The Let's Play Archive

Katawa Shoujo

by Falconier111

Part 23: Track Meeting

Update 20: Track Meeting

Katawa Shoujo OST - Ah Eh I Oh You

NURSE: "My goodness, but you're in a hurry today, aren't you, Emi?"

I have no idea how we got to the nurse's office so fast, but here we are. The nurse grins at Emi and seems to completely ignore me.

NURSE: "You've got plenty of time to take a shower and get to class, you know. There's no need to run through the hallways like that. I could hear you coming a mile away!"

Somehow, it doesn't seem like he's actually scolding Emi at all. It's like this is a sort of routine between the two of them. Emi does a passable imitation of remorse.

EMI: "I'm sorry! I won't ever do it again!"

The nurse and Emi both laugh at some private joke. Suddenly, it seems that he notices me.

NURSE: "Ah, hello Hisao. What brings you here?"

HISAO: "Well, I've been—"

EMI: "Hisao's officially joined me on my morning runs."

I start to explain, but Emi cuts me off.

EMI: "I thought he might need to visit you so that he doesn't die or anything."

The nurse raises his eyebrows in mock horror.

NURSE: "Yes, that would certainly put me out of a job fast, wouldn't it? Well then Hisao, let's have a look at you. Lift up your shirt, would you?"

I'm suddenly very conscious of the fact that Emi's in the room with me and blush in spite of myself. The nurse seems to sense my discomfort, but it only seems to amuse him.

NURSE: "A bit shy, are we?"

He makes an apologetic bow to Emi.

NURSE: "Sorry Emi, I tried to get you a free show, but it doesn't seem to have worked."

Emi stiffens slightly and fires a look of annoyance at him.

EMI: "You're an asshole."

Emi bows to me apologetically.

EMI: "I'll wait outside, okay Hisao?"

I begin to stammer that it's not really a big deal, she doesn't have to leave, but she's already out the door and the nurse is laughing as he watches her go.

NURSE: "Still got it! Ha!"

HISAO: "I don't follow."

He laughs again, like he's in on some joke that's over my head.

NURSE: "I can still get her flustered. It's a competition of sorts we've had going on for a while now."

That sounds incredibly sinister to me, and it seems as if the nurse realizes that too.

NURSE: "Er. That sounded a lot worse than it actually is, come to think of it."

HISAO: "I wasn't going to say anything..."

NURSE: "No no, you're right. I should fill you in so that you don't get the wrong idea. I'm actually relatively new here, you see. I got hired on the same year Emi started going here. Before that, I worked with Emi during her initial rehab following her accident."

Hold on, what?

NURSE: "We had to amputate her legs after a really nasty car wreck. It nearly killed her, and succeeded—"

He shuts up abruptly. I blink at receiving this unexpected piece of news.

NURSE: "Well, that's not my place to say. Anyway, we've known each other for quite a while. So we have a slightly more familiar relationship than is strictly professional."

He seems embarrassed, like he's done something stupid. I guess he's really worried about that.

:eng101:Hell yeah he should be. In America, that would be a grievous violation of doctor/patient confidentiality, so much so I bet Psycho Lawnmower’s probably reaching for a bat labeled “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996” as we speak. I wasn’t able to find out how Japanese law would handle this situation (I couldn’t wade through the :psyboom: translated legalese), but in general Japanese medical privacy laws are even stricter: even patients rarely have access to their own medical records. So :damn:

E: turns out, not quite:

Ghost Car posted:

This is a little outdated - since 2003, doctors/hospitals have been required to disclose your medical information to you and provide you copies of your medical records upon request. However, many people aren't aware they have this right - in a survey of people who had received medical attention in 2014-2015, about 40% didn't know (source). Also, even if you are aware, the fact that they're required to provide you the information doesn't mean they can't make you jump through hoops to get it. Particularly controversially, the law explicitly allows doctors/hospitals to charge a fee to provide you with your medical records, and most do. (It states that the fee should be "reasonable" but doesn't specify what "reasonable" means.) According to a 2018 survey, at about 30% of hospitals this fee is more than 5,000 yen (about US$45) (source - unfortunately paywalled but I couldn't find one that wasn't). Of course, since I'm from the US, criticizing this feels a little like throwing stones from within a glass house - certainly I spent a lot less on medical-related expenses when I lived in Japan than I do now. But the fee is a barrier to access nonetheless.

