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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Katawa Shoujo: Mission Profile ~continued~

Welcome back to my breakdown of the h scenes of Katawa Shoujo. The first section has been dealing with the more active girls - Lilly, Emi, Rin and Shizune. It is time to talk about the less sexualized girls, Misha and Hanako.

A bit of preamble first. A literary heroine is an idealized person. That means she may exhibit unwanted human traits but they are not perceived as offensive. But, just like asymmetry feels more beautiful than perfect symmetry, a tiny dose of imperfection is generally added to give an impression of plausibility. Plausibility is important for a character, because a certain amount of projection goes into the reader’s identification with the story premises. Certain expectations should be met, both positive and negative. It’s the same deal as with any replacement for a real thing – too artificial is bad, too accurate is ridiculous (why not use the real thing then?). The essential is to give the same feel and functionality.

Despite their particular physical disabilities, the Katawa Shoujo girls also fill a peculiar requirement – inaccessibility in real life. For one thing, their types are certainly rare in any given demographic (let’s see: a stylish girl with lady-like manners groomed in a Catholic school with a hint of foreignness about her; her friend, a social recluse with bookworm habits and stilted conversation; a scatterbrained but funny artist girl with nearly non-existing social skills; a fiery go-getter with communication problems in tandem with a loud and exotic parrot girl). I’m not listing Emi here because an athletic girl willing to make a new running partner is not that rare – just inaccessible to cellar dwellers with pale skin and an unhealthy body mass index. For another, their real life counterparts are a lot harder to pursue – they’re hard to approach, out of your league, high maintenance, too mental, etc etc. If you look closely at my description, two girls – colorful Misha and reclusive Hanako – are neither rare nor inaccessible. They are the least idealized girls of the lot. They still present a difficult approach, one hiding behind her loud and cheerful persona, the other actively rejecting people in general. If you look at it this way, they both put up a defensive wall, just by different means.

First come, first served – let’s take a look at Misha. Did I just say she’s avoiding people? Oh, come on. She has “the grace of a rhino charging into a china shop”, to quote myself. Surely you cannot call such a person “isolated” – she’s as isolated as a charging tank.

I’m not looking to build an imaginary drama around Misha, just to make her appear tragic or something. I am just pointing out that she has manufactured a new persona for herself after her romantic failure: pink hair, drill bangs (Hisao makes fun at some point about how she must be up at the crack of dawn to curl her hair every day), loud voice and presence (she enters, stage left, just as loud as she speaks, pushing a “Wa-ha-ha!” in front of her), constant cheerfulness (Hisao again: Misha is going through the motions, because appearances are important to her, like her cheerfulness that isn’t always real), always curious and inquiring. The very last bit is entirely for Shizune’s benefit, because she can’t pick up the chatter around her and nobody else is voluntarily including her in the small talk that goes on naturally. If that’s not a mask, I don’t know what is; and what is the purpose of a mask, but to provide something you can hide behind? Something to prevent the other side from reading you?

Can I also point out that most of her mask is transparent to Shizune, because it involves things she cannot perceive or gauge? The hair styling change is obvious – Shizune thinks it’s sophisticated and imposing, so that about clears up where she got the idea. The excessive laughter is highly visible, which is probably why she’s always telling her something that gets brushed off with an audible “really, Sicchan?” (but does she ever sign this back to her?). Otherwise, Misha is Misha, always there, always fulfilling her function as Shizune’s “voice” and extra pair of hands. Whatever else the essential Misha is, or thinks about, is behind the mask. It takes a radical act to rip this mask off, and the right person – someone who also likes Misha; someone who has managed to communicate with her face to face (no concealing masks); someone who is precious to her. Yep, that’s right: it’s Hisao.

I was just perusing the Extras/Library section for something I accidentally picked up.  If you go back to my regular discussion of the paths, I once mentioned that the pairing of the girls – Emi with Rin, Lilly with Hanako, Shizune with Misha – sends Hisao’s life down a common set of events that branches depending on which girl he pursues. The other girl of the pair keeps crossing his path, but in lesser and lesser focus, until she becomes just another background character. To a lesser extent, you keep crossing paths with some of the other girls – I’m not counting Yuuko, who acts like a human fixture on all paths, or even Miki Miura, who plays a certain role in raising an interest flag on Emi’s and Hanako’s routes. I mean something like running into Lilly on the Shizune route, in the later half of her path. She’s there to set a reflection point, an occasion for Hisao to see how Shizune and Misha changed his outlook on things and to gather his resolve for the oncoming conflict. Equally, Hisao runs into Shizune and Misha on almost every single route. I guess Shizune is watching out for Hisao even when she isn’t getting romantically involved with him. And so does Misha, on her own. She’s there on the Emi route, expressing the Student Council’s disapproval of kissing in the hallways,  (“especially when Shizune is watching”):
You can tell the "cutie" and "adorable" comments are hers, stapled to Shizune's mock sternness.

She and Shizune also cook up an opportunity for Hisao to take his mind off the gloomy thoughts of separation on the Lilly route ("I think I broke Misha"):
They have in fact arranged an "accidental" meet-up with Lilly in the Council Room, just for old time's sake:

Of course this event is also planned by Shizune for her own benefit, but it's obvious from how they waited for Lilly and Hisao to leave together that they were aware of the painful rift between them and wanted them to patch things up.

One of the facets of being an idealized character is having a write-in past. A character designed for the kind of interaction required by an eroge (or, in general, a VN) will have enough of a past to justify her status at the entry point and the established traits that place her in one of the ‘usual suspects’ types (the energetic type; the klutz; the violent tsun-tsun type; the stoic type; etc) or combinations thereof. There will be enough gaps and holes where the player can presume a past to his liking, or assign a personal emotional coloring of the events from her past that are being offered. Some characters simply come ‘as is’ – their past doesn’t factor in at all, or is being withheld on purpose.

Katawa Shoujo isn’t exceptional in this regard. We have a range of ‘depth of field’ about the girls’ past that goes from fairly elaborate (Lilly) to spotty (Shizune and Emi) and indifferent (Rin and Hanako). Misha draws the short end of the stick here too, because her past has almost no markers – she just came to Yamaku and started building from there. One of the things barely explained in KS is the social status of the girls before joining the special school (we know Lilly and Shizune come from well off, related families; there is no mention, however, of what was the status of Emi’s, Rin’s or Hanako’s family, and the only thing we know about Misha is that she could not have afforded the school as a normal student without enrolling in the sign language program). What we have is a lot of circumstantial data – we visit Emi’s pretty furnished house and we know her Mom drives a car; we visit Shizune’s ample mansion and ride in one of her family’s cars; we see how easily Lilly pays the antique shop keeper for the doll, and I guess she paid the train fare for the whole group when they went to the vacation home; Rin’s family may or may not have been able to afford her art supplies (she’s a phenomenon, it’s not inconceivable she got an art scholarship somewhere along the way; almost everything she owns is art related, except for her clothes, and we don’t even know how many she has, or if they’re off the rack or hand-me downs). Hanako’s belongings are presumably all new – there’s no mention she could salvage anything from the fire that took away her family and her home. She was in an orphanage until joining Yamaku, but that's not indicative of having no other living relatives, just not having any willing to take her in. We do know she could not afford the expensive cell phone Lilly bought for her, but that’s about all we know. The only people ever complaining about cash shortage are Hisao and Kenji (Shizune doesn’t count, she’s just skimpy with money). And Misha is probably always on Shizune’s tab as long as it’s Student Council expenses (the one time we leave her to pay alone a three person bill, she’s not complaining, but that may be irrelevant – with Shizune’s idiosyncrasy about “throwing” things, Misha may in fact hold the Council wallet). That still doesn’t tell us anything about how well off or poor she is on her own. We receive a bare minimum of info about her: that she doesn’t have a disability (see below); that she enrolled at Yamaku only on the scholarship for sign language, because she couldn’t afford it otherwise; that she feared being hated at this new school; and that she burned the bridges behind her (she’s not keeping up with any of her old colleagues from before joining Yamaku).

