Katawa Shoujo: Emi’s Route Review: Shouldering Burdens and Running from Reality

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At long last I have finally returned to Katawa Shoujo, and yesterday I managed to complete the Emi Ibarazaki route.  I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Rin’s route, but it’s still fantastic and appeals in quite a different way.

I got to see quite a bit of Emi in Rin’s route so I already had an idea about her personality.  Compared to Rin, she’s much more energetic, upbeat, and talkative.  Emi fits well with Rin, who has no arms, as she herself lost her legs and uses prosthetic limbs.  In spite of this, however, Emi insists on running and is in fact one of the fastest runners for the school’s track team and refuses to let her disability define her as a human being.  Though she seems like the happy and determined individual, her route explores a side of her that I would have no idea about during Rin’s route.

Emi’s route differs quite a bit from Rin’s in that it gives greater emphasis to the past.  While Rin’s focused more on the present and how changing herself would impact the future, Emi’s story is heavily influenced by past events and how those influence her in the present.  As the story goes on, it becomes clearer that Emi is the type of person who is determined enough to push through her own obstacles on her own without depending on the assistance of others, and this is one of the main elements of her route.  Emi’s route reveals that she struggles with trust and getting too close to other people because of what has happened to her before, which heavily contrasts the image she exhibits upon seeing her initially.

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Emi’s route has its share of drama and, just as in Rin’s route, can indeed be emotional when it requires.  However, Emi’s route is comparably lighthearted and has much more comedy.  Emi’s route has noticeably more h-scenes than Rin’s (3 in Emi’s with only 1 in Rin’s) and one of them is particularly memorable due to Emi’s expressions when things don’t quite go as planned.  Another thing I noticed was that Hisao seemed kinder and more respectable than in Rin’s route.  Through the entire story, Hisao shows the genuine desire to be there for Emi and help her with her emotional struggles, and the fact that Emi isn’t nearly as perplexing and awkward with expression as Rin most likely contributes to this as well.  Probably the only times in the entire route where I felt disappointed in Hisao were the choices prior to Emi’s bad end for obvious reasons.

Speaking of which, I found that Emi’s route was much easier to get the good ending in than in Rin’s route.  It seemed as if it was easy enough to get the good end as long as the reader paid attention to the hints dropped throughout the story and considered Emi’s personality and thought-process before making choices.  Even ignoring these things, however, the last choice before the possibility of the bad end is fairly obvious, especially compared to Rin’s route where the options hardly seemed to indicate that they would ultimately lead to a worse end.  And just as in Rin’s route, the story seemed to end abruptly either way and I wish there was more post-story material to elaborate on the “what now?” thoughts I had.  I’m assuming this is going to be the norm and the other routes will most likely be like this as well, but considering the fact that the story is handled satisfactorily overall this shouldn’t be a major problem.

With my second route of Katawa Shoujo complete, I find that I have even more reason to enjoy this game.  Emi’s route, though not nearly as dark or philosophical as Rin’s, has its own appeal and did a good job of developing Emi’s character.  The relationship between Hisao and Emi also seemed better to me and this made Hisao a much more likeable protagonist overall.  Emi’s route gets an 8/10 from me, though not quite as high of one as Rin’s.  One thing I must mention about this game though is that it has the uncanny ability to compel you to look at your life and change it.  With these two routes, I have the sudden motivation to draw more and run more, neither of which I am skilled at or do often.  Katawa Shoujo may only get an 8/10 from me so far, but I feel as if it influences me to do more than any other series of that sort has, perhaps even as much as one I would give a 9 or a 10.  Perhaps for this reason alone my score might rise by the time I finish playing every route.  Until then, however, I will continue to enjoy the ride and see what happens.  Next up is Hanako’s route.

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