Anyway, all of this is tangential to the point, which is that the nurse definitely shouldn't be disclosing information about Emi's health to a third party like this. I had trouble navigating the legalese enough to figure out if this would qualify as a violation of privacy laws in Japan (or in the US, for that matter), but if it was, as far as I could tell, he would be subject to a fine of not more than 500,000 yen, which is actually a much lower max than under HIPAA. Under the personal information law I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the entire business/institution can be on the hook if an employee leaks information; this seems to be more for situations where there's a security vulnerability or lack of oversight that enables the violation, so if it was just this once then the school probably wouldn't be liable, but if he did it once and they kept him on and it happened again it seems likely that they would be.

I do think that in a typical Very Anime dating sim, most people would give this a pass unless it was a particular bugbear of theirs, but the fact that some aspects of this game are surprisingly (given the genre) carefully handled and realistic makes some of the Very Anime moments, like this one, sit oddly.

:eng101:So he is still fucked, but significantly less than I thought :eng101: :eng101:

I wave a hand to let him know it's not a big deal.

HISAO: "Don't worry, sir. I promise I'm going to be discreet."

I had been wondering about what caused Emi to lose her legs, and that was one of the scenarios I thought of. There were only so many ways that could have happened, but actually hearing about the facts... it's still a little shocking.

NURSE: "Well, thanks. You're a good kid, Hisao. I can see why Emi became friends with you. She's quite indomitable, you know."

HISAO: "What do you mean?"

NURSE: "You didn't see her learning to walk. She'd go for so much longer than the others in the hospital. She refused to quit. Normally it takes years to get to a point where you can even think about running again. Emi did it all in about a year."

He almost seems proud of her, like a father who watches his daughter win a competition or something.

NURSE: "Hell, she'd probably have done it faster if not for the fact that we wouldn't let her."

HISAO: "Wouldn't let her? Why not?"


NURSE: "Because she'd go for so long that her legs would start bleeding where they met her prosthetics. It's a real concern - it's why she comes by every day after she runs. To say nothing of the risk of infection if her legs get cut up and her prosthetics are dirty.”

Katawa Shoujo OST - Ah Eh I Oh You

NURSE: “But enough about that. If we don't get you on your way soon, Emi will think we're up to something."

As he says this, he gives a wink and begins checking my heartbeat. The stethoscope is way too cold. He really should have heated it up or something before he used it. After a few moments he leans back, satisfied.

NURSE: "Well, you sound pretty good to me, Hisao. You didn't have any chest pains while you were running, did you?"

HISAO: "No, not really. I had some trouble catching my breath, though - and my heart was racing by the end, too."

The nurse frowns as I say this, but then shrugs.

NURSE: "It's probably just because you're out of shape... but if you don't improve, then you should let me know, okay? Don't push yourself too much - and of course if you have any chest pains, come to me immediately, right?"

I put my shirt back on, and the nurse leans out of the doorway to call in Emi.

EMI: "What took you so long? Now I'm going to be late!"

The nurse gives me a significant look.


NURSE: "I was just seducing Hisao, that's all."

:eng101:Sure aren’t covering yourself in glory here, bud. :eng101:

EMI: "What!? Come on, what have I told you about seducing my friends?"

Katawa Shoujo OST - Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music

I'd expected Emi to be shocked by this, but instead she seems merely annoyed, scolding the nurse as if he were a child stealing cookies. Meanwhile, I try hard not to blush at the nurse's innuendo.

NURSE: "I'll try not to do it again, though I fear young Hisao may be lost to the female gender forever!"

(Sudden Silence)

HISAO: "Not freaking likely."

:eng101:There’s a screen without text here where they both just stare at you. :eng101:

Katawa Shoujo OST - Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music

I didn't mean to say that out loud, but both the nurse and Emi regard me for a moment before bursting into laughter again.

