Part 96: Creative PainUpdate 86: Creative Pain (Act 1 (Rin), Part 1)
As requested, from now on most of my screenshots will no longer include the text at the bottom of the image. Any pictures featuring rapid movement will probably still have the empty text boxes at the bottom (cant remove that with outcropping the picture) and that text will still show up whenever we face a choice (no way to hide one and not the other), but it should be clear enough. This style is still highly experimental for me; let me know how it compares.
Anyway, Rins route. Fun fact: Ive never actually played Rins route. Ive gone through the others several times each, but I could never bring myself to person up and power through it. So this will be a learning experience! To get to Rins route, you basically have to manage not to commit to anybody without driving them away and triggering a death flag. It isnt actually that complicated: just dont side with Lilly or Shizune in their argument, dont volunteer to exercise, and dont shut yourself off when Lilly asks you whats wrong while you walk back from town with her and Rin, and the game will guide you there. But thats still like the least obvious path to a route in the first act, so very few people stumbled into it by accident. You kind of have to hunt her down.
Weve now seen just about all of Act 1 (or at least the parts I wanted to show you), so Im not inclined to do some kind of whirlwind retrospective. All thats left is the individual route lead-ups. If you want to catch yourself up, read the first few updates of the thread until you get to the point where you make a choice about running with Emi in Update 13, then hop to Update 37 at the same point. From there, work your way to the point of Update 39 where I mention jumping to Update 15. Do so, then stick around where I start talking about Support. Emi and Rin, like Lilly and Hanako, have a joint path that buds off into the run ups to their routes, but here we dont get a choice of who to go with; we already made it when we decided whether or not to exercise properly. The routes subtly split part way through the next scene while they talk about Prussian Blue.
Easy peasy, right? Let me work in the first couple lines before the split here and mark the split proper with a screenshot.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
RIN: "Emi, I need the Prussian blue paint."
EMI: "Which one's Prussian blue..."
She is staring helplessly at seven or eight cans, each with a different tone of blue.
RIN: "It's the one with Prussian blue paint in it."
EMI: "Geez, Rin! You're not helping at all!"
I look around as well, even though I don't know what Prussian blue looks like, either. I wonder what blue has to do with Prussia. ...Or what Prussia even is. The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I can't place it. While none of the blues looks more Prussian than the others, the small print on the labels is legible enough to determine that none say anything about the contents being Prussian.
HISAO: "There is no Prussian blue here."
Emi heaves a sigh.
EMI: "I guess I have to go back and get some. I promised to help with our class project, though, so I'll be back a bit later. Can you manage without it for a few hours?"
Rin nods, and so Emi leaves.
I stay because I like watching Rin paint, and because I have nothing better to do. I sit on a box and pick up today's book from my bag. It's a story about three guys drinking beer for two weeks straight and doing little else.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride
Rin moves from the spot that was in need of the blue and starts slowly working on another. Her foot works the brush steadily against the plastered wall. Layers of paint on top of layers of paint. The mural slowly gains more form. I turn the pages at a leisurely pace. In this chapter they are drinking beer at the protagonist's friend's place. In the previous ones it was the protagonist's own apartment. It's not a page-turner kind of book, a slice of someone's imaginary life that makes me wonder why it had to be written.
Why indeed. The reason for doing something creative... it's something incomprehensible. Like why Rin does paintings. It feels like she and Emi are the same, going squarely against their fates as if it's just out of spite. Rin even said something like that. Do something you can't just because you can. Is that what she meant? Is that her reason? It might be Emi's, she comes off as quite a headstrong person. Rin doesn't give off that kind of an air. Thinking about it, she doesn't give off any kind of air, or maybe a different kind every time I talk with her. Why did she say what she said? Why does she, or anyone at all paint, or draw, or sculpt, or write? I've never had much of a creative impulse so I don't think I can really understand it.
It makes me feel hollow inside.
What a grim thought. I can't really decide whether it's true or not, either. Am I content being this way? I can't deny I'm feeling a little bit envious of Rin, but I can't really consider it a flaw of any kind. I'm myself and she is herself. Still, I do need to find something. Something that could... make me feel a little less lost about myself, instead of just drowning myself in these books as I did in the hospital.
