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YMMV: Katawa Shoujo

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Anvilicious: It's a dating sim. And you're a boy with a heart problem!
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: It's a cripple porn Visual Novel from 4chan! Despite this (or because of it), it has become a Gateway Series for the Visual Novel genre.
  • Awesome Music:Half the soundtrack really but a couple of the gems are "Parity" and "Romance In Andante"
  • Awesomeness Withdrawal: It did coin the term "Katawa dick", for not being able to get into things after reading... watching... playing... uh...
  • Base Breaker: Which girl has the best route? Was it worth the wait? Is it even worth playing? The Hype Backlash does not help, and there are three routes in particular that get this reaction:
    • Shizune's route is either a terribly written route lacking in romantic relations with an unlikable character, or a route with a more subdued, Slice of Life romance justified by the Hisao's and Shizune's characterization and trust in each other. Word of God states that many parts of her route, including what happened to the characters in its Good Ending, were deliberately left vague so that they would be open to interpretation by the players. Apparently, more than a few players didn't appreciate this.
    • Rin's route can be seen as overly pretentious, forced and melodramatic to the point of emotionally manipulating the viewer into feeling guilty for even questioning anything related to Super Woobie Baby Rin, as well as hard to understand due to Walls of Text and Purple Prose. Or as an awe-inspiring piece of literature that reaches huge Character Development for both of them, plays the Darker and Edgier trope right and realistically, and can be played easily if you pay a little more attention.
    • Lilly's route is a sweet and adorable romance between two persons who are Wise Beyond Their Years and manage to support and understand each other faster than many teens in love, or a super boring piece of unrealistic and diabetes-inducing Glurge with a self-righteous Purity Sue that belongs more in a Harlequin Romance Novel than a somewhat realistic Visual Novel.
  • Better Than Canon: There is an entire category of fanfiction devoted to building upon Shizune's route in order to make the very subtle emotional element of their relationship more apparent to readers. Shizune's Epilogue and Weekend at Hisao's are the best known examples and are considered by many to be some of the best Katawa Shoujo fanfics out there.
    • Shizune's alpha route is often considered superior to the final product, though it has been critized for trying to hard to be a tearjerker (this is due to the same alpha containing the infamous Hanako arc full of nothing but Bad End's).
  • Crazy Awesome: Kenji, a paranoid, misogynistic, overly hyper, manly, loud jerk? Yeah, this is pretty much the reason he became so popular.
  • Critical Research Failure: Hanako's birthday comes up during Lilly's route and in the following act, Hisao talks about spending the upcoming Tanabata festival with Lilly after they start dating. When is Hanako's birthday? July 10th. When is Tanabata? July 7th. When you realize that they messed up researching something that THEY created, this verges onto Epic Fail territory.
    • Unless you take into account they celebrate her birthday 2 weeks early because Lilly went to Scotland.
      • However, there is an event set on her actual birthday which occurs while Lilly is still overseas.
    • Sendai (where the game is supposedly set) celebrates Tanabata from August 6 to August 8.
  • Difficulty Levels:
    • Easy-Mode Mockery: The easiest route to get onto ends with a drunke Hisao falling to his death from the school roof at the end of Act 1 ie the point you should have chosen a girl; this involves making the wrong choice at a few critical points, and you will encounter at least one. This accounts for a shade over 52% of possible outcomes for Act 1.
    • Emi is considered the 'Easy' route; 3rd easiest to get onto (therefore 2nd easiest where you actually end up with someone) at ~14% and the easiest to get the good ending at 62.5%
    • Pair the Spares: Rin's route requires you to actively avoid the other girls before you can pursue her, so there are a number of ways to get to it, she's actually 2nd at ~22%, with a 37.5% chance of the good ending, and only 25% of the bad ending, second lowest after Emi, so she's quite easy too.
    • Shizune could be likened a hard-to-get-to shortcut, only ~5% chance of getting her route, but 50/50 good/bad ending odds, with only one decision to make ie to "comfort" Misha.
