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1) Fringes:

a) p 219. “Chapter 5: Don’t Step on it!” This chapter is sure to a cleverly satirical counterweight to supposed horror works that maim their own tone and darkly rich pacing with flashy action sequences, presented in a carcase wherein the protagonists must avoiding reaching any significant speed during a tense scene as to not draw attention to themselves. That is now my head cannon, and anything that doesn’t fit that must be interpreted creatively.

b) p 229. Colonel Koizumi? Oh, I am so gonna be making Haruhi references! Starting with this one; if he was in the army, did he fight with a gun, or magic exploding balls?

c) p 229. “None of this “colonel” business!” Yeah, don’t you realize that The Organization wants to keep that a secret? Oh! Is “Tokyo” The Organization?!

d) p 231. “They were so impressed, they said it could be worthy of a Nobel Prize!” Koizumi, you know you’re sarcasm only pisses people off, right?

e) p 266. “You’re the genius who ranked highest on the college entrance exams.” That really is a telltale sign of an anime villain, isn’t it?

f) p 272. Yes! Satoko in the chapter art! While this will appear near the top with the way I structure these, for me, it took a while to get here, and I am VERY happy to see a familiar face. Ultimately, I liked a lot of Takano’s backstory, but I was starting to miss Hinamizawa and its medley of connected character interpreted through different story worlds to pick apart and analyse. And fitting with that, on the very next page I can see the chapter name, The Marco Polo Bridge Incident. That pulls my mind to several places we’ve seen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to start a new heading for that in a moment.

g) p 284. Pulling a gun on someone to stop them from prying into things they shouldn’t know about. Classic Koizumi!

h) p 394. This is something that bugs me throughout Higurashi. In earlier arcs it was the fact that ever character had to be introduced all over again in each new arc. Starting around Atonement it became ever volume starting off with a recap of previous volumes. Now we’re needing flashbacks to remind us about what happened just one freakin’ chapter ago! It’s like this is written for goldfish!

2) The Set-Up:

a) So we now have a compelling reason why Miyo knows so much about Hinamizawa Syndrome, while to most people it is still a mystery. Now we still don’t know what Tokyo is, who formed it, or why it exists; if Takano actually knows more about Hinamizawa Syndrome than others involved in studying it; or why the Japanese Government attempted to build a damn that would effectively cause a genocide.

b) p 226-226. We have a possible motive for Miyo’s doing of the killings and the whatnot. She wants to resurrect her Grandpa’s research, so he will become a god… Now, this has many potential interpretation in terms of pitting her own religious views against Oyashiro-sama, against possibly her own personal connection to the Holy Spirit as she interprets it, and definitely goes through some kind of morph as she says in the Massacre arc that she herself will become a god (specifically Oyashiro-sama). See the religion section below for me not touching that mess with a ten foot deathscythe!

Though there are still some problems in interpreting this. For example, this should shape Miyo’s beliefs to think “becoming a god” in some ways means having your work be widely recognized and remembered even after you’re dead. But her own work, Massacring Hinamizawa and perpetuating the legend, is carefully orchestrated so that it doesn’t get tracked back to her and she won’t be recognized as the “creator” or it. So either she has some plan for everything to be discovered after she’s dead, or it all really was to make her Grandpa’s work respected; it is all for his sake. Even then though, I’m not sure who killing the whole village will make academics respect Mr. Takano’s research.

c) p 260. “I’ll make them accept grandpa’s research … All of Japan- all of the world!” So this powerful declaration from Takano probably gives us at least our starting point for core motivation (though it probably got warped at some point along the line). What she does in the Massacre arc is ultimately supposed to make people respect her grandpa’s work. How? It’s still not entirely clear. “Resurrecting” Oyshiro-sama-s curse may be part of it, after all the other men did comment on Mr. Takano’s research having a distinct connection to Hinamizawa’s religious traditions, but obviously that can’t be all of it; something has to point towards parasites. Maybe she’s hoping the massacre would bring in new studies on the topic and thus people will eventually find her grandpa was right, or maybe she had another plan. Or maybe, while working with Irie and “Tokyo”, she learned that his research was wrong, and she needed to cover that up.

d) p 269. Rika told us that fate is made a strong will. Well, Miyo has certainly fulfilled that requirement, as Ruykishi07 seems to be trying to make quite clear. We also have another allusion to her going, “beyond the realms of the gods.” See the Religion section for some thoughts on that.

e) p 306. The Irie Clinic was not formed by or for Irie, but as Takano’s base of operations. Given what we’ve learned so far, it’s safe to say Irie wasn’t even the real researcher there, but Takano was. So then, why was Irie there? This is also where Takano gets her title as Major. Also, I’m curious what year this is, when Takano finally lands in Hinamizawa.

