The Let's Play Archive

Katawa Shoujo

by Falconier111

Part 59: Faraway Presence

I just noticed I fucked up my word count and you got two extremely short updates in a row, so, have a special weekend update.

Update 54: Faraway Presence


I make sure my door is locked after dropping off my school bag. The dorms are quiet. Mutou kept me occupied longer than I expected, discussing my studies after classes ended and pressing on me some worksheets to give to Hanako almost as an afterthought. Absorbed in thought, I'm late in registering the shadow that appears in front of me. Looking up reveals the owner of said shadow.

Katawa Shoujo OST - Out of the Loop

KENJI: "Hey, man. Haven't seen you in a while."

HISAO: "Oh. Hi."

KENJI: "What's with that response?"

My absentminded greeting visibly annoys him. I'd probably have had the same reaction.

HISAO: "Sorry, just thinking about a lot of stuff."

KENJI: "“Thinking” is a pretty poor excuse to not be aiding the war effort."

HISAO: "And how goes the war?"

KENJI: "I am preparing. Right now I need money to help with those preparations."

HISAO: "If you want me to loan you money, just say it."

KENJI: "No man, I'm good."

HISAO: "You're... good? You don't want my money?"

KENJI: "Hey man, don't look so surprised. It's insulting. I'm pretty big in the competitive bowling scene, but yesterday, I found some guys who didn't know that."

HISAO: "I'm fairly sure that betting would be against the school rules..."

KENJI: "School rules don't matter; this is a war situation. People these days, they have no appreciation for what war means."

HISAO: "So what do you need this money for, dare I ask?"

KENJI: "Non-perishable canned food. Building materials; mostly corrugated iron and wood panels. First aid kit. Camping heater. Portable radio. Sleeping bag. Flashlight. Mechanical clock."

At first it strikes me as a rather random assortment of objects and materials, but after a few seconds, it clicks."

HISAO: "Isn't that a list of materials for a fallout shelter?"

KENJI: "Ah, so you've read a Protect and Survive booklet. It's good to see someone so knowledgeable about how to protect themselves."

HISAO: "You don't seriously think..."

KENJI: "It's a non-zero possibility."

HISAO: "No, I'm pretty sure there's zero possibility of that ever happening."

He slowly and dramatically raises an eyebrow. Well, as dramatically as one can raise an eyebrow.

HISAO: "The chance is, I don't know, zero point one to the trillionth place. It's infinitesimal. Besides, where can you build a fallout shelter anyway? Certainly not on campus."

KENJI: "It's my summer holiday project while I'm at home. My dad said I can do it."

HISAO: "Really?"

KENJI: "Yeah. He thought it'll improve my crafting skills and manual dexterity. Or something."

Knowing Kenji, his dad probably just thought it might keep him out of his hair for a while. Still, it does make me wonder what his parents are like. Maybe they're totally normal, and Kenji is just an aberration. On the other hand, maybe this kind of paranoia and fearful survivalism runs in the family.

KENJI: "Hey, want to help me build it? You look like the type to be handy with tools. If I had your help, we could make a really badass bunker instead of just a fallout shelter."

I doubt that. Playing soccer before my accident gave me good footwork, but I've never really tried my hand at anything approaching real handiwork.

HISAO: "I'm not, really. I'm busy over the holidays anyway, I'm afraid."

KENJI: "A shame. If the feminists ever get a hold of the launch codes, I fear that so few will be prepared."

HISAO: "And your fallout shelter will protect you from a nuclear bomb explosion, in the case that this does happen?"

KENJI: "A fallout shelter isn't meant to protect against the blast. That's what a blast shelter is for. I thought you knew better."

HISAO: "My mistake..."

KENJI: "My home's pretty far away from any major military sites, so the fallout following a nuclear exchange is a bigger concern than the blast itself. What this'll do is keep the dust and other particulates away from me, my food supply, and my sleeping area. It's gotta last me at least fourteen days, though."

HISAO: "Fourteen days is a pretty long time."

KENJI: "It is. I need one liter of water a day for drinking, two optimally so that I can wash as well. Toiletry is easy enough; just garbage bags and a bin placed outside the shelter area. Food means canned supplies, of course."

HISAO: "Of course. And the radio is for outside communication?"

KENJI: "Right, right. So I can pick up government alerts on what's going on outside. I need a mechanical clock rather than an electric one in case the electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear airburst fries it, too. There's all the other stuff I need as well, like extra clothing, matches, and candles. I think I still have time to gather it all, though. Maybe."

As much as I hate to say it, I'm a little impressed. He's really researched this and thought it through. Then again, I don't know if I want to live in a post-apocalyptic world with only people like Kenji having survived.

