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It’s been a little while for me; about two weeks without touching a Higurashi book, so I’m sorry if this ends up a little disconnected from last time. I usually write up notes for entire arcs within a week or so, making sure to read at least a little every day to keep things fresh in my mind. But with the arcs getting longer and longer, they’re hard to marathon. Here’s hoping everything falls right back into place as soon as I crack this volume open!

1) Fringes:

a) pg 244; I can’t decide if fairy godmother Hanyu is more like Yuki Nagato, or Konata cosplaying Yuki Nagato… Picking one of these is truly the greatest challenge Higurashi has ever thrown at me!

b) pg 245; Satoko is finally ready to become of Nanoha

2) Oryou:

a) I’m suddenly struck that, despite being so far now, we still don’t really know much about the head of the Sonozaki family, Oryou. We know her role in the village. We know that she operates the Sonozaki’s almost like a Yakuza group. We can infer that she believes in the mantra of the Dam War -if they throw a stone, throw two back; if two, four; if more, the whole village fights back. And we are pretty confident at this point that she has no hand in the murders.

But what does she really think of the curse? And what does she aspire to while aggressively clinging to her seat of power in the village? And how does she feel about preparing Mion to seize that seat from her? And… I don’t know, what’s her favourite book? Part of why she is still such an imposing threat, even after we’ve been led to believe she isn’t involved in the murders, is just how little we’ve learned about her.

We didn’t even get the confirmation of her innocence in the murders from her own mouth, we got it from Mion. And since it was said, we’ve hardly seen her at all; we certainly haven’t seen a new side to her. In our minds, she’s still the same character she was before, and thus still seems just as capable of ordering the murders. I’m generally a fan of showing rather than telling, but this is an example of telling used ingeniously well. Because we were merely told Oryou isn’t a killer, we haven’t had to be shown a non-killer side of her; her imposing presence is retained.

b) pg 272; Now we see a change in Oryou, and oh boy is it a big one. Until now, we’ve been led to believe Oryou is a big fan of subtleties in communication. Hell, she built her reputation on it. Whenever someone would bring up the deaths of “enemies of the village”, she’d smile suggestively to take credit. People “interpret” her will, we’ve been told. Now, oh there’s nothing subtle about her reaction to Keichi’s wanting to save Satoko. Her speech bubbles get, not one, but two exclamation marks! That’s a big deal! After all! exclamation! marks! are! very! expensive! You can’t use them willy-nilly!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND HER TEXT IS IN ALL CAPS!!

Also, you know, the art depicts an image of utter horror; one which eludes all attempts to describe its ferocity and damnation of wrath itself. But mostly the exclamation mark thing.

But why is Oryou so angry at this proposal? She says it’s about doe’s darn young people, always whinin’ about things dat don’t necessarily kill ya. But I’m pretty sure there’s something more behind it. Unfortunately, I can’t quite say what.

If she was still just posturing for political reasons, I don’t think she would show this kind of anger. She’d be dismissive, calm, and communicate her distain in her usual, subtler ways. So my best/only guess for this is that she actually does hate Satoko.

c) pg 357; Wow, all over the place with Oryou this time. In about 100 pages, she’s gone from “we really know nothing about her” to having a complete character arc.

3) Keichi:

a) pg 278; “I had no idea the Sonozaki head was such a petty old bat.” Wow Keich, I suddenly love you!

Also, we can read a little into that last word, “bat”. Usually at this point in the story, Keichi would be picking one of those up; it is his murder weapon. Now he’d using it as a different type of weapon. Yes, I realize that the meaning there wouldn’t have been in the original Japanese, and Ryukishi07 didn’t write it in. But as someone with postmodern literary leanings, I don’t really care. Whether it was done by the original author or not, or whether it was intentional or not, it’s there. And it effectively symbolizes just how different the Massacre arc is turning out to be.

b) pg 325; “In that case, Keichi-kun, you can take Mion or Shion! Whichever one you like!” Pick Mion!

4) The Curse:

a) pg 354; More and more it seems like there’s no curse this time. As Shion says, “You have the full support of the Sonozaki Family, and given that, it would be really hard for Rule Z to kick in.

b) pg 446; Finally, with Satoko safe (and man, that was an arc in its own right), we still have more than a full volume left of the Massacre arc. Tomitake and Takano step in to join the festival fun, but there deaths are destined tonight. We haven’t necessarily broken any rules yet, and my guess is really torn on whether or not they’ll be killed.

c) pg 452; Interestingly, Rika went with Ooyshi for a miracle powerful enough to save Tomitake and Takano. I was ready to swear she’d pick Keichi. I guess she really meant what she said about miracles not being caused by one person alone; Keichi isn’t some divine miracle causer.

This also shows that Rika trusts Ooyshi. I’ve been a little back and forth on him and his presence. But if Rika, after experiencing so many worlds, has come to the conclusion that he’s trustworthy, then I trust him.

d) TAKNO! I ******* KNEW NOT TO TRUST TAKANO! Well, I didn’t trust a lot of characters… but TAKANO!

These notes aren’t about stating the events; their my own experiences, along with some thoughts and analysis, of Higurashi as I read it, and intended for people reading or having read it. So, I really have nothing to say right here… just… Takano!

                Abducted by Demons:

Alright, who am I kidding with that, “I have nothing to say.” I’ve got lots to say! Starting with Abducted by Demons. I’m still not sure exactly how Takano operates; does she cause the syndrome in each arc, secretly injecting a random person each time? If so, maybe Keichi wasn’t so crazy… SEE! YOU SEE WHAT THIS DOES TO ME! We just finished the twentieth volume of this madness, and I’m STILL questioning the whole premise of Abducted by Demons!

