- "So it's actually not about seducing and nailing disabled girls. The girls happen to have disabilities, but the more you get to know them, the more you come to realise that they are girls just like any other. They are humans with hopes and dreams, and messy, fucked up insecurities about being alive and happy. They are not strange people - they are regular ordinary human beings who feel the way they feel not because they are disabled, but because they are ordinary. They are the universal allegory for humanity; the archetypal human; the mess you become when you feel sad and alone and unworthy. They are the girl next door, the prom queen, the bookworm, the tomboy, and all the baggage that comes with that - nothing more or less. They resonate with you because you recognise your flaws and needs and desires and triumphs and victories, and those of the loved ones you know and care about. You want to make them happy, because you want them to be happy, because you know them and are them, and in some way you believe everyone you love deserves to be happy. You are not alone, and you are not strange. You are you, and everyone has damage. Be the better person."
- — Message from Anonymous on Katawa Shoujo
Katawa Shoujo (かたわ少女, "Disability Girls" or "Cripple Girls") is a bishoujo-style visual novel by Four Leaf Studios.
The novel tells the story of Hisao, a young man diagnosed with arrythmia after a heart attack, and transferred to Yamaku, a school specialized in providing education and healthcare for disabled students. The story centers in how he deals with his newfound situation and relationships, in special with five other girls (Emi, Rin, Shizune, Lilly and Hanako) suffering with varying disabilities (Even though Misha is considered one of the main girls, her route is shared with Shizune's Route).
Katawa Shoujo was inspired by a sketch made by RAITA, which caused a stir in 4chan's /a/ board. Soon after, Four Leaf Studios (4LS) was assembled from various users to make a visual novel from the sketch. The full game had been under development since 2007, with a demo released in April 29, 2009, and finally being released in January 4, 2012, after 5 years under development. It was well-received by the community, even when compared to other, more traditional visual novels. Despite the success, 4LS has already stated they do not intend on taking another project under the 4LS name for now, although it was hinted that it would not be impossible in the future.
The game is composed of a Prologue, which contains two short scenes, a first act (labelled Act 1), in which one chooses the route taken, and 3 more Acts for each route. There's a Good Ending and a Bad Ending for each route too, although some of them also displays a Neutral, mostly bitter-sweet, Ending. The endings are based on the player's choice throughout the chosen route.
While the demo contains no adult content, the full version of Katawa Shoujo contains adult content with the option to skip all sexually explicit scenes. Katawa Shoujo was created using the Ren'Py visual novel engine. The game uses a traditional text and sprite-based visual novel model with an ADV-style text box.
The full game and the demo (which was translated to several other languages), as well as the original soundtrack and other media, are available for download at http://www.katawa-shoujo.com/. It is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND License , thus being free of charge.
- The main menu of the game changes as you progress through the storyline and start new Acts.