    • Hanako and Lilly are both 'Hard' mode effectively, both require the same story progression to reach till the last decision in Act 1, so both share a ~3% chance of getting Hisao, Hanako has a 25% chance of the good ending, and Lilly 12.5%, the two lowest.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Poor Shizune seems to have suffered the misfortune of being pratically set up of this. First, her route is very much an acquired taste, relying more on intellectual nuance, Foreshadowing and subtext than the "feels" that are common in other routes. Meaning that you need to play it a few times in order to truly get it. (The fact that it is the most linear route, with only one choice, doesgn't help matters.) Second, she is a Spirited Competitor to a degree that one either finds charming and endearing or obnoxious and annoying; she can also can be rather blunt (justified in part because she is deaf-mute). Thirdly she is The Rival to Lilly who is by far one of the most adored characters in the game and whose route is seen as much smoother and sweeter except for the end, but that one also ends up well. Lastly, her best friend Misha is an Ensemble Dark Horse who doesn't have a route of her own and is, in fact, in unrequited love with Shizune herself - which is what triggers THE single choice in the Shizune route. Not to mention that readers prefer the other stories because they ive them "the feels," and Misha, due to the sad nature of her emotional turmoil, is much more of a woobie than Shizune, causing the readers attention to be directed towards Misha and Shizune to be left in the dust.. You'd think people would not be able to pour so much hate at an eighteen year old deaf girl. Interestingly enough, in Lilly's route, Shizune reconciles with Lilly, and initiates the process. And instead of competing with the other girls over Hisao, Shizune, along with Misha, is a Shipper on Deck in others's routes.
    • Now that a few months have past since release, Lilly is also starting to get some of her share as well. Due in large part to her being so popular that fans of the other girls are starting to resent her a little bit.
  • Crossing the Line Twice: Averted. Since the original concept was quite possibly intended as edgy satire, one might expect the game to take this form. Instead, it's a reasonably nuanced and respectful take on the subject.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Has its own page here.
  • Cult Classic: Odd, off-putting premise? Check. Enthusiastic (if small) fanbase? Check. Ignored or panned by mainstream reviewers? Check.
    • Though it was a better example of this trope before the full version came out.
  • Ear Worm: A good portion, if not all, of the music from the soundtrack.
  • The End... Or Is It?:
    • Reconciliation shows what would happen after Hanako's bad ending. Hanako never sees Hisao again- after eventually marrying Lilly, he dies of a heart attack several years later - his death is what causes Lilly to get in touch with her again, and a much more self-assured Hanako is able to rebuild their friendship.
    • And another fanfic, Second Beats, shows how it can be twisted right around into a Good Ending. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Also a Fridge Brilliance if you go along that train of thought, considering what happened to her in the past.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Misha. A common question to the developers was (and still is) if she'll have her own route. She won't.
    • Hideaki. Even before he actually appeared in the game, he sure had a lot of fanart.
    • All the extras from Hisao's class that are not cameos, especially Miki.
    • Rika and Saki, the girls of the non-existent expansions from the 2011 April's Fool post.
    • The heroines themselves are more or less the Ensemble Darkhorses of the doujinshi that spawned the idea, considering they were features in an extra in the book.
  • Epileptic Trees: Misha's disability (or lack thereof) and the reason for her not having her own route is the source of much Wild Mass Guessing among fans. Observe.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Has a bit of this with Hatoful Boyfriend.
  • Fan Haters: Every girl, save for Emi, seems to have some:
    • Saying that you like Shizune or Rin is a good way to get yourself branded as pretentious and elitist, with Shizune fans also getting the "pleasure" of being called spineless bottoms that get off on being dominated by bitchy women.
    • Hanako fans are often accused of wanting a "dream girl" who is totally dependent on them, (which is Completely Missing the Point of her route, but when has that every stopped anyone.)
    • If you are a Lilly fan, than you are a bandwagonner that lets the Internet do his thinking for him, going after the Mary Sue because she appeals to the Lowest Common Denominator (although this is also missing the point that she is a deconstruction of the Mary Sue). The Lilly haters are an interesting case in themselves. Polls have shown that Lilly is actually the least disliked of all characters in the game... But you would definitely not know that if you enter certain discussion threads, where the Vocal Minority will shove you out of the thread at even the slightest mention of liking her.
    • If you like Misha, expect some smartass Captain Obvious to point that she doesn't have a route.
  • Fan Wank: Yuuko is speculated to have had a past relationship with Kenji. Implied in the game, but never outright stated; the two each talk of having a breakup in the past, and Kenji mentions that his girlfriend was older.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In Emi's route, she jokingly questions why Misha would hang out with someone as bossy as Shizune. In Shizune's route, you find out the real reason; Misha is in love with Shizune, but it is not requited and causes her a great deal of pain.
    • Lilly often teases Akira about her cooking skills. Later on, it's revealed that Akira had to raise Lilly by herself after their parents left, and believes that she didn't do a very good job. Her inability to cook likely comes off to her as more part of a personal failing than a minor shortcoming.