f) p 308-309. Major Takano is given Irie, Tomitake, and the Wild Dogs as staff. Irie helps with the research, and helps maintain the clinic disguise. Tomitake reports to “Tokyo”, which we already knew, and this really tells us nothing new about “Tokyo” except that Koizumi is probably a member, because of he’d be a member of The Organization. And the Wild Dogs… we already know what they’re all about.

g) p 321. So it looks like the dam thing really would have just been a big oopsie by the Japanese Government. I still can’t accept that no one knew the dangers there. Even if they didn’t know about Hinamizawa Syndrome specifically, they should have at least known not to displace people from that particular village. But whatever.

Also, we are now into the early years of what went down and, at least from Irie’s perspective, Takano is acting normal. So is it true that she wasn’t involved in the murders, and had her heart changed sometime within these years? Perhaps in 1982? I’m already reviewing events in the back of my mind as I read.

3) Ryukisih07 Strikes Back:

a) p 223. Okay, so last time I took some jabs at the plausibility of Hinamizawa Syndrome being a parasite, and the scientific attention it would garner. Ryukishi was apparently ready for that, and struck back here. The bulk of the scientific community finds Takano’s theories hard to believe, so that’s why no one else is studying Hinamizawa Syndrome, at least, not along the same lines as him. This also lampshades my issues with the plausibility of the parasite.

4) More Religion!:

a) p 224. “The Lord Will Not Abandon Anyone Who Works Hard.” Yet more religious, and likely Christian, allusion in these parts. Nothing really substantive in itself here, but it does further suggest that this will be a theme to look out for.

b) p 225. “Miyo, do you know about the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” Ohh-kay, then. And I thought I was being too cautious preparing for this last time. That confirms it, the religious stuff so far has indeed been Christian.

Also, I’ve liked this old dude so far. Now he seems to think he’s Christ… Humility; very Christian.

c) p 226. Wait, so the resurrection in the bible does not mean a literal resurrection? So then what was the metaphor for all people who met Jesus afterwards, and poked him and stuff to make sure he wasn’t a ghost and was actually, concretely there, physical body and all?

Also, if Jesus predicted he’d be resurrected in three days, then three days went by and he was still dead, why would that cause people to suddenly think he was the real deal? Old man, stick to that science stuff!

d) p 258. “God is always like this.” Miyo lists off the tragedies in her life. Is she developing a view of God as unjust here, or just saying he puts us in unfortunate situations? It moves on so fast that I don’t really get a sense for the tone.

e) p 269. Miyo talks about going, “beyond the realms of the gods.” Until not everything I’ve said on how her potential religious view play into things has had the caveat of her still being very young, and us not knowing where her religious views will actually be when the time comes. Here, I think we’re a lot more solid in that, and a comment like this makes me think she really has given up on Christianity, as well as all forms of religious commitment. After all, what believer really talks about surpassing the god of their religion? Well, except Black Star. And Goku. Really, a lot of Shounen characters; Keichi could probably get away with it… Back on point; this may mean her last comment really was a criticism of god as unjust, ultimately leading her to, if not outright reject her faith, have some views that most monotheists would see as heresy.

f) p 319. “If we can prove that the human brain can be controlled by a parasite that will show that all of the religions, ideologies, and philosophies of mankind, could potentially be the properties of parasitic control.” Wait, wait, wait. Back it up there. Is that why you got into this? I’m not one to defend religion, and ideology isn’t clearly defined here, but you damn well better step off my waifu philosophy!

Honestly, what’s the point of relying on a parasite for this? Whatever ends this “proof” could be angled towards would be just as well supported by anything that shows human minds can be deluded by natural means; and that human minds at, at least largely, the products of a physical world. Both of these are necessarily less extreme propositions then the parasite one. To re-appropriate a term from James Anderson, the parasite is “swine-plus” or, more accurately, deluded-semi-physical-mind-plus. It requires the mind to be both semi-physical (or at least, potentially effected by physical events) and able to be deluded, then it requires further assumptions on top of these. But these two assumptions are much easier to prove on there own, and really you only need the potential to be deluded one in order to say, “Hey, maybe religions and philosophies are wrong.” Hell, you really only to need to say, “Hey, sometimes people are wrong about things.” I don’t think anyone would deny you that much.

I’m just getting really curious about what kind of super specific stuff Irie is hoping to prove with this parasite research.

g) p 395. “That is my sin, and it will never be wiped away.” Just another little overlap of Christianity and Higurashi’s own themes of forgiveness. Irie said something to this same affect earlier.

