Follow TV Tropes


Fanfic / Mean Time to Breakdown

Go To

"...Can I get a second chance?"

Mean Time to Breakdown is a Katawa Shoujo Divergence Fic with a simple premise: What if Iwanako was the one with arrhythmia? After suffering a heart attack from a botched confession, Iwanako Daidouji is forced to come to terms with her new limitations, surroundings, and life expectancy... and hopefully find some friends in her new school, Yamaku Academy.

Mean Time to Breakdown takes a darker and (perhaps) more realistic look at the mindset of a recently-added member of Yamaku society, making this fic ideal for people who thought Hisao's personal issues were underplayed. Several Original Characters are introduced to populate Katawa Shoujo's sparse roster without overshadowing the original cast, and many of the events of Act One play out in surprising and unexpected ways.

Tropes associated with Mean Time to Breakdown:

  • All for Nothing: After struggling to remain positive and adapt to her new life, Iwanako finds herself back in the hospital three days later even more depressed than when she left.
  • Always Someone Better: Iwanako views Lilly as this in comparison to herself. She has aspired her whole life to seem graceful and well-mannered, but views Lilly as so far out of her league that it makes her feel self-conscious. The fact that Lilly is also staggeringly beautiful doesn't help matters. In an aversion to how this trope is usually played, Iwanako likes her regardless.
  • Aloof Big Brother: How aloof is Iwanako's big brother, you may ask? Aloof enough that Iwanako hasn't heard from him since before her heart attack. Even now he doesn't answer her calls.
  • Arc Words: "Smile, stupid. Smile. Don't look terrified." and "That's fine, I say."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Although she has no idea just how devastating the remark is, Iwanako delivers one to Emi: "How are you any different from some drunk driver who only feels bad after he finally spins out and murders half a family?"
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: After taking a moment to look at Hanako closely, Iwanako remarks that even though her scars are horrible, Hanako is far from unattractive, even if Hanako herself doesn't realize it.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Emi hits Iwanako's Bad End.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Momomi Matsumoto's guide dog, Susano'o, is a perfectly well-behaved German Shepard. Which is to be expected from a trained guide dog. Momomi even claims he seems particularly fond of Iwanako.
  • Breaking Speech: Iwanako to Emi, after her Crash-Into Hello gives Iwanako a mild concussion, triggers her tachycardia, and puts her back into the hospital.
  • Broken Bird: Iwanako, in addition to the usual Katawa Shoujo cast. Hisao of course is no longer this.
  • Covert Pervert: Aoi claims that under her sweet exterior, Keiko is "really a sicko".
  • Crash-Into Hello: Emi's introduction. Unlike last time, it doesn't end well for anybody.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Iwanako learns about her disability the hard way.
  • Dead Fic: The story hasn't been updated since chapter 18 was released in 2015.
    • As of March 2022, the author has officially declared the fic dead and gone so far as to remove it from the KS message board entirely.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Iwanako, although she seldom voices her opinions out loud. Momomi is this to a much more extreme and obvious degree.
  • Disappeared Dad: Iwanako's dad is a very busy man, and she hardly sees him in general.
  • Divergence Fic
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Iwanako stops Momomi from explaining an obvious jab at her height.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Iwanako is familiar enough with sympathy visits to be thoroughly sick of them. (Part of the reason for the Armor-Piercing Question above.)
  • Doting Parent: Iwanako's mother is very loving and supportive, and goes far to try to bring her daughter out of her funk. Unfortunately, she's also something of an airhead, which causes a few problems.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Momomi realizes this when she makes a joke about Iwanako's hospital stay and quickly regrets it.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Momomi claims Susano'o is this to screw with people.
  • Expy: Word of God says that Momomi is basically Joan Harris as a blind Japanese schoolgirl.
  • Flat "What": Iwanako's interactions with Rin quickly devolve into confused stammers.
    Oh my god this is what going mad feels like.
  • Forgets to Eat: With some doesn't want to eat. Iwanako's 38kg (a shade over 6 stone), which the Nurse is very quick to point out. He thinks it's sufficient for a clinical depression diagnosis.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Many of Katawa Shoujo's events and interactions change, and the rest are seen through a very different lens.