  • Gateway Series: Naturally, since it is a well-made English language Freeware Visual Novel. Let's just say that before this, significantly less people were aware that the Visual Novel genre existed.
    • About a week after its creation, the reddit group /r/katawashoujo had more readers than /r/visualnovels.
  • Heartbreaking in Hindsight:
    • Rin's "I've got no arms to hug you with."
    • The girls you didn't choose's brief appearances on other routes can be this if you've played their routes before, especially when you consider their psychological problems, which are not likely to be addressed.
    Lilly: "My, is that you, Hisao? I've not heard from you in some time. I was beginning to think you'd forgotten all about me." (During Emi's route.)
    • Kenji says at one point that if he were to kill someone he'd throw them off the roof and make it look like the accident. The Act 1 Bad Ending goes exactly like this, only with Hisao dying by falling off the roof by accident.
  • Heartwarming In Hindsight:
    • Late in Lilly's route, as she is preparing to go to Scotland permanently, she tells Hanako about how they became friends. Lilly says she did not befriend Hanako out of pity, but out of a desire to know more about her, and she considers her a strong person at heart who will be able to take charge of her own life even after Lilly is gone. Lilly's statement becomes even more powerful when you consider that in Hanako's route, Hanako believes that Lilly and Hisao pity her.
    • Also on Lilly's route, Hisao openly refers to Shizune as his friend on two occasions, once to Lilly, no less. Once you play Shizune's route and see how desperately she has tried to make friends, you can see that this comment has more weight.
    • Meta; we all know about Hanako's problems, and despite that how good a person she is. Mike Inel (the lead animator) has done this picture of her ''without the burns''. You have my permission to wolf-whistle.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • Hisao's loud heartbeats whenever he gets a heart flutter or the two times he gets a full-blown heart attack.
    • The sickening crunch in Act 1's Bad Ending when a drunken Hisao falls off the school roof to his death.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Rin's route, Hisao remarks on how embarrasing it would be to have a heart attack in the middle of sex. In Lilly's route Hisao ends up having a bit of a fit when taking the lead, and ends up on the floor clutching his heart in pain.
    • The "Who's there? ... No answer, must be that deaf bitch." meme regarding Lilly's rivalry with Shizune. Toward the end of her route, there's a scene in which Lilly thanks Misha for retrieving a folder for her, only to realize Shizune did it instead when she gets no response, and the two reconcile.
    • Late in Lilly's route, Hisao stops by the Hakamichi residence in hope of catching Lilly before she leaves for the airport, and gets slightly bothered at the gruff, annoyed voice on the other end of the intercom. This serves as a bit of foreshadowing for when we actually get to meet the guy who the voice belongs to in Shizune's route, namely Jigoro Hakamichi.
  • Ho Yay: Kenji. See Alternate Character Interpretation above.
    • Particularly during the Bad Ending with Kenji, where - as he gets closer and closer to Hisao - the love-theme To Become One plays.
  • Hype Backlash: Some fans were a bit disappointed that the game didn't live up to their expectations. However, this was probably unavoidable since the game had been continually building up hype for at least five years.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • Which is the best path/who is the best girl?
    • Or alternatively: Was it worth the wait? Is it even worth playing? Is it a respecful portrayal of disabled people, or badly-disguised "cripple porn"?
    • Shizune:
      • On a cold night simply just mention the name "Shizune", watch as the militant Shizu-haters declare her to be Worse than Hitler while the equally militant Shizu-brosis declare anyone who didn't like her route to be dull witted simpletons who are too stupid to understand it, and enjoy the s'mores.
      • Bonus points if you mention the earlier version of her route that was included in the prototype version of the game that was leaked in July of 2012. Mentioning the prototype at all is a good way to get a good chunk of the fanbase howling for your blood, due to that fact that the former devs consider the leak to be a very sore subject (to the point where the topic is banned on the official forums.) But it is especially so as far as the subject of Shizune is concerned. And why is there so much wank about it? See the Trivia page.
      • And the latest anti-Shizune topic is... Did Shizune rape Hisao in their first sex scene? Or are the people who accuse her of rape either ignorant about bondage and boundaries, or adding slutshaming to their "arguments"?
    • Hanako:
      • Criticizing Hanako can be risky, because trolls often like to pick on her, and regardless of your intentions in posting or reasons for disliking her, people may assume you are one.