Okay, yes, Keichi was crazy, and his friends weren’t out to get him. But was someone, Takano, out to get him? Was there at some point a syringe taped to the back of that clock? Did the Wild Dogs nearly run Keichi over to put a little edge on his paranoia? I’m still gonna say the needle in the Mochi was a hallucination. If Takano and the Wild Dogs and whoever “Tokyo” refers to did find Keichi’s clock, why would they remove the part about the dam construction manager? A valid question, but it’s regarding a mystery that was never really solved. For now, I’m still leaning towards my explanation of Ooyshi and the manager being friends.

The Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening:

The Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening arcs. These we can say a bit more about. I still don’t know what role, if any, Takano plays in Rule X, but she does egg on the victim with her journals; she seems to know exactly who has the curse, so I’m going to assume for now that she has some role in it.

But when dealing with these two arcs, we also have some interesting new facts. I recalled a few things from the end of Eye Opening that could be relevant, so I opened that book up again to confirm them. Yes, I went through the trauma imposed upon me by those last few pages again! I’ve still been losing sleep over that stuff! Anyway, apparently I remembered some stuff right and some stuff wrong. The only thing that was relevant was Takano’s death in that arc. That was the first arc where “Takano’s” body was discovered burned, but when Ooyishi is talking to Keichi at the end, he says the forensic results indicated that that body was killed twenty-four hours before the festival. Now it’s easy to conclude that Takano used a stand-in; killed someone else and made it look like her own death in order to carryout whatever it is she’s planning. But I had actually guessed that by the Curse Killing arc.

What really comes to mind here isn’t the events of the summer of 1983, but the events of the summer of 1982. The events of every year of the curse really. I don’t doubt that Takano has the power to have pulled them off. She’s obviously got some serious backers, and the Wild Dogs are no joke. Did she kill all those people as part of her plan to bring about… something? If so, her choices of target are interesting. Those in favour of the dam, those not with the village; as we’ve been over so many times now, these people’s deaths would imply Oyashiro-sama’s curse, which is exactly what Takano wants. And Satoshi supposedly going to “Tokyo”…

But, just because I always have to have a competing theory running, and because I’m still really fond of this theory, it could be Hanyu instead. She doesn’t show much support for Rika trying to change things; she may just want Rika to give up on her other friends and stay with her. I can think of the motivation for a few of the kills; the dam manager because Hanyu wanted to protect Hinamizawa, same as anyone; Rika’s parents because Hanyu wanted less competition for Rika’s time and affection; but all the deaths around Satoko, without actually killing Satoko, just don’t add up.

Curse Killing:

No. No. No. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. Fine.

I still don’t have very satisfying answers for the bigger issues in Curse Killing. Why did everyone think Keichi was at the Festival? My best guess, they were lying to protect him. It’s a very shaky guess.

Why was there no body when Keichi was forced by Ooyshi to dig out the grave again? Mion had the Sonozaki guys move it to protect him, just as she did for Rena in Atonement. But there was one other suspicious character around the night of that murder. The supposedly dead Takano. Again, I think it’s obvious she faked her own death. I pulled those volumes off the shelf too to review them, and found that Takanko picked Keichi up in her car immediately after he hid the body. She had Tomitake’s bike with her, and had obviously just taken care of him. It’s plausible that she also moved Teppei’s body after leaving Keichi, to make sure some element of her plan wasn’t discovered. But she asked Keichi if he hid it well, and seemed satisfied with his answer. I’m saying this was a Sonozaki job.

Earlier in the arc, Takano also have Keichi some information about the curse, who she supposedly thinks is responsible. She tells him it’s the Sonozakis, perpetuating Rule Z. I’m not quite sure what to make of that, seeing as she wants to perpetuate the curse, not blame mortals, and at that point she probably expected Keichi to die with everyone else anyway.

Rika’s death, I’m gonna call it on the Wild Dogs. It’s probably their doing in most scenarios. No clue what the motivation is though.

And now it’s time to consult with our old friend, the police notes at the end of this volume! Tomitake apparently died the usual way; suspicious suicide the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. It does go into much detail, but I’m guessing from that it was the same as always, in which case Takano wasn’t burying his body that night; she was up to something else when Keichi found her, perhaps her own fake death, since “she” was found hanged and burned in those same mountains.

Irie supposedly committed suicide at the clinic soon after Keichi left; Takano injected him too, probably with the help of the Wild Dogs.

Then there was Shion and Kasai who died in hospital some time a part, and some time after the Great Hinamizawa Disaster. For Kasai it just said he died, but whatever forces are behind Takano, they could probably make a murder look unsuspicious. Shion apparently killed herself, which could mean Hinamizawa syndrome, murder, or simple depression after the disaster. I can see why Takano would want them eliminated, but she waited longer than was really necessary, and gave them plenty of time to talk if they actually knew anything.

Time Killing:

Second verse same as the first… mostly. Takano might have had a hand in Asaka’s wife’s death, but I doubt it and see no evidence for it.

Atonement:

I feel a little sad just skipping Beyond Midnight like that… but it really doesn’t have much to offer here. I think I already went over a number of suspicions with Takano in the Atonement notes. She perpetuated Rena’s paranoia. Other than that, everyone seems in place with the other arcs’ events. The only thing left once Rena survived Hinamizawa syndrome, was the Great Hinamizawa Disaster. The Curse Killing arc already threw doubt on the poisonous gas theory, as that would have killed Keichi. So what exactly is Takano up to? Well, we’ve got one more Massacre volume to go. If it lives up to its name, we should at least end up with some more stuff to theorize about. Until then

Don’t Lose Your Way

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