Part 73: Advanced Game TheoryUpdate 66: Advanced Game Theory
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
I'm jolted awake by a thunderous banging sound coming from my door. My first thought is, it could be Shizune. After all, only a deaf person or a jackass would knock that loudly at this hour.
HISAO: "Who is it?"
Of course, if it's Shizune, she wouldn't be able to hear that or answer it. There's no reply, so I'm kind of pleased. I haven't seen Shizune in a while.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Out of the Loop
Opening the door, I find Kenji standing out in the hall, his eyes nervously darting from side to side.
We get more Kenji bullshit I dont want to transcribe here. This time, its less fundamentally horrifying and more he has opinions so gross I hate reading it. He was a mistake. Anyway, Kenji convinces Hisao to go pick up some mail for him in town because he thinks the Student Council will intercept it and go through it if he does it himself.
I close the door and jump right back into bed. The second my head hits the pillow, a painfully loud ringing assaults my ears, and I realize it's my clock. The alarm going off means that right now is the time I'm supposed to wake up in the first place. On weekdays, at least. I pick it up and throw it without looking up. It gets wedged between the bed and the wall, the noise not stopping. In fact, it seems to grow louder. By the time I'm able to pry it out of there I know I'm not going to be able to go back to sleep. The only thing I can think of doing now is going into town and just getting Kenji's stupid package, but it's too early for that.
After showering, I take my medication. I'm actually very hungry today since I went without dinner yesterday, and before that I had just a very light lunch. I eat the pills, chomping on them like a leg of lamb. They are unbelievably bitter and disgusting. Well, good medicine tastes bad, or something like that. I'm still hungry, and there's still a lot of time to kill, so I decide to go into town and find somewhere to have breakfast. I can't remember the last time I ate out. Besides, the weather is nice, so why not?
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
The walk into town is longer than I remember, possibly because it's been a while, and probably because I rarely come here alone. There are barely any cars on the road because it's so early in the morning, making it unusually quiet. The first thing I do is start looking for a place to eat. Immediately I think of the Shanghai, but I want something more substantial than sandwiches or a cake. Since it's so early, though, I decide to get Kenji's package first. Picking it up at the post office doesn't take very long, but the moment I see it, I'm enraged about what a pain in the ass it will be to carry this thing all the way back to the school.
The box is huge, you need two hands to hold it. Insultingly, it's not even very heavy. I was thinking of wandering around for a little while, but with this thing in tow, that's going to be a real problem. I guess the Shanghai is my only option now. Everything else is closed, and the ones that aren't all have about the same menu. That fact also makes me want to throw some more business Yuuko's way. Before I can even open the door and enter, someone taps me on the shoulder from behind. I turn around and see Shizune there. Instinctively, I look for Misha, but she doesn't seem to be here.
SHIZUNE: "[Good morning.]"
Looks like those sign language classes are already starting to pay off. I'm tempted to sign it right back, but then she might think I know a lot more than I actually do. For now, I just give her a wave and open the door. She's probably here for her morning tea and didn't come here just to greet me. It turns out I'm right, as Shizune follows me inside the teahouse. It's a total ghost town in here. It's not exactly peak hours, but every other café I passed had at least a few customers.
Actually, the Shanghai has been fairly empty every time I passed by. How does this place stay in business?
Katawa Shoujo OST - Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music
YUUKO: "Hello! Thank you for choosing to patronize our establishment!"
Yuuko bows with the force of a falling axe and her head collides with the box in my hands, launching it towards the floor.
YUUKO: "Oh no, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, sorry, please forgive me!"
HISAO: "It's okay, and you don't have to do that Hello, thanks for choosing our shop! thing since we know you."
YUUKO: "But it's part of my job. You're here early, what can I get you?"
HISAO: "I just want some coffee for now."
I wonder what Shizune wants. Without Misha, there's no real way to tell, or any way to even ask. I haven't learned about that yet. She's here, so I'm pretty sure that means she wants something too.
HISAO: "Er, I don't really know what Shizune wants. Does she have a usual? Wait, she might want something else, though. Perhaps you should bring us a menu just in case."
I look around for one, but can't find anything that looks remotely like a menu.
YUUKO: "Menus... I'll look for one right now."
