-or Getting Over My Fear of Rejection with Haru –
No Thank You!!! is a great visual novel most people will probably not want to play. If you’re not intimidated by the hardcore depiction of homosexuality, you might be scared off by the explicit descriptions of violence and the general uncomfortable subject matter of the practical aspect of criminal organizations.
That’s too bad. It’s quite well written and has one of the best interactive structures I’ve seen in these types of games. I was completely engrossed by it for the entire play-through and fully intend to replay it at some point.
But of all the unexpected things I was able to take away from this, let’s face it, dubious sounding source, the most surprising may be a rather nice sense of perspective that’s allowed me to quiet down some of those louder demons that make me constantly doubt myself. I don’t exactly lack in confidence to begin with but there has always been a certain insecurity in me when I approach people on a more personal level. After all, fear of rejection has got to be one of the most common and most insidious dreads out there. Even those of us who never get turned down, still get that nagging panic. There’s a first time for everything, right?
I hope you didn’t sprain your eyes rolling them at my brilliant statement of the obvious there. Yeah, yeah, no one likes to get rejected. Big freakin revelation there. Well that seems a bit harsh… I may not be overflowing with the keenest of insights, but I did manage to turn basic human nature into an excuse to play a naughty yaoi game, so who’s the genius now?? Probably still you…
I’ll spare you the gaudy details for now, maybe some day I’ll give this game a proper review. For now, let’s just say the main (player) character is quite a personality indeed. As Haru, I got to embody a young man who was refreshingly different from any other protagonist I’ve played and from my own persona. The experience was in some ways very educational. In others, it was liberating.
Haru is deceptively simple. Rather than being stupid, he is striving to survive a very difficult and complex situation by actively blocking out everything that could be considered irrelevant to the immediate situation. He is pruposefully limiting his vision to a pinhole. Haru is of the mindset that there are only two types of problems in the world. No point in worrying about those you can’t solve and why worry about those you can solve!
For many reasons that have to do with his background and are revealed throughout the story, Haru believes that he is living on borrowed time. He knows that he only has so long to do what he needs to accomplish, and he is adamant about getting everything he can from the experience. To him, the terror of being turned down, being embarrassed or feeling stupid is completely irrelevant when weighed against the much greater tragedy of missing his chance.
The fact of the matter is, we all have a certain amount of time, a limited number of chances. It’s something we tend to push to the back of our minds. We don’t like to think about it. I sure don’t. But by sectioning off his life, creating story arcs in his own adventure, Haru essentially makes the grand scheme manageable. It’s ok if my classmate thinks I’m a huge looser because I’ll graduate in a few years anyways. My coworker may think I’m a dork, but I’ll leave them behind when I get that promotion. At least I tried. I won’t be sitting at home all alone wondering if I should have. Besides, and trust me on this, humiliating memories make for the best party stories and first date ice breakers. They also make for the best people. Someone who had to learn to laugh at themselves along the way is always more interesting.
And so, as I ambled along the sunny streets of Japan and the seedy back alleys with Haru, I was entranced by his ability to turn restlessness into freedom. Deadlines, into inspiration. Haru understood that humiliation is temporary, but joy lingers. The best of us can grab onto happy moments and keep them close to our hearts forever. It’s worth the risk and the price. I found myself eagerly urging him to approach the object of his affections even knowing that our chances (mine and Haru’s – we are a team!) were slim. The simple act of asking was an experience onto itself, and one I wanted us to have. I really would have hated to make Haru miss out on anything.
Of course, we got rejected. A lot.
You know how fears are always worst in your head. We see all those movies were the entire room bursts out in finger-pointing and laughter when we get shot down. We remember our heroic resolve to approach our crushes when we were fearless children only to be cruelly pushed aside (but we never remember how thoughtless and cruel we ourselves could be). We operate under the assumption that a negative answer will be the worst thing that could happen, so we avoid the possibility all together.
The thing is, as Haru and I repeatedly got spurned with varying degrees of harshness, I started to get use to it. What’s more, I started to realize that it wasn’t that bad at all. For the most part people are flattered, happy to be asked even if they aren’t interested. Unless you make a big deal out of it yourself, it simply isn’t. Most people will be kind and careful with your feelings. There’s a special bond that happens you see. As long as you’re not a total jerk about it.
Haru is a very happy-go-lucky guy. As I said, he is supremely skilled at taking life as it comes. As such, he deals with rejection in a very healthy way. He acknowledges it and moves on. It’s as if he offered someone a bite of ice cream and they said they didn’t like that flavor. That’s it. It hardly affected him at all. But, it changed the other person. And not in the, we can no longer be friends way. Again, that really only happens when you can’t get over your hurt. For the other person, this show of interest was a huge compliment. The confidence boost is addictive and on some level people feel grateful for it. They don’t want to lead you on but since Haru is obviously not bothered by it, that worry becomes moot. Instead, people start paying just a bit more attention to you. Possibly they feel a tiny bit guilty as well but in any case, they were nicer to us.
Having been on the other end of that in real life, I can tell you it really does work that way for me. If someone expresses interest in me, even if I don’t share it for whatever reason, if they are not harassing me about it every chance they get or don’t get all moody, I’ll end up getting attached to them much more quickly than otherwise. I admire the honesty and confidence. I have occasionally grown to regret my initial reaction as well. For some reason though, I never remember this when I’m staring at that beautiful stranger, desperately trying to get some moisture back in my mouth and remember my name.
But after hours of watching Haru, shrug it off and happily move on to the next thing, it became a little easier for me to just ask what’s the worst that can happen? Both Haru and I have survived much harder things. If this bozo is actually the type of looser to make me feel bad about liking them then clearly, I should thank them. Because I obviously need to revisit what type of people I’m attracted to. And I dodged a bullet this time.
Besides, Haru taught me to not take no for an answer, in the best possible way. Look, I won’t pretend that there aren’t some problematic scenes in the game. There most definitely are. And considering the brutal nature of the narrative, some are difficult to avoid. But generally speaking, Haru tends to understand No as not now. For him a rejection means he hasn’t earned the other person’s affections yet but that doesn’t mean he can’t ever do so.
No does mean no. You don’t force the issue, ever. You smile and move on and talk about your day. You go on with your life and you keep being a great friend, and a good person and the all-around rockstar that you are. They will see it eventually, and if YOU’re still interested, you can ask again. It’s fine, some people are a little slower on the uptake and may need a minute to process your greatness.In the meantime, allow yourself to meet someone smarter.
Haru and I expressed our interests fairly early on. It was just a general statement of fact. If we found someone attractive and enjoyed spending time with them, we said so. No deeper meaning behind it. Haru is pretty sex positive so he was a bit more forward than most people were used to, so they weren’t quite ready for us. It was fine. We backed off, we continued to get to know each other. But the other person already understood that there was an attraction there. Something to work with. Sometimes it blossomed into more. Sometimes it didn’t go anywhere at all. Sometimes it was really lovely. Other times…bad ends…
I wish I could say I had learned from Haru. That I knew my pride is meaningless to anyone but me. That I can walk up to a complete stranger and just tell them, you are strikingly beautiful, and I would love to find out if your personality matches those spectacular looks. Let’s go have a drink! Most days I will just fumble and pretend to read something on my phone if they look my way. Most days I will sit back on my laurels and rest on the fact that I’m a girl and social expectations allow me to just wait for them to approach me, as everyone except the persone I’m actually interested in comes to talk (am I right???). But once in a while, I hear Haru telling me to go for it. Telling me it will be fun. Telling me that if it’s a disaster I can turn it into a hilarious tale to make the next one laugh.
And that’s how an X rated visual novel gave me some confidence….