My experience with Kana, Little Sister
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I discovered it last Monday. The name was listed in some FAQ/Walkthrough for another eroge in a list of games the guy had also written FAQ/Walkthroughs for. It was the only one I looked up, the name must have sparked my interest.
Luckily it worked right away, unlike the game I was looking info up on, and I went into it without major expectations. I expected some H-content with it being listed as eroge.
The beginning scenes, with the slow paced and not very exotic childhood memories were not what I thought I would be getting into, but this early feeling was quickly forgotten as I progressed. A couple hours later I was in tears, I got the second ending.
It is amazing how something you've never heard of before can grow to you so quickly and influence your feelings this heavily.
The next day in school, I immediately recommended the game to that one guy in my class that likes anime and "the Japanese stuff". I gave him a game I liked very much before and, when I showed it off, he identified it as visual novel. I would feel criminal not recommending this to anyone.
It's kinda funny. He must have mentioned somewhere that there are "hentai games" he enjoys for the story. Our classmates, understandably, made fun of him for that statement. I have in the past. Hadn't I recently played my first game of this kind (this is my second), I would still do so. This is one point at which this game changed my perspective.
I feel that it is somewhat sad that these kinds of game can't get the exposure they might deserve because of the sexual themes, even if not prevalent. I'll admit that the whole Japanese anime/manga style and the stuff surrounding it was, or still is, something foreign and alien to me. Hadn't I made my personal foray into it by trying a random popular hentai game listed on some download ranking and been surprised by not only tons of tentacle porn but also a somewhat touching story, I'd never have given this a chance.
After my first playthrough I found it hard to stop thinking about Kana and the game, so I went for the different endings. I got the first ending next. On Wednesday I tried to keep my mind off it by doing other things, but it didn't work. I looked up a guide and got the endings 3, 6, 5 and 4 on Thursday. Even without reading a lot of the earlier text I was crying a lot.
The sixth ending specifically made me think. "Live Now". After playing this, my family asked me if I wanted to order some food. I said I'd take the usual, but then I reconsidered. I don't ever vary my diet. Kana wished she would have been able to try more things in life. To eat what she wants. I ended up ordering something I've never eaten before. I feel helpless as to many of the ideas expressed in the game and don't know how I should take them.
It is now Saturday night. I didn't play yesterday, but I was still thinking about it and in a somewhat gloomy mood. This afternoon I started a new game and read through it all. It wasn't quite the same as the first playthrough as I'd know of the major turning points already and had messed about, trying to get the different endings, but it sure didn't lose any of its impact on me. I intended to get the sixth ending again, but got the fourth, which I previously thought of as the least interesting one, but it didn't matter.
I also found this little board and the fanfic. I intend to go through ending one again and then start with the flash one tomorrow. It's always hard to accept that awesome things have an end, but I've not reached it yet. Still, I already looked around for similar experiences, but I think I should give it a rest at least for the moment.
As for the story itself, there are many things that made me think about them. (Spoilers)
For instance, as the major plot point, the forbidden love between Taka and his sister. I liked how she, in the beach scene, opened up to the conclusion that she didn't care what other people thought about her. This is a touchy subject, and probably what attracted me through the title of the game, but it would make it even harder to talk about publicly.
Even with all the fuss and drama around Kana, I found myself attached to Yumi throughout the game. I liked her endings very much.
It was heartbreaking to have to decide between them, and the forced ending of her relationship with Taka over the phone in the intellectual routes was quite a hit to me.
I'm not quite sure what I found so fascinating, but I can only admire the perseverance of her. Not only did she keep her attachment to Taka all the time without any response, she found it in her to forgive him believably in the sixth ending.
She cared for the broken Taka in the third ending for a long time and, even when told it was hopeless and even when Taka thought she gave up, came back again.
There is also the tidbit about finding him fooling around with his sister and still being there later on when he decides to have the transplant.
I thought she tried to grow (and did) with her actions. Being involved in a one-sided love for as long as she was must have impacted her greatly, but she did not become a depressing character. It's possible that her energetic self might be the ideal she strives to achieve and therefore she acts like it.
There is also the thing about her forcing herself onto him when she was given the chance. It seemed to me like she was consciously lying to herself about her feelings and jumped on the first spark of interest he showed.
Taka himself is somewhat conflicted with her in large part due to Kana, but I didn't feel like she was too pushy in that regard while playing. Even with him despising her for a long time, she's still the only other girl he seems to have found a romantic interest in. There are many points which show that he's clearly interested in sex too and he mentioned in the intellectual routes that he enjoyed it.
