Fair warning - there are spoilers for the end of Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble! coming up.
I'm still divided on whether I think the plot of this game is a brilliant bit of subversive absurdity or just generally sloppy with a few brilliant moments. See, the arc of the game is that your girls are these wise-cracking juvenile delinquents who don't play by the stultifying rules of their society, but nonetheless try to save the people of Brighton from themselves, and there are all sorts of twists and turns through the goofy - fighting a pogo-stick ban that is clearly a thinly-veiled sexual metaphor, campaigning to replace the town's corrupt mayor with a literal jackass - to genre staples - saving an innocent man from the gallows, rooting out the bootleggers that are responsible for so much of the city's crime.
And then, at the end, it gets really rapey.
Which, okay, it fits in with the game's time period and themes, and there's no ambiguity in DHGiT!'s stance. It is firmly anti-rape. But it's such a sudden swerve towards darkness that it's more than a little uncomfortable. You spend ten hours saving these narrow-minded idiots from one crisis after another and then BAM! you learn that they've actually been monstrously narrow-minded idiots the entire time. It's an especial gut-punch to learn about the "compromises" your suffragette social-studies teacher made to win Brighton women the vote.
Narratively, it makes sense. The climax is about disillusionment. The girls realize that there's no such thing as "safe" misogyny. The cute boy you flirted with a couple of months ago may suddenly turn on you because he's part of a culture that teaches him that he's entitled to female deference, even to the exclusion of their own bodily autonomy. And the protection of a donkey mayoral candidate (however far ahead he may be in the popular vote) is going to do fuck-all against a powerful man who exploits structural inequality for his own sexual gratification.
So it's no wonder that the girls, at the end, wash their hands of Brighton and go their own way. But then, why shouldn't I, as a player, wash my hands of the game, for much the same reason?
Obviously, I have a certain critical distance that the girls lack, so I can view the game's story as art, but even as art, it's kind of a bummer, you know.
Maybe this feeling would be mitigated if I unlocked some of the alternate endings. I'm not sure if they'll necessarily be better, but they surely can't all be so bleak. However, as near as I can tell, I missed some critical conversations before my earliest save, so I'll have to go back to the very beginning to unlock them.
So, of course, that's what I'll have to do. I'm not sure if I'll make it in the next eight hours, though. Likely as not I'll just wind up playing through the earlier, sillier parts of the game again. I wonder if my enjoyment will be colored by my knowledge of what is to come?