I can't help but feel disoriented; the new school, lifestyle and people around me contribute heavily to this sensation. I'm trying my best to fit into existing social circles, and most of the people I've met have been really nice. It still feels like I'm an outsider, though; like I don't belong.
I shake the feeling off, realizing that I'm spacing out. I have neither turned a page of the book, nor done anything for Rin. She is trying to pour some paint from a big can using only her feet, having not bothered to ask me. Or maybe she did, and I didn't hear it. Either way, it looks very unstable.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
I quickly jump to help her, as it looks like she's about to spill the entire contents of the can all over the pavement. I take the can from her feet and pour some in the bowl. She doesn't say anything, and neither do I. I catch a glimpse of her eyes, looking silently at me from under her unkempt bangs. It's an unreadable expression, a perfect poker face, mixed with a hint of something like a mild surprise. I wonder what she is thinking. Maybe she is wondering about what I'm thinking. Maybe nothing.
HISAO: "A penny for your thoughts."
RIN: "Do you have any pennies with you?"
HISAO: "I don't think I do."
RIN: "Then I don't think I will tell. I'm not thinking anything either, so you're in luck. Except now I just did."
She frowns, looking very unsatisfied.
RIN: "It's hard to not think about anything. But it's important."
I'm about to ask why it's important when some old guy walks up to us, looking like he has some business with Rin.
NOMIYA: "Good afternoon. How's it going?"
RIN: "I can make it."
Rin doesn't take her eyes off the wall and responds so naturally that I can only assume they know each other. I haven't seen the man before, so I naturally wonder who he might be. Maybe a teacher? His hair has faded to a silvery gray, so much so that it looks artificially dyed. I hope that's not the case. Small round glasses hang on the bridge of his nose, but it appears he's constantly looking over the lenses, rather than through them. He's studying the mural intently over said glasses.
NOMIYA: "Good, good. What bold composition you have here!"
He moves to inspect the mural closer, talking to himself about it in a way that makes it obvious he wants us to hear it too.
NOMIYA: "Very good, very good indeed..."
I don't really know what to make of it but Rin doesn't seem to care much. She's looking around her working space, the various bowls of different tones scattered all over.
RIN: "A little more of this."
HISAO: "Give me a second."
I pour a 50-50 mix of two paints into the bowl to create more of the same pale pink tone Rin was using to fill up the shape of a man's face. Rin watches me doing so, which makes me feel nervous somehow. Her face is so unassuming that it feels she's just waiting for me to do something wrong. The man turns to reckon me as well, looking surprised as if he noticed my presence only just now. ...Maybe he did.
NOMIYA: "Why, hello there. Who might you be?"
HISAO: "Ah, I'm a transfer student to class 3-3. Hisao Nakai. Nice to meet you."
NOMIYA: "Mutou's class, eh? Well, I won't hold that against you!"
The screen shakes and Seagull calls play?
He laughs very loudly. Obnoxiously loudly. A few small birds take flight from a nearby tree.
NOMIYA: "I'm Shinichi Nomiya, the art teacher."
So this is the art teacher. In retrospect, should have guessed that much. He even looks like one, as far as first impressions go.
NOMIYA: "How did you come to end up assisting my protégée?"
I wish I knew...
>"I just kinda stuck with her, I think."
>"I'm interested in the art club."
Not sure it looks great, but thems the breaks. Anyway, remember how enthusiastic Act 1 is about shoving dont close yourself off down your throat? If you say I have no interest in what Rins doing aside from idle curiosity, you manage to alienate the last person you got the chance to befriend who wasnt a colossal asshole and die by rooftop drunkenness the next day.
>"I'm interested in the art club."
So lets not do that. This, by the way, is the last death flag left in Act 1. We will not see another for the rest of the LP.
HISAO: "I guess I'm a little interested in the art club."
I blurt it out, partially inadvertently.
NOMIYA: "What do you mean?"
HISAO: "Nothing... specific. I wonder if I could come by sometime. Even if it's just to observe or something. I've been thinking that I should join some club or something, so..."
It's in no way a premeditated move, but a vague sense of determination has really been building inside of me for this past week. I want to do something.
