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1) Fringes:

a) p 5. There’s no real significance to the page number here, other than the fact that it depicts Frederica. At least, I assume that’s Frederica, based on the fact that’s the in a big dull void, playing with those world fragment things. The way she’s draw makes her look indistinguishable from Rika, and that’s my problem with her.

Obviously Frederica and Rika are not totally distinct characters; they have the same basic design, and the name pun isn’t exactly subtle. But at least in Massacre Frederica was portrayed somewhat more darkly than her counterpart, with straighter, harsher lines, her hair framing her face in mild shadows, and a greater air of maturity, as if she actually had lived through this cycle for a hundred years and had learned to find amusement in it all from her own safe little dimension where she watches it all unfold from. Her personality also betrayed some cynicism and apathy to Rika’s struggles, as if she didn’t care if things ever changed. Now, she just looks like Rika’s projection. There’s no unique character, and nothing interesting about her.

So why the change? Well, that’s one of the things I like about this mange; it’s an adaptation, made by several artistic talents. One artist, Hinase Momoyama, made Frederica interesting, while another, Karin Suzuragi, hasn’t. And at this point the story, the part that does come from one consistent writer, hasn’t revealed which of these interpretations is more accurate. Does Frederica actually turn out to be an important, interesting character, or is there absolutely no god damn reason for her to be in here, other than those pretentious quotes from her that opened earlier volumes?

Sadly, my expectation is Hinase was just trying to this character feel a little less like a total waste.

b) p 63. “Is self-publishing some kind of trend these days?” I’m just trying to think of any time self-published manga wasn’t a trend.

c) p 113. Dammit! Until now, Ooishi was one of the few men in this series who wasn’t a creep, so why’d he have to go and make a comment like that about Akasaka and Rika? Well, great. Now Keichi’s dad, the artist, is someone the only man in this series who doesn’t make me feel like calling the police.

d) “If I’m not mistaken, aren’t the ‘public security reference rooms’ actually code for top secret special investigation teams?” “How well informed you are.” Akasaka, you are the worst spy.

Can you imagine if someone went up to an FBI agent and was like, “Are there really aliens at Area 51?” And the agent was like, “My god! Where did you get this intel? We have a leak!”

The guy’s wearing a wife-beater and holding a camera; you don’t confirm top secret stuff for him!

e) p 116. Okay, I kinda like Ooishi’s reaction when he thinks Irie is in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. It’s a nice little nod to the fact that he respects soldiers and is still disappointed he never got to serve.

f) p 168-174. May as well have lifted all these pages straight from Massacre.

2) Hinamizawa Syndrome:

a) p 19. “Because of their demon blood, the people were drive to misery by Hinamizawa Syndrome.” So is it a parasite, or demon blood? If demon blood really is a part of this, then the scientists who rejected Takano’s work were right, it is rubbish. Also, I thought we established that there were no demons, just Hanyu’s extra-dimensional race. Or did the demon come before them? And if Hanyu’s people weren’t the “demons”, then what ever happened to them? And why the hell did they ever come to Hinamizawa in the first place?

b) p 155. Wait, Hanyu is supposed to visible in this arc. Even Ooishi saw and heard her a minute ago. But Akasaka, Tomitake and Irie all can’t? Is it a Hinamizawa thing? Why was none of this explained earlier?

c) p 178. “According to Takano, they’ve encountered similar cases in other countries…” I thought the entire point of her research was that it was totally unique, unprecedented, and local to Hinamizawa. Also, are we really calling the 48-hour thing into question now? Because I don’t want to go back and rethink everything. Nah, I’m guessing Mion’s just plotting some kind of a trick.

3) Akasaka:

a) p 24. “You’ve really bulked up.” Well if that’s true, someone should probably tell the artist.

b) p 26-37. Yes, we already know all of this. It was kinda the who plot of Time Killing, and we’ve flashed back on it so many times since that I’ve lost count. Hell, it was even repeated just in the last volume. Why do we have to waste 12 pages going over it again?

Also, is this seriously the first time, among a hundred worlds, where Akasaka has talked to Ooishi about this? This destiny thing seems to rely on a lot of coincidences.