  • Genki Girl: Aoi Sagawa is very energetic.
  • Get Out!: Unlike Hanako, Iwanako says this after going nuclear.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Iwanako finds foul language vulgar and beneath her. Aside from some "Damn"s and "Hell"s scattered about, she'll resort to elegant variations of this trope.
  • Heroic BSoD: Although once a cheerful and social high school girl, Iwanako's four-month-long stay in a hospital has robbed her of any hopes or ambitions she once had.
  • Hidden Depths: Iwanako is a little surprised at Momomi's rare, yet genuine, moments of compassion.
  • Important Haircut: Iwanako gets one to help restart her life. With mixed results.
  • In-Series Nickname: Momomi decides on 'Rocky', which Iwanako complains sounds nothing like her name. She apparently has a habit of this, as she refers to another girl as 'Seaweed'.
  • Inner Monologue: More prevalent here than in the original.
  • It's All About Me: Emi unintentionally comes off this way when apologizing for hospitalizing Iwanako, due to how she talks more about the various consequences the school gave her than how sorry she is for what happened.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mutou can see how Iwanako's bottling everything up isn't helping, and refuses to let her get away with it. Unfortunately, the fact he comes off as such a jerk in the process means she tends to dismiss his warnings.
  • Jump Scare: Iwanako goes to the library to return some books Hanako got for her while she was in hospital. While looking around admiring the place, Hanako startles her, and Iwanako nearly has another heart attack.
  • Large Ham: Meet Momomi.
  • The Nicknamer: Momomi apparently can't bear to call anyone by their given names if she can help it. Her trends seems to be isolating a character in someone's name and calling them solely by it. In Iwanako's case, this resulted in "Rocky". Some other girl is "Seaweed".
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: Molly suggests to Iwanako that since the school had no uniforms in her size currently, she could wear a boy's uniform instead. Iwanako's response is akin to this.
  • No Social Skills: Mutou continues to be both very insightful and very out of touch. His talk with Iwanako was full of some very good points. However, perhaps giving her this talk the afternoon she almost died wasn't the best time.
  • No Sympathy: Zig-Zagged in Scene Nine. While Mutou comes to check on Iwanako following her rehospitalization, he also decides that this is the best time to scold her about avoiding her problems. Calling somebody selfish for trying to avoid conflict doesn't go over too well when they're lying in a hospital bed after narrowly avoiding death.
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    • In Scene Nine, Mutou chooses to call Iwanako out on her bottling things up at a moment where she can't easily escape him... due to how she's been hospitalized. That doesn't exactly make her receptive to what he's got to say.
    • Similarly, in Scene Ten, Emi doesn't do herself any favors when she admits to Iwanako that she'd had a close call with another student who had brittle bone disease and kept running through the halls afterward. Quite understandably, Iwanako's less than thrilled to hear she hadn't learned anything from the last time.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Hanako's personality is a direct result of her disability, and Iwanako draws some uncomfortable parallels with her recent behavior. Could be the reason she's turning into her Only Friend.
  • Not What She Looks Like: Shizune seems to see Iwanako's blond streaks, expensive jewelery and detached attitude and comes to the conclusion that she's a spoiled shallow kogal. When in reality she's a very depressed young lady hiding her prematurely graying temples and trying to look her best. This results in a notably poor first impression that has yet to be corrected.
  • OC Standin: Several.
  • Out with a Bang: Iwanako is painfully aware of the fact that the sex act alone may over-strain her heart. Even if she survives that, pregnancy is basically a death sentence.
  • Pet the Dog: Momomi has a figurative one by offering a literal one.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Iwanako's a Stepford Smiler who bottles up her emotions instead of sharing them, and strongly suspects nobody gives a damn anyway. Since she doesn't like drawing attention to how she really feels, those around her tend not to realize how much she's struggling.
