is now free, I've just stumbled across superlative raw material for a d̡̧͚̳͖ͭͥ̅̾a̲͔̹̟̋͛͐͑͗t͖͕͖̪͎̞̬͊ͅìͤ͒̂̄̒͡͏͖͔̹͖͘n̷̪͇͙͈̬ͥ̆͒̄͐ͮ̏̚g̞͗̀͗ͫͬ͢ ̷̝̱͙̇̍́̃sͬ̾ͨ͑̒҉̴͇̼̰̟̱͚̮̭i̵̲͊͐͞m̸͙̭̒́̅̾́
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:30 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The game's name has attracted some criticism, as the name "Katawa Shoujo" is considered an offensive term. It translates into "Disability Girl" in English, but a more literal equivalent of "katawa" is crippled or deformed. Usage of the word is generally frowned upon on Japanese public television and radio. [citation needed]

From Katawa Shoujo
posted by melt away at 3:29 AM on January 5, 2012


Is it bad for men to have fantasies, read books, play games about seducing women? What "seductive" practices are acceptable in this context?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:39 AM on January 5, 2012


its bad to fantasize about anything, to depict the world is to insult the lord
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:55 AM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


its bad to fantasize about anything, to depict the world is to insult the lord

alludes to you, where did this come from? I literally cannot think of a single religion this could have (legitimately) sprung out of.
posted by Poppa Bear at 5:07 AM on January 5, 2012


I think you've been trolled Papa Bear :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:16 AM on January 5, 2012


in islam, specifically (this is the first link on google)

i am vey much joking though
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:21 AM on January 5, 2012


also i think in certain mennonite factions? maybe? it's been a while so i could be wrong
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:23 AM on January 5, 2012


I mean. 4chan? sensitivity?

I'm no regular there, but even I know there's a world of difference between /a/ and /b/.
posted by dhartung at 6:11 AM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Be aware that there are also dating sims that are horribly offensive or confusing.

I think you could say real dating is often one or both of those things.
posted by jklaiho at 6:29 AM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it bad for men to have fantasies, read books, play games about seducing women?

When you put it that way, of course not.

But don't you feel like there's something at least a little skeevy going on when you distribute a game that makes you (average age = 37?) a guy trying to bed disabled schoolgirls (how old do they look to you?) and being rewarded with graphics for "viewing of the corresponding heroine's erotic scenes" (as the Wikipedia article has it)?

It's like some guy said, "Hey, guys, plain ol' underaged porn isn't jerking their chains hard enough. Let's make the little girls disabled!" and one of the other guys said, "Cool! But only if I get to animate the thalidomide wanking scenes!" and the ball was rolling.
posted by pracowity at 6:34 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm actually digging sebastienbailard's post above. Have you ever wondered what the works of H. P. Lovecraft would be like if it was a harem manga? Me neither. Oh, internet: you never fail to amuse!
posted by LucretiusJones at 6:34 AM on January 5, 2012


a game that makes you (average age = 37?) a guy trying to bed disabled schoolgirls (how old do they look to you?)

But the "you" in this game is cast in the role of a similarly aged person. You could object on the grounds of there being explicit sexual material, and maybe you should, but a story about high school kids trying to hook up is not in itself pervier than most PG-13 movies.

Mostly, I find this whole thing equal parts fascinating and creepy, myself.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:11 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm actually digging sebastienbailard's post above. Have you ever wondered what the works of H. P. Lovecraft would be like if it was a harem manga? Me neither. Oh, internet: you never fail to amuse!
The art is terrible and the story line is really cliched, but yeah it kind of drew me in.
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on January 5, 2012


wasn't that saya no uta that was like that
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:13 AM on January 5, 2012


pracowity: That may be. I haven't played it and there's a pretty good chance I never will. But from the outside it sure looks a little like a soft-focus but kinkier version of those Leisure Suit Larry games.