I want to belong somewhere. It might as well be the art club, my shortcomings notwithstanding.
The teacher seems pleased.
NOMIYA: "Oh? You want to join? Well, we always welcome new people, of course. Club meetings are normal enough. We study various aspects of the fine arts and try our hands at them, as well. Or feet."
He gives an embarrassed cough, but Rin doesn't seem to mind. I take a small amount of comfort from the fact that I'm not the only one with vocabulary difficulties in this school. Nomiya rebounds from his faux pas by theatrically checking the time from his huge, gleaming pocket watch, and slaps his forehead even more theatrically.
NOMIYA: "I really must take my leave now, but if you have questions, I'm sure Tezuka can clarify."
Somehow, mentioning clarify and Rin in the same sentence doesn't feel right. However, I don't say as much to the teacher, since he seems to be in a hurry.
NOMIYA: "Tezuka, I'm pleased to see that this little project is going so well. I just stopped by to remind you to not run off by yourself, tomorrow. I've invited certain people to the festival for you, and I'm sure they'd like to meet you as well. I hope I'll see you on Monday, then, Nakai."
The teacher leaves, and we are left by ourselves again. Rin is still painting as if nothing notable happened. Since nothing in fact did, I am left wondering what on Earth is wrong with me. Art and I haven't worked well together in the past, at least judging from the grades I used to have in middle school. Maybe a club will be different than an obligatory class. Who knows? I try to come up with something meaningful to ask about it, but to no avail. I'll just go to a club meeting and see how it goes.
HISAO: "So he invited some people tomorrow just to check out your painting?"
RIN: "He has a lot of art-people friends. They like to talk about art. I think he wants me to talk about art with them."
HISAO: "Somehow, I get the feeling that you aren't too thrilled about it."
Rin shrugs noncommittally, but it still gives an impression of her general displeasure at the idea of having to discuss her painting, or any painting, with other people.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Parity (Rin's Theme)
RIN: "I don't really like talking about art. It is already a way to talk without talking, so why bother talking about it?"
HISAO: "I can understand that."
RIN: "It's like being bored and talking about being bored, because you are bored."
HISAO: "I'm not following you."
RIN: "Have you ever talked about being bored? It's pointless and not very exciting. All you can really say about it is I'm so bored. I once spent a week trying to think of something meaningful to say about boredness. It was the most boring week I've ever had."
HISAO: "But that's pretty fitting, don't you think?"
Rin gives me a look, the laconic kind that looks like it doesn't mean anything but it does.
HISAO: "Anyway... I don't know, I guess I just rarely can come up with anything to say about art. I mean, like this one you're doing now. I have no idea what to think about it, except that it looks nice. What is this painting about?"
RIN: "It's not about anything at all."
RIN: "That's what I'd like to say. So I did. But that was a small lie. I said it anyway because I would kind of like it to be true. Teacher wanted me to do this, but I didn't have any ideas. I tried to have some, but nothing happened. So now this is a painting without any ideas."
HISAO: "But... what are you painting then?"
RIN: "No idea. Come to think of it, I think I'll call this No idea. Ah, now I started thinking again. This is bad."
Her sprite rapidly vibrates between profile and head-on versions.
She shakes her head vigorously for a while, trying to shake thinking out of her head. That amber-red hair flies wildly around.
RIN: "This is why I had Emi help me. She makes it easy to not think about anything. You know, how she just talks talks talks about nothing for hours. It's like her head is made of bubblegum foam bath jelly. You are kinda the same, but not really. It's very helpful if you stay here."
I am not sure if that's a compliment or not. It's probably neither; with Rin being the overtly neutral person she is.
HISAO: "So is there anything specific you'd like me to do to make you not think?"
RIN: "Just be."
So without knowing what I should do, I just sit on an empty box to watch her continue with the painting, idly leafing the pages of the beer-drinking book.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles
Rin has a serene expression on her face, her dark green eyes hiding what she might think behind them. No wait, she's supposedly not thinking anything, right? She quietly hums to a tune, interrupting every now and then with polite requests for more paint or another kind of brush. Her concentration is admirable, even though she seems to be sleep-deprived and under pressure to finish the job. Inch by inch the painting gains more form, details being added on top of details, colors entwining with each other, filling the empty spaces, growing on top of each other.
