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So despite this possibly being the thickest volume yet (and don’t worry, that won’t last; I’ve got the Massacre arc in front of me right now and oh boy, I don’t know how I’ll handle those!), I expect this will be one of the shorter sets of Higurashi volume notes. That’s been the issue with these chapters that were already in the first anime; I’ve seen them. Now, reviewing things, you’ll always find more. And there’s a lot in the manga that never made it into the anime, so I’ve found enough to talk about. But given how much we found out last time, I doubt this volume has much to offer beyond the plot that I’ve already seen and which shouldn’t do much for the overall mystery. I could be wrong, but either way I hope you’ll enjoy.

1) Takano’s Scrapbooks:

a) pg 9) So there are other Scrapbooks that Takano allegedly made. But I’m still convinced that the one in Rika’s position, and the ones shown to Keichi and Shion, all have some power on the holder. Rena’s seemed to just add in a part about aliens when it became convenient, and at the very least Takano is a mysterious figure. I’m not entirely sure what to make of these books; whether they were actually made by Takano is still up in the air.

b) pg 263) Even after the story is over, another scrapbook turns up, and this one’s no crazy conspiracy theory, this one knew something no one else predicted: The Great Hinamizawa Disaster.

2) Other Scenarios:

a) pg 26) “…Rena Ryugu always was, is now and forever will be the best friend I’ll ever have!” Didn’t he say pretty much the exact same thing about Mion (when talking to the disguised Shion) in the Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening arcs? Bad boy Keichi, two timing!

b) pg 121) Keichi, bringing up the fact that you killed Rena in a past life is not a good negotiation technique. Best case scenario, you just confuse her and she only chops off one arm.

c) pg 136) Rika talks about the times the “…demon in [Satoko’s] heart goes crazy…” So there are scenarios where Satoko is the on cursed, we just haven’t seen them (I’d actually really like to see some of those). It’s to be expected, honestly, but it’s a nice touch. Especially with the added bonus of Satoko flinching when she hears it; remembering something, hmm?

d) pg 160) Rika talks about another time where she was too late. Since she expects Keichi to remember this time, I’m going to guess it was Abducted by Demons; she tried to save him from the throat clawing but was too late. It may also refer to Curse Killing, since he’s remembered that one, and there was certainly something up with her in it. I doubt it is Cotton Drifting/Eye Opening though, just on the basis that Keichi would have no understanding of what she did in them.

3) Rika:

a) pg 43) I thought our little reincarnation of a guardian deity was out of surprises. But that girl she’s playing with, her hair’s too long to be Rena or Satoko, and she doesn’t have the body of Mion or Shion. On top of that, if it was one of these girls, it wouldn’t hid her face. It looks like Rika’s got another friend.

b) pg 163) Just a little follow up on my thoughts last time about Rika or whoever lives in her body potentially being vulnerable to certain types of death permanently, it seems that’s not the case. She’s not scared of death. Likely the reason she avoided confronting Rena before was because she thought this world was a lost cause anyway, and there was no need to risk feeling much pain before it happened.

c) pg 241) Apparently this whole chapter took place on June 25th, the day Rika predicted she would die, burning to death. Well, it’s an easy guess on how this was supposed to go down. And Rika, your fortune telling is barely more reliable than a Future Diary!

4) Weapons:

a) pg 91) Keichi gets a canister of pepper spray from Oishi. This is only the second weapons we’ve ever seen Keichi hold, after Satoshi’s baseball bat which may represent insanity, like Rena’s cleaver.

Rena, on the other hand, has used a number of weapons this arc. Starting with a metal pipe, then I believe it was an axe that killed Teppei (she hadn’t picked up the insanity cleaver yet). Of course, eventually she got her favourite cleaver. And now gasoline and a lighter. Rena is certainly diverse in her homicidal methods.

b) pg 113, 129) Oh, and she’s used a time bomb. A time bomb that it took Oishi forty-five minutes to tell Keichi about! I get communication is not great between them right now, but seriously? Anyway, that’s a weapon.

c) pg 170) And Keichi once again grabs hold of Satoshi’s bat, though this time with Satoko’s blessing. I don’t’ think we can say it has symbolism similar to Rena’s cleaver now. Though that leaves the question, what does it represent? Nothing? Or maybe just the odd connection that Keichi and Satoshi seem to have, despite having never met.