EMI: "Told you he was funny, didn't I?"

Huh. I guess Emi does talk to the nurse about a lot of stuff.

NURSE: "Well Hisao, you should probably get moving. You still need a shower before class starts, don't you?"

Crap! He's got a point, and it looks like I've only got a half hour!

HISAO: "Thanks for your time. I'll see you later, Emi!"

I dash out of the room as the nurse begins to remove Emi's prosthetics. As I head down the hallway, I can just barely hear his voice drifting after me.


NURSE: "Emi, you've got to be more careful..."

I make it back to my room and shower in record time. It occurs to me that I've already been up for four hours, and class hasn't even started yet. This is going to be a really, really long day. I hope I don't fall asleep in class.

Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time

Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride

The morning sunlight streaming through my window wakes me up instead of my alarm, and I realize that it must be Sunday. Emi has kindly deigned to give me weekends off from our morning runs. I don't actually know if I woke up at all yesterday, or if I just slept through the entire day. My legs groan in protest as I lever myself out of bed. All this running has really taken it out of me.

Still, I can't deny that Emi wasn't lying to me. It has gotten a little easier. I'd been worried that the runs would start to wear on my nerves, but thus far I haven't minded them that much. Well, it's only been a week. I suppose there's plenty of time for me to start dreading the sound of my alarm in the morning. Not that I could ever skip out now. As Emi said, it's harder to stop a routine when there's another person. And frankly, I don't think I'm equipped to deal with a disappointed Emi. She'd probably give me those puppy-dog eyes and I'd feel terrible about myself. Which reminds me... wasn't I supposed to be somewhere today?

Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride (muted)

EMI: "Hey, you're coming to my track meet on Sunday, right? What am I talking about, of course you are. Right?"

Those puppy-dog eyes again.

HISAO: "Of course I'm going! I owe you, right?"

EMI: "Exactly! So don't forget, okay?"

Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride

Crap, Emi's track meet! I'd better get a move on if I don't want to miss her running, since she's the only reason I'm even considering going. Otherwise, it would defeat the whole purpose of going.

And so, I soon find myself quite suddenly surrounded by a crowd of people, all turning out to see our track team compete with another school like this one.

Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride (muted)

I'll admit it, it's almost comforting to know we're not the only school like this. After you see that there can be two schools with a bunch of...defective kids, well. ...You stop feeling so defective. You also stop feeling unique, which in most cases would be a bad thing, but in this case it sure as hell isn't.

That's part of Yamaku's appeal, I guess. Learn that you're not unique - hell, learn there's a lot of others who would kill to be saddled with your problem instead of whatever they're dealing with. Some of the kids here aren't here because they're missing a leg or they have a heart condition. Some of them might be here because they're as good as dead in two, maybe three years if they're lucky. And that's only if they get the right sort of care.

It's a bitter sort of comfort to be able to say “Well, at least I've got a chance of being alive through college,” but there it is.

I'm brought out of my rather morbid musings by the appearance of Rin near the entrance to the bleachers.


RIN: "You came."

HISAO: "Of course. I said I would, didn't I?"

RIN: "That doesn't necessarily imply that you had to follow through. Lots of people say things and don't mean them."

HISAO: "Well, I don't."

Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar

Rin shrugs. Seemingly bored with our conversation, she turns on her heel and heads back toward the stands.

RIN: "I owe Emi money now."

HISAO: "Why's that?"

RIN: "I didn't think you'd show up. Emi did. So I owe her 500 yen."

HISAO: "You two bet an awful lot, don't you?"

Another shrug from my armless companion.

RIN: "I don't think so."

We enter the bleachers, and Rin nods upwards.

RIN: "Up there. I came out to see if you'd come."

For the bet, I presume. Rin leads the way, and soon we've settled down on an almost-empty bench.

There's an older woman sitting next to Rin - someone's mother, I assume. She's got rather long hair done up in a braid. On seeing Rin, she gives her an oddly familiar-seeming grin.

