The Let's Play Archive

Katawa Shoujo

by Falconier111

Part 144: "Dullahan-chan Wants to be Coddled" (Pt. 1)

Interviews with Monster Girls, Episode 2: Dullahan-chan Wants to be Coddled (Pt. 1)

We open on the prep room.

Takahashi’s trying to hold a conversation with Kyouko, but he isn’t having a lot of success.

He keeps looking between her face in her lap and the giant flame on her neck (currently emitting :ghost: sounds). Kyouko’s just like :confused: and doesn’t take offense, possibly because a giant cold blue flame shooting out of a teenager’s neck is a very unusual sight.

When he asks about it, she offers to let him touch it, which he does. He testifies it doesn’t feel like putting your hand to fire; in fact, it’s somewhere between moving your hand through slightly resistant air and something he has no context for. “It’s like something out of this world”.

And then he jumps back when she starts to cry. While some contact is fine, extensive contact – or fucking grabbing hold of it – causes her serious nerve pain. Flustered and kind of upset, he makes it clear she has the right to refuse anything he requests (which I really hope he made clear before she sat down), but she recovers pretty quickly…

… And starts demonstrating the connection between her head in her body at his request by waving it around. They may be spatially distant, but on a biological level that flame may as well be a normal neck. There’s no time delay, no problems with interference, nothing.

She even accidentally tested it at one point. Her grandparents live in Okayama, about 650 km away from Tokyo (400 miles in American). At one point her body got on a bullet train that went all the way back to Tokyo with her head still in the arms of her horrified grandma. No issues, biologically at least.

He expresses the obligatory “that must be hard for you”, but she’s just kinda like “we make it work!”

Like, we get some shots of her in everyday life. She eats by placing her head in a sort of head-holding harness on her chest, which seems to work just fine. We also learn that she puts her head in a sling above the top by :sigh: getting a shot of her naked in the bath. The water covers everything up, but still.

All in all, she’s pretty independent, as she demonstrates. I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth noting that, while some of us don’t like talking about it, others actually enjoy talking about their disability and even showing it off. Sometimes, I’ve seen people get really awkward about it, like they’re worried that they might accidentally cross a line. Don’t worry about it; if they’re showing you, they expect you to be interested and won’t take offense. Just, you know, try not to condescend to them or talk down to them. You shouldn’t be doing that anyway, but it’s always worth drilling in.

Anyway, as long as she uses the right equipment and takes some basic precautions, she can get around on her own. The real issue?

Social interaction.

People look at her and see her disability first and foremost. They do take time to interact with her, but it takes forever for them to get comfortable (Hikari’s an exception, seeing as to how she doesn’t give a shit). But Kyouko also got sick and had to miss the first few days of school, and as an incoming freshman, it means she missed the meet and greet stage, just making things worse. By the way, that’s what was up with the cold thing earlier; she forced herself to come in before she got over it to try and circumvent that issue, and ended up passing out from the strain. That is uncomfortably familiar for a lot of us. Forcing ourselves to keep up with people to stop them from judging us by our disabilities, only for our bodies to pay the price? Yeah, a lot of us of been there. And half the time (if that) it doesn’t even work. We’ll be touching on the extreme pressure of passing later. She just wishes her relationship with her classmates was so casual she could joke about her condition with them.

He leans back to consider this, showing his impressive forearms…

… And we find out for sure she has a crush.

Anyway, Takahashi suggests doing just that: if she wants that kind of friendship, she can open by setting her preferred level of formality and setting boundaries, which is… A really good suggestion!

They move on to another topic – dullahans like Kyouko are super rare, literally 1 in a billion and he wants to talk to her about that – but she has… Other interests.

She wants him to hold her head. For science.

He complies. The anime makes it clear he’s not thinking about any possible romantic implications, but she is.

Eventually, she breaks, and her body expresses her emotional state with a massive pillar of cold flame. It literally bounces off the ceiling. After he goes :raise:, she explains that having people hold her head calms her down, but she was told she had to get over it and stop now that she’s in high school. But… She just can’t do it.

As she goes :vince: in his arms, Takahashi ruminates on how dullahans rely on other bodies just to get around. Even their own bodies are separate from their heads. He says they get lonely easily because that reliance makes being separate from others kind of dangerous and anxiety inducing. And… Well, being reliant on others is a complicated factor when it comes to disability. Some of us get along just fine on our own. Some of us need assistance and accommodations, but are capable of living independently if we can get them. And some of us need intensive care just to survive. It varies from person to person and circumstance to circumstance, and the things that need care aren’t always the disability itself; it’s entirely possible for, say, someone who can get around normally most of the time but is in constant danger if something goes wrong (such as many people with narcolepsy or, yes, Kyouko here) need psychological coping mechanisms on hand as well. I know her parents are just trying to help prepare her for the real world, but it’s probably not a great idea to take away that coping mechanism. Sometimes…

You get a title drop!

Takahashi does make note of the fact that, despite the reality of the situation, him holding her head in his lap looks kind of inappropriate, but it probably won’t be an issue unless anyone sees them…

… Like Hikari.

Takahashi chases after Hikari as she shouts about having big news to tell everyone while Kyouko smiles ruefully.

Cut to Kyouko and Hikari walking home that afternoon. Kyouko thanks her for introducing her to Takahashi while Hikari laughs at the look on his face.

Hikari spots Yuki and, as is her wont, tackles her – and tries to invite herself along on the walk to her house, since they both live in the same direction. She also introduces Kyouko.

Yuki is… Less than enthused. Looking anxious, she begs off and heads out on her own with a paperthin excuse.

Hikari’s too busy fawning over her naturally cool body to notice.

Kyouko notices, though.

And we cut to the end of Hikari’s journey home. She invites Kyouko in, but Kyouko also begs off so she doesn’t worry her parents.

In a perfect example of convenient timing, her mom calls her at that exact moment and she has to go through a whole process of putting down her bookbag, crouching, fishing out her phone and only then holding a conversation.

Hikari watches her talk, waves as she heads off, and seems to think about something.

That night, Kyouko starts to go to sleep. As she drifts off, she considers how much more difficult high school’s going to be…

… Then wakes up and types herself a note for use the next day.

She goes to sleep thinking of her teacher crush.