YUUKO: "Um... there are menus. They're just... rare."
It's only a restaurant menu, not a collector's edition.
YUUKO: "Is that what Shizune is saying?"
HISAO: "Nah, she can't hear you. It's just weird for a café to make you have to go out of your way to look for a menu."
YUUKO: "Weird...? Yes... you're right. It's so illogical. There are so many things... Like, why is it called the Shanghai? This is a Western style teahouse... but, the name is Chinese... and the architecture is old-fashioned, but my uniform is so modern and sophisticated..."
She looks like she's about to pass out. If she does she'll probably fall forward and make a mess of everything.
YUUKO: "I can't work here any more."
What a bad place for her circular train of logic to end up.
HISAO: "No, come on. That kind of stuff is what sets this place apart; there are a lot of cafés around here, you know. I think it's charming, really. Please don't quit. Business is good here, isn't it?"
YUUKO: "Not really..."
HISAO: "See, I think this is a good job for you. It suits you, you shouldn't quit."
I've never had to defuse this kind of crisis before. Eventually, I manage to calm her down, and convince her that I'm sure Shizune just wants what she usually orders here.
Yuuko walks away to get our drinks, and by then, Shizune has already picked a table.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles
There are no other customers, and Yuuko isn't the most talkative person, so it's very quiet. It doesn't really bother me, but I wish that there was some way we could communicate. There are so few moments when we're alone. Shizune and Misha are almost always together, to the point where sometimes it seems like they are one. Now, it's just me and her, and I'm unable to understand her or have her understand me. It's terrible.
HISAO: "You don't have your little notepad today? I know it's the weekend and all, but it's not like you to be unprepared. Well, that's fine. I don't really like using it anyway. Still, it would come in handy now."
SHIZUNE: "... ... ..."
Shizune starts signing in short bursts punctuated by her stopping to take a sip of tea. It's strange how she doesn't make the slightest attempt to change how she normally acts. I'm talking to her for the most part because I'm not used to long silences. I briefly wonder if it's the same for her, in a way; however, it seems unlikely. I think it's more that she is the type who doesn't change how she acts for anyone.
HISAO: "Hey, it seems like Misha joined the Student Council because of you. That makes two of us, you know. I'm only there because you forced me into it. Well, not really forced, I guess. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have joined."
That sounds slightly romantic, and I find myself blushing a little. I feel like such an idiot.
HISAO: "Although, I still don't know why you joined. It should have been the first thing I asked, in retrospect, but I'm really curious. I'll have to remember to ask Misha sometime."
HISAO: "It's nice to talk to you, even if you can't understand me. I wonder if it's the same for you. That would be really... great."
HISAO: "I don't think sign language will ever be as natural for me as Misha makes it look, but it's got to be a step up from using pen and paper, right?"
We've both been finished with our drinks for a while, and Shizune's eyes fall upon the box sitting in its own chair by my side.
HISAO: "I'm just picking it up for someone, it's not mine."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Hokabi
Shizune pulls it closer to her, intending to open it, and my heart almost leaps out of my throat. I quickly try to pull it back by wrapping my leg around the leg of the chair.
HISAO: "What the hell, don't open it. You can't just open other people's mail, that's not legal."
Once she gets going, there is almost no stopping her. Eyes filled with excitement, she looks ready to fight me over this stupid package and I realize just how fast this could turn into a game of tug-of-war. I am almost out of my seat now and waving my arms like an air traffic controller, before she finally settles down. Shizune pouts, not pleased with having her curiosity checked, and gets up to leave. It's about time to, I guess. We've been here a while. I protectively pick up the box before standing up myself. Suddenly, she tents her fingers excitedly and pulls out a marker from her pocket, and starts writing on Kenji's box.
HISAO: "Hey, what are you doing? I said this isn't mine! Hey!"
I can't even see her with it blocking my vision.
HISAO: "Fine, at least let me put it down first."
I have to to read whatever she's writing, anyway.
I'll help you carry it.
It doesn't seem like she's finished, though, and Shizune draws a fierce line afterward to signify that there's a catch.
I'll help you carry it.
But, it's a game! The first one to stumble loses, and the loser has to carry it the rest of the way by themselves.
HISAO: "That's stupid, there's a fifty percent chance I'll end up carrying it myself anyway."
