Part 18: Dont PanicUpdate 16: Dont Panic
All six of Act 1s endings route through the following scene before they hit their climax. Unfortunately, the scene includes Kenji.
Katawa Shoujo OST Daylight
The next day, I wake up feeling a little lightheaded. It's almost noon already. Sleeping late is fine, since it's a Sunday and there are no classes. Not just a Sunday, though, but the festival as well. From my window I can already see some people at the soba booth slinging noodles onto plates for people with a craving for low-quality food. I throw back a handful of my morning meds and ponder how to spend the day. There will be a few exams in the coming week, but I don't consider those as ominous as others, so I'm not as worried about them as I probably should be. With no urgent obligations regarding education, I should be free to spend the day at the festival as I like.
Finishing my morning routine, I exit into the hallway, intending to go out and find something to eat. Passing by his door, I decide to see what Kenji's up to today out of impulse. I'm curious if he has any plans, since everyone is doing something. Then again, I can picture him having built a soundproof shelter in his room. Or possibly something like a fort, complete with No Girls Allowed sign. ... and with the Girls crossed out and body crudely scrawled underneath it. Knocking on his door which is luckily devoid of any kind of sign, I hear again the unsettling clicking of at least ten locks being pulled back. The door opens up a crack.
KENJI: "Who is it?"
HISAO: "You're supposed to ask that before you open the door."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Out of the Loop (Kenji's Theme)
KENJI: "Oh, it's you. Damn, it's early."
HISAO: "It's not really that early."
KENJI: "What is it, man?"
HISAO: "Nothing, was just gonna ask what you're gonna do today. Half the school is out there already."
KENJI: "Out where? Why?"
KENJI: "What what? Is today special? Why are they there? Who are? I can hear them. It's loud... don't tell me... Has the invasion begun? It's going to be loud as hell. Damn, and I was going to go out today, but now it's ruined, everything is ruined. This is awful. This sucks. This sucks! What the hell, this really sucks. I can't go anywhere now. There's nowhere to run."
Kenji seems nervous. You could even say he's majorly freaking out.
KENJI: "I can't believe this. So that's what today was. Damn, and I couldn't even prepare for it. I couldn't even brace myself and now it's here and I can't do anything. You should have told me this earlier, dude. I mean, at least, I know, but... I could have known earlier! Imagine what I could have accomplished..."
HISAO: "Sorry. I thought you knew. So I guess you're not going to do anything today? The weather is even good. Yesterday was really windy, so I thought today would be cold. It's not, though, so there's no reason to just stay inside. Yeah, you should check the festival out."
Kenji groans and covers his face with his hands.
KENJI: "Agh, no, no! I can't do it. They'll eat me alive out there, I know it."
That has to be a joke, but he said it with such a straight face. Relatively straight.
KENJI: "What are you going to do? We should hang out in here, you can help me build my fort. We might still make it if we work together."
HISAO: "I wonder... I'm kinda hungry, but I made this deal that I try to take better care of myself. Be healthier, you know. Dunno if I should steer clear of the takoyaki, or head straight in."
KENJI: "Deal? Sounds ominous. So what are you getting in return?"
HISAO: "Nothing, I guess? It's not that kind of a deal.
HISAO: You know Emi, from our year? We kinda agreed to watch each other's backs and..."
The shrill scream and the expression of abject terror in Kenji's face chill my blood. It's as if I told a Catholic priest I sold my soul to the devil.
KENJI: "Her! You sold your soul to the devil, and didn't get anything in return? What the hell is wrong with you, man? Do you know who you are dealing with? She's a public health danger. Do you know how many people she sends to the hospital monthly with her carefully placed flying tackles? She's one of them! A key player in the vast conspiracy that aims for the complete submission of everything that is manly. I can't believe what I'm hearing. I trusted in your judgment, man. I thought we were brothers. You have to call it off before it's too late. This festival too; it's just one of their ploys."
He fingers his scarf nervously, faster and faster like he is trying to start a fire, then slowly begins to calm down once the panic attack finishes running its course.
KENJI: "I'm going to have to find some place to hide in, a safe haven. And then knock the lights out of myself so that I don't have to experience this horrible day. I have the perfect thing for that. I must prepare now. Don't go to the festival."
