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The Plan:

a) p 263-265. So for a while now, the ultimate question in this series has been how Rika can survive. It seems like the final answer to that question is the plan Keich and Mion came up with to fake Rika’s death. It’s the morning of the Cotton Drifting Festival, and that plan has been kicked into action.

b) p 266. The crux of the plan rested on the 48-hour rule, that if the Queen Carrier, Rika, dies, everyone in Hinamizawa will go mad with Hinamizawa Syndrome within 48-hours. But, this rule isn’t based on any hard evidence found in Takano’s research, but is instead an assumption based off something similar in other research. So, the group has Ooishi forge the police report saying Rika has already been dead for 48 hours, thus leading Takano, and more importantly Tokyo, to believe the 48-hour rule is false.

We’re just going to ignore the many many problems with this plan, and instead worry about how Takano and “Tokyo” will respond.

With Takano, there are some loose ends. Obviously, if she thinks Rika is already dead, she can’t kill Rika. Problem solved. But she probably won’t just accept that her last hope of achieving her life-long dream is gone that easily. She has the Wild Dogs, and they have police connections. They might find out that the report is fake, or at least suspicious. Also, in order to avoid suspicion of Rika not being at home for the past few days, they’ve had Akasaka there instead, turning the lights on and off throughout the day. The Wild Dogs know that someone’s home, and there’s no easy to explain that away.

On the “Tokyo” side, the entire plan is a gamble. We don’t know how long Rika’s supposedly been dead at this point, but they obviously couldn’t pretend she was dead before she left school a few days ago. Based on Rika’s age and little research on the Japanese school system, the earliest she could possibly have finished is 11:30am. We’ll say 12:00pm to account for getting home, and keeping the numbers a little rounder. I believe, based on last volume, they were going to leak the fake report around 4:00am. Let’s estimate that it was another hour after that before Takano got the news, and rushed to the clinic (it would probably have been a lot less than an hour, actually). So, at most, the police report can indicate that 64 hours have passed since Rika’s death. A good chunk more than the 48 hours that it’s supposed to take for Hinamizawa Syndrome to set in in the village, but still, If “Tokyo” and the Prime Minister were ready to slaughter the village over this, it’s a major gamble thinking 16 more hours would change their minds.

c) p 296. Why would Irie confirm that Rika is still alive to Takano? Well, the plan was really to get “Tokyo” to abandon Manual 34 by making them think the 48-hour rule was false. It doesn’t matter what Takano knows; as long as there is no Manual 34, she has no reason to kill Rika. Still, there’s no benefit to letting her believe Rika’s alive, and she may even convince Tokyo to keep Manual 34 if she thinks she’s alive. But maybe it’s to create a state of confusion with her and the Wild Dogs. Make them unsure which way to go, leave them defenseless, and then take them down.

d) p 306. So the plan relied on Tomitake’s taking action during the chaos to shut down Takano… but no one ever told him this. This plan is turning out to be more dangerous than any case of Hinamizawa Syndrome.

e) p 379. “Woah… They’ve got almost thirty guys there.” 21. Good try though.

f) p 452. You know, this Akasaka reveal would be worth a lot more if it wasn’t seen a mile away. I mean, we’ve known he’s been in Hinamizawa for days. He’s been active since Irie called him. OF course he was going to save the day! It would have worked a lot better if we never saw him show up; he was only mentioned at the beginning when Rika said they needed him, and he remember his promise to Rika. Then we don’t see him for a couple volumes and WHAM! He was right there watching over her! That’d be a badass hero moment!

g) p 461. “Don’t worry Rika-chan. As long as I’m here, I won’t let them lay a finger on you.” “Mew! I’ll wait here a draw pictures, sir!” Okay, that’s kinda cuet, and it does sum up Rika and Akasaka’s relationship pretty nicely. Though Rika is a total damsel in distress (except when she tried to kill Shion; that was cool), she’s at least charming about it, and being what she is, a little kid, it’s not as condescending or demeaning as the damsel trope usually is. True, she really could have managed her hundred years in Hinamizawa a lot smarter, but you can’t blame her for being easily overpowered. So she comes to look up to Akasaka, and he devotes himself to protecting her. So much so that, when he’s around, she has absolutely no worries.