(4chan had a field day … make that a 4 years field day speculating what is Misha’s disability. One of the frequent guesses was some form of attention disorder, or even Angelman’s syndrome (also known as the “happy puppet syndrome”). Nominally, she has none. Her apparent lack of thought continuity comes primarily from the long association with Shizune – she's too focused on the constant need to [translate to sign] everything she hears, says and what Shizune is [telling] her to translate. It’s really hard to both run your mouth off and simultaneously translate it in sign. However, Hisao notices an interesting detail – her voice doesn’t so much modulate in tone with a speech pattern, as it increases and decreases in volume. My medical guesswork is that she may suffer from a form of dysphonia. She also has a slightly limited vocabulary – or at least not as extensive as Shizune’s, which seems to be derived from reading books. Shizune puts her in front of complicated terms that she has to spell out for her, literally.)

There’s always the question: why was Misha afraid the students at Yamaku might hate her? Because she is normal? Some of the students don’t have visible defects, and no one seems to begrudge Mutou, Yuuko or the head nurse their physical integrity. Hisao himself looks pretty normal on the outside, as does Shizune, and they aren’t shunned for it. No, if she was afraid of being hated, it must have been that she was … not so popular where she came from. And she’s not regretting any of her old colleagues. That puts her directly in the outer belt of the new social group she encountered at Yamaku. Being seated next to Shizune was her stroke of luck – her abilities at sign language were poor at first, and her drive just lukewarm; it was the Shizune juggernaut that propelled her to her current performance. In fact, she owes to Shizune not just a place in the Yamaku Universe and a professional ambition, but her friendship as well. Whatever shortcomings Shizune has, she plays lifeguard to a few people (yes, even Lilly) whom she picks up, dusts them off and sends them on the path to their own ambitions. Those who owe her the most are those who hang around trying to pay her back in friendship and support – and I obviously mean Misha and Hisao.

At first, Misha appears to be so integrated in the good cop - bad cop routine with Shizune, that she hogs all the "good" traits of exuberance and femininity in the act, leaving Shizune with all the butch/dominant traits:

Hisao is left wondering how did they come up with such an act, so he inquires a talkative Misha about the roots of their relationship. It's one of the first times Misha talks outside a script "penned" by Shizune, and she does a spontaneous thing - she thanks Hisao for joining the Council, something Shizune clearly forgot to do. Then, she offers him the PR version of how she came to befriend Shizune, but it's a story with several white lies: 
 (here's the McHuge version for tiny text readers)
The image above is an interesting parallel between the story she gives Hisao in the beginning, and the real story that surfaces after she drops her mask. On the left, she's Sizune's first aide and sidekick, confident and only a little self conscious; on the right, she's the real Misha, candid and vulnerable, worried about her complicated relationship with Shizune becoming unraveled. It's a huge contrast, not just in terms of who approached who, but also in terms of confidence invested in Hisao. What is even more interesting is that in the meantime, Misha has had a lapse better illustrated by these pictures:

Cutting her signature drills is an anime trope jokingly called "character development" - a character seeks a radical change of self image by altering its outer appearance. It's an arbitrary, self imposed new beginning, when the old ways don't work anymore. Misha didn't just feel the new atmosphere developing between Shizune and Hisao, but she went into open rebellion against Shizune by dropping something inspired by the latter (her peculiar haircut). She's still Shizune's trooper in everything else - hanging out with her, running errands for her father, and stepping voluntarily into the verbal crossfire between Jigoro and Hisao, to allow the latter a narrow escape with Shizune. We already know how that episode ended. But all this while, Misha has been pulling away from Shizune (and Hisao) with mincing steps, feeling more and more confused. The second picture occurs after Shizune's lap dance, and it could mean a number of things, among which even the knowledge that her friends have enjoyed carnal union. I mean, why would she run away from Hisao like that? There's only one thing that really changed between them, and that's his newly acquired status as Shizune's f*ck buddy.

This is the origin of Misha's apparent breakdown that culminated in seeking consolation in Hisao's arms. In a sense, it's good news: Shizune has found a new best friend, one that can both converse in [sign language] with her, help with the Council work, and help keeping her entertained and/or sexually satisfied. That's in fact one item more than Misha ever managed to do, and not for want of trying. By accepting Hisao in this position, Shizune has practically decommissioned Misha, who is now free to pursue her own objectives, kept on back burner by the overriding objectives imposed by Shizune. It's a little more liberty than Misha can handle, at first. She has to shuffle priorities back to her own career plans, and that means facing some facts about the future. Unfortunately, this future holds the grim perspective of graduation and venturing in the wide world without her closest two friends. With dawning horror, Misha understands that their time together is drawing to an end, and she has to resolve her sentimental conflict with both as soon as possible, if she wants to stay their friend. What's tearing her inside is the knowledge that they've grown closer to each other, and any attempt to come between them would probably hurt them both, but especially Shizune. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario.

I tried my best Venusian logic to put a positive spin on her coming to Hisao for consolation, but it just wouldn't float. Sure, Hisao seems to be her only friend besides Shizune. Most people tolerate her, but she hasn't connected with anyone the way Hisao did, despite trying her best to treat everybody as nice as she could (well, she's the "mouth" of an abrasive and bossy mistress). She's just getting the hostile fallout for Shizune's overbearing behavior, but she's also collecting some resentment for her own busybody attitude. Since no one gets close enough to her to actually know better, she is judged at face value as disruptive, noisy and intrusive; also, a little witless. Without Hisao's better perspective on her, we'd judge her the same way. So, she really doesn't have anyone else to turn to in her hour of distress. But that doesn't make it right, either. Hisao is Shizune's boyfriend. No amount of twisting perspective around can justify the negative impact of her action. She didn't come to have the heart to heart conversation they eventually had on the roof; that would have been quite OK for both, even helpful. No; she came to forge the love triangle that connected her to Shizune, Shizune to Hisao, and now Hisao to her. It's just that human relationships don't work this way. When Hisao came after her on the roof, he didn't do it because of lust or some form of sexual imprinting. He came out of friendly concern. Their one off encounter really achieved nothing positive, just a lot of negative baggage to lug around on the rest of the route.