Actually, I feel pretty stupid myself right now. I just forgot she can't hear me. I stop talking and shake my head.
SHIZUNE: "... ...! ...!"
I can't understand her at all, but she's coming across very forcefully. It's clear that she thinks this is a great idea. Well, if she drops the box or something, she'll have to carry it. That would make things a lot easier for me, obviously. The odds are 50-50, then... they're probably higher than they would be for any other plan of hers. All right, I'll take it. Thinking about it, I'm not sure how we should do this. Then Shizune grabs hold of one end of the box and lifts it up, and I take the side that she isn't holding. Is this even right? It's very uncomfortable to walk like this.
We leave the café, and I find myself hoping that the streets are still devoid of people. Yuuko seemed confused as to what we were doing, and I imagine it'll only get worse as more people see us. Shizune doesn't seem bothered at all while walking with her arm at this unnatural angle; she just grins confidently and periodically makes some kind of weird gesture. There are people staring at us as time passes, and the usual morning crowd begins to fill the streets. I feel silly, but I'm sure that if I give up, Shizune will take it as a sign of surrender. I can't allow that, because I think I'm doing well so far."
Initially, I just write Shizune's little hand signals off as her preemptively gloating, but I catch on quickly that she's actually signaling where she wants to go. It dawns on me that this isn't a competition. It's not much of a challenge, first of all, and second, it's really more of an exercise in teamwork. It's just that Shizune has made a punishment for failing instead of a reward for doing well.
Our fingers touch under the box, and Shizune moves her hand away, almost dropping her side of the box in the process.
Well, that's game over for her. She doesn't look very happy. Does she think I did it on purpose to make her lose? If she does, she isn't making a big deal out of it. All's fair in love and war. I feel like I should take it from her and carry it myself, but she pushes me away when I try.
Katawa Shoujo OST - The Student Council (Shizunes Theme)
She glares at me as if to tell me off, but she can't. With that box in her hands, she is basically gagged. A sad expression flickers across her face for a second, maybe on realizing that and having to acknowledge that there are some limitations she has to deal with after all.
However, she is still as prideful as ever, even when it's to her detriment. She wouldn't accept letting me allow her to skip out on the consequences of her bet. Anything is fair during the game, but the results have to be honored to the letter, huh? Shizune is an interesting type of person.
The march back to the dorms is uneventful. Shizune passes the trip by shifting the box around occasionally like a giant Rubik's cube. It looks like another game she has invented to amuse herself. It can't be good for whatever's inside, but I don't care enough to stop her. Maybe this is how she deals with things, by making everything into a game; it's hard to say for sure, though. It seems futile to try to psychoanalyze Shizune. In the short time we've known each other, I've been surprised on a fair number of occasions.
I notice Shizune shivering. The wind is picking up, and the school is pretty high up. It makes sense that she would be cold. If I gave her my jacket, though, would she reject it? I take off my jacket and drape it across her shoulders before she has a chance to protest. Her shoulders are slim and delicate, so much so that I want to let my hands linger on them. Shizune flinches when my fingers brush against her, understandably surprised.
SHIZUNE: "... ..."
Her fingers dance lightly over the surface of the box, and I think of taking it from her, but I doubt she would let me. Shizune makes a quick gesture with her hands as best she can, pausing a bit afterward as if wanting to say more. I'm sure that what she means is thank you. I'm glad that I was able to catch it.
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - School Days
The sign language teacher says I'm pretty good. I try not to think about it too much, but the truth is I'm poring over it so much lately that it's hard not to keep coming back to it at least a couple times a day. I guess I am picking it up faster than expected, but it's still not enough. I understand it just fine; understanding it is simple. Well, I have to put my mind to it to read it, but it's easy enough when I do. The signing itself is doable, I just need a little more practice. However, trying to do both at the same time, even at half the speed Misha does it? It's impossible. Where I'm at now is good for my level, but in order to reach a point where I'll be able to really converse with Shizune, I'll need more work. I'm doing my best to get to that point one step at a time by doing as much studying as I can squeeze in during lunch.