HISAO: "It sounds like you really know what you're doing."

KENJI: "Damn right I do."

It must be hard, living in constant fear like this. He hardly ever socializes either, so the fact he went bowling with others is in itself something of a surprise. This mentality reminds me a little of a certain someone. Thankfully, her fear of others doesn't manifest in such a distinctly eccentric way. One thing I know for sure is that I certainly can't tell him exactly why I haven't been hanging around with him much recently.

HISAO: "It's late. I have stuff to do. I'll think about making a fallout shelter or something, though."

KENJI: "Yeah, all right, that's cool. A man has to do what he's gotta do, after all. You should hang out with me sometime, by the way. You're a cool dude. Cool dudes should hang out together, right?"

For some reason, that compliment actually feels kinda nice. The situation with Hanako being what it is, though, means that I probably won't be able to fulfill his request. For now, at least.

HISAO: "That'd be good. I'll talk to you later about it when I can."

KENJI: "Cool. Later, dude."


He retreats to his dormitory room.

I had better go see Hanako.

I stand outside of the door to Hanako's room, hoping that she isn't in too much of a state as I nervously clutch the worksheets Mutou asked me to pass on to her. It's one more reason to visit her, and it gives me something to talk about, so I suppose I should be thankful to him for giving me the task. With a long breath to steady myself, I rap my knuckles on the door in front of me.

…Silence. I listen intently for any sound of shuffling coming from inside, but I can't hear a thing. I knock on the door again, slightly harder. till no answer. How strange. Scratching my head, I make one last attempt at getting her to answer as I knock on the door one final time."

HISAO: "Hanako, it's just me. Mutou said to give you some stuff."

For a while, the attempt seems just as unsuccessful as the last. Just before I slip the sheets under her door, though, I hear the handle rattling.

Katawa Shoujo OST - Breathlessly

As the door opens halfway, I quickly try to see how Hanako's faring. It's a task made somewhat more difficult by her oversized gown hiding so much of her body. She doesn't look sick, or at least not immediately so. To be honest, I'd have preferred that to her expression right now. She looks terribly tired, and appears to be barely acknowledging my presence.

HISAO: "Hi, Hanako. Mutou wanted me to give you these since you weren't in class today."

I hold out the loose sheets, which she tentatively takes in her hands. The way she moves is devoid of thought. Her posture is slumped, in an unusual manner for someone that's so often tense and wound up. Even her eyes keep looking away from mine, doing their best to avoid eye contact. I move my head a little to try and get a better look, but she just ends up turning away.

HISAO: "Are you... okay? If you're feeling sick or anything, I could go get a nurse."

It feels almost pitiful to put on such a routine “get well soon” act. I can't think of anything else I could possibly do for her, though. She seems to collect herself a little at the notion... but only a little. Her head remains turned away, but her eyes move towards me.

HANAKO: "I'm fine."

An awkward silence follows. As it lingers, I notice that the sleeves and the cuffs of her gown bear slightly damp stains. Her cheeks are a bit red, too. Has she been crying?

HISAO: "I see."

I hesitate a little before coming out with the words I really came here to say.

HISAO: "Would you like me to stay? I don't have anything urgent to do at the moment, so it wouldn't be any trouble."

Her eyes slide away from me, and I lose any hope for an improvement of her mood. I wait for a response, but she doesn't say anything, nor give any kind of gesture. She just stands there, looking away from me.

HISAO: "Hanako...?"

She slowly shakes her head.

HISAO: "Okay. Um... good night, then."


With that, Hanako steps back and closes her door without a second word. More than a little worried, I retreat back to my room. Wandering up the hallway, I keep mulling over what happened. It felt like Hanako was only half there, as if I was interacting with a robot that was just doing what it was programmed to without any real thought.

She was a husk of a person.

This is frustrating. I had hoped that meeting Hanako would help the situation, but I feel like it's only made it harder to understand her. How am I supposed to try and help her when she quite literally shuts me out like that? I don't even bother to turn on the light, opting instead to simply change into my pajamas, quickly choke down my evening pills, and collapse onto my bed.

Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time

Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride

Once again, Hanako doesn't turn up for class. Try as I might to concentrate on other matters, this fact continues to distract me throughout the entire school day, and even as I walk through the school gardens to the dormitories. I don't think today being her birthday is a coincidence, either. I don't know the link between the two events though, nor do I have any idea on what she's feeling. Were it physical pain, I could at least provide some limited comfort. With something like this though, I have no idea where to start. I run the people I know through my head, thinking about whether they could help. Shizune and Misha don't know that much about Hanako, and what little they do know they can't tell me. Same for the nurse. In the end, there's only one person that knows Hanako well and would be willing to tell me anything.

