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With this, the Massacre arc will come to a close, and I honestly have no idea what to prepare for; what to focus on in this notes to pick up on in the next volume. Hanyu has said that she’s not sure she can travel back again, and Rika is on the fence about even wanting to. So instead of worrying about what’s to come, I’m going to hope these chapters give me some crucial clues, and see if we can have things wrapped up, if not perfectly, at least neatly, before heading to whatever’s next. And most importantly, I want my Massacre already!

1) Detective Rika:

a) pg 274; So Rika finally knows for sure that it is indeed Takano and the Wild Dogs that are after her. Even if she does die at this point, as long as Takano can bring her back, that knowledge would be a trump card in the next universe. Just sneakily inject Takano some time.

b) pg 277; Oh, fine, so she can’t die just yet because plot BS reasons. Exactly how long does she have to survive before this memory becomes permanent?

c) pg 365; “I don’t want you to bring me anything back from hell, so I’m not going to tell you.” Takano says this what Shion asks if she’s the one who killed Satoshi. The first thing I thought when I read it was that to “bring something back from hell” must be some kinda of Japanese expression, but I couldn’t find anything about it. I doubt Takano is worried about tiny possible discrepancies, seeing as she had no problem using a body that was already dead for twenty-four hours. So I can only think of two explanations for this line, Takano is superstitious, or… well, Takano’s superstitious but in something that’s real.

When I say superstitious (the first one), I just mean she believes in hell, and believes it can potentially effect earth. I’m on the fence about this one. On the one hand, she’s an occult fanatic, so some kind of hell would suit her perfectly. But she also seems to believe that there isn’t really anything to Oyashiro-sama’s curse, that’s why she’s bringing it about herself.

Superstitious option 2) She knows some stuff. Like, stuff that only Rika, Frederica and Hanyu should know. And she knows these characters have started to retain bits of memory each cycle, and thinks Satoshi’s life would be a big enough deal to Shion that she’d never forget who killed him. Maybe that’s the cornerstone of her entire plan. It would at least explain why she chuckled when time stopped.

d) Or Takano might have no clue about the time loop, as she apparently doesn’t.

e) pg 415; First of all, I hate Higurashi page numbering. Between pages 237 and 415, not a single one is numbered, and I just got to 415 to find my count was off by ten. Second, alright more stuff is happening! While Rika, Hanyu, and now everyone else apparently, go back to a new world, Takano is still in business. Apparently now that Rika’s dead, in forty-eight hours the entire village will come down with Hinamizawa Syndrome. I guess that explains why Rika’s dead didn’t do much in Eye Opening; Keichi getting stabbed by Shion and Shion’s death were only about twenty-four hours after Rika died. Even the last scene of that book, where Ooishi talks to Keichi in the hospital, was about a day and a half later, so everything went down just a little bit after that.

As for people who seem to go unaffected, my Shion theory about her only contracting Hinamizawa Syndrome in some worlds still stands. Keichi surviving Curse Killing… still got nothing.

2) Hanyu:

a) pg 284; Oh, Hanyu must be so jealous! And no, I won’t let this go until I sufficiently prove that Hanyu is somehow behind this! She’s a yandere, and I refuse to change my mind just to conform to stupid things like the evidence.

b) pg 387; Fine, given Hanyu’s confessions at Rika’s death bed, I’ll suspend my theories about her for now. She’s still pretty suspicious though.

3) Club Members:

a) pg 280; Satoko is being courageous. Just like how her brother put himself in harm’s way to protect her, she’s protecting Rika. There’s been a big change in that since Eye Opening. Then, she thought being brave just meant not crying, and continuing to hope her nii-nii would come back. Now, she’s not waiting for Satoshi to jump in and save them. She will stand up herself! … and then Satoshi 2.0 jumps in and saves them.

b) pg 290-291; So I didn’t like Keichi when I started this. I didn’t like him for a long LONG time. I thought he was pretty stupid and naïve. I still stand by that, and his friendship speeches are nauseating. But over time… has bad as the friendship speeches were, the conviction he backed them up with was admirable; I found that in the scene in the underground Saiguden where he actually managed to reach Shion by “protecting the Mion in his heart.” His take-charge attitude, while sometimes misguided, showed how much he cared in the Curse Killing arc. He fought Rika to save her. He fought Onibara Sonozaki! And won! And now, in in one image, I finally have to admit it. Keichi is freakin’ AWESOME!

c) pg 298, 301; So I’m almost certain Rena has had lines in this arc, but no matter how hard I try I can’t remember any. Well, she finally gets some here… even if they’re just exposition… Sigh… I like Rena. Well, at least she’s depicted leading the charge in the next chapter art, so hopefully she’ll get a little time in the light.

d) pg 369; There we go! Rena actually managed to piss of Takano a little. That’s pretty cool. Okay, bye now, Rena.

e) pg 390; Yay, now everybody gets to suffer the perpetual torment of Rika Furude! Because friendship!