KENJI: "Later, dude."
Goodbye, you extremely uncomfortable person. This game frontloads its :kenji: - he shows up from time to time in other routes, but he gets by far the most focus in Act 1. Ill be circling back here from time to time to show off how things differ at the start of various routes, but Ill be skipping anything weve seen before and that includes the vast majority of his scenes. Rejoice!
The door slowly closes with a low creak and I don't know how to feel about what Kenji just said. It's kinda unsettling, and now I start to feel doubtful, myself. Should I bother going? I've got a book I've been meaning to read. Something about an underground postal system that may or may not exist. It's short, too. I could have it finished in a day. But would that be a good way to spend my time? Well, yeah. It definitely would be. But I suppose that it would probably be a better idea to head outside. See the festival. Try to integrate with all the other sideshow acts. Honestly, I should at least make an attempt to keep up the somewhat friendly personality I've had the past week. Maybe get something to eat, my stomach suggests. It's almost lunchtime... I could at least grab something from one of the stalls outside.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
I'm soon outside, surrounded by various students and people who may or may not be their parents. Every so often I catch a glimpse of someone who clearly just came up from town for the promise of a festival. They're easy to spot. The ones who can't stop staring, and behind their eyes you can tell they're thinking Now, what's wrong with this one? I almost want to yell at them. But at the same time, can I deny that I've been doing the same thing all week? A wave of something like disgust sweeps over me; guilt for my own narrow-mindedness.
I push the thoughts aside, concentrating on the pangs of hunger that burn my guts like a wildfire. The scent of something fried leads me to the promised land, where I can get some lunch. I'm just getting my order when a loud voice interrupts me.
EMI: "Hey, what the hell are you doing?"
HISAO: "Having break er, lunch."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music
EMI: "Breakfast? You mean you just got up?"
Suddenly sleeping all morning feels like a crime.
HISAO: "No, I meant lunch... honest."
She's not buying it.
EMI: "That's not a healthy breakfast at all!"
She snatches my food out of my hand and glares at me. What the hell is this girl doing?
HISAO: "Hey, that's my breakfast!"
EMI: "What happened to it being your lunch?"
HISAO: "That's my... whatever, it's my food!"
Emi places her hands on her hips and begins lecturing me.
Well, she actually puts her hand on her chest and glowers. Sprites can only go so far.
EMI: "Did you really forget your dietary plan already? You need to be more conscious of your health, Hisao! What about your heart?
HISAO: "My heart's fine the way it is! Mostly."
All I get in response is a roll of the eyes.
EMI: "I doubt that. You wouldn't be here if that was the case, would you?"
The girl's got a point, of course. But I'm not about to concede it.
HISAO: "It's not that bad of a heart! Certainly it can handle a little grease now and again!"
Yeah, sure. And it handled a little running just fine, too. Emi seems unconvinced. Not surprising, as I haven't even managed to convince myself.
EMI: "Maybe, but not if you're sleeping the day away all the time!"
(Silence, Crowd Sounds Continue)
A devious look suddenly crosses her face.
EMI: "Of course, if you'd been following a routine from the beginning you wouldn't be in this situation..."
HISAO: "Hey, I've had a pretty eventful week, you know! For example, I almost died! And there was a lot of meeting people, and then I was on a roof for a while..."
EMI: "Which is no excuse for slacking off, you know.
EMI: "A little near death experience is no excuse for skipping basic exercise. Like running in the mornings."
She nods, as if something important has just been decided.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Standing Tall (Emi's Theme)
EMI: "So it's settled, then! You've seen the error of your ways and are willing to adhere to my routine, right? I'll see you bright and early in the morning? We'll be running buddies?
HISAO: "You know, you'd already convinced me yesterday that this was a good idea. You don't need to convince me again."
Not that I did a good job of being convinced. She's right about eating healthy, after all. And here I am ordering up something grossly unhealthy. But delicious! There are more important things than deliciousness, aren't there? Like staying alive? If Emi weren't here browbeating me for my poor decisions, I'd probably... Hey, wait a second. A sudden question springs to mind.
HISAO: "Hey, why the hell have you taken such an interest in my well-being?"