Poor Misha. Despite being a likable girl (she really turned my opinion around), all her flags are negative: getting her in bed is not challenging, it just happens; she's cute but (comparatively) plain, a regular girl in almost all aspects (except perhaps her sexual orientation), non-idealized and posing a crisis that cannot be solved, just avoided in a rather hax manner (i.e. the player's actions don't do sh*t anyway, it's all a matter of not betraying Shizune on her nominal route). And there's no emotional payoff after boning her, just a descent into slowly setting futility. It's one of the reasons I don't like the Shizune route as a game route, despite liking it for the character development. It's a cool story, bro, but as a game sequence, it sucks. And while I'm at it, the scriptwriter really went overboard with making Misha talk in circles exactly like Shizune. Is that supposed to be beating around the bush? Anyway, yet another anime trope was sneaked in at this point: "Are you thinking something perverted? If it's you, I don't mind". You know what, that's believable. At three separate points, starting with this one, Misha tries to find out if Hisao likes her (as in "like like", not as in "like to bang"). He keeps his mouth wisely shut in public, but his inner monologue says "yes". As a last technical detail, this isn't about Hisao not wanting to bang Misha, or Misha keeping back until he signals it's OK; this is about Hisao refraining from banging Misha, which has already kissed and nuzzled him. This is taken after he decided not to comfort her:
Even though he has to kick her out of bed (almost literally), the whole scene has the interesting effect of making Misha drop the act (or "mask" as I called it). It takes a wholly different kind of trust to get in a situation like this one and not wreck your friendship with the person who rejected you. If the friendship holds, then it's safe to drop all the bullsh*t. From here on, Misha will be telling the truth and nothing but the truth. She was alone at first, until Shizune made it her priority task to befriend her. At that time, Shizune was still using a pen and notebook to communicate, but she found out Misha was learning sign language, so she refused to use them anymore until Misha could [talk] to her directly. When Shizune got drafted into the old Student Council, she brought Misha along - and Lilly. Then the old Council graduated and Lilly left ("I am not a trained seal" and all those accusations of dragging in only people who would agree with Shizune), and the Council started dwindling down to its two-girl team. Meanwhile, a blossoming Misha fell in love with Shizune, and one day gathered her courage to confess. Shizune turned her down, and Misha bummed out of the Council, thinking it's all over between them. But Shizune wouldn't let her be, and kept searching her out until she could pass her the important message: ["Come back. You're still my friend."]. From that day on, Misha became Shizune's most loyal aide, sticking with her through thick and thin ... until Hisao came to their class. Then Shizune got a new pet project, and it was fun getting him to rally both to the Student Council, and to the fun things in life in general. But one thing led to another, and now Hisao was Shizune's boyfriend, which left Misha feeling stranded alone on orbit around them. Misha tried deserting them; hating them; betraying them; none of these things stuck, because, in her simplicity, Misha is all about love, not hate. Finding her place again in their three-way team meant finding a place where she could be her own person again. She went the wrong way about it, but in the end she made it - because both her friends wouldn't let go.

It’s funny how in Katawa Shoujo, the girls who are the closest to real life models (or the least idealized girls) are approaching sex for the wrong reason. The VN format allows them to turn this around into good outcomes, but I cannot shake the bitter conclusion that the KS devs (developers) made in passing a social comment with this – in real life, sex between teenagers is rather random and resembling a train wreck (i.e. things go bad when you just assume you can forge ahead without proper signals).

Just to clear a wild idea from my system – all VNs are wish fulfillment scenarios. This is why I pointed out that the KS girls, despite having their physical disabilities, are shaped after hard to get types of real girls. Their physical handicap is here a means of keeping them captive in the environment of the game – Yamaku Academy. For good or for worse, the girls are “captive” here just like the protagonist. As I also pointed out, they have already adapted to their disabilities, to the point of being able of leading a (semi)independent life; their own ambitions, or the god-in-the-game replacement for ‘fate’ will set them free after a while (Lilly goes to Scotland; Rin goes to art school). Emi, Shizune and Misha can just start avoiding Hisao, and return to the life they were leading before he came. There’s an opportunity window in Act 1 and Act 2, and a commitment/parting option in Act 3 for almost all the girls (‘almost’ because the Shizune route was not written as a game route, doh). Within this window of opportunity, the relationships with the girls are to be initiated, cultivated, and bear fruit; otherwise, they’re just trains in the night, receding out of sight into could-have-been-land. The thing is, the game has them confined within your reach, so that you could accomplish what is a lot harder in real life – to catch a singing bird. The bird of love and hope.

But, like I said, two girls are not that hard to get in real life. They too have been given a handicap to meet the wish fulfillment criteria. Hanako is the girl who avoids all people. In any wish fulfillment scenario, she’s a DIY, paint-by-numbers Cinderella, waiting just for you to reveal her (which is, in fact, bollocks). Misha is an even simpler type: she’s the girl always bugging you with school business, as a student representative or some other elected position. Unlike her real life counterpart, she’s actually friendly and caring, and has a soft spot for you. Also, she’s not entirely unattractive, once you know her better.

But, in reality, Hanako is not Cinderella. She’s not Pygmalion’s Galathea, either. When I tried to find the character that suited her true nature best, what came closest of all was the servant from The Frog Prince, Iron Heinrich (or faithful Heinrich/Henry). He was so upset with his master’s misfortune that he reinforced his heart with three iron circlets, lest his heart burst from grief. When the curse was lifted, his three iron seals burst, one by one, allowing his heart to adapt. Well, that’s our Hanako. She lived with survivor’s guilt for many years now. The unburned part of her skin, the side her mother protected from the fire with her own body, is a living testament that somebody loved her and wanted her to live. So she lived on, but at the cost of having these iron seals on her heart. The original seals were there to keep Heinrich’s heart from bursting with joy, too. Hanako’s seals play the same role. She chose to live, but she's not expecting any happiness in her life. It would seem indecent towards her dead parents, to just seek out love and happiness. That's why she has a breakdown every year on her birthday. What sense does it make to celebrate your life, when the ones who gave you life and protected you are dead?

However, Hanako is like a green shoot. Green things tend to grow towards the light. Hanako cannot postpone her life indefinitely; she did it during middle school and at the orphanage, but the siren call of living with her peers is growing stronger. She tried to learn about life as an abstraction, by removing interaction with people, from books; thus, like any teenager, she knows a number of things she has no experience with - like romance, love, and perhaps even sex.

Which brings us to another interesting speculation about the protagonist of the game, Hisao: how experienced is he, really? Just like Hanako, he seems to 'know' things he never actually tried, but his real experience is limited to meeting Iwanako after receiving her love letter ... and that's it. For Hisao, the Iwanako point I've been trying to define earlier is where factual knowledge (about girls, love, sex) stops, and theoretical knowledge without experiential knowledge, starts. From his performance with the other girls, he's aware of what he's supposed to do (with a naked girl, in bed or in the shed or wherever), but there's not much to substantiate that he did such things before. That sounds more like theoretical knowledge, not experience. So he and Hanako are quite evenly matched on that front.

(More audiatur et altera pars: there is this passage, where putting the condom on - for Emi - makes him react 'gasp as always'. This 'always' could be a reference to previous experience, but there's nothing to infirm it isn't previous experience with Emi herself, in an 'off camera' episode or two)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Katawa Shoujo: Mission Profile

(title explanation: it's another song title, from metal band Threshold)
One of the nifty things with this blog format is seeing what search terms are bringing traffic this way. I can see some visitors wanted to know more about the h scenes of Katawa Shoujo. Well, I don’t see why not. This is a Visual Novel, you know. Bouncy-bouncy is more the norm than the exception for this format. And a lot of people thought, literally, ‘oh God, cripple sex’. Some with creepy anticipation, even.

I can put a pin in that balloon right away by mentioning that, of the six girls you can have sex with in KS, four have normal body integrity (yes, even Hanako), one has very little impediment (lol ‘pedi’) from her amputations in having normal sex, and Rin has in fact unknown resources of flexibility that might make up for what she can’t do (involving hands). Still, it is traditional to have kinky sex in VNs because the authors know what brings the crowds in. There’s enough details of setting, mood and psychology that can be tweaked to make even sex in the missionary position for the purpose of procreation, darkly titillating. When, where, how and who with can turn anything into a guilty pleasure, let alone sex. 