4) Things that Irritate Me:

a) pg 304-315; I’m willing to put up with the “power of friendship” crap, but this… Mion says it’s six on six, but let’s delve into a bit more detail than that. It’s six highly trade hitmen, two of whom had no problem taking out two cops, against scrawny city boy Keichi, Rena who has admittedly proved herself pretty badass, Mion and Shion who’re are both pretty tough for teenaged girls, and Rika and Satoko. That they won is just ridiculous.

b) pg 316; “If any one of us had been missing, we couldn’t have done it.” Coming from the one who just yelled “dodge” once.

c) pg 336; So uhh… is anyone disturbed by the fact that time just stopped dead in its tracks? Like, I get that we’ve all kind surprised by the bullet in front of Keichi, but seriously, time just stopped! That takes precedent over everything! Even if it’s not actually the first thing you should be concerned with, the normal human reaction would be to freak the **** out. It’s not even the time stopping thing that bothers my suspension of disbelief, it’s the way these characters respond to it.

d) pg 345; Wait, so Takano is in stopped time too? She’s laughing. Why the heck isn’t she confused by this?

e) pg 392-393; Rika finds herself in a weird empty space upon death, along with her friends and a weird goat-girl, and she immediately goes to accusing said goat-girl of just not believe hard enough. Higurashi has been accepting the good with the bad since the beginning, but the bad just hit a near peak.

5) Fringes:

a) pg 237; That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Yet… I could believe it. Irie is weird.

b) In the end note of this one, Ryukishi talks something that will help us find the truth. Something that only the readers can do, because we’ve seen different characters’ perspectives. That’s a big one, and I don’t think I’ll find it this time, but hopefully I can open up the Festival Accompanying arc with my best shot at it.

But we’re not quite done here. I got a little annoyed during this volume, and it’s made me want to talk about something that’s been on my mind a while, how I feel about Higurashi. The obvious side is, I love it. I mean, I’ve been doing this for eight months now, and this should be the 17th post on it. I wouldn’t give that kind of treatment Clannad or Is it Wrong to Make Crappy Anime in a Dungeon. But that doesn’t mean I consider it great.

At times, this series is a pain to read, and the second half of volume twenty-one is definitely one of those times. I understand why characters reacted the way they did when time froze. Because the author wanted to communicate the tension of the moment and nightmarish scenario it made for Rika; Ryukishi created a feeling of powerlessness in that scene. But having to resort to random bullshit like that is just poor writing. It tests the reader’s suspension of disbelief the way a sledgehammer tests the durability of a balsawood plane. Movies, books, and even manga have all handled this kind of scene before; it can be done.

It reminds me of the final episode of Evangelion. There’s a reason Shinji monologues the whole time, against a white background, about how he feels, with the little philosophic tidbits being dropped in by characters. Because Anno Hideaki wanted to communicate a message. And because Anno apparently couldn’t be bothered to write real narrative scenes where these particular ideas would become relevant.

I’m sure there will be some explanation for Keichi and the others joining Rika in the reccet next time, so I won’t harp on that. What I will harp on is their reactions to finding themselves in the post-mortem abyss, confronted with Hanyu. These characters who I’ve really liked for so long suddenly seemed like set pieces, only there to preach their writer’s ideas of friendship and hope.

I just don’t want to give the impression that I think Higurashi is something great in Otaku fiction. It’s a good mystery and that’s what I love it for, but everything else has its decent highs and really bad lows

c) Just to end on a lighter note, Hinase Momoyama says in her end note that Keichi’s dad and Chie-sensei are Where’s Waldo?’d into the last part, ensuring that they are indeed slaughtered in the massacre (in Higurashi, this is a light note). Keichi’s dad is on the bottom half of 455; kinda disappointed he wasn’t one of the ones that tried to escape. Chie is at the bottom of 431 with her back to the frame and talking to another woman; it’s her posture that give it away, those crossed arms. And, bonus, I’m pretty sure that’s the old bat of the Sonozaki family slant against a wall on the bottom right panel of 451.

Don’t Lose Your Way