It seems like you're judging both Leisure Suit Larry and dating sims without playing any of either collection/genre, and I think you're missing the mark on both cases. If have a moment, you can read a lengthy history and review of the Leisure Suite Larry series, noting how they're largely about the wacky, failed attempts at a 40 year old man to hook up with attractive, younger ladies. Then there are Japanese romance/dating sims, which simulate efforts in wooing young women, and then actually dating them (that's a link to a Wikipedia talk page, but it has some good discussions about the difference between dating sims and romance sims, and notes on the different sub-genres).

For an interesting glimpse into an aspect of Japanese culture, I present kozy's comment on Japanese porn (snippet):
I guess i am fascinated by the entire otaku culture and how it relates to REAL romantic relationships (or rather, the lack there of) in Japanese society. There seems to be a real disconnect among many Japanese men and women, with young women preferring to cling to their girlfriends and family, while men retreat to ideal representations of women (in manga, toy statues, porn, etc). Aside from leading to the lowest satisfaction of sex life of any country in the world, it also leads to porn that is filled with long scenes of men clinically examining a women, like they have never seen a vagina before.... Western porn may be gross, but at least you get the illusion that these people actually like sex.
...
The differences of morals from between our cultures never ceases to amaze me.
There is more commentary on specific types of porn, which isn't really germane to this thread. In short: the cultural divide is really, really wide at points, so much that it may be hard to accurately assess the other culture without a lot more context.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:29 AM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ah, so pracowity thinks that regular male sexual fantasy is ok, but not if the object is someone who's too young for you, or would be if they were not a cartoon.

That seems to me like a random sort of line to draw, but that's okay, as long as calling the game "creepy" is just an expression of aesthetic distaste.

I mean, you're not moralizing about it, right?
posted by LogicalDash at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2012


Visual novels aren't really games in a meaningful sense. There is no goal except progressing through the story. Often they're sappy romatic pulp type plots. In many cases porn really isn't the point or might be absent entirely. In this game you have the option of turning those scenes off for instance.

Most of the people who play through this most likely aren't going to be folks with a pre-established thing for the handicapped, but just curious visual novel fans. Even if they were though, scowling at other people's romantic preferences is pretty much the worst. I don't think this is meant to be taken too seriously, but it seems like it might help increase empathy with the physically handicapped amoung people who play it. That's nice anyway.
posted by Winnemac at 10:34 AM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah, so pracowity thinks that regular male sexual fantasy is ok, but not if the object is someone who's too young for you, or would be if they were not a cartoon.
posted by LogicalDash

Even if they were though, scowling at other people's romantic preferences is pretty much the worst.
posted by Winnemac


we're talking about clearly underage girls here, not blondes or bears or BBWs
posted by a_girl_irl at 10:43 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been interested in the visual novel/dating sims/romance sims genre for a while, but it's hard to figure out what the good ones are that have also been translated into English. So far, it's above and beyond what I expected. I would say for an indie product it has excellent artwork, music, and better writing then the other visual novel/puzzle game hybrids I've played. It looks like a lot of love went into the game.

But from the outside it sure looks a little like a soft-focus but kinkier -- one guy patiently trying to seduce one of five "crippled/deformed" schoolgirls! -- version of those Leisure Suit Larry games.

I've played all the original Leisue Suit Larry games, which are among my favorite comedies in gaming. This is absolutely incomparable. It actually feels identical to the women's romance novel genre.

(And plenty of romance novels are written for the 35-year old women demographic but with characters in high school, and even some have disabilities, so it seems hypocritical to paint the creators/consumers of this game with the 'skeevy old pervert porn' brush because they picked that content).
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 10:44 AM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


And plenty of romance novels are written for the 35-year old women demographic but with characters in high school, and even some have disabilities

Bella Swan being retarded has little to do with this discussion.
posted by a_girl_irl at 10:56 AM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


i am taking a hardline moral stance on this video game
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:18 AM on January 5, 2012


we're talking about clearly underage girlscartoon characters here, not blondes or bears or BBWs
FTFY
posted by LogicalDash at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2012


Thanks for fixing that for me. Clearly no one should have a problem with a person getting off on drawings and animations of little girls in sexually explicit situations; my apologies for judging someone who would do that.

