Katawa Shoujo: Rin’s Route Review: An Artist’s Dilemma and Self Acceptance
So I just finished my first playthrough of Katawa Shoujo, which I have been looking forward to for a while. Many people have told me that it’s a fantastic story and I certainly enjoyed my first route. As it turns out, the first route I ended up with was Rin Tezuka’s.
For those who aren’t aware, Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel about a boy named Hisao Nakai who learns that he has arrhythmia. Because of this, he is forced to abandon his old life and transfers to Yamaku High School, a school for students with disabilities. Though he struggles to adjust to this, he meets five different students who serve as possible romantic interests for him. Each person has her own distinct disability and in spite of the difficulty that comes along with whatever it might be, they all have learned to adjust and live with their conditions. Of course, this doesn’t mean that life is happy and easy all the time, as Hisao learns that he must cope with his own feelings about his situation as well as help his love interest cope with her problems too.
In any case, Rin Tezuka, the character I ended up with on my first play, is quite the interesting case. Rin has no arms and thus uses her feet to eat, paint, and go about her other activities. Rin tends to be a confusing individual who can go from giving short, almost pointless answers to rambling about her thoughts and the philosophies of the world and such. She often struggles to properly communicate her feelings and this is a central aspect of her route. Though she seems aloof and expressionless, there is much more to her than appearances suggest.
Rin’s route focuses primarily on her experiences with art as well as how those around her encourage her to take this further. Nomiya, the art teacher and club facilitator, is constantly pushing Rin to take steps towards becoming bigger in the art business, hoping to get Rin her own art exhibition. Unfortunately, Rin is not nearly as confident about how this will turn out as Nomiya, and thus struggles with the idea of whether or not she is ready for change and capable of creating work that will lead her to success.
Though Rin seems to be lacking in emotion and is blunt to an almost amusing degree, there are many emotional, sometimes even dramatic, scenes throughout her route. The search for self-identity and the necessary steps for one to take change, even to a harmful and frightening degree, are major themes of Rin’s route. Though little is revealed about her background or past, Rin’s story instead opts to focus on the present and the changes that will shape how she will turn out later on as a result of her choices and actions. Unfortunately, her communication problems often bother Hisao and this leads to various instances of conflict. Depending on the player’s choices, this could become damaging enough to ruin the relationship altogether. The bad and neutral ends are both instances of the situation going wrong, with the neutral end developing more on what would happen following the tale’s conclusion. I for one couldn’t bring myself to like either of them particularly because Hisao is very unreasonable in these two endings, the bad end more than the neutral end.
Luckily for me, the ending I had earned on my own the first time I played through this route was the good ending, and it was certainly pleasing. Though it felt lacking in closure and could have used some epilogue content, the ending itself was handled well overall and was a touching conclusion to a very dark story of mental conflict and emotional struggle.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing through this route of Katawa Shoujo and I look forward to the rest. The themes of Rin’s route were handled very well and I felt quite attached to Rin as a character, though I felt some areas of her development could have been elaborated on and that the ending could have shown more in terms of content. Rin’s route earns an 8/10 from me, although it isn’t too far from a 9/10. Whether or not the rest of KS achieves such a rating depends on the other 4 routes, which means plenty of chances for that to take place. That said, I started watching Macross and as a result I will most likely finish that before I continue with a new KS route. Until then, I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of this visual novel has in store for me.