I look up from Introduction to Japanese Sign Language to check if Shizune or Misha are around. Of course, since this is taking up my lunch hour, I've had to avoid them for a few days now. What's more, I'll have to continue doing so if I want to keep Shizune from finding out. My back to the corner, scanning the area every ten minutes, I feel like some kind of criminal trying to evade capture.
Every chance she gets, Misha asks me why I want to hide the fact I'm learning sign language from Shizune. Looking back on it, there really wasn't any reason, but now I think I know. If I want to be able to treat Shizune as an equal, then sign language is an important step towards that goal. Another important step is to make sure she doesn't know, so that when we're able to finally speak on equal terms, I'll be fully ready, able to do it right, not like some dilettante. Anything less, I think, would be insulting. She would see it the same way. So to me, this is the only option. Especially now that I've decided to be so resolute with it.
Shizune has a huge aura. It's very easy to see her coming, or even to sense her coming. Mostly because Misha's hair lights up any crowd she's in like a beacon, and you can hear her laughing from a mile away. Although, even if Misha weren't with her, it would be the same. Her directness and efficiency are core parts of her, so it's no surprise that they come across in the way she walks as well. Due to all these factors, I'm able to put away all my things and put on my best casual face long before they see me and head my way.
SHIZUNE: "[Student Councilll.]"
MISHA: "Student Council~!"
Student Council was the first thing I asked to learn; it seemed like it would come in handy.
HISAO: "Yeah, I've been dodging it for a while now, huh?"
Shizune sits down in front of me to my right, and Misha to my left. It was a mistake putting myself in the corner; now I'm, well, cornered. In the end, I'm dragged off to the student council room, but I don't mind. I was starting to miss them a bit, anyway. In some ways this makes it easier: satisfied with having caught me, Shizune doesn't ask me where I've been all this time. Once I stand before the door, I wonder what could be so important that they're so eager to pull me back in.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy
There are more games out than books. This at last explains why every time I come here there are stacks of books piled on every table and occasionally parts of the floor: they need the room to put all these games somewhere.
MISHA: "Hahaha~! It's boring playing against each other so much, Hicchan. So, it's your turn, okay? Okay~! It's settled then~!"
HISAO: "I didn't even say anything!"
MISHA: "Hicchan, this is one of the last days we'll be able to take it easy like this for a while. So~, it's especially important that we make the most of it, don't you think? Tanabata will be coming up soon, and we'll have to put in a lot of work for that, too. So, for now, play with us~!"
Come to think of it, it's true. I hadn't even noticed because I've been so wrapped up in wanting to learn sign language. Right on the heels of one festival, a bigger one appears. I wonder if Shizune will try and rope a couple new members in to help with that one as well.
HISAO: "You're right."
MISHA: "Hahaha~! Yay~! Hicchan agrees~! Let's celebrate!"
SHIZUNE: [I know, we should play a game.]"
MISHA: "Let's play a game to celebrate, Hicchan~!"
HISAO: "I don't know, that kind of thing usually ends badly for me."
MISHA: "Hicchan is worried about the stakes~."
Misha makes a very disappointed face. It's hard to tell if she's mocking me, since her expressions are so exaggerated by default. She's an all-out kind of girl. I turn my head to Shizune. Now, this person, she is definitely mocking me.
HISAO: "Hey, stop that. But, yes, I'll play with you if you tell me what's at stake first."
MISHA: "How very Japanese, putting the consequences above everything else. Hicchan, have you ever heard of the expression missing the forest for the trees?"
That's a lie. But I have my pride, which is currently feeling wounded.
HISAO: "Okay, I'll play, but I want to pick the game."
HISAO: "Additionally, I pick the punishment if you lose."
Shizune makes an X with her arms. That either means denied or that she's about to use her special attack.
HISAO: "Aha, now who's afraid of consequences?"
SHIZUNE: [How vengeful, still thinking so spitefully about a playful little joke. If a ... bit you, you would probably bite back.]"
Shizune signs a word that I don't quite catch.
MISHA: "Hicchan is so vengeful~, even though it was just a playful little joke. If an armadillo bit you, you would probably bite back!"
MISHA: "It's foolish to bite an armadillo back, Hicchan!"
MISHA: "But Hicchan would do it anyway, you see~! Hahaha!"
HISAO: "I see."
Shizune adjusts her glasses with a small flourish of her hand.