Look, I'm not saying you or anyone else should be put in jail for digging on stuff like this. But grown men playing an anime video game about seducing disabled underage children is bizarre and abnormal. Power Word: CARTOON is not going to change that.
posted by a_girl_irl at 12:09 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


grown men playing video games at all is p abnormal tbqh imho
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:16 PM on January 5, 2012


Thanks for fixing that for me. Clearly no one should have a problem with a person getting off on drawings and animations of little girls in sexually explicit situations; my apologies for judging someone who would do that.

I get the impression that you're using sarcasm here, from the way you contradicted yourself later, but the literal reading of this makes more sense.

I guess it's possible you only mean "judging" in the sense of deciding who shares your tastes? But you seem to be kind of vaguely implying a moral judgment of some description and then not actually saying what your problem is. I wouldn't normally assume that something "bizarre and abnormal" is morally problematic.
posted by LogicalDash at 12:31 PM on January 5, 2012


"drawings and animations of little girls in sexually explicit situations

They aren't "little girls" - that phrase is going to bring up a very different kind of 'underage' segment of the population than what's really being depicted.

I think there's also some major cultural differences going on. In other text-heavy games (that are much more gameplay than a visual novel) I've played from Japan (mainstream commercial games with North American releases), high school aged protagonists with love stories is... well, pretty common. I think the Phoenix Wright series, on translation, changed a few couples to 'college students' to appeal to our cultural makeup.

(And when I mentioned romance novels with underage protagonists, I was absolutely serious. The novels my mother read in her thirties typically had heroines in the 14-16 age range, with sexually explicit scenes. These were bestsellers, but because they aren't 'games' and consumed by men they don't get demonized as publicly.)
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


But you seem to be kind of vaguely implying a moral judgment of some description and then not actually saying what your problem is.

To be perfectly clear, since you are having trouble understanding, or are pretending to have trouble understanding: I find adult men who consume media featuring sexualized children, whether they are real children or drawn children, to be engaging in immoral behavior. In addition to that, I find the the people who engage in that behavior to be "pathetic" or "pitiful." It is a hobby best described as "weird," "creepy," and "gross." I believe that most of the men who engage in this behavior have difficulty relating to women, and have difficulty forming relationships with women, and to be generally antisocial. I would not leave a minor child alone with a person who engaged in this behavior. I would do my best to not associate with or be around a person who engaged in this behavior. I would suggest that a person who is attracted to children, or cartoon children, seek professional help.
posted by a_girl_irl at 1:31 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I see! So, to you, the fact of enjoying such things is immoral in-and-of-itself, regardless of what it implies or doesn't about one's behavior toward actual children--though you also thing it implies a lot about that.

Tell me, what is it about this fantasy that makes it immoral? Do try to add information; I'm certain there must be a more fundamental principle behind that; "Thou Shalt Not Draw Kinky Pictures That Resemble Young Kids What The Hell" doesn't seem like the sort of thing that goes on a tablet of commandments, and I'm guessing you don't really care about dudes who like flat-chested ladies, even if Japanese character design lacks any very clear way of distinguishing those from "true" underage characters.

Is there something special about this fetish that makes its fans more likely to bang kids? I mean, I guess that a person who likes a fantasy is more inclined to realize it than a person who doesn't have it, but if you consider all fantasies to be immoral in proportion to their subject matter, then military buffs should be way more threatening, am I right?

Maybe you think these guys have a harder time than average distinguishing fantasy from reality? Why that?
posted by LogicalDash at 2:12 PM on January 5, 2012


a_girl_irl: Sexualized children? Bullshit. These are sexualized young women. The difference is physical maturity, if not emotional maturity. The vast majority of men are attracted to teenage girls, and it's ridiculous to equate that with pedophilia, which is horrifying to the vast majority of men. It's the same flawed reasoning employed by conservative Christians to equate homosexuality (or any kind of "deviance") with pedophilia, and it simply isn't true.

