…I wished for the death of this crazy Hinamizawa.
My… last wish… has… come true…
“In Tatarigoroshi-hen, Keiichi and Satoko develop a brother-sister relationship so when Satoko’s abusive uncle returns to Hinamizawa, Keiichi attempts to help Satoko with drastic measures. However, as more and more people die, it is clear he is not the only one involved in this. This time, the spotlight shines on Satoko Houjou as being the “victim”. Keiichi Maebara’s passion to protect Satoko turns him into an unknowing villain in this chapter.“
I told myself that I probably wasn’t going to make any posts about Higurashi here, due to several reasons. The most obvious one is that I have already watched the anime, when both seasons aired. Therefore, I know what’s going to happen and felt that it would be pointless commenting on a mystery series where I already know the outcome. It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Reading a mystery requires you to give it your all, and to make an attempt to solve it yourself. You don’t just rely on the detective or other characters to figure things out for you. Playing a series like this knowing the answers cheapens things considerably, despite discovering those answers in format which was hacked to pieces. You know who’s behind everything. You know who’s the culprit, and who the accomplices are. Maybe you don’t know how in depth the path to these revelations are, but you still know the minimal knowledge required.
Having said that, there are some pluses in reading things knowing who the culprit is. You are much more sensitive to everything they say and do when they’re on-screen. You become so much more aware when they say something… which doesn’t quite fit. Takano in this chapter was an ideal example. She never felt that suspicious at all in this series until she encountered Keiichi on his way home from ‘murdering’ Teppei. There were a few small things which were mentioned, and they all added up. Her having a full trunk was mentioned once. She had Tomitake’s bike in her backseat, despite Tomitake being an out of towner and needing his bike to get from A to B. Keiichi feeling the murderous vibes off her, and smelling that same ‘gamy’ scent which he felt was on him. Her repeating stating that she didn’t meet Tomitake at all that night, and of course, her telling Keiichi that she didn’t see him, and that he didn’t see her. An odd comradeship could have been built, by not selling each other out.
That entire scene felt like a mistake, and it definitley conveyed the sheer horror of how bloody awkward it was. Neither of them wanted to meet anyone that night that they shouldn’t have met. While at the start it wouldn’t be obvious to someone who Takano is acting overly suspicious, but she starts saying odd things. It wasn’t just the ‘joke’ she made about Keiichi burying a body (she then got miffed and said something like ‘they didn’t have a good compatibility’), but as Keiichi started getting more desperately paranoid she started letting her true nature slip, and things become more for clear for him, and the readers. Ah yes, Takano is definitley worthy of suspicion. Several things add up, when going from the previous two scenarios. Her and Tomitake are together at the festival, and they both end up dying. A body double has been suggested from as early as the first arc, when something was mentioned about her body being found and not having matching teeth, for example. At this point, the reader would have to wonder why isn’t she with Tomitake, and maybe they’d think back to the teeth issue, and what’s in the trunk of her car. Things have become that clear, as early as the third arc. If only Umineko was this coherent, eh?
I never really thought of Higurashi as the psychological masterpiece many, rather ridiculously, claim it to be. People’s moods shifted far too quickly far by liking, almost as if a button was pressed. Then again, I was watching a horribly paced adaptation – what else was I to think? The visual novel is a different matter altogether. Things are presented to us carefully, and subtly. There are no sudden scene cuts here, with it being able to take its time to tell its story. That’s why personality shifts are much more believable. Let’s take Keiichi’s, for example. Over the course of the arc, he changed from an excitable, content guy into a delusional, overly paranoid person who couldn’t differentiate from reality or dreams. The shift didn’t suddenly occur, it happened gradually upon him seeing his dear, treasured friend be abused in such a way, with him and everyone else being unable to do anything at all. After attempting to think of a variety of methods to save Satoko (including keeping her in his closet and not letting her use the bathroom), a particularly upsetting episode with her in the classroom makes him black out. He then experiences something akin to a bad trip, where it dawns on him that the only way to truly save Satoko is to kill the source of her agony; her uncle.