In my first playthroughs I expected the choices to have a larger impact on the story. Things up to the end always happened the way they were, for instance, Yuta got never close to Kana. I was a little disappointed by this at first, but I came to appreciate the finer differences these smaller choices ultimately made. I guess there is some balance to it, even with varying endings, there are some things that would have happened anyway and been out of your reach.
I have some other questions too. The music had great effects on me (It's almost scary how easily a strong emotional association can be made through music). Does anyone have a list of the title names? Maybe rough lyrics?
I encountered some minor technical issues too. After ending the game in fullscreen on my desktop PC, the resolution would not revert to its previous state automatically. Also, sometimes sound effects seemed to have been missing.
Have the finer workings of the system which determines on what route you are on ever been uncovered? I appreciate the Walkthroughs, but I'm interested in how it works. I read something about counter variables used more often then just flags, making continued decisions in one direction more important, but I'd like to know the specifics.
It's unusual for me to write about an experience like this and I don't expect a lot of response given how active this board is, but I'd like you to share if you have had similar experiences, have opinions on the characters or answers to my more direct questions.
Hi Zap. Thanks for sharing your feelings and thoughts about the game. I know that a lot of other KLS fans have gone through the same journey that you're going through - falling in love with Kana to the extent that she changes how you look at the world and especially at life.
First off, translations for the three vocal songs:
Unfortunately, because of the sexual content, bishoujo games like these will never be anything more than a niche market in Western society. I always find it ironic that parents are perfectly willing to let their children be exposed to horrific acts of violence in today's video games, but are themselves horrified if a game has the slightest bit of sexual content. It seems like a double standard to me.
The game does present a lot of complicated ideas, but I think the most pervasive one is to live every day as if it could be your last - to open yourself to new experiences and make the most of what you have, so you can be the best and strongest person you can be. Kana has such limited resources available to her, but in the intellectual endings she becomes wise and intelligent beyond her years.
I was completely dedicated to Kana in my first playthrough, and so, while I sympathised with Yumi (because it wasn't her fault that the other kids found Taka's letter before she did), once Yumi returned and started getting in the way of Kana and Taka being together, I started viewing Yumi as nothing more than an obstacle, an annoyance. (I like her more now, but it took me a long time to get over my resentment of her interfering in Taka and Kana's relationship.)
It's true that the game only has two real paths - normal and intellectual. That's one of the main things the game keeps track of: what sort of gifts and experiences do you give Kana? Things that are appropriate to a girl of her age, or do you push to make her smarter and more knowledgeable?
The other thing the game keeps track of is how nice you are to Yumi. To get Ending 1, you have to turn down Yumi at every opportunity, and give Kana nothing but juvenile presents and experiences, appropriate for a girl her age. Of course, there are some choices which are simple branching points - for example, if you don't choose to take Kana to the beach, I think that locks you into getting Ending 4. If you do take Kana to the beach, then the game assesses how nice you were to Yumi and gives you either Ending 5 (non-Yumi) or Ending 6 (pro-Yumi).
It's been a while since I looked at the extras in KLS, so I don't remember exactly, but I think the game has a jukebox feature that lets you choose which song from the soundtrack you want to play. Otherwise, the CD tracks are as listed (with track 1 being the game itself).
2. The White Season
3. Believe ~Tsubara na Hitomi~ (Round Eyes)
4. For You
5. Play a Joke
6. Fanciful Jump
7. How Do You Feel? (my personal favourite of the BGM themes)
8. I Can't Live Without Her
9. Our Album
10. Thank You
11. She Was Weeping Sadly
12. We're Become One
13. The Tree on the Street at Sunset
15. To Hold or Not
16. A Melancholy Reason
17. For You (music box version)
Thank you for your kind response, Darkling.
As for the jukebox feature, It would only play three songs for me. Maybe I have the wrong executable while messing with the installation.
The ending mechanic continues to elude me. In my game yesterday, I chose to take Kana to the beach and embraced her afterwards, too - but still got ending four. There must be other factors, then. I also remember stopping the "intellectual" presents/experiences after the Sumako bit.
I usually play strategy games more then anything and consider finding out such mechanics to be part of fully taking a game in, but since it is more something of a story I think I should give it a rest. Point of the story is also that choices have limits and the future can't be turned the other way around, so I would feel bad breaking it down like this.
I think this game has aged well. I wasn't really aware of how long ago it was first released. I am now barely older then the characters from the story, but at its release I just became able to walk.
Finding gems like this is one of the best uses the internet has to offer.
I also intended to ask about the last picture of the intro scene. Is there any background to it? I don't remember seeing it in the story.