People don't have control over what turns them on, but they do control whether or not they act on it. Criminalize the act, not the thought; by that standard, consuming cartoon porn is decidedly different from exploiting actual young women.

Animated kiddie porn is illegal not because it is "thoughtcrime", but because the courts are anticipating a day when computer-animated kiddie porn is indistinguishable from actual kiddie porn --- making it impossible to tell whether something is real or not, so best to make it all illegal.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:13 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


>how old do they look to you?

Based on the average Asian aging process, anywhere between teenager and middle-aged mother.
posted by PsychoKick at 2:14 PM on January 5, 2012


I guess I'll be the one to take the controversial stand that masturbating to reductive depictions of fetishized deformed children is not very nice. Not illegal! Not thoughtcrime! But not very nice. I can't believe that this is a minority viewpoint on metafilter (reddit, yes).

I'm not saying that adolescents with handicaps shouldn't be in relationships or that those relationships shouldn't be depicted. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes is fantastic, but there's an important difference between it and "Which one should I date, the deaf girl with huge tits?? I bet they bounce when she signs excitedly!!"

When I was the age of these girls, I had significant facial and upper-body scarring. Thinking about this fetishization makes me sick -- and my issues didn't even impair my physical capabilities. I can't imagine how much worse it must be for women (let alone girls) with permanent, physical handicaps to see this.

> military buffs should be way more threatening, am I right?
I'll get back to you when military buffs have armies of millions on call and nuclear weapons in their pants.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:32 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


when i was in HS i was 18

it was a different time. we all have regrets
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:40 PM on January 5, 2012


a_girl_irl: I believe that most of the men who engage in this behavior have difficulty relating to women, and have difficulty forming relationships with women, and to be generally antisocial.

filthy light thief (quoting kozy, who appears to have a deeper understanding of Japanese culture than I do): There seems to be a real disconnect among many Japanese men and women, with young women preferring to cling to their girlfriends and family, while men retreat to ideal representations of women (in manga, toy statues, porn, etc).

I am inclined to agree with you, up to the antisocial part. Then again, there are best-selling US novels:

subject_verb_remainder: The novels my mother read in her thirties typically had heroines in the 14-16 age range, with sexually explicit scenes. These were bestsellers, but because they aren't 'games' and consumed by men they don't get demonized as publicly.

Is the difference because there are drawings of young women in these terrible dating sims? Or are you as appaled by subject_verb_remainder's mother as you are of older-than-highschool-age men who play dating sims? Anyway, have you actually met anyone who plays dating sims, or reads trashy romance novels? Perhaps you could find them and talk to them before you cast your harsh judgement upon them.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:00 PM on January 5, 2012


Romance novels are targeted to 45-year-old women and most heroines are over 35 (often well over). My mom is a devoted reader of romance novels, and I've worked on them professionally, but still, I've literally never heard of one where a 40-year-old woman seduces handicapped 15-year-old boys in school uniforms. If I did, then yes, I would judge anyone reading it.
posted by booksandlibretti at 4:07 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


incidentally, when i was 16 i had a thing with someone who was 25. i would like to know if i have anything to worry about or how i should think about my experience. thank you
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:09 PM on January 5, 2012


But grown men playing an anime video game about seducing disabled underage children is bizarre and abnormal.

How about grown men playing video games about killing people in wars? Is that bizzarre and abnormal too?
posted by gen at 5:54 PM on January 5, 2012


"one where a 40-year-old woman seduces handicapped 15-year-old boys"

The correct analogy would be "one where a 15-year old handicapped girl seduces a 15-year old handicapped boy" to keep it consistent. Or stick with judging a 40-year-old woman who reads such a story about teens.

Generally, I'm fine with people judging this kind of content and the consumers of said content. But it would be best if criticism levied at it were made without resorting to fallacies like equating it to pedophilia, focusing on males-as-perverts stereotypes, treating games as a different medium than novels, or making broad statements about the content without learning how that content is treated and presented (i.e. assuming all content in the work is sexualized).