5) Hinamizawa Syndrome:

a) p 225. Christ was resurrected the third day after his death. Is this gonna have some symbolic tie to Hinamizawa Syndrome striking two days after Rika’s death? Is Rika the anti-Christ? Is that why Miyo has to kill her? Is this gonna become Ninja Resurrection? Because I probably wouldn’t mind that.

b) p 285. “That research will awaken ghosts from the past.” Here’s the problem with that line. At this point in a story like this, we, the readers, should be fully equipped to figure out what that means. But I’m not sure we are. If we were, I’d say the only explanation is a Sonozaki family thing, I’d bet the actually explanation is a “Tokyo” thing, and this will segue into us learning about “Tokyo”.

This is where so much of my disappointment of Higurashi comes from. It constantly presents itself as a mystery story, but largely unfolds as a conspiracy story. The difference is, in a mystery, observant and thoughtful readers should potentially be able to see things coming (though they should not be so comfortably certain in their theories that even predicted twists aren’t still exciting). In a conspiracy story, you don’t see it coming; the twists and foreshadowing appear towards unknown entities as they enter the plot.

Higurashi has a lot of points of mystery; I wouldn’t have been able to write this series if it hadn’t. But a lot of the big things, things which I and many readers start theorising about from the beginning, play out as conspiracies. Rika transcends worlds; who would have guessed that? Hinamizawa Syndrome is a parasite; I’ve already slammed that. Takano’s military connections and why she would have done what she did; that’s still only being unraveled through what is, essentially, glorified backstory exposition. And now this. It’s always just been so disheartening to find all my theories where pointless, because the truth was something I could have never reasonably guessed.

c) p 292. Okay, so this explains both the “ghosts from the past” and the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. Trying to keep this short; the second Sino-Japanese War was a fight, largely between Japan and China, that became part of the much larger World War II. Marco Polo Bridge was the site of a battle considered to be the start of this war, but I’m not exactly a historian, so I’ll stop there and tell you to take it was a grain of salt.

In Higurashi this battle was started by a lone soldier firing his gun who was never identified, and allegedly this solder may have been a man from Hinamizawa going a little nuts. So whether this is related to “Tokyo” or just politically thin ice in general, someone doesn’t want the truth about Hinamizawa Syndrome to get out and make a pretty damn good argument that a Japanese soldier accidently the whole war. Alright, I can get behind that. It also provides a little intrigue for later, after all before Miyo killed Tomitake she told him that even some people in “Tokyo” want to mix things up. Maybe after some time passed these “Tokyo” members saw something to gain from irritating that political wound, or maybe they just thought it was time for the truth to get out.

d) p 323. So they still can’t find proof of the parasite. Maybe, once again, the question as to what causes Hinamizawa Syndrome is open. Assuming parasite really is the best medical explanation (which I think is fair, considering every expert on the topic with a medical degree has leaned that way), perhaps it’s time to consider a non-medical, non-natural explanation. Maybe it is just something supernatural about the people of Hinamizawa. We do already know that the supernatural permeates this fiction, through Rika and Hanyu.

e) p 175. Never mind, they found the pathogen. Hopefully that’s that can of worms sealed for good.

f) p 391. Please explain how you found out about this Queen Carrier stuff. If it happened after June of 1981 I’d totally get it; Rika’s mom was “demoned away” that year, and she was also a Queen Carrier. But they somehow found out in 1980 which, while probably possible (I’m no expert), does deserve a little explanation.

6) Miyo Takano:

a) p 252. One thing I must give Higurashi credit for, it gets to me in ways I already determined it wouldn’t. I told myself a while back that I wouldn’t stop hating Shion, but eventually I stopped hating Shion. And more recently, from the first page of the Festival Accompanying arc I realized that the first thing this part of the story was meant to do was have me feel bad for Miyo, and I thought that wasn’t going to work. But again, Higurashi has overcome me. From pages 250 to 252, I saw what was about to happen, and watching it unfold, all of Takano’s hope smacked out of her… Fine, I admit it. I feel bad for the little girl, regardless of what she eventually becomes.

b) p 326. So I’ve already mused a bit elsewhere about when exactly Takano turned crazy, and said it probably happened after the curse cycle began. But now we have a shot of her in 1979, right at the beginning of the cycle, where the dam director was killed, and she looks kinda nuts. Couple that with their problems of finding a specimen, and I’ve got a theory. The murders, or more actually, the disappearances, may have been done in order for Takano to get live (or recently deceased) Hinamizawian research subjects. The details are still shaky; why leave a body each time, and why always on the same date. But it’s as good a place as any to start.