In a simple, counting-on-fingers approach, the game has girls with a healthy sex drive (Lilly and Emi, three sexual acts each), girls with a more complicated sex drive (Rin and Shizune, two acts each), and meaningful sex vs accidental sex (Hanako and Misha). There’s plenty of diversity of purpose, motivation and significance, not to mention approach to intimate situations. The stronger girls – Lilly and Shizune – like to take the initiative and dictate both the when and the where (and how). The playful Emi has a very frank approach, so while she does much of the same thing (regarding when, where and how) it has a natural flow of playfulness turned into tenderness slipping into happy sex followed by afterglow that feels mutual and even balanced. Rin has a … not time management, rather batch management of tasks, being mostly lost inside her head during art making periods, and only coming up for air in short breaks. Her libido is mostly on hold at such times. She only turns back to her own needs – including sexual needs – when she’s good and done with her art. As a consequence, her sex drive is sporadic but intense, burning in short incandescent bursts. Shizune, in my opinion, has a Freudian daddy complex, using her impetuous sex drive to proclaim her independence. I can see no reason why her control freak streak would keep her from having a very active sex life; something in her order of priorities is unnatural, like being a mature career driven woman in a teenager body. Hanako feels at first like a bit of Pygmalion work, because you’re not creating something new but bringing out her own features from underneath a hardened crust. When the world rejected her, she decided to reject the world right back, and now she’s the woman with seven locks on her heart, bursting one by one. Her rebirth is a difficult one, and sex is one huge step in her awakening, a literal cry for life. Under such circumstances, that one instance of physical intimacy has more significance than, say, Lilly’s three. And as for Misha ... the only exciting thing about having sex with her is the knowledge that you shouldn't do it. It's not only plain and uneventful (though you are her first), it's also has no repeat value. If I have to slap a label on it, it's guilty sex.

On a personal note: man, what’s the deal with the KS girls and doors? There’s people in this day and age who don’t pull the shades when making love. They crave the thrill of some stranger accidentally seeing them in the act. I swear Hanako is the only one not wanting to be caught in the act, because by God she’s the only one locking the damn door. And Rin is probably freaked out by how deserted her temporary studio is, feeling both estranged and isolated (with just a tiny margin of safe). At the other end of the scale, Shizune does it within the school premises, in the Council room, knowing full well she can’t hear people coming down the hall. Which is no less kinky than doing it in the guest room at home, where people don’t knock on doors before entering. But let’s not forget that during fun time in the shed, Emi’s temporary wheelchair rolls out of the shed before the door swings to. The last imbecile on Earth would wonder why is there a wheelchair near the shed door. Now that’s one game of hide the wiener I wouldn’t want to be caught in.

While it’s less probable, it’s not impossible, what with the girls living right next to each other and being such good friends, to have Hanako walk in on you and Lilly, Rin walk in on you and Emi, Kenji walk in on you and Rin (actually, no; it’s summer vacation, I think the village idiot went home for once) or you and Misha. Hanako, in fact, can also walk in on you and Lilly at least once (on the night of your first time), or twice if she’s not aware you and Lilly are taking a bath at the same time in the same bathtub. Oh my.

Now, on an unrelated note: I don’t care which girls are and which girls aren’t virgins in Katawa Shoujo. That is a totally neckbeard loser obsession. Think a bit like Hisao here: the girl wants to be yours right now. Where she came from and how she got here is a long way from relevant. None of them are in a relationship at the moment. Lilly had a crush on her English tutor, but that was before coming to Yamaku. Emi had a boyfriend for almost two years, but he’s in all respects ancient history. Rin never mentioned a love interest. Hanako clearly never had one. Shizune isn’t telling, Misha never did it before … with a boy. There, happy?

Except, yeah, one of them admits to not being "entirely new" to these things. Whatever.

I was arranging information in my mind when I noticed a pattern: Lilly likes to do it while being in close contact at all time. From straddling Hisao cowgirl fashion to slipping with him in the same bathtub, she has him confined to a space she can easily reach. Lilly doesn’t seem so hung up on who has the initiative and who is in control … but the one time she tried something else, she’s blindfolded Hisao first. Also, his arrhythmia kicked in at a really bad moment, so we'll never know if she liked surrendering control or not. The fact is – stated loud and clear by Hisao – that she takes the initiative and he likes it that way.

I was making a point earlier about each act including something kinky. For instance, with Lilly, it’s a play on the popular belief that pretty girls think of sex just like the rest of us. Lilly and Hisao’s first time happens spontaneously after the big emotional scene of mutual confession. The scene has a natural tension to it – Hanako is (presumably) sleeping next door, the sofa is a bit noisy, and none of them is wearing protection. They end up on the floor, with Lilly taking the top and Hisao the bottom. This being Lilly’s first time, it starts slower and a little painfully, but it ends without incident (quite a big deal, considering Hisao’s earlier arrhythmia episode)

The next day, while Hisao is soaking in the bathtub, Lilly walks primly in and gets in the tub with him. One thing leads to another, and they have their seconds out on the tiles, propped by the tub. Lilly’s audacity is quite something else: not only she didn’t tell Hanako where she’s going, but she left the door unlocked … and she’s on top again, thank you for the asking.

Also, speaking of titillating stuff, when they tell Hanako they just hooked up, it’s like inviting her to imagine what happened … and when. “Wait, so while I was doing the dishes …?”. Now they made her a willing and knowing accomplice to their affair. Yowza.
Before I forget - there is another implied sexual act when Lilly spends the night in Hisao's room - we get the morning end of this affair, with Hisao bringing in breakfast for him and his lady. Like I said, Lilly is a bold young lady, and the trust involved in getting out of the boys' dorm relying solely on Hisao's navigational skills speaks volumes about their relationship.

The third time, things start snowballing from Hisao’s blunder about Braille books and being blind in general. Lilly, clad in her delicious silk pajamas, makes a blindfold for Hisao, and sends him around her room. Obviously, he stumbles and falls. Something about making him helpless like that turns her on, because she suggests he should experience lovemaking by touch and feel, just like her. When Hisao peeps from under his blindfold, Lilly is getting ready on manual. That’s already enough fetishes to make me lose count. Hisao instead loses his cool and gets on top for the first time, but the effort and excitement are too much and he just about blacks out in the middle of it. Just in case you didn’t know, snuff games are a fetish too. So, is this scriptwriter smart or what?

The beauty of these scenes is that Hisao is always making love to Lilly, not just having sex. The sentimental element is right there. And through it all Lilly moves with her usual deliberate pace, from confessing her love to consuming her passion, everything done with a sense of control and of grace. Hot damn.

When I had to give a short description of Emi to a fellow forum goer, I wrote spontaneously "a playful kid". Just move your eyes from the impish face above to the childish image bellow:
If that's not a loli, I don't know what is. She's short, small chested but identifiably female, and acts like a cute little imp. And while she looks barely legal, she's conveniently one year older than the rest of the cast because she lost one year with hospitalization and rehab. That puts her conveniently around 18. Not just past the age of consent in Japan, but well within legal age in Europe, for instance.

Past the fetish of hooking up with a jailbait loli, there's another popular belief fueling the sex scenes of the Emi route: athletes like rough sex.
(yes, I know WoF rules, don't ruin the joke)

It’s hard to shake the impression of speaking to an underage person with Emi. On one hand, her passion for running precludes any intellectual hobby. On the other, she does a lot of childish things, from her constant joke about being late, to being a glutton, to claiming plans for a career in piracy, yarr. And let’s not forget that spontaneous pillow fight. So the contrast is really high to the times she suddenly drops an innuendo about mature stuff (like “better than sex!”, "hurry up if you're gonna kiss me" or all the talk about the track team captain; last but not least, that damned head nurse keeps menacing you - jovially - about jumping her bones). Yer Honor, I've been thoroughly set up for seducing a minor.
(that's like saying he was doing the very same thing at the very same time ... with her Mom)
The little imp is not as innocent as she looks. In Hisao's words, when he fell on top of her, she had this little light in her eyes, daring him to go on. When they wrestle again in a similar position (IIRC that's after she gets a stump infection from abusing her prosthetic no-legs, and gets confined to a wheelchair), she expertly whips off her blouse and bra in almost one move. Ride 'em, cowgirl.Then Hisao has to walk to his dorm with a damning smear on his pants.Well, Kenji is legally blind anyway.
Actually, speaking of unlocked doors ... Rin is a bro.