Takano and the Wild Dogs:

a) p 273. So, thinking he beat them to the punch killing Rika, the Wild Dogs start searching for Tomitake. It’s kinda a wasted effort at this point though, at least from their perspective. Right now they think he killed Rika. That doesn’t change the fact that Rika’s dead, and the 48-hour rule isn’t happening. And killing Rika was their goal, so it’s not like they’ve lost anything. I imagine at this point they’re dazed, maybe realize that their job is over, and are just desperately trying to figure things out before the call to pull out of Hinamizawa comes. Or the call to just continue researching with the three year plan. If they weren’t desperately flailing here, nothing significant would be different for them.

b) p 291. So we learn a bit about the Wild Dogs’ police insider when some young paper pusher meets Ooishi at the Okynomia precinct to identify Rika’s body. It seems like he wasn’t sent on behalf of the Wild Dogs themselves, though, but was instead ordered there by a Sonozaki.

It would make sense that the Wild Dogs and Sonozaki’s have some bridges between them, as the Sonozaki’s are one step south of a Yakuza family, and the Wild Dogs are one step south of mercenaries. But, if their connection really is a Sonozaki, they’re gonna lose favour pretty quickly given what they’re trying to do.

c) Or the Sonozaki name drop was just a lie. That works too.

d) p 332. “What an idiot. Doesn’t he know that we’ve bugged all the phone lines?” Coming from the woman who used her own name during a phone call about a massacre conspiracy. She even used one of the clinic’s phones, which she apparently knows are ALL bugged!

e) p 366. Using a tracking device in Irie’s coat, Takano and the Wild Dogs find out where Rika and the others are hiding an prepare to close in. So… why did they try to kill Irie in the first place?

Other Players:

a) p 358. So one thing that’s kinda disappointed me about this arc so far is the distinct lack of Shion. I may have hated her for half the series, but even then she was exciting to see. She can bring an energy to the pages that even Keichi can’t match, and after she was treated as just a normal member of the gang in Massacre, I was a little upset seeing her go back to being an outsider here. But my concerns have apparently been answered, as she comes in on a stunt driven car to save Irie!

b) p 397. Well, Shion really knows how to apologize to Mion for their little life switch. Let me burden you with the guilt of my death! That’ll take a weight off your shoulders!

c) p 403. So Shion can apparently handle a gun that’s taller than her. I’m not sure whether to call bullshit, or just look forward to the scene where she’ll wield it while riding a dinosaur.

Fringes:

a) p 312. So I did a little research on roof crush standards for cars, an8d, at least in 1976, the car had to be able to withstand 1.5 times its own weight before crumping more than 5 inches in a roof crush test. In 1983 the average car weighed over 3000lbs, so Tomitake should probably be delivering over 4500lbs of force when he lands on that car. I think Ooishi can start working on his death report now, and he won’t even have to fake it.

b) p 420. “Steam engines don’t smile!!” Zombie train, coming though!

c) So while everything is going nuts, with Irie on the run and Takano and the Wild Dogs using the clinic as a base of operations, I’m just imagining some kid wandering in for a walk-in check-up and finding the place just full of these Wild Dog guys running in an out and no doctors.

d) p 370. Is there any artwork of both Mion and Shion that doesn’t at least hint lesbian incest?

e) p 402. Only in anime can a battle cry and plea for life be, “I will stop being flat chested!” I wouldn’t point out that Rika’s 10 and shouldn’t care about that, but who knows how all the time travel has affect her psychological puberty. It’s actually kinda weird to think about. Like, does she still have the mind of a 10 year old, but just with a lot more memories, or has she aged mentally despite her body still being young?

f) p 404. “Beautiful women don’t die.” Oh honey, you haven’t been reading along, have you?

g) So it just occurred to me, when did Shion learn to use a gun like that?! I mean, at first I wrote it off as her being both a Sonozaki and a badass, but we never see Mion with a gun. At least not a real one. And Shion was shipped off to a Christian boarding school for years. What, were the nuns there be fans of the second amendment?! Yeah, most of Japan got baseball from America. They got guns!

h) p 455. Akasaka’s fist is bigger than that guys head!

i) p 473. “You don’t know what it means to hit someone.” It’s official. Higurashi has gone completely from psychological, horror, suspense and mystery, to just shounen.

So, as our heroes, now accompanied by bus-punching champion of the world, Akasaka, and guy with sunglasses and hair-gel, Kasai, rush into their final battle, I have just one question. Why’d they have to write Shion out of the final volume at the end there?

Don’t Lose Your Way

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