Emi shrugs and grins at me.
EMI: "You're the new guy. I figure you don't have any friends yet, right? Besides, I've caused you trouble all week, right? I owe you for not getting angry. And I told the nurse I would, anyway."
Uh... huh. Crazy little running girl wants to make me healthy. Well, I suppose there are worse fates.
HISAO: "Okay, that sounds... fine. Thanks for your concern. Tomorrow morning, then?"
(Silence, Crowd Sounds Continue)
I figure that ends the conversation, so I turn to leave.
EMI: "Not so fast!"
Katawa Shoujo OST Hokabi
I feel a hand on my collar and in a second I've been yanked backwards.
HISAO: "Hey, no need to be so rough! What do you want now?"
Emi looks almost wounded by my annoyed question.
EMI: "Thought you could use the company."
Her eyes narrow.
EMI: "Besides, you were just going to try sneaking some more of that fried crap, weren't you?"
Well, I wasn't going to, but now that she mentions it that would have been a really good idea.
HISAO: "I was not!"
HISAO: "Okay, maybe I was going to get a little..."
The glare continues.
HISAO: "Okay, a lot."
Jesus, I'm a danger to myself and others, aren't I? I get done agreeing that I need to be healthier, and then immediately start considering the next unhealthy habit that comes my way.
EMI: "I knew it! You can't be trusted.
EMI: "Now I definitely have to stick with you.
This whole situation feels silly. I can only imagine what passersby think of the sight of me being lectured by a tiny girl half my size. Maybe I should just give up for now.
HISAO: "Fine, do what you like."
I sigh. Might as well make the best of this.
HISAO: "What do you want to do?"
Emi thinks for a minute.
EMI: "Well, I promised Rin I'd stop by her mural... So let's do that!
I confess I'm slightly curious as to how her mural turned out myself, so again I consider there are worse fates. I give a nod of assent and find myself almost dragged bodily through the crowd as Emi races to our destination.
By the time we reach the dorms, I can feel my heart pounding. My heart shouldn't be pounding after just that. I take a few deep breaths, willing myself to calm down. I'm one of the most normal looking people in the school, but I still have to be here. Sometimes I almost wish I'd lost a hand or something. At least then it'd be obvious that I belong. But instead I don't even look sick. Even now, trying to catch my breath, I just look out of shape. Emi looks back and notices my state of distress.
EMI: "You're not going to die on me, are you? Please don't! It'll be all my fault, and I don't want to deal with that kind of guilt. Besides, after the last time I really don't think I need to see that again, especially because the nurse will totally say it's all my fault."
HISAO: "N... nah, I'm fine. Guess I need to start running after all."
EMI: "And you wanted to keep eating your greasy... whatever it was. See?
EMI: "It's a good thing I found you, right?"
Yes it was.
Of course I don't add that I wouldn't be in this state if she hadn't dragged me across the festival grounds. Further conversation is interrupted by the sudden appearance of Rin.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
RIN: "Oh, it's you. Hello Emi."
EMI: "Hey Rin! I brought Hisao along because he was going to give himself a heart attack!"
HISAO: "I was not!"
My objection goes unnoticed.
EMI: "We stopped by to see how the mural turned out!"
Rin nods slowly.
RIN: "Well, it's right there. You can see it pretty clearly."
I find myself wondering how long Rin's been standing here in front of the mural. Has anyone even stopped by to look at it? Are we the first ones? Obviously we're not the first to see it, of course. I mean, it's pretty big. You'd be hard-pressed not to see it. At the same time, I don't think anyone's actually talked to Rin about it. Anyone but us, that is. I feel compelled to say something.
HISAO: "It looks pretty good."
RIN: "I'm still not happy with how it turned out. But I guess it'll do."
She seems almost resigned to it. I'm not sure what she expected as a result, but I guess she didn't quite get there.
We stand in front of the mural, taking it all in. I try my best to concentrate on the composition of the thing.
It's actually fairly interesting. The colors swoop and blend together, dragging me along with them.
There's a dreamlike quality to the whole thing that makes me almost feel sleepy.
