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Our brief sense of peace at having thought we’d answered to the world of Higurashi came and went. And though I am stung by the perpetuation of my perplexiation, more than ever I am actuated to assail onward, and crush this continuing conundrum.

This time, we finally entre a world wholly mysterious to me, with the very first volume of the Massacre arc. Let’s do it!

1) Fringes:

a) pg 1) A new challenger approaches! And she’s kinda cuet. I’m a sucker for the shrine maiden outfit; it almost made me overlook the goat horns.

b) pg 2) We get another page of this new girl, now standing with Rika. I’d be willing to bet that this is the girl we saw Rika playing with at the end of the last volume. But is she also that other entity living inside Rika?

c) Unfortunately, I have some less than positive things to say about the artwork in this volume. Up until now, Higurashi has really impressed me in it’s art, and while it’s not one of the best looking manga I’ve ever seen, it looks good and, more importantly, consistent. Ever arc is done by a different artist, so for it too look consistent with only minor things (eg: Mion’s bust size) changed between artists is impressive. While Hinase Momoyama’s art is well within the same style, it doesn’t look quite as good. There are times where I don’t think I’m getting the impression I should be from characters’ expressions. And Rena’s face and hair design (and even her shoulders a little bit) look different and I have trouble recognizing her in some panels.

 

2) Ongoing Mysteries:

a) pg 6) I’m not sure how long this heading will last without getting to long, but we may as well start things here. Right away we get a perfectly good starting question from Rika, “Who on earth is it that kills me?” I’m gonna go ahead and say that means we’re dealing with Time Killing, or something close to it. Though I’m still not even sure if Time Killing is connected to anything else. This could also really be any scenario; maybe that’s something Rika askes herself every time, because she knows she’s going to die.

b) pg 13) So Rika was murdered, not burned, in the Atonement arc, after the happy “end”. So I think that means we can place Time Killing in the same world as Atonement. Curse Killing’s still a bit of a mess, but I’ve given answers to that which I think still hold.

 

3) Frederica:

a) pg 9) Chapter 1 is called “Fredrica”. If that sounds familiar, it’s because many of the early volumes were introduced with a quote from a Frederica Bernkastel. Now I, being an idiot, already googled that name a while ago, thinking she was an author Ryukishi took inspiration from or something. Nope, she’s just a character. Thankfully, that’s about all I learned about her. Now it’s time to learn some more.

b) pg 15-17) So Frederica is the alternate personality inside Rika, and she and Rika apparently get to watch the Hinamizawa cycle “from the outside.” Now, that’s not the way I would characterize it; they’re clearly inside and involved, but I assume what she means is they keep their memories. Also, it’s got that Death Parade thing, where people conveniently forget stuff right after dying, so Frederica gets to give this exposition on what Rika should supposedly remember. Kinda story telling BS, but whatever.

c) pg 20) I guess this is the section for Rika as well at this point. She says that every single time, in the hundreds of years she’s repeated the cycle, she is murdered. We’ve seen it in Cotton Drifting/Eye Opening, Curse Killing, and Atonement/Time Killing(?). I guess we can assume Abducted by Demons is an Atonement situation, where it happened off screen, after the fact. In fact, the Cotton Drifting/Eye Opening arcs are the one time we actually know who killed Rika, and even then we can’t say for sure it Rika knew; she might have thought it was Mion.

d) pg 26) So the fragments for each arc is kinda interesting, and Frederica’s names are fitting (ha ha). It makes me feel like she’s in a similar position to us; just watching the arcs but she doesn’t quite seem to know what’s going on; though she does get move complete versions of the stories than we do. Also, Rika’s reaction to the Curse Killing, it’s just a nice nod to how close her and Satoko are.

e) pg 49) So Rika’s mind has almost reached the end of its lifespan… so this isn’t an infinite cycle, at some point Rika can’t continue repeating it then.

Also, someone named Hanyu is turning back time. That must be the cause of the repeats. This isn’t an endless, hopeless cycle, this is entirely intentional, caused by Rika, Frederica, and this Hanyu. For what purpose? My guess, to get Rika past June of 1983. To have her survive.

f) pg 53) So we get a new poem from Frederica. The meaning of this one if pretty obvious, but I thought I’d throw it on here anyway (honestly, I just want as many page numbers as I can put, because the book hasn’t given me a single one to count by yet).