But of course, nothing beats the sports materials shed scheme. From the fib about needing friction gloves, to taking Hisao to a conveniently isolated location with mattresses, to mentioning the track captain's high opinion about backdoor knocking, it all suggests a red thread of "planned in advance" to me (oh look, she says she's not on a safe day). Yeah, maybe athletes do like rough sex. At least Emi didn't like this one so much. But, to paraphrase Dr. Ruth: between consenting adults, "perversion" is a meaningless word.

The third instance of sex is the highly rewarding good ending of her route.After all that misunderstandings crap got tossed out and her past has been revealed and accepted, what could be more glorious than going back to your nest and making sweet love? Only one thing: waking up to this:

With Rin, the notion of having sex with a crippled girl finally comes into its own. The obvious obstacles are illustrated by this famous scene:
The hugging involves Rin leaning into Hisao and cradling her chin in the crook of his shoulder. It is, and yet it isn't what you'd expect from a hug. It's heartwarming and sorrowful at the same time.

(On a personal note, I appreciate that, among all the stupid things Hisao did, he never asked about the reason why Rin has no hands. In my personal interpretation, she was born without; the initial concept called for another double amputation. It's not like it makes any difference, but I like my own version better.)

Rin has from the start a dismissive attitude towards sex, treating it like the punch line of a joke:
That sets the tone for Hisao's relationship with her. When it comes to intimate things, Rin makes fun of the situation before it gets really awkward, see exhibit #3:
She tones it down after they get to know each other better, but it's obvious that she's not buying into the whole romantic approach. That's because she is awfully awkward with words sometime, and she's afraid of missing the context at a crucial point. In her view, simple and direct is better.

Due to this, Hisao has to adjust, and generally cut through the bullshit when he wants to speak to her about important matters. Getting intimate with Rin involves a lot of steps of different kinds of intimacy: sharing her creative space; sharing her (often maddening) thought process; sharing her ideals by accepting her work methods; sharing her workload (that one is a resounding failure). This whole roundabout approach isn't lost on Rin: she sees and feels him growing closer, and accepts it ... to a point.Her signals may appear mixed and chaotic, but one only has to step back a little to get this: nobody is as close to Rin as Hisao. Nobody.
And since I turned this into a Powerpoint presentation, let me say this: for people with the full use of their limbs, this kind of scene is considered pretty erotic. That doesn't mean it's less erotic for Rin. Eroticism is about exploring and negotiating boundaries of intimacy. Integrity of limbs has nothing to do with it:
But, there's a catch: she has a job to do first. A job that involves "destroying" the old Rin to bring forth a new Rin. More mature in her thinking, more ambitious in her art. Hisao evolved into her only link with the past. Uniting with the past now is putting in jeopardy the whole process of change. At some level, she wants to go back; at a much higher level, she wants to seize this vision of the future that's dancing just out of grasp. It's stuff that drives her mad, and lonely. Above all, very, very lonely.

Right. Sorry for the story mode. So, poor Rin feels like what she gained before is being lost, and what she staked in the game isn't being won.What's left is a disoriented girl, shivering all alone in a place feeling vast, cold and remote.In cases like that, some people rock themselves to sleep; some suck on their thumb; and a minority falls back on self comforting.

So, here's the kinky part. Q: How does an armless girl masturbate? A: I don't know, why don't you give her a hand?

Which is what Hisao does. This is the girl he loves, and she has walked right to the frayed edge of sanity. He cannot leave her be. He knows they will probably both blank this out of their memory. Right here, though, he can do something to help her. And, just to make things clear, helping your partner reach climax without getting any yourself may not meet the definition of intercourse, but it falls well within the meaning of making love.

Next day, Rin is back to normal (by Rin standards). She even cracks a joke about last night ("It feels strange. Like I lost something. I mean something else than my marital purity"). It's good news on short term, but it does nothing for his long term issues. For a while now, Hisao has been accumulating frustration, partly from the fact that he's been constantly giving without much receiving, and partly from having his feelings and needs pushed down to the bottom of the priorities list. He's a teenager and he doesn't take frustration too well. That's why he blows up so badly in her face at the inauguration: "You've sacrificed me, my love, your health and your sanity for this; why aren't you happy?". He would know if he stopped to consider, but he's too fired up for stop for anything.
Just in case you are wondering: why so much story discussion? In Rin's case, and even more in Hanako's, the sensuality is closely interconnected with the story. Things happen because of the story, and not the other way around. As a matter of fact, throughout Katawa Shoujo, the intimate moments help in building and consolidating the individual stories. It's such a refreshing experience compared to so many other Visual Novels, where sex blunders in more like a contractual obligation than as story development. In Type-Moon universe, sex happens to enable endgame drama, adding sentimental value to that which has to be lost or sacrificed. At least here, it's a normal fact of life, born out of understandable reasons.

The other intimate moment with Rin comes at the end of her path. The exhibition came and passed; people got puzzled or angry at Rin's deserting the inauguration party. The angriest people were Nomiya, that hack who was supposed to know artists are obsessive and self-destructive, but instead wanted his ticket to glory as Rin's mentor; and Hisao. Hisao is still on the learning curve, finding out that artists are not very happy people, and sometime they're not happy with their art, either. Accusations went flying, some ridiculous, some close to the mark; they both blew their steam at Rin, and not even her could let all of that slide. She was shaken; she cried; she somehow got through to him about all this being a mess of miscommunication. People, including her, had unrealistic expectations from this exhibition project. While it accomplished a jump forward for her art, it didn't help people understand Rin; it wasn't a resounding success for Nomiya; it wasn't something that brought her recognition, as Hisao hoped. It was just a one of a kind experience that left Rin drained and disappointed. There's a lot of typical Rin-Hisao conversation going on, plenty of disappointments being voiced by Hisao, but the funny thing is, he's still the only one getting her to make sense, and she's going the extra distance to keep him in orbit.
The day ends in exhaustion, but in a much calmer mood. And the very next day, Rin comes from a stroll in the rain under an imaginary umbrella (it's a Rin-ism, it means bareheaded), drenched and sheepishly seductive:
As Hisao tries to help her towel off, he starts removing her clothes, starting with the shirt and moving on down. Her fragile frame gives him pause, feeling both fitting for her personality and a little pitiful. As he helps her towel off her legs - her instead-of-hands, as he knows too well - she gives him a little nudge with her heel to look up. The gesture is both inviting and directing, and he takes the hint at once:

 After the first wave of passion is spent, there's a brief moment of lucidity where I almost didn't recognize Rin. It's like that change she's been chasing after finally caught up with her. There's no dodging behind words anymore, just two lovers finally communing:
This is where the levee breaks and passion cannot be stopped anymore. It’s the point where the little physical discrepancies become irrelevant. The mutual desire finds ways to adjust to the situation, and all that is left is the glorious union of a man and a woman in love. Was that cripple sex? Damn if I noticed, and damn if I cared.

You know, until the Shizune route, guessing when or where the h scenes are about to occur is simple and intuitive. For instance, romancing Lilly inside the campus is pretty uneventful. The most daring thing is dining at a restaurant in the city. It’s cute and heartwarming, but also pretty subdued. It doesn’t involve passion. When Lilly speaks of going away to celebrate her return from Scotland, all the way to the little vacation home, the reader’s (metaphorical) antennae instinctively go up. A private trip? Smells like lovers eloping to somewhere more private. So it’s no surprise that their first lovemaking night is consumed on this trip, and even less surprising that is occurs after they exchange their ‘I love you’s. It doesn’t make sense to wait any longer.