This would also mean she probably did take Satoshi, but none of this differs much from my original theory on him. Maybe the kidnapped subjects were examined in the basement of the Irie clinic, or maybe they were shipped to “Tokyo”. But even with those subjects the tests didn’t find much, and that’s what drove Takano to the Massacre arc.

c) p 330-331. Called it! Though he’s definitely in late stage syndrome, and knows he killed the dam director. So Takano didn’t orchestrate a murder for this; just found a murderer who was already doomed, and a perfect subject for testing… right? Well, it seems sudden, and maybe some of the rest of this volume will clear some stuff up, but as far as we know, this is the first instance of Hinamizawa Syndrome in Hinamizawa. Before it’s always been when people left. So I have a question; does Takano have H-173 at this point? Is she creating these events in order to get her subjects, perhaps tricking Irie into believing that these are just convenient, doomed people? That would explain the timing; make it look like a real curse to avoid suspicion.

d) p 334-335. Yup! Safe to say she’s gone nuts by this point.

7) Kyosuke Irie:

a) p 317. “Certain circumstances had led to my expulsion from the world of academics.” Well, it’s Irie, so I’m gonna say people found out about the whole pedo thing.

b) p 344-345. Or it’s because he happened to work in a field that was later debunked and seen as unethical, and he probably mostly preformed lobotomies. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a pedophile.

c) p 363. “It’s all because of an abnormality in his brain. Your father didn’t do anything wrong.” Sorry to pull the philosophy card twice this volume, but you can’t make that claim so nonchalantly. While ethical intuition may say people are not responsible for things for what they could not control or things done by them when not in their right mind, many philosophers just in the past forty years have shown that simple ethical intuitions like that threaten the foundations of judgements of responsibility. Long story short, it ain’t that simple; but I get that the point is here is supposed to be that Irie’s father’s behaviours were “curable”, thus motivating Irie to pursue a particular, taboo field that claimed to have that cure.

And without going into it right now, could we see this as the study of medicine being similar to religions?

8) Oyashiro-Sama’s Curse:

a) p 384. Satoko hears one extra footstep… while she’s walking with her Nii-Nii. Bad time to try to show it, but the message is clear; this is when Satoko got cursed. There’s no surprise there, considering we already know she has stage three Hinamizawa Syndrome and has been going to the Irie clinic for it in later years. But what is significant is that anyone has Hinamizawa Syndrome. Again, we don’t see much record of it happening in the village. The dam construction worker could have easily gotten it from the stress post-murdering his boss. But Satoko seems to get it at random here. Is this new in Hinamizawa? And what caused it?

b) p 391. I feel like it’s late in the volume to be making another heading, but damn, this one just won’t stop giving me stuff to talk about. We’re at summer 1980 now, and just got some new information on Satoko’s family life. So obviously we’re about to learn about what happened to her mother and father. I think it’s safe to say that the one that was “demoned away” is the Second Sacrificial Victim this chapter is named after. But how did they die… maybe Satoko pushed them, based on her apparently being cursed, and some motive we just learned about.

On a side note, Satoko’s two page tragic backstory was nearly enough to bring me to tears T.T Take that Takano! You needed one-and-a-half volumes just to get me to admit I kinda felt bad for you!

c) p 414. Crap… she totally did kill her parents, didn’t she! Well, neither one of the parents would have actually had the syndrome, so I guess event he body that isn’t found still wasn’t kidnapped and experimented on… probably. So If Takano did this, it was purely to perpetuate the curse. Also, that means neither of the deceased is the Second Sacrificial Victim… but Satoko might be.

d) p 437. Wait, Satoko is at level 5? Either Takano is a lying bitch, or we’ve got some more interesting developments in Hinamizawa Syndrome. Though it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen someone drop to a lesser level; look at Keichi post Curse Killing.

Well, we’ve reached the end of another volume, and while that’s not much mystery left to dissect, I can happily say I’m excited for the next one. I’ve already got it sitting on my desk and I’m hoping to start it in the next few days. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This time we learned quite a lot, and are headed into some answers that have been bugging us all for a long time. Towards the end I even had to make two separate headings for Hinamizawa Syndrome and Oyshiro-sama’s curse; until now I’ve usually used them interchangeably. The question this arc leaves me hanging on is; is Satoko’s Hinamizawa Syndrome really at level 5, or is Takano lying? It wouldn’t surprise me is she’s lying to get another subject. If Satoko is a level 5, I think that means she did kill her parents.

Takano leaves this volume thinking about Hinamizawa Syndrome. I leave it thinking of Oyashiro-sama’s curse, and why Satoko suddenly came down with it. Hopefully I’ll have some thoughts on that, and some answers, next time. For now

Don’t Lose Your Way