MISHA: "Hicchan, we didn't have anything planned at all if you were to win or lose, you just assumed there would be something like that~."
HISAO: "I wonder why."
MISHA: "Hm~, me too~! But, oh well~! There isn't. Does that change your mind, Hicchan?"
HISAO: "Well... yes."
Misha windmills her arm at high speed to show her joy. Weird habit. This is the kind of thing you could only see in the student council room, occupied only by three people. Anywhere else she would end up socking someone in the face.
Stims when happy, good to know.
MISHA: "Yay yay~! Let's start right now~!"
HISAO: "Not just yet."
HISAO: "Okay, okay. However, we have to all be able to play. That's my condition. I don't like games where one person is clearly the ace player right off the bat, or games where only two people can play so one of us has to sit back. It has to be something the three of us can play equally."
The instant she says it, Misha takes out a bag of checkers and places them on the table.
HISAO: "Only two people can play that. I told you"
MISHA: "Okay okay~! Hicchan, how about... Monopoly?"
A Monopoly box slowly edges towards me, and I take it out of Misha's hands and put it under my chair.
HISAO: "I don't like games that revolve around luck of the draw; they're too much about chance and not about skill. Also, stop jumping the gun with these games!"
MISHA: "Luck is kind of a skill, you know."
HISAO: "No, no it's not!"
MISHA: "It can be if you're consistently lucky~! Right~?"
HISAO: "Once at that point it's something else entirely."
MISHA: "Hm~, hm~ hm~ hm~~. Baccarat? Marbles? Life? Snakes and Ladders? Roulette? Blackjack? Paper football? Trivial Pursuit?"
Misha begins to excitedly name a bunch of games as if she were reading from a list. With each suggestion, a new box, board, and pieces appear around her, a bizarre catalogue of games ranging from children's fare to serious, polished-looking gambling instruments that look very out of place in this humble room.
MISHA: "Three way chess?"
HISAO: "Is that even possible?"
SHIZUNE: [Let's try.]"
MISHA: "Yes yes~, let's try it, definitely~! Ahahahaha~!"
They pull a chessboard from behind them with a flourish like two junior magicians. Well, magic does require some deft sleight of hand, and they've got that in spades. I'm not surprised. Nevertheless, it is still somehow unsettling.
HISAO: "Stop doing that!"
HANAKO: "E-excuse me...?"
A very timid voice manages to make me look up.
HANAKO: "I l-lost my ID card, and someone told me... I could find out where to get a new one here. If I'm interrupting s-something, I can come back later."
Hanako's eyes drift across the room, taking in the landscape of piled-up record books, haphazardly scattered chairs, and overturned board games. I guess this isn't exactly the image an organized, tightly run Student Council like ours should be giving off.
It's the only thing I can think of to break the ice. Unfortunately, it just seems to startle her further.
HANAKO: "... Ah... my ID card... I..."
MISHA: "You're in our class, aren't you, right? Right~! So~! Don't be so timid, okay? Come on!"
MISHA: "Yup, even though we're your seniors, it's not like we'll bite!"
HISAO: "We're not her seniors, we're in the same class."
Still, I am grateful to them for stepping in.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
MISHA: "What is it you said you want? An ID card, right~? Right~!"
Her eyes slide away from Misha. Being shy, it's no wonder she's not the best at keeping eye contact. I follow where she's looking, and notice her gaze stop on the chessboard on the table. Hanako's eyes widen, just for a moment. Shizune notices as well.
MISHA: "Do you like chess?"
MISHA: "You like chess, don't you~? Yeah, you do, definitely~!
MISHA: Do~ you~ want~ to~ play~?"
The words appear one by one.
Hesitation. She might make a break for it. I refuse to get involved in this; it won't end well. To my amazement, Hanako seems to be considering the idea very seriously. She touches the tips of her fingers together pensively, mulling the thought over. That level of consideration is more or less a confirmation.
MISHA: "We're having our lunch break, so you'll have to wait anyway. Why not play with us in the meantime~? Come on, it'll be fun, really fun~! You like chess, don't you? I can tell, really really, it's obvious, so~! Please~, will you?"
MISHA: "Wahaha~! Yay~! Success, success, okay okay okay~! That's great~!"
Hanako is still the same person, even in a different route.