Katawa Shoujo: First Impressions: Shizune’s Route

Warning: Major spoilers for Shizune’s route contained below.

From what I’ve heard and from what paths I’ve played so far, Shizune’s route is the black sheep of Katawa Shoujo, and I am inclined to agree. It definitely has major flaws.

A great portion of the comedic and slice-of-life moments felt like unnecessary filler, and the sub-characters often feel like they have neither substance nor significance. Shizune’s brother and father serve of purpose of introducing her past, yet beyond that, they do nothing to further Shizune’s character development. It’s discovered that she has a difficult family situation and an abusive father, but the consequences of coming from such a dysfunctional home are never addressed, in both her childhood and adolescence.

For example, neither of her closest family members know sign language, creating a heavy barrier between them. Yet rather than go into detail how this might have influenced her personality, it’s never discussed. In particular, Jigoro is written with ridiculous comedy, which makes him difficult to take seriously as a character. Considering the impact he had on Shizune as a child, it cheapens Shizune’s own experiences by playing off many of his interactions as poor comedic attempts, instead of emphasizing how serious his neglect of her was.

Hisao and Shizune’s relationship often lacks the essential atmosphere of romance. For the majority of her route, Hisao and Shizune themselves barely grow any closer after they are established as a couple. Hisao asks her to be his girlfriend, and she accepts, while Shizune wants to go on dates, and he accepts: they never gave off the vibe of two people deeply in love, and there just seemed to be a lack of depth behind these decisions. There is subtle portrayal, and then there is flawed writing, and this falls into the latter category.

Shizune’s conflict is that she is overly competitive, in order to compensate for her difficulties with communication. But instead of attracting friends who are drawn to her strong personality, her behavior comes across as intimidating, and ultimately discourages others from getting close. The more forceful her efforts become, the more people avoid associating with her, and Shizune is left lonely and isolated. She realizes the consequences of her forceful ways,  however, she never has a direct confrontation about it. She realizes she has taken advantage of Misha and that she has been cruel in not addressing her feelings towards her, but she never speaks to her directly about it.  Similarly, she and Lilly never reach a common ground. There is no catharsis.

Misha also has several demons of her own: she suffers from unrequited love and jealousy, even self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness. But, again, she too never gets a chance to face her problems directly, instead opting to push them aside without ever finding a solid solution, and devoting herself towards her future goals instead. Above all, it feels like Misha has been neglected the most in terms of character advancement. Her issues could actually endanger her life, and yet, the drama surrounding her is easily diffused, or not resolved at all.

Shortly put, with the multiple subplots poorly handled and characterization which should have been greatly expanded upon, Shizune’s route unfortunately came across as rather mediocre.

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