I wished to know the world outside of the well.
So I crawled up from the bottom of the well.

I wished to know the world outside of the well.
So I climbed on, no matter how many times I slipped and fell hard on my back.

But I realized it.
The more I climb, the farther I fall, and the more it hurts.

When my interest in the outside world matched the pain in my whole body,
I finally understood the words of The Frog Prince.

Obviously the well is the world before and during June of 1983; Rika wants to move beyond it, but it gets harder and harder to go through the curse. The Frog Prince part, though, I’m stumped on.

g) pg 68) Just as the climbing out of the well grows tiresome and eventually not worth the pain, the many failures and tragedies of reliving the past have made Rika lose faith.

 

4) The Three Rules:

a) pg 28-29) So Frederica brings up “the three rules.” That kinda sounds like a big deal. She says she understands what these rules are by stacking the story fragments. In other words, she doesn’t make the rules, she doesn’t know where they come from, she’s just observed the story enough times to recognize the constants, three rules that the story always obeys.

b) pg 34-35) The first rule: In every scenario, “someone is over come with fear and suspicious, which leads them to acts of violence.” In the scenarios we’ve seen, that has happened to Keichi (twice), Rena, and Shion.

Frederica says this happens to someone in Hinamizawa. It’s not specific. I wonder if it can be just anyone in the town. Also, she labels this rule, “Rule X.”

c) pg 36-37) Next, “Rule Y”, Jirou Tomitake and Miyo Takano are always killed on the night of the cotton drifting. Well, crap; I was certainly Rika or Frederica had something to do with those deaths, but they just observe these rules; these happen independent of their actions. So I guess something else is behind those two. Though Takano… Takano is still a major anomaly.

And Frederica confirms, under Rule Y, there is no difference in the details between scenarios. Tomitake’s death and Takano’s “death” happen in the exact same manner every time. The scenarios we’ve seen would not dispute this fact.

d) pg 39) There is no link between Rule X and Rule Y, but Ooishi or Takano will always convince the victim of Rule X that the occurrence or Rule Y affects them. The manga already explains how Ooshi does this in Cotton Drifting/Eye Opening and Abducted by Demons, and Takano did this in Atonement. What about Curse Killing?

Well, Takano and Ooishi both gave Keichi reason to be cautious, but I don’t remember Tomitake and Takano’s deaths really contributing to that. Keich had already killed Teppei before the morning after the Cotton Drifting. He met up with Takano that night, and I remember him at some point getting news of the deaths. Maybe running into Takano when she was supposed to be dead did contribute to his unstable mental state, so I guess that counts.

e) pg 42) Rule Z, everyone believes the murders are all linked to the Sonozaki family. Again, I ‘m not quite sure how this plays into Curse Killing, but I’m scared of that topic, so we’re just gonna move on and dig this up again when we have more intel, or I can at least review my copies of the Curse Killing arc.

f) Also, they already gave us another rule that isn’t one of the three. In every scenario, Rika is murdered. I’d like to consider that a rule too, and unofficial Rule R.

g) pg 47) Never mind, Rika’s death is a part of Rule Y.

 

5) Hanyu:

  1. a) pg 62) Alright, so Hanyu is the miko goat.
  2. b) pg 63) She apparently shares in Rika’s mannerism of referring to people as “sir,” and is surprisingly timid for someone with the power to control TIME ITSELF!
  3. c) pg 64-65) Rika is the only one who can see her, and she’s been experiencing the scenarios alongside Rika from the beginning.
  4. d) pg 68-69) Wherever Hanyu draws her power from, it’s waning. But what’s important here is that Rika says she used to be able to go back years. As in, before even Satoshi’s curse. Were that different scenarios of that for a time, before Rika stopped backing able to go that far back?
  5. e) pg 188) So I was both right and wrong on the split personality thing in Rika. We now know of Fredercia, but she doesn’t seem to be a part of Rika in the scenarios. At least it hasn’t been demonstrated yet. Instead, it wasn’t Rika and Frederica arguing about drinking last time, it was Rika and Hanyu; Hanyu just has the same “voice” as a Rika.
  6. f) pg 207) So Hanyu was Oyashiro-sama? Does that mean she was like Rika, a reincarnation? I would assume so, based on the statues of Oysashiro-sama looking nothing like her. And as far as I can tell, this is surprisingly not relevant to the mystery.
  7. g) pg 209) Apparently people can sometimes sense Hanyu’s presence. I think this is relevant, and it really reminds me of the one extra footstep, and that night Keichi and Shion broke into the Saiguden

 

6) Miracles:

a) pg 86-87) This is like Studio arms levels of torturing little girls. Not just physically, but emotionally. Rika’s hope and desperation that Keichi remembers, shattered just like that. Her expression makes me feel like, maybe this time Rika will be cursed.

b) pg 127) Keichi’s strong will seems to be disagreeing with destiny. But all the destiny driven events have occurred so far, so destiny: 3, Keichi: 0.