      • "So I had a theory on/problem with Hanako's path—OH DEAR LORD!" Bonus flame points if you dare to broach the subject of whether or not her only H-scene can be considered as dub-con/non-con/straight-up rape. Even though this IS brought up in-story... and not only she says that it wasn't, but her willingness to have sex with Hisao is a big point in regards to her ending.
      • cpl_crud posted a short story on a possible Distant Finale for Hanako's path, called "A Runner's Afternoon", in which the end of the first part implies that Hanako is cheating on her husband. (The truth is: Hanako was recently divorced from a therapist who had treated her when she was committed to an asylum after suffering a nervous breakdown when Hisao had a second heart attack. OUCH.). There were more flames than Hanako's house fire when her fans accused cpl_crud of derailing her into an adulterer.
    • And if you tell somebody they shouldn't make fun of a character, watch how quick they accuse you of being a "White Knight".
  • It Was His Sled/All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": From Emi's route: Anal.
    • Misha is lesbian. This stopped being a spoiler very soon after release.
  • Les Yay: Of course, this is a game where the heroines come in pairs, so there's Les Yay in pretty much every route you take.
    • Lilly and Hanako: Their routes only split in the last choice of Act 1 and even then, in Lilly's ending you spend the festival, and the majority of later acts in both routes, with both of them. In Hanako's route, she says she "love(s)" Lilly in the scenes leading to her Good Ending. Lilly gives Hanako a hug in her early birthday party in both girls' routes, and in her own route, tells Hanako that she did not befriend her out of pity, but because of who she is, culminating in what appears to be a kiss on the forehead.
    • Emi and Rin: Emi, without any embarrassment, helps Rin get dressed, and helps her in the bathroom. Can't get much closer than that. In Rin's route, Emi also mentions that they used to sometimes sleep in the same bed. Also, Rin is amazingly unfazed by walking in on the aftermath of a sex scene with Emi. Then again, this is Rin.
    • Misha and Shizune: Given that Misha is also Shizune's sign language interpreter, they are pretty much inseparable. Also, later in Shizune's route, you find that there is no subtext in this case, albeit in a case of unrequited love. See Schoolgirl Lesbians.
    • Naomi and Natsume: It's right there in their concept picture.
  • Love It or Hate It: You either love the game to death, as this page and the /vg/ generals support, or absolutely hate it with a passion, like the majority of /v/.
  • Love to Hate: Jigoro gets this sometimes, due to his Jerk Ass nature being seen as over-the-top and comical.
    Jigoro: Now you are insulting my book and, by extension, my entire life. What gives you the right to do that? Arrogant. I'm trying to think of how I could make you understand my struggle. Maybe by beating you. With my autobiography.
  • Mary Sue: There are certain people on the Internet who feel that one or more of the girls in this game fit in this category. The majority generally disagree with them, and instead argue that all of the girls are reasonably flawed human beings. And that is all we will say about that.
  • Memetic Badass:
  • Memetic Molester:
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page here.
  • Moe: Hanako is probably the best candidate for this, but her route is a deconstruction of the concept.
    • Emi is a more straightforward example. Even lampshaded in-universe, with Hisao commenting on how her puppy-eyes are a deadly weapon.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: As a Bishoujo Genre Eroge, Katawa Shoujo is directed towards straight men (and possibly lesbians), but has a lot of straight female fans, as well as readers who were interested to see its take on disability. The release of the full version brought in a lot of fans who wouldn't have normally played an eroge.
  • Narm:
    • The crayon drawings as Hanako explains her house fire. Your mileage will vary.
    • Emi has what looks like a "rape face" when she walks in on Hisao talking to her mother and angrily forces him out of the house.
    • Jigoro's Jerk Assery gets so cranked Up to Eleven that you simply cannot take him seriously. A little more subtlety, please.
    • A lot of the Off Model moments can be like this, such as the first CG with Lilly's eyes being far too low, or in Rin's route in the atelier, with the smoke when the eyes are way too big and they both look like 10 year olds.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Oh, how sweet! His crush is about to admit her feelings for him! Then, suddenly, thud-bump. THUD-BUMP.
    • Hisao's heart flutters in general. Good lord.
    • The final CG in Hanako's Bad Ending, which isn't scary so much from the details as it is from the fact that it COMES OUT OF NOWHERE.
  • Periphery Demographic: This is yet another example of an eroge managing to attract a surprisingly large female fanbase. There is also a good portion of the fandom that is under the age of 18... technically making them too young to legally download the game in many jurisdictions.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Shizune's route, in spades. Many aspects of it won't make sense unless you see all of the Foreshadowing or read it a second time. Part of the reason why it's such a Base Breaker.