With Emi, it’s a little more difficult because she’s a little playful and just a tiny bit inviting all the time. There’s a psychological threshold that has to be overcome first – you have to remain her playmate through her little crisis of infected leg stump. Acting too protective is counterproductive. She’s a wild thing, and above all she is free. She won’t be yours until you prove you can play along. Other than that, it’s about getting in her room and acting like you belong there. Her playful tousle is ignited by her sense of pride – she has her no-legs off, but she hates being thought of as a cripple, so she climbs on top almost instinctively. From there, her exuberant nature takes the next step effortlessly, and there’s no breaks on the Emi train. As for the shed episode, if you don’t see it coming from a mile away, you’re blinder than Kenji.

Rin’s h scenes are even more difficult, because the script has Rin signaling left before turning right. Of course, the painting studio near The 22nd Corner sounds like a good place to bonk in, just like Lilly’s vacation home. It’s Rin’s determination to get the painting done that keeps getting in the way, until you almost lose hope. Her breakdown sounds like a bad place to butt in, but with Rin, you have to use what you get, because there mightn’t be a second chance. Your last scene with her makes more sense if you’re not caught in the intentional emotional turmoil. You have most of the dorm to yourselves: it’s the semester’s end, people left, only a few remained. I don’t think Rin didn’t count on that: she seemed so lucid during her seduction scene, so into it that she probably set it up intentionally. Besides, “hey, I’m wet, won’t you help me dry off?” is really a thin excuse. It only feels exceptional because this is Rin, and planning never seemed to be her strong suit. Doesn’t mean she can’t, though. If she did, there's no malice involved - this is the one thing both of you need to clear.

Hanako’s scene is being set up so long in advance that it doesn’t surprise you. You think the supreme seal of confidence and the signal to the end of her seclusion will be making love to her. The real surprise is how suddenly you get to it, when all the pieces have been set in place. It’s like a vortex, sucking you in all of a sudden, but when you hear Hanako locking the door and pulling the curtains, you know what’s going to happen. The suddenness is intentional, as a setup for the grand finale. You’re supposed to jump before you look, so you can regret it later.

Misha’s scene is unsurprising as well. When she comes by herself in your room and asks for comforting, what do you think it means – playing cribbage? Of course it means nookie. And she’s only offering a token of resistance. Of course, there’s no build up to the event, just Misha becoming more and more of a fifth wheel between you and Shizune. And in fact, it’s Shizune she’s after, that which she wants but cannot get. It’s not impossible that she knows you’ve boned Shizune already; it’s like she came to take her scent off you. And, what do you know, it’s super effective. You won’t bonk Shizune anymore, ever.

Shizune is the only girl whose h scenes are counter-intuitive. They make more sense in hindsight than in the narrative flow. Take for instance the trip to her house with Hisao and Misha in tow. Unlike Lilly’s remote bungalow, this is something of a villa smack in the middle of the city. Also unlike any of the places the other girls take you for … private stuff, this place is almost crowded. There’s Lilly and Akira (on temporary stay), Hideaki and Shizune’s Dad, and of course Misha. There’s an air of Alice in Wonderland about this place – everybody seems to be doing as they please, conversations tend to become absurd when you least expect it, and that bear man is like a male Queen of Hearts. I’d call this the least expected place for any erotic development. It’s not somewhere where you can feel comfortable and relaxed, or get in the mood for necking with your girlfriend. Quite the opposite.

And yet, this is Shizune’s home turf. What doesn’t work for Hisao might work for her. While it’s never said to be so, it would appear she and her Dad have a history of butting heads. He doesn’t approve of her taking over the Council, not because it might be more than she can handle, but because he deems it puny and insignificant, a waste of time. His negative opinions have shaped Shizune’s take charge personality, to the point of challenging any of his negative opinions just to prove him wrong. In this reverse psychology, his friction with Hisao is making the latter’s importance go up, so much so that she feels like picking up the challenge instantly. Besides, Hisao has been around her long enough to build a bit of self-righteousness. He’s not taking the verbal abuse lying down, but trading blow for blow. Shizune may not get the particulars, but it’s clear her boyfriend is telling her Dad off. For the said reasons, this is pleasing her mightily.

She may not have a clear idea how she wants to reward Hisao for his “good behavior” when she signs him to follow her inside the house, but the iced water incident sure gives her an idea. He’s been doing good work with the Council, he’s even picked up sign language to talk to her, he asked to become her boyfriend … heh, why not give him what he surely must crave? But only when, where and how she wants. He looked about ready to take the initiative earlier, let him simmer a bit before gulping him whole. 
Other people noticed this first: tying Hisao's hands isn't just a domination game, it's also cutting his means of communication, i.e. denying him the possibility of objection. This is entirely Shizune giving him a tightrope sexual experience - once again, the door's just closed, not locked. Anyone could walk in unannounced. Shizune couldn't possibly hear, and she's facing away from the door. Hisao can't signal anyone approaching, either. All he can do is sit there and take what she's giving, gratefully. Because he is grateful. Somewhere along the line, he started wanting her too. He grasped the idea it has to be on her terms, or not at all, somewhere in the past, because he's not feeling used at all - just very elated it's finally happening. 

(The next part is based on a so-called popular view on Sigmund Freud’s theories, and my own recollection about the Dora case study. Neither excels at being scientifically accurate – but then, Freud himself wasn’t 100% right either)

Back in 1901 (turn of the century, what), Sigmund Freud did the first “clinical” write-up on one of the cases of hysteria he treated through the method that was soon going to be called psychoanalysis. Dr. Freud was a firm believer in certain behavior peculiarities having hidden causes, generally speaking repressed impulses of sexual nature. He went on to build an entire theory about a primal core of our personality – the “id”, deeply submerged in the subconscious part of our mind – trying to find the quickest gratification through these impulses, only to be overrode and governed by the more “civilized” part of our personality, the superego. Ditching the terminology, it simply means that some very basic part of us seeks pleasure, and the topmost organization of our mind, dealing with socially acceptable behavior and the costs vs. benefits of our actions, manages this basic urge by means of delayed gratification, i.e. you can have your nasty, but only when and where it’s appropriate. The lasting legacy of Dr. Freud is that public opinion was introduced to the idea of sexual impulses running within the family, between children and parents and vice-versa. Such impulses being socially inacceptable, they had to be repressed; the original Freud dogma goes much further with this, regarding development stages and satiating the libido at each stage, but that’s irrelevant to my case here. My point is that the sexual liberation of the 60s made short business of a number of socially unacceptable taboos; the monkey inside doesn’t have to stretch as far to get to its banana, these days. Under such a climate, girls have learned that their own sexuality can be used to get back at daddy in more ways than one (who am I kidding, they knew this back in the Stone Age; let’s just say it’s more relevant now). In my opinion, that’s the underpinning of Shizune’s sex drive throughout her route. Getting her rocks off is treated both as a healthy youthful impulse, and as a function that has a certain use and a rather clear purpose. 
You might say, why am I bringing this up again? The reason is that I think I’ve finally arranged my arguments for the case of “Shizune is sticking it to her Dad”.

Wait, I’ve got an idea. Let’s replay the scene inside the house from a slightly different angle. Hit it, Jerry.

Hi there, Elaine (no wait, it's Shizune). What? No, I didn’t rescue Hideaki. Don’t worry. Unless Boy George sweeps through your garden, he’s safe. Yeah, no points for style. So, I think you wanted to talk. Don’t want to? You’re in a bad mood. Oh, it’s about Misha’s hair. I think the exterior is now matching the interior more. No, I don’t think she looks like a tomboy. Not any more than you. Who am I kidding, look at that chest. Listen, if you miss her drills so much, grow some yourself. See, you’re not so hot on this. What do you mean, I talk like your father? You talk like your father. There, you just did. And don’t badmouth my color coordination, you tomboy.
… What’s that now? Wanna make more friends? Maybe a little less bitchin would help. Hey, watch what you’re doing with that water glass.
You’re quite soft, you know that? Nice pores. Just don’t overdo the face peeling. Want me to get off? Sure. Tell you what, I’m beat. I think I need to lay down in my room.
Hi there again. I see you followed me. Yeah, welcome to my room. No, it’s your guest room, silly. What was that? Oh, nothing. Well, you and Misha barged in my room before. Of course it made me nervous. You make me nervous. You always drag me somewhere. Anyway, that was a nice restaurant yesterday. Oh, it wasn’t your favorite. Say what? The chair’s too hard? Here, let’s switch. Want me to close my eyes? Whyhrmph … mmm, kissing. Kissing is nice. No … hey, don’t tie my hands. How am I supposed to talk to you with no hands? Oh, we’re not going to talk. No … wait … Elai (oh f*ck) SHIZUNE, HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING PORN AGAIN?