I'll let my friends know they can stop asking me to babysit for them!
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 6:25 PM on January 5, 2012


> The correct analogy would be "one where a 15-year old handicapped girl seduces a 15-year old handicapped boy" to keep it consistent.

Excellent point. Please do find me a "bestseller" romance novel (targeted to the average reader of romance novels: a 45-year-old woman [citation]) that features a 15-year-old protagonist choosing from a buffet of 15-year-old "cripples" reduced to, and fetishized for, their handicaps.

Then I'll judge whoever's reading it and whoever produced it. That'll make you happy? I promise a double standard is not my issue here.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:32 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


@qxntpqbbbqxl

actually afaik and with some very rudimentary googling the girls in the game are all 18+ according to devs. but its cartoons and i cant tell how old a cartoon is, also there is the rabbit hole of authorial intent past present and future, etc. etc.

also i am more than slightly creeped out by the assumption that the only reason a person would date or think about a disabled person is because they're desperate and the person can't get anyone better (or theres something wrong with them)
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:02 PM on January 5, 2012


I'll get back to you when military buffs have armies of millions on call and nuclear weapons in their pants.

Is that really how you think of lolicons? Like they have some kind of underground network of child molestation experts ready to call in if your kid goes to the store without you?
posted by LogicalDash at 8:04 PM on January 5, 2012


Well well on the one hand, I suppose it's a step forward that women with disabilities can be regarded as material for male fantasies just like "regular" women.

On the other hand, creepy. Definitely more than a little creepy.
posted by happyroach at 8:13 PM on January 5, 2012


booksandlibretti, I did not mean to imply that whole paragraph applied to you. The only part of your post I took issue with was the line I picked out, which I felt was a major misrepresentation and threatened to continue the "pedophiles!" hyperbole. I don't really care if there's a specific romance novel that exists that matches this game's content, and I'm not accusing you of a double standard - I just care that the comparisons are accurate and consistent. I'd rather people criticized the thing that exists than the thing they imagine it to be, and it's really easy to muddy the waters with a topic as loaded as this one.

For everyone, here's the first 20 minutes of the game. I promise it has no offensive content, but it might give some people an idea of the style of the game for those unfamiliar. There are certainly dating sims that are just dressed up porn, and dating sims with no sexual content. This game falls closer to the latter category (it's erotic content is optional).

The intersection of sex in games is a topic I'm fascinated by, so this might just be too close to my heart to argue about, but I hate to see an indie game developer's work treated unfairly - even if it means defending 4chan.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 9:00 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


> i am more than slightly creeped out by the assumption that the only reason a person would date or think about a disabled person is because they're desperate and the person can't get anyone better (or theres something wrong with them)

If this is partly about my comment, feel free to read it, including the praise for Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.

> Is that really how you think of lolicons? Like they have some kind of underground network of child molestation experts ready to call in if your kid goes to the store without you?

What? My point is that no military buff has the resources to invade Russia, France, the South ca. 1851, etc. -- while the average person fantasizing about having sex with kids/teens is probably physically capable of having sex with a kid/teen.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:11 PM on January 5, 2012


Features a 15-year-old protagonist choosing from a buffet of 15-year-old "cripples" reduced to, and fetishized for, their handicaps.

I don't care for visual novels myself (slooooow pacing), but I've played through the first few parts of this because I was interested in seeing how the subject material would be treated. I didn't see any sexy stuff (maybe it's at the end?), but what I found is that this is quite explicitly not the message told through the story. One of the underlying themes is that the charachters are not, or at least should not be, defined by their handicaps.

The protagonist actually enters the story with some of this predjudice himself, not wanting to go to a school that he sees as a place for broken people. At one point he questions whether, because his heart condition is not visable, he should introduce himself with an explination of it and is horrified that this might be seen as his defining charachteristic. As the story goes on, he becomes more exposed to the distinct charachter traits and talents of the student body and gradually accepting of their individual identities as the unstoppable athlete, the determined leader, the cultured class representative, and the after school artist, rather than the legless, the deaf, the blind, and the armless.