Entering my dormitory room, I notice something that takes me off guard; it's starting to feel familiar. With everything that's going on around me, I'm thankful that this room's started to finally be somewhere I can relax a little. When I'd first entered Yamaku, it felt immediately foreign in every way, from the untouched neatness to the way it smelled. Focusing back on the task at hand, I throw my bag onto the bed as I open the top drawer of my desk. Before she left, Lilly told me the number to call her on while in Scotland and I wrote it down. In hindsight, I wonder if she knew something like this could happen. Now that she's out of reach, I realize just how much both Hanako and I have relied on her for guidance.

I dig around drawer after drawer, looking for that damned piece of paper. Eventually, thankfully, I find it nestled under a borrowed library book. I probably should have just entered it directly into my cell phone, come to think of it. Without further ado, I enter the numbers and anxiously press the call button. Eventually the phone picks up, a feminine voice I don't recognize on the other end. It's probably Lilly's mother.


:eng101: Apparently, the text in this image actually reads "Good morning. This is Karla Satou. May I help you?", just in English. Not that you could tell with every word except Satou blurred out like that. :eng101:

English? Suddenly finding myself unprepared, I realize I can't understand a word she says, either due to my limited vocabulary or her heavy accent. I should have anticipated this, since according to Lilly, her mother is a native Scot. I soldier on in the hope that she must know some Japanese, considering it's her daughter's native language.

HISAO: "Um, it's Hisao Nakai... speaking..."

An enthusiastic sound of realization can be heard as she recognizes the language. My feeling of relief is immense.

MRS. SATOU: "Ah, you must be one of Lilly's friends from school, correct?"

Even so, her accent means I have to concentrate to work out what she's saying.

HISAO: "Yes, that's right. Pleased to speak to you, Mrs. Satou."

MRS. SATOU: "It's so nice of her to find someone so polite! Lilly dear, it's for you!"

Her mother seems nice, if a little overenthusiastic given the mundane situation. There's a small silence as Lilly takes her time getting to the phone. In the distance, I can just make out her mother scolding her playfully for just getting up.

LILLY: "Hello, Lilly speaking."

HISAO: "You sound awful."

She makes a sound somewhere between a dying animal and a yawn. The one thing I did remember to check before calling was the time zone. It'd be pretty late in the morning over there, so she really has no excuse.

HISAO: "Not feeling well?"

LILLY: "Just tired. What time is it there?"

HISAO: "Late afternoon. School finished for the day not long ago."

LILLY: "Hanako's not well, is she?"

Katawa Shoujo OST - Moment of Decision

That was quick. My assumption that she must have known something like this could happen seems to have been on the mark.

HISAO: "How did you know?"

LILLY: "Because today is her birthday. I'd hoped she might have gotten at least a little better after coming to know you, but... How is she right now?"

HISAO: "She missed school today and yesterday. I still have to check up on her today. To be honest, after seeing how she was when I talked to her yesterday... I'm pretty anxious. I really have no idea what to make of it. Has this happened in the past? Is it related to her scarring in some way?"

LILLY: "Unfortunately so. Roughly the same thing happened last year when her birthday came up. As far as I can tell, it's because her parents died in the accident that caused her scarring, and Hanako blames herself for their deaths."

What she says does seem to make sense. If she's blaming herself on her birthday, she may well be ruing that she was ever born. Hanako had mentioned her stay in the orphanage to me. Maybe I should take some heart that she trusts me enough to tell me such a thing. Lilly seeming so in the dark about it though, almost to the extent that I am, is a surprise.

HISAO: "So that's why she lives in the student dormitories, as well. Has she told you any more about the accident?"

LILLY: "As close as we've come... she's very barely told me anything about what happened. What I know about it is largely conjecture."

She sounds depressed, almost defeated. Considering the trauma Hanako must have gone through, I really can't fault Lilly for not knowing. Nevertheless, she still seems to consider it a personal failing.

HISAO: "Don't blame yourself, Lilly. With everything she's gone through..."

There's a long silence from the other end of the line. I begin to wonder if the call cut out before the voice at the other end speaks once again.

LILLY: "There is another person, though, that has been a subject of worry for me as of late."

HISAO: "Oh?"

I run through the people she could be talking about in my head. The only friends she seems to keep very close are Hanako and I, though there is Akira as well...

LILLY: "That person is you, Hisao."

There's another silence on the line, but this time it's caused by me. Making others worry about me is something I've very actively tried to avoid since coming to Yamaku. Indeed, even my interaction with Hanako has helped stave off any major health problems thanks to our relaxed and slow-paced lives.

HISAO: "Uh... huh. What is there to worry about over me?"

LILLY: "I apologize; I didn't mean any offense."

