Katawa Shoujo Review

 You are not alone, and you are not strange. You are you, and everyone has damage. Be the better person.
- Anonymous Game Developer
Alright, take it; just take it- take my man card right now, because at this point, if I have to hold in how much I goddamn adore this game one second longer, then I’m actually going to bite my own tongue off. Katawa Shoujo, which translates to, Cripple Girls, is a text based, Japanese style RPG, more of a virtual novel really, which revolves around you playing the male protagonist, who attends a high school of disabled young adults, the goal being to romance one of five different girls, each with their own individual personality, and disability. 
I know. Shit sounds bananas. And as blunt as it may seem, this is quite possibly the best description to give this game, if only for one important reason: it in itself acts as yet another form of the truly profound lesson the game seeks to impart on those who play it, a lesson that the developers show they wholly believe in, and for good reason. For while the initial judgment one may have towards the statement, and the game it describes, is amusement at the ridiculousness of it all, this is an improperly informed, and rather misguided view, based off of a lack of understanding due to the fact that one hasn’t played the game itself (this is not a criticism, simply a statement of fact, trust me, I have no desire to insult). 
Hell, after playing through it several times now, I have a hard time even calling it a game, to be honest, I would call Katawa Shoujo one of the most human experiences (ironically) I have ever come across in my admittedly short time on Earth, and I am glad (and wholly relieved, if I’m being honest) to hear this was not an isolated incident.
Almost immediately after my first campaign through it (after I spent several hours simply staring into space, blown away by the game of course) I looked it up on reddit, where I’d first heard about it, to find many others who happened across the game much like I did, or had been waiting patiently for the game to come out for many a moon, and, far be it from me to make far reaching and wild accusations, but I believe the general consensus is that this game is gonna make you weep like you need to use the world’s largest tampon, and also change the entire way you see the world itself- or at least those of the opposite gender.
But seriously, all joking aside, this game IS BRILLIANT, and for so many different reasons, almost all of them revolving around the fact that the potential this game holds to change those who play it for the better, is extraordinary. And while I would encourage you to play through the game multiple times, to continue to explore the vast world the creators have developed, I must admit that at least in my opinion, there will be no time the game will affect you more than in your first play through,  which may be for many reasons, though I’m pretty certain the ownership one feels and adopts after the first story may have something to do with it, that is to say, from the point you finish the first plot line onwards, Katawa Shoujo will always be that plot line to you, and always be the story of the girl you met in that first go-around.
And that first go-around is also important as it will be the first time you’re view of the game evolves into what it was really designed to be about- let me elaborate. Going into this game, whether you’re familiar with virtual romance RPGs or not, you will probably see the whole point of the game as what it initially seems to be- a game where the goal is to click the right dialogue options so you can get the girl in the sack, and beat the game. Hoo-fucking-ray.
But when the story truly gets off the ground, and you begin to meet the different girls, and get deeper and deeper into their plot-lines, discovering more about them as you progress, you WILL begin to feel something… different. When you see the problems the girls face, the problems that will remain surprisingly ambiguous, even to the very end of the story, and the thoughts and feelings these girls manage to share with you, suddenly, you don’t even think about ‘nailing’ the girl you’ve chosen, romancing her, or even getting close enough to start a dating relationship, instead, the game will have you feeling something different- the desire to help the girl. What makes Katawa Shoujo so goddamn magnificent, is that it works it’s entire playability off of the most natural and universal of human instincts, empathy, the desire to care for someone other than yourself, the feeling of compassionate love for another human being.
And that isn’t to say the game manipulates you into feeling these things, no, it’s more like the game is apathetic to whether you feel connected or not, it simply concerns itself with drawing out these characters, and making them so life-like, that you do the connecting yourself. And what else is so ingenious about the game, is that the empathy it garners in you, is of the purest form, it is the feeling of being connected to somebody on completely equal terms, as you begin to see the girls you meet as no different than you, or anybody else for that matter, their faults and differences quickly washing away, their happiness becoming what is truly important to you as the player- and to say that the fact that the girls are disabled is only a feature of this wonderful message, would be an understatement.
As one of the creators stated about the girls and their disabilities, “They are not strange people – they are regular ordinary human beings who feel the way they feel not because they are disabled, but because they are ordinary. They are the universal allegory for humanity; the archetypal human; the mess you become when you feel sad and alone and unworthy.” 
I have no doubt in my mind, when I say that as a story based off of kindness, friendship, and understanding on the deepest of levels, Katawa Shoujo is the greatest romance story I have EVER had the pleasure to experience, and is, in all seriousness, (you can, and absolutely should quote me on this here) my choice for 2012 game of the year. Yea. Hows about that. Only two weeks into the year and I’m decided.
Listen, just please, give this game a shot; if you don’t already feel like downloading it right now (it’s goddamn free by the way), then I blame MYSELF for not explaining the game correctly, rather than the game itself for being unappealing. Laying my chips down on the line here, and sacrificing my very last holds to manly respect (I’m sorry Hemingway), Katawa Shoujo awakened something inside me, that I had believed to have been murdered by years of adolescent rejection, and average High School feelings of inadequacy.
Whatever faults the game has, such as the rather long-winded samples of text that don’t seem to go anywhere, or the rather whiny protagonist narrating the whole affair (this may also attribute to the former problem though), are like miniscule cracks on the surface of a brilliant work of art.
If you want to expand your entire view of the world around you, and the people co-inhabiting it with you, then play Katawa Shoujo. If you wish to gain a positive respect, as well as a healthy concern for those of the opposite gender around you, then play Katawa Shoujo. If you want to become a better person in general- well, fuckin Katawa Shoujo.
If, however, all this seems dumb to you, and you think the whole thing just sounds weird, and sad, and gay, like you believe all forms of romantic art are, then you should be forced to read every single goddamn piece-of-crap Twilight book Stephanie Meyers shits out of her manipulative, unimaginative, cunt-hole, you stupid, unappreciative fuck- whoa. Got a little out of hand there. 
Anyway, Katawa Shoujo earns an unheard of CLASSY AS FUCK, for being a once in a lifetime game, that I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to get out of my mind, and can honestly say has changed me as a person. As always, enjoy, and before you get any ideas about running off, I got the download link right here jack, you play that shit right now, and see why this game has been giving so many people straight-up emotional boners. And off the record, mad respect to you if you went with Hanako too. Mad respect.


  1. I agree with this 2000%. I know, could be higher, but I would change the last sentence to Rin.

    Katawa Shoujo is written so well; in a way that, unless you try otherwise, will lead you into picking the route that's going to touch you the deepest. I think, anyway, that's probably more a factor than it just happening to be the first one.

    Unless you're a robot, one of these girls is going to speak to your personality when they're first introduced to you. It's just written that way.

    1. agree with you all the way. All the girls touch you in a way emotionally and Hanako touched me the most because I'm like her in a way. You want the best for the girls no matter what. The story makes me want to read more stories like it.

  2. I actually am still in the middle of playing this, but even when I was in another character's route, I still ended up reading Hanako's route. Again. e She is just too adorable that I couldn't help myself. So props to you for going the same route as I. I also agree on all points argued in your review. I just hope people accept it as well as we did. Thanks for the review and happy reading! :)