I think there must be other choices that are vital to getting Ending 5 or 6 as opposed to Ending 4. Kana's diary plays a large part in Endings 5 and 6, so that's probably another important one. Or perhaps you just didn't make her intellectual enough in your most recent playthrough?
After that, though, it's hard to pick out which decisions are pivotal and which ones just add to your normal/intellectual and pro-Yumi/anti-Yumi counters.
I think it goes something like this:
Ending 1 - normal interests, anti-Yumi (perfect 100% in each)
Ending 2 - normal, admit you love Kana
Ending 3 - normal, deny you love Kana
Ending 4 - intellectual, miss key decision points (eg diary, beach, making love to Kana)
Ending 5 - intellectual, generally anti-Yumi
Ending 6 - intellectual, generally pro-Yumi
It's impossible to be sure, though. For a long time, people thought that Ending 1 was locked on the first playthrough so you couldn't get it the first time through. That's been revealed to be false, but it still shows how little we actually know about how the game decides which ending you're going to get.
The ending CG with Kana in the rain must have been a scene that was going to go into the game at the time the opening video was made, but ended up being cut. There's also a CG of Taka kissing Kana in her hospital bed that didn't end up in the game either.
First time I played the game I got ending 6. It's still my favourite ending of the bunch.
I can recommend to play Crescendo next (from the same developer); in some ways it touched me even more than KLS did (it also has a very moving easter egg that should not be missed by any KLS fan).
Eventually I felt the spell this story had on my mood slipping, so I decided it was time for the fanfic. I started the game back up with the intention of refreshing my memory with the specifics of the first ending, but got the second. Funny.
I don't quite know what to say about the stories I've read. I enjoyed them, and I think first of all I have to thank you, Darkling, and JPop4Life for writing these, and Zero for his flash work. I don't know if the latter two will read this, but here it is. Just to be clear, I read My Sister, My Strength, New Blooms, Blinding White, Kana: Eternity and also Looking for Kana's Eyes, in that order.
There were a couple themes I found interesting and situations I wondered about in these. For instance Taka's accident, I had wondered if a partial reversal of their situations would occur in the game since in the beginning of it there were scenes in the hospital (after the forest) where Kana would visit Taka in his room. She looked much older in the CG's there then she was supposed to be, so I wondered if they were going to be reused. I guess the artist just had a different image of her in mind then what it ended up being.
Seeing the possibilities of their continued relationship played out was also enjoyable. I never got the impression from the first ending that Kana left because of the nature of their relationship or that it was over between them, so I wasn't surprised. I especially liked the ending of My Sister, My Strength.
I found myself lost halfway through New Blooms however. I think it was a combination of Taka's attitude and me not realising some parts were supposed to be flashbacks (duh). The Second Farewell was a nice conclusion however.
It was also hard for me at first to identify with the new characters in Blinding White, and I felt somewhat hopeless throughout the story, probably in part because of that. I know there was more to it then "and then she died", but it seemed to be a little like that. What followed afterwards was pretty much "Ending 3" and I missed some insight from Taka's point of view and how he handled it in the end. The desperation and feelings of the new perspective turned out well in the end, though.
I did also find the "behind the scenes"-eastereggs. Fun stuff :D
I enjoyed Eternity a lot, too. It was a different approach and direction. I felt it started somewhat slowly and it didn't cover as long a timespan, so while decisions of the characters may have appeared rushed, I liked the endings very much. Except for the bad ending, which still had quite a devastating effect, they were believable. When I first ended up with Kana I thought the decisions would all have eventually led there, and felt spoiled when I read the notes afterwards and was compelled to try again.
The flash format definitely did a lot for this one. Text and imagination is all and good, but graphics and music can convey a lot too. I think it may lock you into certain patterns and might not be appropiate for everything, but it was here.
I'll look out for Crescendo. I've seen the name already while looking around for similar games. I also got Katawa Shoujo, which I read of in a couple places. How does that compare?
I haven't played Katawa Shoujo yet (I keep meaning to, but have never gotten around to it), but I can also recommend Crescendo, with the caveat that a lot of people who play Crescendo after KLS find its paths much shorter and not as well-developed as the story in KLS (which is partly because there are five different girls to choose from in Crescendo, and partly because the story covers a very short period of time in the protagonist's life).
I also noticed that Kana looked older in the scene as Taka recovered from the bee stings, but I thought it was just a continuity error. Who knows - maybe the writer did have a plan to include a reversal in the storyline, but it never came to pass (like the scene with Kana in the rain)?