4) The Great Hinamizawa Disaster:

a) p 42. “You will kill the Queen Carrier, R.” I get why they’re referring to Rika as “R”, as a code name in case anyone is listening. But anyone who would overhear this as probably read the research and knows who the Queen Carrier refers to, and even if they didn’t, they’d know that killing the Queen Carrier would cause a genocide. Also, “You will kill,” and referring to each other by their actual names is pretty stupid. Really, they’ve only bothered coding the least incriminating word in this conversation. What’s a judge going to say? “The court recognizes that Nomuma-san identifies Ms. Takano by both name and title, removing any ambiguity as to whether it is the same Ms. Takano currently in the defense chair. She states Ms. Takano will be killing the “Queen Carrier.” Subsequent events indicated that this did happen as conspired. But, until we know who “R” referred to, I see no crime here. Court dismissed. Ms. Takano, you are free to go. The bailiff will return your illegal fire-arm to you.”

b) p 42. Well, while we know Takano’s plan must fail in the long run, since, in Time Killing, nobody knew a damn thing about her research, for now we get one more clue as to why it might work. Apparently the state of chaos that the Great Hinamizawa Disaster would create would force the Prime Minister to enact something called Emergency Manual 34. The closest real-life thing I could find to this is Article 34 of Japanese Emergency Countermeasures, but that deals with nuclear disasters.

c) p 44. As to why this fails for Takano in the long run, that’s still a mystery. But we do know that the woman working in “Tokyo” that helped come up with this plan had no interest in help Takano. For her, this will lead to the blame getting pushed on some “Tokyo” higher ups, then she’ll get a promotion. Yup. At least Takano’s back story and motive made me empathise with her a bit; this one’s just a bitch.

Anyway, I’m guessing Takano’s research will get buried for political reasons somewhere along the way, either by “Tokyo” executives or Japanese parliament members.

d) p 55-56. Wait, so the Prime Minister is concerned enough about Hinamizawa Syndrome to put together Emergency Manual 34, which calls for the slaughter of the village if there are signs of a mass outbreak, but he totally overlooked Hinamizawa Syndrome when he approved the dam project. Huh?

e) p 74. “Impossible.” Ah, Mion. I see you’re absurd deduction skills are powered by plot convenience. Where’s Shion? She’d at least be able to suggested killing Takano. It’s not like anyone in that room has had trouble killing before.

In fact… huh. Satoko killed her parents. Rika tried killing Shion that one time, and has probably had to do it in a few other worlds. Keichi, Rena and Shion have all killed plenty. I guess Mion and Hanyu really are innocent, at least as far as we know. Still, that’s a decent number of killers, and Satoko, Keichi and Rena have all killed adults. This really shouldn’t be that hard.

f) p 75. “It would be one thing it she turned out to be an S-rank hunter who comes from a long line of royalty.” There, Rika. Now don’t you feel stupid for waste that entire century doing jack-shit when you could have been practicing martial arts, or finding out who to get an illegal gun?

g) p 80. “I have such powerful allies. Why didn’t I come to them sooner?” You did. I mean, I know you don’t remember it, but the plan that was just laid out is exactly what happened in Massacre. And Massacre ended in a massacre.

h) p 90. “She’s been nothing but kind to you and Satoko.” She was planning to kill Satoko until Rika offered to let her cut her head open. And that’s not a piece of dramatic irony, Irie definitely knows this, and Tomitake should too.

i) p 117. “… we ourselves haven’t done anything to feel ashamed of.” You dissected a man’s brain while he was still alive.

j) p 182-184. Okay, so they’re going to fake Rika’s death in order to convince the government to abandon Manual 34. Because if the government is ready to kill an entire village over a guess that Hinamizawa Syndrome will set in after 48 hours, surely they won’t kill the entire village over a guess that it will set in after 49 hours. Seriously, they might just thing this strand of whatever it is take a little longer; you’re really going to gamble with everyone’s lives on this?

Also, they’re using a police report to fake the time of death. I’m certainly no expert, but from what I understand, the scientific methods police use to determine time of death are very inaccurate, especially in the first reports. After more time, autopsies, and tests, they can use things like the food in the victim’s digestion to get a more accurate time, but you can’t put that on the first report. And this is 1983.

5) The Three Rules:

a) p 147. I didn’t mention it earlier, but Rika warned Tomitake of his death, and he took it to heart. Now Ooishi has realized that the Sonozaki’s have nothing to do with the curse. That’s not any rules broken yet, but two on the verge of destruction.

Don’t Lose Your Way