MEIKO: "Well, this is surprising.”

MEIKO: "I thought you went to get a snack, not a boy.”

HISAO: "Huh?"

RIN: "A snack? I wondered why I was down there."

The woman laughs, again in a way that seems familiar. Where have I seen her before?

MEIKO: "Well, I suppose you've always been one to go out for one thing and bring back another. But I'm being rude! I haven't introduced myself. I'm Meiko Ibarazaki, Emi's mother. Pleased to meet you."

Well, that explains it. She's like a taller, older and better endowed Emi. Apart from her hair being a darker shade than Emi's, there's really no mistaking the resemblance.

HISAO: "Sorry, I'm Hisao. Hisao Nakai. And really, you don't have to apologize for not introducing yourself, Mrs. Ibarazaki. That's really Rin's job in this situation, isn't it?"

Another laugh from Emi's mother.

MEIKO: "I take it you've not known Rin for that long, then. It's best not to expect her to remember something like that. She's got other things to think about, I assume."

Rin nods, seeming pleased by this assessment.

RIN: "She's right. I was thinking about sunsets."

MEIKO: "You see? It's really up to us to make introductions and the like."

For lack of any better response, I nod. Mrs. Ibarazaki leans back a little on her seat and raises an eyebrow.

(Sudden Silence)

MEIKO: "So, how long have you and Rin been dating?"

My response consists of silence as my brain suddenly lurches into gear. But just before I can begin to utter a hastily babbled explanation, Emi's mother bursts into laughter again.

Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar

MEIKO: "Ha! You're a blusher, aren't you?"

I don't know if there's any way to keep my dignity in this situation, so I settle for a mumbled response.

HISAO: "Maybe."

MEIKO: "So this must be a new romance then, mustn't it?"

HISAO: "Wait, that's not the question that—"

Another laugh.

MEIKO: "I know, but it's funny to watch you squirm. I'm sorry. Forgive an old woman her amusements."

Old woman? She sure doesn't look that old to me. Clearly Emi gets her youthful features from her mother.

HISAO: "I suppose I can let it go."

MEIKO: "How kind of you."

RIN: "It's starting."


I direct my attention to the track, where they're preparing for the first sprint. It looks like the 400 meter dash. My eyes scan the runners, before finding Emi. She's smiling, with an almost cocky look on her face.

The starter raises his pistol.

(Gunshot Sound Effect, Emi Running)

Emi explodes off the block, disappearing from the starting line in a blur. It's amazing. Even as the other sprinters converge on the lanes closest to the inside line, Emi surges to the front of the pack. By the time she rounds the final turn, some of the other runners have caught up with her. Their efforts come to naught though, since a final burst of speed from Emi leaves them at least a half second behind.

(Crowd Cheering)

Mrs. Ibarazaki whoops and shouts, applauding wildly, and generally looking like any other parent cheering on their child. Emi bounds off the track, looking pleased with herself. I cheer right along with the rest of them. The announcer (sounding suspiciously like Misha) gleefully gives the results.

Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight

MEIKO: "I think she's gotten faster since the last time."

HISAO: "That was incredible."

Mrs. Ibarazaki grins proudly.

MEIKO: "Emi's a heck of a runner."

We fall silent as the next event is being prepared. I'm surprised to see Emi striding out onto the track again.

HISAO: "Wait, didn't she just run?"

Emi's mother nods.

MEIKO: "Yes, but she runs multiple events for the team. Especially the sprints. It's a lot of running, but Emi can handle it."

From the looks of things, she's right. Emi doesn't appear to be tired, as if she hadn't run the previous event at all. If not for the sweat visible on her shirt, you'd never know."

HISAO: "Which event is this?"

MEIKO: "It's the 200 meter dash. She'll do this one, the 100-meter, and the relay."

HISAO: "I see."

(Gunshot Sound Effect, Emi Running)

Once again the pistol sounds, and once again Emi flies off the block. A thumping sound draws my attention away from the race. It's Rin's foot. She seems completely absorbed in the race.

