Thursday, April 22, 2010
Even though it's a cliche by now, I'm perpetually astonished by not only the popularity of our release, but even more by some of the side effects. Specifically, fandom. Fans are awesome and scary and weird. Fans like to talk a lot, and think about stuff a lot. Where there are fans, there is speculation and truly, people are reading really deep into the story and the characters, even though there is only Act 1 to draw info from. On the other hand, the characters tend to get reduced to one-dimensional archetypes. Rin is random, Emi is childish, Hanako is reclusive, Lilly is refined and so on. Initially it made me feel depressed, that maybe we sucked terribly to make so simple characters, but then I realized that a lot of the depth comes from knowing all the stories and motivations and things that just are not present in Act 1. So, I thought a little about how I view the characters, and how the fans do (on average... but I don't want to generalize the fanbase any more than I want them to generalize the characters).
Emi and Rin:
Emi is not Rin's servant, nor does she need one. You'd be surprised what (real) people who've never had arms can do with their feet and toes. Rin can do the following things perfectly without any aid: dress up, take her clothes off, personal hygieny stuff, school work, eat (she prefers a fork or a spoon over chopsticks) and so on. I've actually had try hard to think what really is impossible or too impractical for her. Emi does stuff for Rin yes, but it's not because Rin needs it, it's because Emi likes doing things like that. Motherly instinct? Usually Emi is deemed childish rather than motherly but if you think about it for a moment, she is a very diligent and responsible person for her age.
Rin suffers pretty heavily from the reduction to her most obvious character trait, the rather spacy way she interacts with most other people. I think it's fun too, but I didn't really want her to be a comic relief character. She used to be even more random before though. I shall work hard to make her a bit more multidimensional.
Shizune, Misha and Hisao:
Misha is not Shizune's sole connection to people who don't know sign. Even though literacy is not a given for deafmute people just like some people can only speak their native language, Shizune can read and write. So, even if Hisao doesn't learn sign, it's somewhat silly to think that Misha would be required to be present in intimate situations (or at all).
Reader reaction to Shizune's behaviour and actions were something I was expecting with great anxiety before the release. It was me who decided to make her a very central character in Act 1 (something A22 didn't fancy that much) and also the closest that the act has to an antagonist (something he liked even less, but he wrote the scenes diligently anyway). The risk there was that people would be turned off by her strongwilled character, as it's portrayed rather controversially in several places. Luckily this didn't happen, and Shizune seems to be one of the more popular characters and many fans really seem to "get" her.
Is Hanako's disability really one? Does she "belong" to Yamaku? While the burns of her severity do have lasting consequences, it's always good to remember that Yamaku is not a hospital. Even non-disabled kids can attend, and Hanako probably is better off in an environment where she's less likely to strike out in a crowd. Hanako, along with Shizune, is a character where I feel we "got it right", and the reader response has been exactly what we anticipated and hoped for.
Ara ara ufufu:
Hahaha oh boy, Lilly. In her very first incarnation, she actually acted precisely as her character stereotype: a refined, cultured ojousama who is almost superhuman in her angelic glory. After a horrific realization that she was the most cliched Mary Sue character ever, Suriko has kept trying hard to drag Lilly away from that image.
Yeah I bet you thought I was going to spill the beans. Sorry but no. I just wanted to give extra credit to the completely absurd speculation about her disability. People come up with these incredibly complex theories, based on some offhand remarks one of the writers has made in the script, or her general behaviour. It's amazing. Maybe everyone is just missing the real hints...
Speaking of offhand remarks, some of them have become really popular in ways we never expected. Hanako's jumping game is one, it really resonated in a huge amount of people, but to tell you the truth we just kinda threw it in there. I wonder why it is so popular? Another throwaway thing is the painting in one of the hallway backgrounds, which became somewhat of a meme. Also the cameos in the classroom CG, oh my god we did not expect everyone to latch onto that as if they've never seen a cameo before. Maybe a polite snicker in passing as you recognize a character or something, but not this. Not this.
Four Leaf Studios:
We are not heartless assholes, but in fact care a great deal about the fans of KS. I mean, how could we not? It's great to have so many people experience and talk and wonder about something we did. However, we'd still be making this game even if it was just the 20 of us who cared, and that's also the way we think about KS when we keep working on it.