Edit: There were two things that I forgot – so apologies to the 150 or so people that missed them! I blame late night flights.
So, on New Year’s Eve at Komiket, I was eavesdropping on a fan talking to Hir, the Japanese Translation Group’s leader. It basically was a question that I’ve heard a bunch of times over:
“How the heck do you read Iwanako?”
I was too far away from the conversation to jump in and talk, and the fan walked away quickly, so I didn’t have the chance to explain. Hir later approached me and asked why we used such a non-Japanese name.
The answer is simple. Iwanako isn’t Japanese; at least not in my head. Iwanako is a bastardisation of a Polish girl’s name. I won’t name her to protect the innocent (and also to protect myself from a major arse-whooping should she ever find out), but I had a crush on her at the time of writing the opening to KS, so I threw the name in. Of course, being a non-Japanese name caused some concern for the translation team. In the dev group we never paid it much mind; it seemed as legit as any other ****ko name so it survived right up until the final release. It was only when the first parts of the script made it to Japan that anyone noticed, and they started using the Kanji for “Stonefish” for the “Iwana” part of the name – hence the “Stonefish Girl” popping up on 2chan.
I’m sure that every writer or artist has put part of their own backstory into their works when they have needed to insert something trivial, and I thought that I had made a list of these in the past. However, looking at my posts, I can’t see anything.
So, here are the other Easter Eggs that I know that I put into Katawa Shoujo. I believe that some of them have been deleted but I think some have stayed.
Hisao’s Room. A simple one that for some reason sticks with me. Hisao’s room is modeled on my dorm room at my University, including the room number. The original directions to Lilly/Hanako’s rooms were also taken from a few of my female friend’s rooms from the same period.
The Pool. Again, drawing from my uni days, the pool is something that I thought we needed to include. I went to the Defence Academy in Australia (similar to West Point for the Americans among us). Whilst it wasn’t a school for the differently abled, it certainly had a focus on physical activity. The pool was the focus of many of our physical training sessions, and so it seemed logical to me to have a pool, even though it was never used.
Shameless (at the time) self-insertion. At the beginning of the project I was probably no better than a teenage fanfic writer when it came to character development. I was also a Hanabro and had the whole “wow, I’m a bit socially isolated so I am totally like Hanako” mindset. So the original Hanako that appeared in Grid 1 was a sound engineer. I drew upon my high school experiences in amateur theatre and put that directly into Hanako.
Thankfully the other writers revolted at such obvious self-insertion and we removed all reference to it. However, some vestiges remained, like the references to karaoke and the excessive drinking (in a veeeeery deleted Act 2 scene, Lilly takes Hisao and Hanako onto a boat and Hanako drinks to excess in an attempt to relax her social anxiety. Protip: This didn’t work for her, it has never worked for me, and it most likely won’t work for you in the long run.)
The Tile Game. Once we had excised all of my character from Hanako, we had to re-fill her character with something of interest. I can’t remember who it was, but someone said that I needed to make Hanako more real and relate-able. I wasn’t really sure how to do that at the time, so i sneakily put in another thing that I do quite often; the Tile Game. It was disguised as something strange and uncommon, but I think that everyone does something like this.
There are a couple of other versions of this that I do (and thus I imagine that Hanako would do).
The Life of Pi. Most of the books in the Hanako Path we basically the book that I was reading at the time. There wasn’t any real meaning to putting them in there, but I read Life of Pi a few years before the movie so it was relatively unknown at the time.
Hinamizawa. I’ve mentioned a few times that I was obsessed with Higurashi at the time of writing KS (I still am to a degree) so there were a few references in there, however the most obvious one is the “Road from School” image, which is the road that leads into Shirakawa-go, the village which is named Hinamizawa in Higurashi.
“Yamaku” is also a mis-translation of “Yamainu”; one of the competing forces in Higurashi. I was in a failed translation effort of the game, and we used “Yamaku” for a long time before someone pointed it out. As a nod to that group I kept the name for the school.
Sendai Castle. Somehow, in the process of deciding where to base Yamaku High, we decided upon Sendai. I think we thought that having it in a major metropolitan area would be difficult, but it would need to be near a semi-major city in order to have the medical facilities that were required.
After we made that decision I spent 2 days of my first trip to Japan exploring Sendai, and many of the “city” backgrounds in the game come from that trip. (My friends had no idea that this is why we were there).
The school is set in the location of the ruins of Sendai Castle. I caught a bus up the hill to the castle site and then walked back from there to Sendai City (a long distance). After that trip I returned and wrote the detailed description of the school’s environment, and apart from a few changes to match the photos, they pretty much stayed. In 2015 Suriko actually went to Sendai and got a photo of him “being Lilly” in the exact same spot as one of the scenes from the game.
Burns and the Burn Ward. My dad worked in a hospital for most of his life, including about 20 years in the casualty/emergency wards. I once asked him about the worst thing that he had ever seen, and he told me about a man that was camping with a friend. His friend fell asleep with a lit cigarette, and the man’s nylon sleeping bag caught fire and melted to his skin. Somehow he survived but the descriptions form my dad were used in the original drafts of the Hanako script (but I think that none of them survived to the final edition).
I also did work experience in the cancer ward in my dad’s hospital, which was adjacent to the burn ward, so I used some of those descriptions when describing Hisao’s hospital experience.
Sex. The initial sex scene for Hanako, which is mostly destroyed now, was based on my first time. It was with an older and more experienced co-worker, but this made it come off as “too good” for a bunch of first timers…
The Bad End. So, to have a bit of a ying/yang thing here, I ended up completely misreading some signals from “Iwanako” during the writing of KS. I made some foolish (amateurish, really) moves and basically resulted in the Real Iwanako rejecting me hard. This was one of the main motivations for the bad ending (of course, there were a different set of circumstances there; but that is another story for another time. Probably drunk and alone on IRC…)
Ok, so that is it!
I hope you learnt something. Hir; I told you I put this up somewhere, and now it is here!