Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Battlefield: Friendzone - Shizune's Route Review on Katawa Shoujo

"Can you tell me what you think?"

I finished my last Katawa Shoujo review stating that after Rin's path was so awesomely written, i feared the next ones would not leave to my expectations. Shizune sadly has proved me right. It is an agreed consensus between the KS comunity that her path does not meet the expectations built up during Act 1, we will see why.

When i first played Act 1 two years ago, Shizune was my girl of choice before beggining to play. She is a lot like me: stubborn, manipulative, childish and with a natural talent for leadership. Not to mention she is cute. Her story during Act 1 is the one which probably raises the hopes of the player the most for the chapters to come, so for me it was a bit of a downer how the rest of the story turned out.

I'm sorry Shi-chan, but i had to say it... 

First of all, don't blame Shizune, for the problems on this path really lie in the lack of a solid writing (things that happen when you have a different writer for each different path). 

Out of control
The main offender here is the total lack of options: Once you enter her path, you will only have 1 decision to make through all the story, and it's the only difference that triggers her bad ending. The player has no power on the story overall. The funny thing is that on some points throught the stroy the development leads you to think a question is going to be asked, but they simply don't leave you the option to answer, wich ends up being frustrating.

To make things worse there are hundreds of pointless lines of text. There are full scenes that do nothing to send the story forward or offer any insight on the characters personalities. Starting by Shizune's family, which are weird enough to rival with Kenji, but not half as funny, and which are introduced just for the sake of it, cause if you completely remove their appeareances you won't be changing the story whatsoever.

This people are pointless...

In my humble opinion, this two main issues above could have been managed together by splitting this pointless scenes onto parallel choice activated paths, that would enhance "one playthrough" experience giving the player some feel of command on his actions, and leave some noncrucial subplots as alternate routes.

The Bro Code
Shizune's path is more like the Bro path. You get a lot from Kenji, nice parts, funny, a nice interlude from the main plot. You get some very nice travel scene with Lily and her sister, that despite being pointless storywise, creates a nice mood, ans you get a lot of Misha too.

The dark side though is that Shizune is like a Bro too. Even thoght you start dating her early on, the overall mood between her and Hisao feels more like friends with benefits than actually a loving couple. Her light tsundere personality never seems to be an obstacle on the relation, neither is his deafness, as soon is overcome by Hisao with other methods for comunication. This leads to a situation where the pursue of love is something that the path neglects in exchange of maintaining the statu quo.

As Misha and Shizune relation starts to crumble, this becomes the main focus on the story. In fact, on chapter 3 to 4 your chances are that you are more sympathetic to Misha than to Shizune. This is in my opinion an error that comes from early development. Misha is one awesome character, with a trampling personality, she is not meant to be a secondary character. She should have had a personal path, or removed early on from the story, but leaving her as a secondary character is asking for her to steal the scene, which she does a lot (not that i don't like that, but it's not how what is supposed to be).

The final solution to the main conflict between Misha and Shizune does not come with any realization or self improvement from any of the parts, overall leading to a dull ending with no climax whatsoever.
What a pity -_-

Having said so, i must say that this path contains some very nice and memorable scenes, but it's a pity that get washed away on the overall narrative disaster. I hope no one chooses this path as his first cause it may leave him a bad impression of a wonderful game.


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