    • The rest of her family is no better about this. Dad's always busy with work, and her older brother hasn't talked to her in ages and made no obvious effort to change that even after her heart attack. As for her mother, she seems cheerfully oblivious to her daughter's feelings, to the point that she dismisses Iwanako getting a concussion and ending up in the hospital as "no big deal" and wondering what everyone was making a fuss about. Iwanako's too stunned by this to correct her, and is left wondering if the concern she showed before was even real.
    • The apology Iwanako gets from Emi comes off as incredibly insincere due to this, courtesy of how Emi mentions she'd been warned before and how the consequences effect her specifically.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After two days of slowly building anger at her awful situation, Iwanako finally snaps when she sees Emi's mother has come to support her, while her own ran off to Europe. The results are unpleasant.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Iwanako gets one from her cardiologist early in the story in response to her abysmal attitude. It, along with her parents' concern, kicks off her entire character arc.
    • Iwanako herself later gives one to Emi when she visits her in hospital, given how Emi put her there in the first place.
  • Retail Therapy:
    • Iwanako's mother sees this as a reasonable solution to help her daughter's mood. Surprisingly, it works pretty well at the time.
    • After Iwanako gets hospitalized again, this proves less effective.
  • Secret Test of Character: As is usual for Shizune, she tries this on Iwanako. However, due to various factors Iwanako fails particularly badly.
  • Shout-Out: Iwanako makes frequent internal references to movies, having spent her whole hospitalization watching them.
  • Signature Laugh: In keeping to her character, Momomi has one.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Kick it down a few notches.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Hisao.
  • Sequential Artist: Keiko, thought what she draws comics of is anyone's guess, since she isn't sharing.
  • The Stations of the Canon: Usually From Bad to Worse; much of the stuff that happens to Hisao in canon happens to Iwanako here, but whereas Hisao usually walks away pretty unscathed, Iwanako often gets the worst out of everything. This furthers her Broken Bird traits, which combined with her tendency to not voice her feelings makes her bitter and often quite angry; Emi finds this out the hard way.
  • Stepford Smiler: Iwanako tends to keep her negative feelings all bottled up while putting on a brave smile.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Momomi is very icy for the most part, but hints of sugar come through at surprising moments. This could be said for Iwanako, as well, but in reverse. She acts very polite and sweet but there are some very jagged icebergs under the surface.
  • The Talk: Nurse gives Iwanako a variation of this when he makes sure she knows she can't take oral birth control with her condition. Iwanako manages to keep her composure, but just barely.
  • Tempting Fate: After finding out that her mom's off in Europe and apparently doesn't think her daughter being hospitalized again is such a big deal, Iwanako thinks to herself "I hope this is rock bottom." Unsurprisingly, things get worse.
  • Transfer Student Uniforms: Iwanako has a very small frame, so Yamaku didn't have a uniform available in her size. The result is Iwanako being forced to wear her old one.
  • Trauma Conga Line: To near sadistic levels for Iwanako.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Aoi Sagawa and Keiko Kobayakawa.
  • Troll: Momomi loves to do and say things seemingly just to knock Iwanako off balance.
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption: As a kid, Iwanako's parents brought her a pet kitten that she had wanted. Iwanako was going through a troubled period and didn't play with the cat, so her parents ended up returning it.
  • Weak-Willed: Iwanako sees herself as this for so easily falling into depression over her condition and struggling so badly with bouncing back. Momomi actually tells her during only their second meeting that she seems like the type of girl to be easily pushed around.
  • What Have I Become?: Iwanako is shocked at how bitter and cynical her condition has made her...
  • What Have I Done: ...and instantly regrets lashing out at Emi.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Iwanako is a proudly feminine, soft-spoken and very polite young lady who used to be a ranking member of the Tea/Ikebana Club at her old school. Momomi is so shocked by the latter that she goes so far as to call Iwanako a princess. She still has nothing on Lilly, but then again, circumstances could have been better.
  • You Are Not Alone: While stuck in hospital the second time and thinking she is all alone, Iwanako receives a suprise visit from Hanako, who she only worked with to get away from Shizune. More than that, she brings Lilly along too. Cue impromptu tea party.