12 Moments of Anime #2: Fate/disability shoujo

by eternal on December 24, 2009


There’s a lot that one can say about Fate/stay night; I spent about 5000 words on it in total, and I estimate Owen, Pontifus, and Martin have spent about the same.

Of course, when it comes to a game this iconic, there’s no accurate way of counting the impressions and retrospectives of fans. F/SN has always been one of the most popular visual novels in the history of everything, earning not only an anime adaptation and a plethora of merchandise, but also a solid concrete reader score (approximately 9/10 on VNDB and ErogameScape [NSFW]). Long story short, it’s a good game. Period.

Looking back at it – all 80 hours – that’s really all it comes down to. It’s a good game. Fate/stay night instantly brings to mind either countless in-jokes and internet memes or elaborate Nasuverse charts and statistics, but that’s only a fraction of what it has to offer. In addition to providing a memorable story and a complex set of rules worthy of any RPG, F/SN succeeds at toying with the reader’s heart with its eroge-style character development, akin to any good Key game, and it somehow weaves a dramatic and highly unique overarching theme into a seemingly incoherent mess of jargon. The game looks messy at first – GAR jokes here, annoying protagonists there – but by the end of it, it’s impossible to not leave with satisfaction.

I was never a self-proclaimed Type-Moon fan, and just as I didn’t care for Kinoko Nasu’s fictional universe, many of you may not care for visual novels as a whole. However, Fate/stay night is a spectacular story whether you like it or not, and if you let it get a hold of you, it will force you to concur. I have consumed many fictional works that played with my mind and tingled my heart, but I have never before seen something that does everything with such dramatic finesse. You are the only one who will regret it if you don’t play the game before you die.

– – –

2009 was the year that allowed me to experience my current all-time favourite visual novel, but behind the scenes of the usual denizens of /jp/ and the gemot, a potentially revolutionary visual novel has made strides in its progress.

Katawa Shoujo – Disability Girl.

The concept is bizarre, but that doesn’t mean much to us. The production values are nonexistent – it’s a free project intended for the market of fandom. It’s a novel idea, too, but novel ideas aren’t as uncommon as you’d think. What most Original English Language VNs lack isn’t ideas or money or passion, but simply skilled execution.

With the release of the first chapter of their iconic OEL VN, Four Leaf Studios has easily proved that they have what it takes to make it to the top. In a community filled with bright young minds and poor organizational skills, forums littered with projects that feel more like a programmer’s summer sandbox than a full-fledged piece of fiction, Katawa Shoujo is the revolution that we need.

That’s right: the importance of this offbeat EVN is not only about itself. For the dev team and the fans that will play it, nothing is more important than the game, but for the OEL community – for each and everyone one of us who dared to write a visual novel – it’s a tremendously significant step. The hype surrounding Katawa Shoujo has skyrocketed this past year, and if all goes well, it will prove to the world that the visual novel is not a medium that can only work in Japan, and that any group of skilled and dedicated fans can create a story worthy tears.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

karry December 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm

“It’s a good game. ”
I really doubt that visual novels are, as a whole, worthy of being classified as actual GAMES, but whatever you say.


ETERNAL December 24, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Semantics, semantics….


Martin December 28, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Yeah, F/S N is just good. There’s a probably a lot of ways of saying that, but good writing is what it boils down to. Actually, Nasu’s work has a unique mixture of pitiless darkness and heartfelt sentimentality that happens to resonate with me so all of his stuff I’ve encountered so far has been really memorable. And impressively well-written.

I had no idea Disability Girl existed (and would probably dismissed it out of hand had you not explained it so well here) but I’ll give Narcissu a shot before taking it on. I’m a fast reader in most situations but VNs suck away so much of my time!


ETERNAL December 28, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I definitely recommend Narcissu (and I’m sure everyone else has as well), but don’t forget that only the demo/first chapter of Katawa Shoujo is out. Depending on your backlog, it might be wise to just wait for the finished product to come out, although I have no idea what kind of time frame that might be.


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