Is this what girls call foreplay these days?

Thank you, Jerry. And the scene continues with Shizune playing fireman up and down the pole. That’s mighty bold for a 17 year old, unless you’re in a strip joint or she’s a hooker. Yes, I can buy she’s role-playing here. Although, dear scriptwriter, don’t leave your safety catch on the Misha consolation route. It’s like you expect us to go that way first. In fact, there’s two safety catches, one after another: herp derp, Shizune is inexperienced, and Hisao took her maidenhead quickly. Nice back pedaling, man. Sorry, ever heard of ‘show, don’t tell’?

So, she’s only pretending to be more mature. It’s a tough sell for me, but let’s say I believe you. But. You’ve bludgeoned us with her way of doing business: gamble and gain. She gambles almost anything. Food. Taking a break. Paying the bill. Information. Unless she stakes something in the game, she won’t play. So, tell me: what is at stake this time? What came under fire from her father? The Student Council and her friends (which are one and the same thing, sadly). He dissed her doing things the Shizune way. What is at stake, again? Father’s authority. Well, screw him.

Let me show you a trick. I have two pairs of glasses here: guy glasses and chick glasses. Now I'm putting on my guy glasses. What I see at once as my issues with this scene (and the one towards the end) are the following:

1. Why is Shizune putting out only twice with Hisao?
2. Why is Shizune doing it bareback both times?

For the first question, I have a number of arguments. I framed them like this: Shizune knows how to f*ck [citation needed]; Shizune positively likes Hisao; their first time around the world was mutually satisfying. So, why so little sugar, honey?

I said in the beginning that it doesn’t matter to me which one of the girls in the game is and which isn’t a virgin. That doesn’t mean I didn’t pick up at once this fact: Emi and Shizune sure don't seem to be.

The writers inserted relevant details throughout their respective routes. With Lilly, you can take it to court: there’s bleeding, there’s discomfort and transitory pain. Virgin. With Hanako, there’s the same thing (darkened panties, excited and ready, wincing when he puts it all in at once). Virgin too. With Rin, it’s unclear, unless we take her own words as proof (about losing marital purity). Probably virgin. With Emi and Shizune, there's a lot of debatable stuff. Unlike Rin and Hanako, who let Hisao take control of the situation, they manage the act by choosing the position for intercourse. Emi’s playful tousle shows her willingness to experiment, which dovetails not only with what happened in the shed, but also with the frankness of her verbal approach during the same act and her mood afterwards. Other people would start throwing accusations and recriminations; Emi isn't. And Shizune utterly controls their first act, down to the depth of penetration and setting the rhythm. She goes in without much foreplay (unless there's some going on in her mind, of which we can't know anyway). She takes it all in in one sitting (sorry, couldn't help myself). There's this, but you can read it in a number of ways. In a short while, she starts sweating, which might look like she's crying ... nope. It's just sweat.

On their second act, she aggressively negotiates her position with Hisao, surrendering the top for bottom on a sudden impulse. Pure virginal white maiden? Hmmm.

Shizune genuinely liking Hisao is established at the end of the Tanabata festival, when she gets all flustered over his confession. It’s one of the rare moments of Shizune losing control over her emotions. Afterwards, she hides behind her businesslike attitude, but it becomes obvious she started telling Hisao more about herself than she ever told Misha, who is a very interested listener.

She has no reservations in telling him all her thoughts, because his opinion about her has become paramount. She wants him to understand her. For someone like Shizune, that’s a BIG vote of confidence.

Finally, the mutually pleasurable sexual experience is pretty evident, not just in her mood during the whole act, but in his mood as well. Unless Hisao has a hidden submissive streak, he’s taking the whole situation exceptionally well. He’s even grateful his ailing heart isn’t misbehaving and breaking the mood. And he never, ever, complains about it afterwards. He’s accepted her entirely, and she did the same for him.

So, why would two lovers with a successful first experience not carry on enjoying this new found union? Well, it’s because Shizune doesn’t want to. Shizune is all about effort and reward. Hisao isn't going anywhere. She could let him have some more whenever she thinks she can extract a satisfying reward out of it.
(If you don't like my theory, here's a hammer)
Oh, I almost forgot something. Shizune’s lovemaking is both times noisy. One could argue that a deaf girl has no notion of what noise is, so she wouldn’t know she’s making a ruckus. Ah, but she does. Remember her loud knuckle pop, used to attract attention? She knows. The only reasonable excuse is that she doesn’t know how much noise she’s making. In Hisao’s own words, she’s making the chair legs rap against the floor loud enough to be heard from the hall at home; in the Council room, the table they’re on creaks and thuds, once again loud enough to attract attention from the outer hall. In my best interpretation, she just doesn’t care. Her sexual adventures are a declaration of independence: why shouldn’t they be loud? Let the whole world hear it! 

Back to the regular program: why isn’t Shizune using protection any of the two times she beds Hisao? Besides being a mighty funny question for a bunch of VN characters, it’s one of the signs that Katawa Shoujo takes itself quite seriously. I would have missed the point entirely were it not for Akira’s knowing jab on the first route I played: “Always use protection!”. In the given context, it made me focus on this kind of detail; Emi pulling a condom from her cupboard thus came as a much smaller surprise. I started wondering, just in case: yea, what are the KS girls doing for protection against pregnancy?

Well, (obviously in my opinion and with scant conjectural proof), it breaks down like this: Lilly appears to be on the pill; Hanako relies on her partner to use protection; Emi is probably regular like a Swiss clock but also 1 year older, so she takes the “mature” option - condoms; Rin apparently took no precautions; Misha and Shizune intentionally didn’t use any protection. Now to motivate my impressions: Lilly is not only claiming she did use protection (I tend to believe her), she is running a tight ship in all things she does. Control over her bodily functions sounds like her kind of option, and the most accessible means is the pill. Of course, she could have used a morning-after pill, or just plain lied, but she doesn’t strike me as a careless person. Plus, there is no mention of Hisao using condoms in any of his further contacts with her.
 Hanako only just thawed out of her permafrost. Intimate relations were not in her foreseeable future … but when they did come, it was in such a tumbling rush that she wholly surrendered to her partner.
I can claim no extraordinary medical knowledge, but it stands to reason an athletic person like Emi wouldn’t be into sports if her menses were irregular and painful. The pill could interfere with her capacity for effort [more citation needed]. Still, the whole argument is moot: she is a little older than the other girls, so she takes a knowing choice by using condoms. Why she has condoms on stock? Well … she did have a boyfriend before.

With Rin, things are clouded as usual. She could be regular like Emi, on the pill like Lilly, or just not preoccupied by such things. She has a stoic kind of attitude towards things that happen to her; she could have just gambled it all on achieving reconciliation with Hisao. If that involved getting pregnant, so be it.