    • Just look at the Fridge Brilliance section of the Fridge page. All the routes have this to some degree.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Hisao: I realise that this is the fitting end to a truly, truly bad day. SPLAT!!
  • The Scrappy: Jigoro, for those who don't Love to Hate him. Some have stated that his presence made Shizune's route hard to digest and share Hisao's desire to punch him. To a lesser extent, there's Nomiya, who completely disregards Rin's feelings and health during the entirety of her route, thinking of nothing other than her potential in an art career. When she has a breakdown at her exhibition and returns home, all Nomiya thinks of is the missed opportunity to make contacts, and makes his feelings very clear to her during the next time they meet.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Pretty much comes with territory. While Lilly and Hanako have the largest camps, every girl has a strong following. Shizune fans in particular can be downright militant in their support, largely as a result of having to constantly battle the Hatedom the character has developed since release due to the Base Breaker nature of her route, and her rivalry with the much adored Lilly. This is somewhat interesting, considering In Lilly's route, she and Shizune reconcile.
  • This Loser Is You: It seems to occasionally have this effect in a roundabout way. Many of the most glowing reviews on the Image Boards for KS are prefaced with the writer explaining how they used to be a jerk in one way or another before playing it. This Isn't You, Loser?
  • Tough Act to Follow: Any of the routes if you do the one for your favorite character first can be this.
  • Unfortunate Implications:
    • If by the time of the festival, Hisao still hasn't picked a girl, you are forced to drink with Kenji on the roof. He vents his troubles with women, and you take a fatal header off the building. So either you pick a girl, or die lonely and depressed. Granted, part of the premise of Katawa Shoujo is that Hisao, who has personal issues comparable to the girls, can benefit as much from his relationship as his girlfriend can.
    • Detractors claim that the premise is weird for being a story about dating disabled girls. They might want to be careful on how they word that.
      • On the other end of the spectrum, detractors point out that the focus on sex in the game can undermine the point that the game is trying to make; they claim that the people with disabilities are shown as sex symbols before being shown as people.
    • Some Shizune haters insult her likers as being weak passive people in a relationship with a dominant woman. It does give an uncomfortable view of what they might think a woman's place should be.
    • On the other hand, Hanako haters tend to refer to her as a doormat, a lapdog or as a weakling that can't stand up for herself and was envisioned as some sort-of weak and submissive litttle girlfriend that the players can dominate to their wills. Which not only misses how Hanako actually wants to become stronger and not be seen as a little girl who needs White Knighting, but smacks of What Measure Is a Non-Badass?.
    • Only "lovers" can help people with physical and emotional difficulties to get better. Especially when you consider that while Hanako also got significantly better on Lily's route, it is implied that it was her crush on Hisao which spurred her on.
      • ... Uhm, nope. The fact that Hisao did NOT pursue a relationship with Hanako is vital here, as it allowed her to develop a more normal and stress-free deal with him. Even if she did still have a crush on him, they did interact more naturally - compared with the Hanako of her own route, the one from Lilly's is somewhat more relaxed and self-assured, whereas in her own path she's shown to be VERY insecure, and if we take the Bad End, EXTREMELY frustrated with Hisao's White Knighting.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The more subtle, subtext oriented style of writing in Shizune's route tends to go over many people's heads. At least on the first playthough anyway.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Many of the CGs are downright beautiful, and they're all the work of one artist, Mike Inel. Additionally, he made a different fully animated sequence for each of the five routes. For Freeware!
  • What the Hell, Player?: Both of Hanako's bad endings could be interpreted as a silent (but extremely poignant) blaming finger raised towards players with White Knight tendencies. That is to say, the vast majority of players who chose the Hanako route... Basically, they say "so you want to make yourself feel manlier and stronger by being the boyfriend of a weak, fragile girl you could care for and tend to, who'll depend on you for everything and be all sweet and meek and shy and bashful? Here, have your dream relationship."
    • Shizune's bad ending basically spits in the face of everyone who still wanted to pursue Misha after getting on Shizune's route. "Sure, go ahead, cheat on your girlfriend with her best friend. That won't cause any problems at all.
  • The Woobie:
    • Hanako. But the concept is ultimately deconstructed in her route.
    • Surprisingly, to many people, Rin manages to fit this even MORE than Hanako. To be fair, everyone, even the main character, has a woobie moment at one point in their routes.
    • Misha in Shizune's route.
    • Wheelchair Woobie: Emi (in Act 3).
    • World Of Woobie

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