I find myself thinking about inspiration and motivation to create art again. Where does one get ideas? They don't come out of nowhere, and I don't think there are muses that magically inject some inspiration in your head. Ideas have an origin and a purpose. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Rin is lying about her mural, or at least twisting the truth. Maybe she doesn't even realize it, herself. You can't do anything creative without having an idea of what you are going to create. That would go against the definition. Every stroke must be decided to be drawn. Even if it's made at random, then that, too, is a conscious decision. So her painting, even this one, must be based on having some deliberate goal or idea of what to paint. If Rin's idea is to have no idea, as she said, does that count as having an idea? A logical paradox? That seems to be Rin's modus operandi for most normal interactions, so it wouldn't surprise me if she hadn't even noticed this herself. I wonder if I should bring it up, but I'm not sure if I want to engage in an argument about logic with this girl. One of us would probably end up short-circuiting fairly quickly, so I discard the thought.
Rin is squirming and shuffling restlessly. Even her usual blank visage breaks occasionally into pretty difficult looking expressions, the kind that one doesn't just come up with accidentally.
HISAO: "Everything all right?"
RIN: "Yes. No. My back started hurting again. This painting is too big, after all, and it's hard to paint in this position."
HISAO: "Want to take a break?"
RIN: "After I finish this part."
Of course, she doesn't take a break, and I don't bring it up again because that would be completely and utterly pointless. Rin continues her work and I stay with her: I like to watch her paint, and I'm going to be a member of the same club she's in, now.
(Silence, Cricket Noises)
The light fades into evening.
When she declares the mural to be finished, it's already so dark that I have no idea how she can tell. There is no celebration, no general sense of a job well done, just a tired and laconic I'm done and then we both go to sleep.
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
Once again, we hop back to Update 16. Read until Kenji starts talking about his fort.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Out of the Loop
HISAO: "Well, I joined the art club so I guess I'll go with them."
KENJI: "You did what?"
HISAO: "I joined the art club."
KENJI: "Man, that was a bad move. Really bad. You don't know what kind of girls there are in the art club. Troubled, angsty cuties who tear your heart out and eat it raw."
Well, I know one art club member, and I don't really see Rin suddenly becoming a psychotic murderer.
HISAO: "That seems unlikely."
KENJI: "Don't say that. Don't fool yourself. You have no idea what you are dealing with here, man. They are the worst kind. They drag you in with all this fancy-pantsy shit and when you least expect it, BAM!"
HISAO: "Bam what?"
Kenji seems slightly fazed at my skepticism, but not any less loony.
KENJI: "It doesn't matter. Tread carefully man, tread carefully."
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."
The door slowly closes with a low creak and I don't know how to feel about what Kenji just said.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar, (Crowd Sounds)
The happy hubbub of the crowd greets me as I push myself through the main door and step outside. The school grounds were transformed into festival grounds over yesterday and this morning. Colorful stands line at the main walkways from the main entrance to the school building. Some people are still carrying stuff to and fro, but behind most counters are relaxed students who look like they are good to go. Most of the other students have been up early to finish the preparations. A feeling of guilt passes through me, but it soon goes away. I'm just a lowly transfer student, after all.
Some visitors are already strolling around the grounds. There are some young families with the perturbed parents trying to keep up with their overenthusiastic offspring...
...a few students of our own accompanied by their parents...
...and a lot of old and young people who are here for no reason I can imagine. The carillon bursts into life and the principal's squeaky voice announces the opening of the festival over the PA system. Everyone applauds politely if a bit unenthusiastically.
A school festival... we didn't really have festivals at my old high school. It feels kind of old-fashioned, especially considering the school I came from, but it's still somewhat exciting. A day off feels sweet after the first week of hard work, despite me lying on the hospital bed for four months prior to this. I recall even wishing that I could go to math lessons during my stint at the hospital.
I can't remember the program for the festival, even though Mutou went through it during class just the other day. I step off the dorm steps, intending to take a tour around the grounds to see all the stuff the others have set up, but I only make it down to the bottom of the stairs