Now we get to Misha and her apparent lack of precautions. From her own statement, we know she’s never been with a boy before; that says exactly nothing about previous female partners, though. Is she planning to sink Hisao’s future with Shizune the nasty way (“your boyfriend got me pregnant”)? She doesn’t strike me as a malicious person, but I can’t entirely shake the suspicion she wants out of this love triangle that’s making her really miserable. In her defense, I bring this montage (thank you, APC and Picture Collage maker):
She acted on impulse and with no precautions. The fact is, she almost turned a bad situation into something much worse. There’s something else going on as well, and I’ll get to it in a minute.
So: intelligent, analytical, driven overachiever Shizune, compulsive gambler in search of the extra thrill, just forgot to take any precautions, despite having the initiative both times? Sure; also, the Brooklyn bridge is for sale and the Moon is made of green cheese. With her type of personality, I’d expect her to both take the pill and make Hisao wear a condom. And if you’re thinking something silly like “she’s just showing how much she trusts him”, get real. That’s not how it works. She’s just throwing reason to the wind in the most daring gamble she came up with. Even if the unmentionable happens, it’s still something she can chuck at her father: the boyfriend you don’t approve of got me in the family way. Also, he’s incredible in bed. Choke on it, old man.

Right. So, what’s the deal with Misha practically offering to have sex with Hisao, in between his two acts with Shizune? Through the guy glasses, it seems simple: with Shizune not giving him any, where does his unspent sexual energy go? That’s right: into bonking Misha. On that path, Shizune finds out he found a release valve, and it’s all her fault.
(the picture is a little out of context, but there's a different one in which Hisao mentally checks they were facing away from her and, even if Misha was signing her words by reflex, he was between Misha and Shizune)

The story is pretty simple. Since Hisao came between Misha and Shizune, Misha started fearing losing them both. The school year is nearing its end. Separation is inevitable. Misha already "lost" Shizune once, when the latter refused to become her lover. Now she doesn't want to lose her as a friend, too. Hisao pretty much nails it here:
 You can only be Shizune's friend if she wants you to. She's just not very good with people. "Befriending" and "drafting" are almost synonymous to her. Alas, knowing what's right doesn't help at all. Now that Misha isn't indispensable anymore to Shizune (not even as an interpreter), the frustrations accumulated in years of being Shizune's voluntary hostage tend to surface.
 The girls try to talk it off, but Misha gets into a [shouting match] with Shizune, and afterwards, whenever one of them wants to apologize, the other is not in the mood. Misha apparently decides it's her fault and pulls out of the entanglement, trying to pursue her teaching career again. Shizune just cannot pretend nothing happened. None of her attempts works. In the end, she gives in to doubt and remorse, and decides to cut Hisao loose too. She just tells him to go, and go away he does.
On the route with no consolation for Misha, things happen much the same way, except Misha is more malleable. Hisao's plea has a better effect. I'm still not seeing what goes so radically right on this path, but what the hey. Friendship conquers all.

Now hold on a second until I switch the guy glasses with the chick glasses. There's this anecdote going around: when presented with the opportunity of having sex, a guy's first concern is "where", while a woman's first concern is "why". The chick glasses change the perspective from "why did they have sex only two times" to "why did they have sex the second time".

What is Hisao to Shizune? Well, he shaped up into what we call a true friend. He's the guy who made her laugh, several times. He's the guy who accepts her defects, but he's also the guy who opposed her opinion when he didn't like it. He didn't preach to her, just spoke his mind without fear. He's a collaborator, not a flunky: he brings a different perspective to complement her own. While he's not the most social person, his social skills come in handy when the Shizune approach doesn't work. He treats everybody nicely, starting with classmates and ending with Misha or Lilly. There may not be much love lost between Shizune and Lilly, but they're still family, and, in a convoluted way, Shizune's constant criticism is a form of care. As her boyfriend, Hisao never asked, let alone forced, Shizune to pull away from people he didn't like. There's plenty of boyfriends who do that. And there's plenty of boyfriends who want their relationship to change after the first night together. Hisao kept it all private, not objecting once to the silent treatment applied to their first sexual experience. He voluntarily shouldered each task she put her mind to, including the campaign for a new Student Council.

Still, why no sex until the new Council affair is wrapped up? For one thing, this was a long effort that didn't go to her liking, what with the low public interest and comments about starting to worry too soon about things a long way off. She didn't allow herself a respite, and as a consequence neither did the rest of the Council. In the end, a new president and vice-president were elected. For another thing, Shizune wants to make it a little festive, like a going away party. Everybody is a little worried about the school year ending and having to part with friends. What better way to say goodbye than giving your boyfriend a good time, right? Alright, give us the good word, Brother Kenji!
(These damned chick glasses give me strangest urges. Off with them.)
So, officer, I was minding my own business, chatting with the Student Council president (who also happens to be my hot girlfriend), when she pounced on me, just like that. Yap yap yap WANNA SEX?

You see, she's kinda stunning. Has a great figure under that school uniform. Here, let me show you:

Anyway, she blitzkrieged me before. I kinda know the drill by now. It's push, a little give, then push again on two fronts at the same time. And that's probably when you walked in on us.

Just kidding. But the act does take an impromptu break - I think Shizune forgot to pace herself here and almost raced past Hisao to an early climax. She did ask him how come he is bolder than on the roof, or back at her house. It probably dawned on her that it's not much of a treat if you finish first, so she feinted a slip and broke off. Which is when both idiots remembered to check that damn door lock. Jeebus!

So she taunts him to take the initiative for the second half. Not that she doesn't help him a little. Like a helping  hand or both. For a deaf person, Shizune does have an interesting focus on hand play (she traced her fingers over his hands the previous time). Whether that's symbolic or not it's anyone's guess. Anyway, this time they reach climax together ... and anyone except Super Shizune would enjoy a little afterglow. Not her. She jumps straight into taunting him about how fortunate it is that Misha had to be somewhere else. She's setting him up for a bit of spying on Misha - which they will do together anyway, a little later this same evening - fibbing about her sleeping in the Council room this night. Good grief. They barely unlocked at the groin and she's back to playing games. Stay classy, love.

I still owe a verdict on whether this can be considered revenge against parental censoring from her Dad or not. It's a stretch, but I think it is. It's not coming right after a clash of wills with her Dad like the first time, but it's not that far from another one happening right there in the council room. Like a true Cosmopolitan reader, she decided to mark her entrance into young adult life by seeking pleasure in the arms of her lover. It's not her first time, but damn if it doesn't feel premeditated. I'd give her an 8/10 for remembering this was supposed to be enjoyable for both, and showing that she can amend her style if she thinks it's worth it.

Audiatur et altera pars: There is a way of interpreting Shizune's behavior that covers the lack of activity and certain aspects of non sequitur. Remember the picture I called a "hammer" earlier? Really early on, back in the days when Shizune was trying really hard to recruit Hisao, she and Misha barged into his room. Hisao frantically tried to hide his row of medicines, but the girls noticed and pried into the matter. He barely managed to dodge the questions. But, like Misha implied when Hanako dropped by the Council room, the Student Council has access to private data. If Shizune wanted to know (and I guess she did, after Emi caromed into Hisao and caused him some heart pains), she had the means. It is reasonable to suspect Shizune became more careful with Hisao from that point on. When they were making the stalls for Tanabata, she kept an eye on him for signs of unnatural fatigue. Every now and then, she would remember it's dangerous to constrict his breathing - which could explain the stilted hug she gave him. Or maybe she really has little practice with it. And, while her love making is impetuous and abrupt, she might still be searching his face for signs of pain or discomfort. That could almost explain why she instantly threw a feint after they finished their second act - Hisao was feeling a little heart pain, and it must have showed on his face. Just like Rin, who (at least once) dropped into silly talk to make him smile, Shizune may be trying to distract him from gloomy thoughts. It's an interpretation that puts Shizune in a better light, but it's not fixing all the inconsistencies.

PS: What is Shizune's kinky theme? "A quiet girl can be a tiger in bed".