Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 222021

Katawa Shoujo is a free visual novel that introduced a lot of players to the genre, and I finally played it this year.

It follows a high school student named Hisao, who learns he has a heart condition and transfers to a new school for students with disabilities.

While that premise might raise some eyebrows, I’m happy to say Katawa Shoujo treats the subject matter respectfully and doesn’t try to use it to drive the conflict.

For example, Hisao learns sign language on Shizune’s route so he can talk to her without an interpreter, but the core of the route focuses on her personality and conflict with a friend.

Depending on the choices you make, you’ll end up on the route for one of the five main heroines, and from there your choices determine whether you’ll get a good, neutral, or bad ending.

While the different routes are significantly different and I liked some more than others, they’re all detailed and well-written – and some have pretty emotional moments. The stories are a bit more slice-of-life than I normally prefer, but I enjoyed them and found myself thinking about them when I wasn’t playing.

Hisao’s own character development is also an important part of the story, as he starts out bitter but comes to terms with his condition as he gets to know the other characters.

Katawa Shoujo deserves its good reputation, and I understand why it brought so many people into the genre. It’s a great visual novel for beginners, one that really is a good example of the genre (much more than something like DDLC, which is great but not necessarily indicative of what visual novels are like).

It’s kind of staggering that Katawa Shoujo is free. We’ve looked at plenty of visual novels that are only a couple of hours long and have bland stories, and yet here’s one that gives you a sizable amount of well-written content for free! So if you haven’t tried Katawa Shoujo yet, I definitely recommend it, whether it’s your first visual novel or one you’re coming to later like me.

What do you think of Katawa Shoujo? Who is your favorite character? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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  3 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Romantic: Katawa Shoujo”

  1. For the record, my favorite character is probably Hanako, although I liked them all.

  2. Man, this brings back memories. I played this as one of my early visual novels back in college. Even though it’s atypical for me in that it has no fantasy or sci-fi aspects, I enjoyed the character routes and the overall story. And of course, it being free is a great way to help get it into people’s hands, and was one big reason (besides the widespread praise) that I decided to try it.

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