Katawa Shoujo is pretty much the third visual novel I’ve ever read (and after reading Little Busters! and Rewrite, of all VNs, at that). It’s been a while since I read it, and I don’t know if I want to revisit it, but I did remember enjoying it a lot.
I don’t think I can pick a favorite character – I think I’m torn between Rin (a love at first sight) and Shizune (who totes warmed up to me) – but I can say for sure that Lilly had the best ending. That ending is total love. Likewise, I don’t think I can pick a favorite route without revisiting it. Coincidentally, Rin’s and Shizune’s themes are also my favorites.
Meanwhile, Hanako route contained the best CG in the game:
Call me weird, but I personally love this more than the sunset field scene. And the sunset field scene is glorious, I agree. :))
As for the story itself, I can’t really judge it right now – I might get a different impression on the writing if I read it again. However, I still appreciate the effective thematic exploration that the story offered. It doesn’t really hide it – this is meant to be a collection of character stories meant to portray PWDs as human beings with agency.
And agency plays a big role in the story: Hisao feared that being treated as a PWD would take away his agency, until he became acquainted to these girls. Practially every one of the girls already found their agency in the story (though in the case of Hanako, her struggle is that she wants her agency to be recognized, but everyone keeps pitying her). Through knowing these girls, Hisao eventually realizes pretty much that.
And there are a lot of efforts made to show that agency: in their passions, their relationships, the way they handle a sad past or a situation, and heck, even their h-scenes. And I personally found the h-scenes to be pretty tasteful because of what it meant in the story.
Meanwhile, if there’s anything I dislike in the story, it’s Kenji and Shizune’s dad. Arrrrrghhhh. To the point that I get triggered every time I hear the percussive intro of Kenji’s theme. AAAAAAAAA.
The art is jarringly inconsistent, but I appreciate its aesthetics regardless. The music is either quite beautiful, or doesn’t really stand out.
In any case, I think the story succeeds in what it wants to do, and I can appreciate that.