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Let’s start off with a few words. This is it for the Eye Opening arc, and also the Cotton Drifting. These are by far my two favourite arcs, and the manga has only strengthened that. But rather than reinforce my previous love for it, reading through has changed why I love it. Mainly Shion. I still hate her, and I’m still terrified of that crazy bitch. But at the same time, I kinda like her.

It reminds me of watching Elfen Lied, but in reverse. With that show, I loved Lucy right from the beginning (because I am just that weird), and only over time have decided that she really is a monster. But with Higurashi, I saw Shion as a monster right away, and only now have more complex feelings about her.

But beyond Shion, this arc has given us a lot of keys to understanding Higurashi, and more will come in this las part. I would like to go over what we know so far sometime soon; probably after the Atonement arc, the last arc I know about through the anime. But for now, Higurash When They Cry, volume 14

1) Other:

a) Just like last time, we start with some pre-story art. This time it’s a picture of either Mion or Shion (I would guess Shion, just based on the eyes) holding a sword. And just like last time, it makes me think or a different arc. Beyond Midnight. I’m actually temped to re-read Beyond Midnight next, because we learn a lot about the Mion-Shion dynamic in this volume, incuding things I didn’t know before.

b) The art during the fight between Shion and Rika looks a little off in some panels. Starting with the first one; Shion is staring up at nothing, or at the reader, rather than at Rika. I get that it’s because she’s just been sprayed in the eyes and probably can’t even see Rika at the moment, but it just looks awekward. A few other panels in these early pages have issues too (like when Shion kicks the newpapers that are like a foot behind her), which is disappointing after how much I’ve loved Houjyou’s art until now. But it’s just a few small complaints.

c) When Shion’s on the phone with Keichi, trying to mislead him, it is just painful to read. Every panel, after everything Shion says, we’re told her thoughts, telling us why she’s says stuff we know isn’t true and how she’s tricking him. It feels like the book thinks we’re idiots. I get it, and you didn’t have to explain it too me like you would a child.

d) So generally I read these one arc at a time, with breaks in-between, so I don’t notice many differences in the art from different artists. I plan on flipping through them all at some point just to look at the changes in styles. But for the moment, I’ve just noticed one thing. About halfway through this volume, when Keichi and Rena are confront Shion, Keichi looks… odd. I guess this would have been how he’d always in these chapters, but he pops up so rarely that it took until the fourth and final volume for me to notice it.

The main thing is that his hair is very flat, but I don’t think it’s purely just Yutori Houjyou’s take on his character design. I think he is being made to look a lot more like Satoshi. Especially his sad eyes. Yutori mentions at the end of one of these volumes (I forget which) that she feels like she always draws Satoshi’s eyes looking sad.

e) I like the way the pit in the underground dungeon is drawn. The shadows on the rocks make it look fittingly like blood splatter.

f) I like the way the police investigate Shion’s death in this version. Rather than just go over the basic facts in a clear, streamlined way purely to filter information onto the reader, it offers small glimpses at the investigation prosses, including extraneous details, working theories, and some stuff that we already know is incorrect. As someone who loves crime novels, it’s a nice touch than brings the precinct to life.

2) Rika Furude:

a) This section probably won’t last long given what’s about to happen, but there’s a lot to see about this part. First, the way Rika smiles on the first page. As if she takes pleasure in killing Shion. It seems off for her character. In the anime, I understood this as her just carrying out a task she was responsible for, but not liking it. Is there another side to Rika? Is this Oyashiro-sama’s true face? What is her motivation in coming after Shion?

b) This section may be about the drug more than anything else. Shion realizes that it must be fast-acting in order for Rika’s plan of attack to end well. Good on her; I never actually thought of that. But she might be wrong; Obviously Rika’s mysterious, and she knows at least something about the time reset (I’m taking that from the anime), so her plan could include her own death for some reason. But based on what happens at the end of the fight, I would say it does act fast, and even immediately after Rika is injected we can see she’s unsteady (though that may be from the stun gun). We’ll come back to this.

c) And Rika’s final moments, scratching out her own throat. Only one question is left. Why the hell didn’t the anime include this crucial bit of information?! There is this drug that causes people to claw out their own throat, and Rika is the administrator of it. Suddenly the “Keichi is crazy” explanation of Abducted by Demons seems a lot less plausible, now that we know the drug is real. But I think we can accept both.