It's not perfect, but it's not bad and I've never seen anything like it in the medium. Unfortunately, it's also like the untimate tl;dr because people with important opinions are unlikely to deign to actually view the thing they are hammering on, though this is pretty par for internet comments I suppose. The basic assumptions made by many posters here are so wrong that the general course of the thread seems completely unrelated to the product.
posted by Winnemac at 10:36 PM on January 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


What? My point is that no military buff has the resources to invade Russia, France, the South ca. 1851, etc. -- while the average person fantasizing about having sex with kids/teens is probably physically capable of having sex with a kid/teen.

Just like people who have rape fantasies are often capable of committing actual rape. Or how people who like teacher/student roleplay and also happen to teach could conceivably start inappropriate relationships with their students. Or how anyone with any sort of domination/bondage/humiliation fetish could probably find ways to inflict real pain on people, and yet, none of these real life harms seem to occur at rates commensurate with the prevalence of the fetishes.

It's almost as if most people are capable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality.

Anyway, this thread has nearly 50 comments, and fewer than 5 people, by my count, have actually said that they've played the game at all, so I'll jump in as one of them and try to clear up some misconceptions:

--All of the characters are third-year high school students (so, 16-17 years old) at the start of the game. Haven't played through to the erotic content, so I don't know how much time passes or how old they are during any explicit content, but 16 and 17 year olds having sex is not exactly unexplored territory in literature or film or Glee fanfiction.

--The idea to make a game first came up on 4chan (the /a/ sub-board), but the actual development has been pretty much entirely separate from the same. I think that this is one thing that a lot of people get hung up on (and, admittedly, I first tried the game out of morbid fascination), but the game "belongs" to 4chan about as much as rickrolling or lolcats do; it may have started there, but it's acquired a distinct identity.

--Gameplay: Yes, in the barest of terms, this is a game where the player's actions may influence whether or not the protagonist has sex with one of the other characters. But it's not a "Tap A to increase your thrust-o-meter!" kind of thing: occasionally, you get dialogue choices, and depending on your choice, the story changes gradually. You choose to have lunch with one or another of the girls and learn more about her, that sort of thing. The most easily comparable point of reference is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel, but there's a lot more time between choices; it's more like reading a (standard) novel with several alternate scenes and plots.

--Also unlike a CYOA book (and in contrast to what the FPP says), the point-of-view character is not really a Featureless Protagonist, or an undefined vessel for the player to project himself or herself into; most of the first act is really about Hisao coming to terms with having a recently-discovered disability, and his internal monologue is distinctive. I would submit that overall, it's less comparable to a straight pornographic movie or game, and more similar to a romance novel or the HBO show of your choice: sex is part of the story, but it's not the whole story.

Anyway, judge me now, I guess, though I'm female and close enough in age to the characters that no one would bat an eye if I were to date a 17-year-old in real life, so adjust your disgust at my perversion accordingly.
posted by kagredon at 11:22 PM on January 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Military buffs are often interested in guerilla warfare, and frequently have access to regular guns.

Be afwaid.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:51 AM on January 6, 2012


guys guys it is like you have never even seen TVTropes let alone spent hours reading story descriptions of games you will never play so that you will have the necessary knowledge for proper moral outrage at the gamers who do play them (or in my case so that you do not have to actually play them because you are lazy)

so here let me trope that for you:

Visual Novel so we know what we're talking about, Visual Novel Tropes for what happens in what we're talking about
Dating Sims VS Romance Games VS Eroge/H-Games/Erotic Games and the complex lines and relationships between them
Bleached Underpants for the games with sexually explicit origins that were good/popular enough for a tamed-down general re-release
Back to Otome Games and Boys Love Games for the sexytimes aimed at female gamers, when they are discovered to exist

and while dragoon linked to the Characters page, here's the main page for Katawa Shoujo itself.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:32 AM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


tvtropes is layme and i am satistfied i know everything i need to to be outraged, tyvm hth ihop qbbl tbasco
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:21 PM on January 6, 2012