5) Fringes:

a) pg 191) I was starting to think we weren’t going to get a fringes segment this time! The final chapter of this volume, of the whole arc is called “Happy Rena”. I didn’t mention it at the time, but the first chapter of volume one, the first chapter of the arc, is also called Happy Rena. I guess the idea is they get to start over, and things can be happy fun times again, but I hope they don’t mean in this world, because I don’t care what ridiculous Dues Ex Machina crap gets pulled, murdering several people and launching a terrorist attack on the school does not pave the way to a normal world again.

6) Killing Time Twenty-Two Years Later:

a) pg 253) Hey, Akasaka, I remember him! Wait, we were at the end… We were at the only happy end I’ve ever seen in all my experience with this awful series! I’m pretty sure we even had all the big mysteries squared away! Why?! Why is it still going! Why must you ruin my happiness?!

“Because, this is Higurashi,” a macabre voice hisses from the shadows.

b) pg 265) So I’ve been dubious about the actual timeline of the Time Killing arc for a while now, and he’s a good time to cover it. In it, Rika is confirmed murdered and brutalized, making it a continuation of the Curse Killing arc. The Great Hinamizawa Disaster also fits in with that. But then there is also Rena taking over and burring down the school. Obviously that’s not quite the Atonement arc, but it’s damn close. It’s what might have happened if Keichi and the others hadn’t stopped Rena. So, was a scenario similar to Atonement playing out alongside Curse Killing? Outside of the school burning down, I can’t think of any other obvious parallels within Curse Killing, but Time Killing does have elements of both.

There’s also a possibility that Time Killing takes place in a different, unseen scenario, similar to both Curse Killing and Atonement. I can’t remember how Keichi’s death is listed in Time Killing, so this would be the most reasonable answer if Keichi died in either the school takeover, or the disaster.

c) pg 265) What’s more, Time Killing has the notebook, the same one Takano give Rena, right down to the parasite conspiracy. Does The Great Hinamizawa Disaster strike after the end of Atonement as well?

d) pg 267) “No, of course I don’t believe all of it. But the occult enthusiasts are having serious debates over it.” And by “occult enthusiasts” he means us, those of us that try to make sense of this whole series. Oh, Ryukishi, if I ever get my hands on you, I will totally Higurashi your ass!

e) pg 268) Okay, so we have good reason to believe that the disaster wasn’t actually caused by a gas eruption. That explains why Keichi survived, despite supposedly being lying unconscious right in the gas’s path in Curse Killing.

f) pg 272) Never mind, Time Killing takes place in Atonement! Except there’s one problem with that. In Time Killing, Rika predicts she is to be brutally murdered, and we’re very strong lead to believe it’s like how she is found in Curse Killing. Now, maybe she is murdered like that the day after we see Atonement end, that’s not my point. My point is, within Atonement, she predicts, “According to the usual pattern the night of June 25th is when I will die. The body will be burned…” Why would her prediction change? And why would the first one be the one that comes true?

Either there are fine details in these predictions that are being left out to mislead, and ultimately these are the same; or Time Killing and Atonement are not the same.

g) “Then wouldn’t this scrapbook […] be that very script?” Mix that line with the fact that the Sonozaki’s got hold of dozens of scrapbooks with similar crazy “scripts”; is Takano the demonic author of every scenario?

So, the Atonement arc has drawn to close, and whatever the future of this series it, it’s already opened. I thought we were there. We were so close. I thought we had almost all of it figured out. Was wasn’t figured out, the pieces were probably there; we could have put it together. But just thirty bloodless pages later, Higurashi has been able to make me feel as lost as ever. This is what I love (and sometimes hate) about this series.

Next time, we start on the delightfully named Massacre arc. Until then,

Don’t Lose Your Way