Let’s look at how the drug is used. First, it seemingly was used on Tomitake, in at least Abducted by Demons, but perhaps every arc. He showed signs of resistance before death, but there was also no evidence that anyone else was around him. We know the least about him, but I think it’s at least possible he was cursed shortly before having the drug injected.

Then we have Keichi, who was pretty definitely cursed in Abducted by Demons. Except his death, clawing out his own throat, wasn’t part of the curse, but because he was also drugged.

Now we have Shion, again an obvious victim of the curse, and who comes to drug her? Rika. Why? My guess is, Part of Rika’s role in this entire thing is to eliminate whoever gets cursed each time, using this drug. She tried to do it to Shion here but fails. She did it to Tomitake. And it was her who used the drug, then got rid of the syringe and the note in Abducted by Demons. Rena and Mion’s involvement there was just due to Keichi’s madness; maybe he was drugged while unconscious, woke up and found Rena and Mion trying to punishment game him by drawing on his face, imposed the image of the drug over the marker, and then killed them. Maybe it was just a marker taped to the back of the clock, and Rika removed it as well. I’m not sure; there are still loose end on that one.

But then there are the arcs were no one had there throat clawed; no one was drugged. The Time Killing arc doesn’t take place in the fifth year, so that’s understandable. But what about the Curse Killing arc. Keichi was cursed, but no one tried to drug him. Maybe because that is the only arc where Rika was killed, before she got the chance.

d) Oishi says he doesn’t know how much of Shion’s journal can be believed, pointing out specifically the part about Rika’s death. I wonder if that’s a hint that we should be skeptical of things actually happening as they were presented.

3) Importance of The Three Families:

a) Shion cheers that she’s killed the heads of all of The Three Families. But just one look at her face tells us that the curse is still there. She’s still a psycho-yandere. And though we unfortunately don’t hear about the one extra footstep again, I’m guessing she still hears it. This is our first sign that the curse, the killings, were never caused by the families.

b) Shion wants to keep Keichi alive and on edge, just in case there’s anyone else involved in the curse. If there is, they’ll kill him, and then she has to kill them. Her thoughts are, “If there was someone going after Keichi, then that would mean a part of the [curse] system still survives.” I’m not just arbitrarily adding the curse part; she refers to it as “the curse system” in the previous page. And the thing is, someone does go after Keichi, eventually. Shion. The curse is still alive, but it has nothing to do with The Three Families.

Her next line is, “And that would mean that I haven’t completed my revenge [against those who harmed Satoshi].” So, whether or not I’m right about the curse still being alive and having nothing to do with the family, goes hand in hand with whether or not Shion terribly harmed Satoshi.

c) And later we find, Shion did harm Satoshi. Or at least, betrayed him. The last thing he asked of her was to take care of Satoko, and now she’s the one who kills Satoko. I’d say revenge could be taken against her for that.

d) And there we have it, right from the demon old lady herself. The Sonozaki family’s got shit to do with nothin’! They didn’t do it. The best non-demon related explanation for every death and disappearance the past four years just left the building. And I’m pretty sure we’re getting the truth her. I’d say they could still be behind Satoshi’s disappearance and didn’t kill him and he’s still alive, but this came up because of Satoshi. So my best guess for the real culprit now; 1) The curse is real and effects people every year just like on the fifth year; someone goes nuts and that somehow cause each year’s events. Or 2) Rika Furude is the cuetest murderer ever.

4) Mion and Shion:

a) “I could have been Mion that day, like I should have been!” Again, why didn’t the anime go into this? Shion is Mion; Mion is Shion- Shion was originally Mion, but they switched clothes sometimes because Shion felt bad for Mion. One time when they did this happened to be on the day “Mion” got her demon tattoo, and after that they were marked differently, they couldn’t switch back. Admittedly, it doesn’t really change much, but it just adds more layers to Shion’s rage now; she feels cheated, and jealous.

b) Just for clarity, I’m still gonna call Shion Shion and Mion Mion. The identities, which Shion implies were traded between them like candy as kids, I’ll called “Shion” and “Mion”, just like the manga does.