I feel the same way as you about Eternity - it kind of drifts along at a meandering pace for quite some time, and then suddenly BAM BAM BAM dramatic developments occur. I first read Eternity as text, and JPop sent me the bad ending first (not telling me that there were others). He'd already asked me to help out with editing the text, so I was stunned by what I thought was the 'only' ending and was momentarily at a loss as to how we were going to try to justify Taka's decision in that ending. We did a bit of work to try to make it more plausible, but in the end it still seems quite abrupt. I feel that the other endings help to make up for it, though. =)
Hi Zap. I'm glad you enjoyed our Kana Flash projects. It's been such a long time since we made them. I always get nostalgic when I think about it. I think it's been a couple of years since I went through them myself. Now I kind of want to read through them again.
Much like the many people that have come across this board, I had a very similar experience to yours. I wasn't expecting anything special out of this game. Before playing KLS, I had played a couple of other bishoujo games that were pretty typical in their nature. I figured it would be about the same for KLS. I had no idea that it would change the way I looked at them.
My life was pretty much consumed by this game for the whole week when I started playing it. I believe I finished my first playthrough in 2 different sittings (Woo! Ending 5). The 2nd had me playing late into the night because I didn't want to stop. It left me with a feeling of sadness that I had never felt before, especially coming from a game. Even after I worked my way through all the other routes it wasn't enough.
That's why I was so glad that I found Darkling's fanfics. To this day, I've only read the first one, but that was enough for me to finally have the ending that I wanted. This, of course, eventually led to the projects that you've seen.
When you mentioned that the game has aged well, it made me think of a thread I read years ago on a different message board. Some people had said that they actually couldn't really get into KLS/didn't have the urge to try it because they felt it was too dated. From a technical standpoint, I do agree that it's pretty old. It also doesn't have voice acting, which was a key point for some of the people who posted. I think most games now that get released include VA as a standard feature.
I personally don't mind, though. I've played plenty of games with and without VA, and while it's certainly nice to have voices to go with it, it's not a deal breaker for me. If the story itself is still enjoyable, then I'm fine either way.
The bad ending for Eternity was a key point that I discussed with my brother. When we originally released the final chapter, there weren't any decision points; it automatically went to the bad ending. It wasn't until a week later that we released an updated version that included the choices and different endings. From the time that we were still writing the script, my brother knew that's how he wanted to do it. Anyone who reads it now probably won't know the difference and just assume it always had the multiple endings.
Eternity was an interesting project because even though it was similar to the work we did on KFF, there were some key differences. I had the idea of making KFF simply because I enjoyed it so much. But the story at that point was already written and done. It was just a matter of making it fit into the Flash format. But Eternity was written specifically in mind with making it into a series of Flash chapters. That meant that certain things were written or done with the intention utilizing the CGs, music, sound effects, etc. The Flash format shaped how some of the story was going to be told. That's one of the main reasons why it went so well with it.
I also recommend going through Crescendo. It varies from person to person on which game they found more emotional, but the general consensus is that they're both very enjoyable games.
I played all of Katawa Shoujo a few years ago. I'd say it's not emotionally sad as KLS, but I thought it was fantastic. It was really well written, and there's a good variety in the different issues that the main character faces for each of the different routes. I would definitely give it a try.
 Kana: Fanfic Flash & Kana: Eternity  --- http://www.the-z-projects.com/
 My YouTube Channel  --- http://www.youtube.com/user/TheRealZ3ro
This is a touchy subject, and probably what attracted me through the title of the game, but it would make it even harder to talk about publicly.
I know, it's why I find it hard to talk about the game with people who haven't played it.
...and kinda hard to talk about Kana with people who have played the game, oddly enough. >_>
I'll look out for Crescendo. I've seen the name already while looking around for similar games. I also got Katawa Shoujo, which I read of in a couple places. How does that compare?
I'm probably one of the few people who was disappointed by Crescendo. Though certainly not to the point of dissuading anyone from playing it; it just felt too short, the character arcs kind of unsupported, and the one route that was honestly heart-wrenching, heart-raging, and heartwarming also felt terribly anticlimactic. And yes, there is something connecting it to KLS. Because D.O. are bastards nourished by human suffering.
As for Katawa Shoujo, though, I highly recommend it. It's pretty damn good.
Also, I might recommend A Drug That Makes You Dream. Fifth visual novel I ever played (that I'm willing to acknowledge), co-written by Romeo Tanaka (Kana's author), and still one of my absolute favorites.
"Oh man, we're in trouble!"
"Don't worry. The worst that can happen is we all die."
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