7) This Scenario:

a) pg 101) Well, with all of that new information thrown into the mix, I’d say it’s about time we start figuring out where this scenario’s going. And what better place to start than with the most mysterious character, Takano. She’s a nurse; she gives people drugs. It would be easy for her to sneak in some curse propagating concoction. And now she just injected Satoko with something. It could just be routine, as Rika says (I’m not gonna argue with the girl with a century of Higurashi experience). But it’s still something to keep in mind.

b) We’re also given new information that hasn’t come up in any arc before. Satoko apparently has some incurable disease. What is the disease? What are its symptoms? And why does it matter? No clue! I feel like I’m reading a Key visual novel…

c) pg 120) Rika’s sharing some fairly benign bits of future intel with Keichi. It’s harmless for now, but will it build? Will she start telling him what’s going to happen; I mean the big things?

d) pg 146) Shion is taking care of Satako, and going by what Rika says, this is the first scenario this has happened in. So maybe this scenario is different in ways other than Keichi’s super destiny changing powers! Shion being here is too big a difference, with no immediately obvious trigger. Though at the end of the Eye Opening arc, Shion monologues about how, if she just did what Satoshi wanted and took care of Satako, maybe things would be different. Have the regrets of crazy yandere Shion bled into this worlds Shion and made her follow through with her promise to Satoshi?

Just how far into the past would a change like that reach? I must be from before Rika even entered this world.

e) pg 170) So this scenario seems to follow in the mechanics of Atonement, where characters can remember other worlds. But this time, the memories seem to be coming much more easily; without much struggle or willpower behind it.

f) pg 178) Rena’s dad got a job. That means a recovery from the divorce, and good chance no flags will be set off leading to another Atonement! That’s three bad end scenarios avoided in just 32 pages! Four if Shion makes sure Satoko doesn’t get trouble from her uncle!

g) pg 179) And we have another instance of a character having memories of past worlds, this time Rena in Atonement. By the end of this, is everyone gonna know exactly what’s been going on?

h) pg 190) Rika talks about a powerful will being out to get her. But can it really be a human will? After all, she’s not killed by the same person every time. In at least one instance, she was killed by Shion (sort of), and I doubt Shion has a powerful to kill Rika every time.

i) pg 193) So Takano, Tomitake and Irie have, “a very powerful backer.” They have the potential to protect Rika. Takano we already is weird, but Tomitake and Irie? I’m looking forward to this explanation.

j) pg 196) “… my death will lead to the destruction of Hinamizawa.” Oh great, now we’re getting into Great Hinamizawa Disaster territory.

k) pg 225) Akasaka, the guy from Time Killing. Based on Rika’s reaction, I’m gonna say he’s never showed up in this time period before. Did he change his destiny too, and keep his wife from dying? Is that why he’s here?

l) Called it! And the happy story goes like this: Akasaka’s wife survived, because some unnamed nursed died instead! Happy! Though this does give us a better scale for how far back Rika’s gone before. At least five years back.

m) pg 239) Tomitake is secretly a detective from Tokyo. Neato.

n) pg 240) So this is why Tomitake, Irie and Takano are important. They’ve labeled Oyashiro-sama’s curse a disease, and are curing it. Now we’re getting somewhere! Also, Satoko apparently has it. Rika did say earlier that there were worlds where Satoko was cursed.

o) pg 248) I mentioned Teppei Hojo earlier, and how we didn’t quite have confirmation that that potential Curse Killing disaster was avoided. Well, the manga sympathises with me. In a way, I’m happy it’s coming down to this. Curse Killing and Time Killing are really the only previous arcs I still have serious questions about, and I’m convinced they are heavily connected, if not set in the same world. Maybe in the second half of this ridiculously thick manga, we’ll get some answers. Until then

Don’t Lose Your Way

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