HISAO: "Sorry, I was just taken a bit off guard. Still, isn't Hanako a bigger problem at the moment?"

LILLY: "For some time now I've thought that the both of you may be feeding into each other's more worrying habits. I tried to amend this before leaving, but it seems to have done little."

HISAO: "“Worrying habits?”"

LILLY: "When I asked you about what you had in mind for the future, your answer was very similar to what Hanako has said in the past when that question was posed to her. It is well and good to want to protect her, but I fear that treating Hanako like this, as if she were a daughter or someone in need of special care, is only going to achieve the opposite."

The situation got effectively turned on its head. After everything that's happened, this is the first time I find myself doubting Lilly's judgment.

>Agree with Lilly.
>Trust my own judgment.

:eng101: The first issue in Hisao’s thinking towards Hanako, the surface level one, is his assumption that he knows what decisions she should make. He may not think of it that way, but he has a nasty habit of trying to anticipate her desires and failing based on an understanding of her he already admits is flawed. But that just reflects the deeper issue:

He doesn’t have the right to make those decisions in the first place. :eng101:

=>Agree with Lilly.

:eng101: He doesn’t. No one else does. Only Hanako can really be the master of her own fate; anyone else who tries, no matter how well-intentioned, will only hurt her in the long run. She can ask for help, she can NEED help, but it’s on her to ask for it. To do otherwise is to rob her of her agency. It’s to treat her as something less than other people, something that doesn’t have the same rights as an ordinary human. And as condescending as he can be, I doubt the man falling in love with her wants to see her that way. :eng101:

I don't want to admit it, but she may have a point. Something else bugs me, though.

HISAO: "And you tried to... “amend” this? Wait... our outing into the city?"

LILLY: "Quite astute. I thought that it might help if I dragged both of you out of Yamaku and into the wider world. I am thankful you became closer for it, though."

So she noticed that. I suppose she may well have been paying attention to us, and her hearing's incredibly good; quite likely good enough to have picked up what we were talking about, if she tried.

HISAO: "This sounds more and more like you were manipulating us."

Silence. It's a harsh way of putting it, but I have no intention of stepping back from those words.

LILLY: "I'm sorry. I was just... worried about you."

HISAO: "It's fine. I guess there are more important things anyway."

It's not a total surprise that she'd do such a thing. Her motherly nature can be slightly overbearing at times, but she does have the best of intentions.

HISAO: "So you think I should think about myself more instead of trying to cater to Hanako?"

LILLY: "That largely sums it up. Again, I'm sorry for not telling you this in a clearer way before going behind your back. I know I am at least as guilty of being overprotective of Hanako as you, but I fear that you are neglecting yourself in your efforts to give Hanako happiness."

HISAO: "Do you really think Hanako will be okay?"

LILLY: "She isn't as fragile as you think. I don't know exactly what experiences she's lived through, or what feelings she has in her mind, but she has managed to work her way through them until now. It's also my hope that giving her a little space will allow her to decide what she truly wants for herself, and give her the initiative to reach out for it. Please have faith in Hanako. That's all I ask."

HISAO: "I'll... I guess I'll think about it for a while."

LILLY: "That's good. Being rash won't get you anywhere. I know that at times you may doubt your relationship to Hanako, but she does..."

Lilly cuts herself off and takes a moment to reconsider her words.

LILLY: "Please keep in mind that I wouldn't have befriended you if I hadn't thought you a fundamentally good person. You're a good friend, both to myself and to Hanako."

HISAO: "Thank you. That helps."

We share some smalltalk to try and lighten the atmosphere, but it feels very stilted. There's a lot I don't know about Lilly's stay in Scotland, but after such a heavy subject, I want to be alone for a bit to think. After a few minutes, we end up saying our goodbyes and I set my phone on my desk.


Compared to Hanako's situation, mine feels utterly mundane. I still have both of my parents, I had a reasonably normal childhood, and unlike many in Yamaku, my condition isn't immediately visible to the public. But then again... isn't this just an attempt to justify the way I've been acting towards her? That may well be what our pasts were like, but when it comes to the future I still have no idea what I want to do. In school I've just concentrated on each day's work, and I've put off more and more things to cater to Hanako. I recall the words Mutou told me after Hanako's breakdown; about the purpose of Yamaku and my education. In hindsight, he was probably trying to push exactly the same thing. Just what have I been doing in the time since my heart attack? If I ever did manage to get Hanako out of her room and to open up, what then? I look out of my dormitory window as the sun slowly sets. It's a nice sight, but what I really savor is the quiet as the students return to their dormitory rooms. All I want to do now is think. I'm not sure how much time I have, but I want to work out where I'll go from here.