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.

Misha's Disability:

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.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Lilly path second draft is now complete. All scenes are now completely written for her. I had planned to write more here about it but damned if I can do it.

Now to go drink myself into a stupor. By which I mean go to work.

 - Suriko

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Raspberry Flavoured Popsicles

"If one of the editors makes a fact check and comes telling me they don't sell raspberry flavoured popsicles in Japan, I swear I am going to come to your houses at night and stab you."

Hello all, Silentcook here. It's again time for me to bore everybody to death, except maybe for the two persons or so which actually read my previous blogpost, by actually talking a bit about the tribulations of editing this time around.

So, those raspberry flavoured popsicles. That's an actual quote, if a dead one, from one of our writers. It serves as a decent example of the extremes you may have to reach when you're editing other people's stuff, and research rears its ugly head.

I have the (dubious) honor of being the medical advisor for KS; it was the main reason why I was allowed into the project in the first place. I imagine when you're writing about a schoolful of kids where most everyone is afflicted by some gruesome condition or other, you can get a little nervous about contemporary medicine, its advances and capabilities, and the possibility of screwing up something somewhere in the plot.

So it does make perfect sense to find a professional and ask questions about stuff you want to write; you'll get steered away from glaring mistakes at least, and a little feedback will provide verisimilitude to your work.

Now guess: what happens when you get the exalted position of head editor in a VN?

Right the first time. You get to go over everybody's writing with a fine sieve, getting paranoid about every single little detail.

Aside from doing common spelling and grammar corrections, rearrangement of sentences so that narration sounds better, occasional liaison duty between writers artists and directors, ghost writing for interstitial script, continuity checks, and other various odd jobs, you get to try being an everythingologist. Thank God for Internet search engines.

Unfortunately, not everything is documented, or at least not in a way that can be accessed easily. And some things you just don't think about, until someone wanders by and lets you know some tidbit of information.

Did you know, for example, that Americans smile for passport photos, while Europeans don't? Or that in some cities in Japan, you have to show proof that you have a free parking space before you can own a car? Would you think to look for this kind of information, without knowing it exists?

Yeah paranoia, feel free to get comfortable: we'll keep company for a while.

Oh, about those popsicles? I asked a friend who was travelling to Japan to buy one, AND BRING BACK THE WRAPPER. Our writer didn't follow through with his threat (yet), so I guess I'm in the clear for now.

Next time I'll prattle on about translation, I think. Now, those Act 3 scripts...

- Silentcook

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools: Katawa Shoujo Anime Officially Announced

As per the title, we've been discussing this matter with a certain animation studio for some time, and now with their green light can finally give some details as to what's been going on behind the scenes.

Although they do say a picture says a thousand words, so I'll just post one of the letters we've recieved first:

As you can see, we were contacted by Studio DEEN with an expression of interest in licensing Katawa Shoujo for distribution as an animation , which all in the project agreed to in fairly short measure. In the months of negotiation that followed, we worked out a licensing scheme that suited both our interests and production of the first character sheets and scriptment material began.

We were all suitably impressed with Studio DEEN's artistic quality and style, and with a minimum of fuss production began on a short pilot preview to be used as advertising material. While we do not currently have permission to distribute this, here are some still frames we've gained permission to show.

We hope you'll all be as excited as we are to see a Katawa Shoujo anime produced, and while we work both on the game and with Studio DEEN to assure the very best quality anime that can be made, we'll continue to provide our usual updates and announcements.

Thank you.

 - Suriko