c) “It doesn’t make me happy to have his rough hands pat my head!” Oh my Haruhi, I think we just found… a tsundeyandere.

d) Shion is obsessed with what she will do, but not with what she is “I will complete my revenge play.” “I will become a murderous demon.” And it just keeps leading to regret for her. She once was thinking that she will avenge Satoshi, which lead her to stabbing him in the back by breaking her promise to take care of Satoko. Now she insists that it’s game over, the line has been crossed and there’s no going back; she will kill Keichi and she won’t forgive for abandoning the Mion in his heart. But then she does just that. She turns back on it again later, but she goes from “game over” to letting him go. It’s a very decisive phrase, “game over,” and she just goes back on it.

It’s like there’s an element of bad faith here, in the existentialist sense. She’s saying what she will do and what she is in order to avoid being herself, making decisions. She’s just decided that she “will become a murderous demon”, but then she can’t even follow through on her bad faith.

e) And then there’s her anguish (I’m using the philosophical meaning). When she hesitates in killing Keichi she thinks, “What should I do? I already decide it was game over.” She experiences herself as free after trying to commit herself to be something, the murderous demon. She tried to reject her freedom in deciding she would take that path, she would kill, only to have it thrown back in her face.

I’m probably rambling at this point, but I’m usually rambling anyway. This reminds me of when I was taking driving lessons, and the instructor taught me and my class about the Point of No Return. The idea is, when approaching a green light that could change, you have to determine a point at which, if the light starts changing now, I just have to go through; I won’t have time to stop. What Shion is doing is passing her point of no return, but then still trying to stop when the light changes. I guess I should have used a rail metaphore instead, because the result for Shion can rightly be called a train wreck.

f) Moving on to something far more serious, Shion’s face when Keichi says, “A demon!” LOL ROTFLMFAO!

In all seriousness, I kinda like the angle of Keichi protecting the Mion in his heart, as well as the Shion in his heart. As much as I like to just think Keichi’s a moron, that’s just too cuet and cheesy for me not to love it ^.^

g) “Once I’ve killed Shion, it will be finished. That’s what I decided.” More bad faith, and she’ll be going back on it too, soon.

h) Shion says that the police will probably figure it all out eventually through fingerprints and things. Forgetting that the easiest way to figure out who is who will be the demon tattoo. Is that a mistake in the writing or intentional?

i) When Shion kills Keichi, she says it’s part of her revenge on those who hurt Satoshi. But Keichi didn’t even know Satoshi. It’s not those who hurt him she’s angry at. It’s though who hurt the Satoshi in her heart.

5) Satoko Hojo:

a) “Satoko’s the only one who hasn’t met with Oyashio-sama’s curse…” Is that a hint? Let’s look at our main characters. Keichi, Rena, Mion, Shion, Rika, Satoko, and Satoshi. Keichi has been curse in both Abducted by Demons and Curse Killing. Rena we’ve been told was cursed when her family tried to leave Hinamizawa. Shion is cursed right now. And Satoshi was cursed in the fourth year. That leave Mion, Rika, and Satoko. Rika I think is a special case. So then there’s just Mion and Satoko… So Satoko’s not quite “the only one,” but then again, Hinamizawa has its mysteries. Maybe we’ll have an example of Mion being cursed in the past, or in one of the arcs left to come. Or maybe Mion and Shion are both covered by this one… but that’s stretching it.

b) Satoko really is surpassingly ignorant about the people she’s with. Everyone else, Mion, Shion, Rena, and even Rika always feel like they know more than they’re letting on. But Satoko, I think she really doesn’t know any more than we do now. She still hardly has any grasp on how or why her brother disappeared, and doesn’t even seem to realize he killed their aunt, and she doesn’t know that Rika is more than just a sweet little girl. She also has nothing to hide herself; she’s the most easily understood of all the characters. Hell, Keichi has more mysteries than her.

Then again, she did lie about her uncle still being alive in the Curse Killing arc, so maybe I shouldn’t take it easy on her just yet. She might still have some keys to this whole mystery.

And that’s it. That’s Eye Opening done. All that’s left between me and unknown territory is the Atonement arc, and I know there will be some good stuff in there. Until then,

Don’t Lose Your Way