I can understand that there are obvious expectations with this kind of game, but I'm pretty saddened to see people dismissing what might be seen as a positive thing in pretty much any other medium as perverted pervert sauce for perverts here.
posted by lucidium at 6:20 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Too late for anyone to read this. The game is actually rather sensitive, touching, and heartfelt within the limits of its genre. Catches the introspective character of late high-school romances. The erotic content seems as integral as it is in romance novels: a skip-able sop to its anticipated reader. I would not feel worse for having a teenage son play through this. For adults, it's apt to provide nostalgia, vague sadness and introspective horror at the choices one made when one was 17-20. It's a very sensitive treatment of people with disabilities, and I don't feel bad that it was made or that I took the time to play it out.
posted by LucretiusJones at 2:29 AM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


good characterization is really sexy
posted by LogicalDash at 6:11 AM on January 7, 2012


Thanks, LucretiusJones, I just came back to the thread for after PTFG to say the same thing.
posted by yoHighness at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2012


(not implying saya no uta is cliched or terrible: did not read the whole comment)
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:26 PM on January 7, 2012


Anyway, this thread has nearly 50 comments, and fewer than 5 people, by my count, have actually said that they've played the game at all.


I played it over the weekend because I saw it in this thread. Normally the very thought of 'dating sims' give me the creeps. I decided to try it anyway because

1) Its highly unlikely origins made it intriguing
2) Having known professional game designers I developed a taste for labor-of-love indie games
3) Apart from strychnine I'll try anything once

I don't know how much the term "visual novel" is simply a fig leaf for cartoon porn. I have no experience with the form. But whatever this is, the term applies. The game is subtle and emotionally complex. The characters, including the titular protagonist, feel like real young people and the adults around them are equally nuanced. At at only a few points was the material vaguely pandering, and I never found it perverse. There are sex scenes, but these are spare, and give depth to the characters in a very human way. It was filled with all the passion, awkwardness, and misunderstandings that you and I remember from our youthful romances. Several of the game paths are tragic. Even the 'good' ones I played through had real tearjerker moments.

As someone who attended a high school for disabled kids, some of the themes were especially poignant to me. There were cliched literary tropes about disabilities to be sure, but in all I think the writers did a splendid job of portraying their subjects as fully-rounded people. It was easy to forget about their physical problems as the characters developed. A few of them reminded me of old classmates and friends.

To see how fans familiar with the genre were reacting, I checked out the 4chan threads about to the release. The volume and rate of the replies was impressive, even for 4chan. The overwhelming majority of players were not only surprised, but actually shocked at how much the thing differed from expectations.

This was one of the more popular reaction images.
posted by clarknova at 1:52 AM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know how much the term "visual novel" is simply a fig leaf for cartoon porn

You know Ace Attorney, that series of hot-blooded lawyer games?

Yeah, those are visual novels. That's where you get them on the shelf in game stores in Japan.

If the genre has more porn than you'd expect, well, how is that a 'fig leaf' exactly? It's quite common in certain genres of film and novels to include sexual content more graphic than strictly necessary, either as a bonus for people who don't like the film or because the difference between pornography and erotic art is lighting.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:49 AM on January 13, 2012


You know Ace Attorney, that series of hot-blooded lawyer games?

Is that where that "OBJECTION!" image comes from? I thought that was a television cartoon or something.

I was just reacting to the steroype of dating sims, which are supposed to be masturbation material for otakus. A family member once dated a guy who was into those things. He had piles of the game boxes laying around the house. They all looked smarmy as hell. That's all I really know about the form.

I guess Sturgeon's law has to apply to VNs too.
posted by clarknova at 11:23 AM on January 13, 2012


Or rather, the corollary of Sturgeon's law, which is the remaining 10% of everything isn't crap.
posted by clarknova at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2012


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