And now, this ladies and gentlemen, is where Higurashi finally begins to pick up, and fully captures my attention. Everything is seen through the eyes of a jumpy Keiichi, and it’s highly enjoyable to see him panic about what’s real or an illusion. He elaborately schemes to kill Teppei, and he does. He even buries him, and throws his weapon and Teppei’s moped into the swamp. It looks like everything is finished, and he can go back to the peaceful and fun days liked they all used to have. But of course, this is Higurashi, so that definitley won’t happen. When he goes to school the next day, it turns out that everyone saw him at the festival, and were even talking to him. But how can that be, when Keiichi was murdering Satoko’s uncle? To make matters worse, her uncle turns out to be alive and… err… well. Well enough to throw boiling miso soup all over her. The only plausibility is that murdering her uncle was all an illusion, but the weapon in which he used to kill him, and his moped went missing. Curiouser and curiouser. Now if my memory serves me right, in this chapter, and the first, Keiichi is suffering from Hinamizawa syndrome, correct? It would explain all the hallucinations and paranoia. But it really goes to extremes in this chapter. Keiichi himself even thinks that he has some sort of divine right and is able to murder the villagers just by wishing it. Towards the end of the chapter, he wishes for the death of the village itself, not being able to take its craziness. He fully puts the blame on the Hinamizawa he roamed into on the night of the festival. He convinces himself that he’s not the crazy one, but the town itself is crazy. He says that it has must be, believing that there’s another Keiichi who is going around doing things at the same time as him (which is him just hallucinating about different events), dead men walk around (he didn’t kill Teppei at all, yet believes he did), and people die if they wish them to (which, can mostly be explained, I think).
The death of Takano is obvious enough- she ‘died’, but used a body double with different teeth. Since she worked as a nurse at the clinic, and since all her men were there, it was simple to make it look like Irie committed suicide. Someone who worked there told the police that he didn’t call them because he did everything he could to help them, but obviously this is not the case. Oiishi’s ‘disappearance’ is simply explained, too. In the TIPS, he makes a request about a certain car’s license plate. My theory is, that while he was frantically searching for the body of Teppei that never was, he came across Takano’s car somehow. His suspicious nature took over, and he went investigating, finding Tomitake’s body in the trunk of her car. He then rang headquarters to confirm the license number, but Takano put an end to his life before he could do anything about it. Teppei’s death, now that’s odd… We knew that he was missing since late the previous night, taking his moped with him. But, since Satoko has an advanced form of Hinamizawa syndrome, could she have just imagined him there? It would explain how the moped never returned. But that brings up a question about Keiichi digging up the body and it not being there. He essentially did dig a hole, but nothing was ever put into it. This contradicts him being there at the festival, since Oiishi and his men deducted that he did dig a hole.
Another curious thing to happen was Satoko pushing Keiichi off the bridge, which definitley did happen. But how was he able to survive, falling from such a height? I also found it odd how he was able to walk to the school, only having a few bruises. Very odd indeed. This goes with the interview with him years on, where the interviewer states that it would have been impossible for him to lie on the riverbed with those volcanic fumes, and suggested that he hid somewhere safer. At this point, I almost began to grin. Very reminiscent of Umineko’s Banquet, where Eva went and hid in Kuwadorian, only to have people think she murdered the entire family and escaped herself. In this arc, the general public seem to think that Keiichi had a hand in murdering the whole town. Interesting parallel, isn’t it? The ending also have an Umineko style ending, naming people and how they died. Or, should I say that Umineko has a Higurashi style ending?
Overall, this was the arc that piqued my interest in the franchise again. Over the past year I’d become very disenchanted with the series, even going so far as to slate it. My memory on the series was foggy, and all I really had to go on was how obnoxious the fans were acting recently, mostly in irrelevant Umineko vs. Higurashi threads on a certain site. It was enough to make you want to delete the series and never look back. It didn’t help that I didn’t particularly like any of the characters while reading through the VNs, save Shion. The slice-of-life rubbish also infuriated me. I didn’t give a toss about punishment games and au~au-ing, I wanted mass paranoia and confusion. This arc definitely delivered, and made me view the series in a positive light again. And for that, I’m glad. I’ll give this arc 8/10, deducting two points for an insanely slow beginning which literally took me months to read through.
Company; 07th expansion
Release Date; August 15th, 2003
VNDB Link; http://vndb.org/v67