(Crowd Cheering)

Emi's mother cheers again, and I assume that the race is over. Sprints don't seem to me like they'd take very long to complete.

HISAO: "Your foot."

RIN: "Hmm?"

HISAO: "Your foot was bouncing on the bleachers."

RIN: "Oh."

HISAO: "You seem pretty into this stuff. I'm surprised."

Rin looks at me quizzically.

RIN: "Why wouldn't I be?"

HISAO: "No reason, I just thought stuff like sports wouldn't interest you."

RIN: "Hmm, I suppose you're right. It's not that interesting. But I'm watching Emi, not the sport."

HISAO: "I don't follow."

RIN: "Emi's the most Emi when she runs. You don't get to see Emi at her Emiest very often. But here, you can. See?"

She directs my attention toward the track again, where the 100-meter dash is about to start. I watch Emi closely. As she gets onto the starter blocks, her whole body seems to relax, but it's a false relaxation. I can see that she's actually like a coiled spring.


As the starter tells everyone to get set, her head snaps up, and her eyes narrow slightly. Her mouth curls upward in what could be a grin and could be a growl.

(Gunshot Sound Effect, Emi Running)

When the pistol goes off, it's as if she's been unleashed from a cage, like she was always moving at this blinding speed, but we couldn't see it happening until the starter's pistol dispelled the illusion of motionlessness. It's all over in a few seconds, but in those few seconds I feel like I just witnessed something very personal for Emi.

(Crowd Cheering)

As soon as she crossed the finish line, the fierce look was replaced by her normal grin. The conquering general returning to his farm.

HISAO: "Amazing. She's really amazing. I've never seen anyone move that fast."

MEIKO: "Well, don't look at me, I'm far too relaxed to run that fast. No, I think Emi's prowess all came from her father's side."

At the mention of Emi's father, Mrs. Ibarazaki looks wistful, almost sad.

MEIKO: "He got her into running, you know."

HISAO: "Yeah, she told me."

I'm uncertain as to whether or not it would be rude of me to ask after Emi's father. But after that look on her face a few days ago, I feel compelled to ask.

HISAO: "Where is her father now, if I might ask?"

Emi's mother hesitates, clearly not willing to answer the question but at the same time not wishing to appear rude.

MEIKO: "He... isn't around any more."

HISAO: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring up bad memories. Emi just seemed a little sad when she mentioned him earlier."

MEIKO: "That's not surprising, considering."

HISAO: "Hmm?"

MEIKO: "They were very close."

HISAO: "I see."

A beeping noise suddenly emanates from Mrs. Ibarazaki's pocket. Reaching into it, she pulls out a cell phone and looks at it.

MEIKO: "...Honestly, text messages? What is he, sixteen?"

HISAO: "Hmm?"

MEIKO: "Oh, nothing. I've got to go meet up with a friend of mine. Will you tell Emi I'm very proud of her and that I'll call her later tonight?"

HISAO: "Of course."

Katawa Shoujo OST - Afternoon

I'll admit that I zone out for a while. I almost don't notice that the relay's about to begin. But when I look, I can't find Emi.

HISAO: "I thought that Emi would be running the relay."

RIN: "She runs anchor. So she won't be running for a while yet."

HISAO: "Ah."

RIN: "Did you see it?"

HISAO: "Huh?"

RIN: "Emi at her Emiest."

HISAO: "Maybe."

RIN: "Hmm. Maybe this time."

(Gunshot Sound Effect, Emi Running)

The race begins, and I cheer Emi's teammates along as they pass the baton. Finally, I see Emi sprinting onto the track to take the final handoff. Once again I'm taken aback by how graceful she looks when she runs. It really is beautiful. The look of determination and fearlessness on her face only adds to the picture. Emi at her Emiest, I suppose.

(Crowd Cheering)

But then, as she crosses the finish line, I see her stumble slightly. It's only barely, but it's a definite stumble. Rin inhales sharply, and actually looks concerned for a second.

RIN: "Aw, Emi..."

HISAO: "Did she hurt herself, do you think?"

RIN: "You noticed it too? It must be bad."