I try hunting out some of the colors Emi and I grabbed for her. Try as I might, I can't see any Prussian Blue. Oh well. I'm sure it's in there somewhere. My feet start to hurt, but Rin doesn't seem inclined to move on. Emi speaks up.
I only showed about half the mural, by the way. Its so large that you can expect to finish the text well before you reach the end of the pan even if you read slowly. I would have shown more, but this is where it transitions into unambiguous exposed breasts and I wasnt interested in futzing around with spoiler tags or edits in Paint.
EMI: "Hey Rin, have you eaten?"
RIN: "Of course. You can't survive otherwise."
EMI: "What about in the past five hours?"
RIN: "Maybe. But I'm hungry again, so maybe that means I'm wrong."
Emi grins and claps her hands together.
EMI: "Good! Come get some food with us!"
Rin nods in assent.
RIN: "Okay, but we should hurry before they notice I'm gone."
Somehow I don't think they'd care. Whoever they are.
(Silence, Crowd Chattering)
As we head back to the food stalls, I cast a longing eye over the fried food. No, I'd better not. I'm pretty sure Emi wouldn't let me, anyway.
Katawa Shoujo OST Ease
We find a nice spot on the grass and sit down to eat our purchases. Well, my purchases, anyway. Somehow I've wound up paying for all the food. Surprisingly, my (unfried) food is pretty good. Silence falls as Emi and I eat and Rin stares at... something or other, occasionally eating a bite or two of her food. I finish my meal first, and lay back on the grass. Emi glances up from her food.
EMI: "Tired, Hisao?"
HISAO: "A little, I guess."
EMI: "Well, don't oversleep or anything tomorrow morning.
EMI: "We start our morning runs, remember?"
Actually, they'd slipped my mind. I was actually just enjoying myself. Wandering around the festival with these two has actually been fun.
HISAO: "Yeah, I'll set an alarm."
EMI: "You'd better be there! I'll get angry if you aren't!"
HISAO: "God forbid."
RIN: "I don't think God comes into it. Unless there's some kind of freak accident and your alarm clock shorts out. That might be a random act of God."
EMI: "Well don't cause any random acts of God, then."
A plan forms itself in my mind. It's a plan that makes me feel kind of guilty, but I throw it into execution anyway. Dammit, I've earned a little fried food. And anyway, I'm going to start running tomorrow, right? So the actual routine all starts then, not now. Ergo, the dietary portion starts tomorrow too, ergo I can have something unhealthy today. A sort of final farewell to all the stuff I used to eat with wild abandon before the hospital.
HISAO: "Actually, I suppose I should head back to my room. I had some homework to do, and if I'm going to run in the morning I should make it an early night..."
Those narrowed eyes again.
EMI: "You sure you're not just going to sneak off and buy some of that fried stuff over there?"
HISAO: "Nah, I'm too full to bother now."
I pat my stomach for emphasis.
HISAO: "Besides, you two have cleaned me out anyway."
Emi giggles. It's a surprisingly pleasant sound. Another pang of guilt. She's got to know that I'm lying to her, doesn't she? Or is she just that trusting? I feel kind of like a monster.
EMI: "All part of my master plan, Hisao. Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow morning then. Thanks for the food! And for keeping us company!"
And here I thought she was doing me a favor. Rin nods in agreement.
RIN: "I won't say See you tomorrow because that would be like predicting the future, and I'm pretty sure I can't do that."
HISAO: "... Okay. Bye, you two."
I feel oddly glad that I decided to leave my room today. Not a bad way to start my second week here, I suppose. Once I'm sure I'm out of Emi's line of sight, I make a beeline for the food stands and buy some cake. At least it's not fried, right? That's slightly better than what I was planning to do. I still feel a little bad about lying to Emi, though. She really does seem concerned about my health. I'll make it up to her somehow. Better head back to my room. Hey, I do have work to do. My book waits for me, and I flop on to my bed and read through the fireworks display.
Eventually all the walking around (or more accurately, running around) catches up with me. I really am out of shape. Emi dragging me out in the morning to run might just be a good thing after all.
It's something to look forward to.
END OF ACT 1
Before we hit Act 2, Ill take some time to go over what weve seen so far in a special conclusion/disability corner post. So look forward to that.