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EP. REVIEW: Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU


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rizuchan
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Joined: 11 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 9:59 am Reply with quote
Umineko does really explore the complexities of abuse. But it also tends to, after doing so, remind the reader that the character is still a terrible person. (Ie just after you see their tragic backstory, feel sorry for them, maybe even start to forget that they're an abuser... they kill a puppy).

I can understand Ryukishi07 wanting to explore Teppei's character, but no, I did not want a redemption arc for him. He can go atone by reforming Takano's old orphanage or something, but he needs to stay the hell away from Satoko.

Supposedly Ryukishi07 says that by the end we'll even feel completely different about Satoko, so I'm reserving my judgement for now. But Teppei's story seems like it could get dangerously close to the "man has character development at the expense of woman's (in this case, little girl's!) trauma" trope.
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Ryujin99



Joined: 21 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:22 pm Reply with quote
ThatGuyWhoLikesThings wrote:
Ryujin99 wrote:
if it's so bad, then just don't go.


She kind of *did* tell Rika that she didn't want to go the second time, even telling her everything that she knew what happen. Rika insisted that she had nothing to worry about and pushed her to go anyway. Satoko decided to put her faith in Rika and lo and behold, the same thing happened again. She just snapped at that point.

And even the loop after that, where she confides a second time in Rika except this time much angrier, she makes it very clear that she won't go with Rika and that Rika needs to choose either St. Lucia or Satoko. Rika refuses to choose, so Satoko gives up on that fragment, and I think by the time of the next loop her mental state had already degraded into an obsession with keeping Rika in Hinamizawa.


I'd argue that the certainty with which she speaks is part of the problem. Rika had no idea that any looping is going on. I think it's perfectly reasonable for Rika to assume that Satoko is overblowing things to dissuade her from pursuing her stated dreams. We haven't been shown any case where Satoko tries to actually negotiate with Rika. From the get go her "negotiations" have been nothing but baseless claims (from Rika's perspective), manipulative behavior, and bullying.

Should Rika have done more for Satoko at St. Lucia? Certainly. But failing to be a good friend absolutely does not justify Satoko's actions no matter how bad St. Lucia is/was for her. And, in my opinion, the over the top horrible treatment Satoko suffered there is smoke and mirrors to disguise a simple conflict as a complex one.

Further, we're currently left with pretty much no good way to view Satoko's portrayal. Either she's the stereotypical abuse victim becomes an abuser herself, or she's "insane" yet coherent enough to concoct and carry out a plan to force Rika to obey Satoko's will. Both of these interpretations are bad, but I think the former is more forgivable, because it gives Satoko the necessary agency to recognize the wrongs she has committed and eventually redeem herself; this is where my pondering over whether we could see some parallel with Teppei after the most recent episode. If we assume that she's "insane," then she isn't responsible for her actions and is thus easier to forgive, but this also means that the series has devolved into yet another tired portrayal of the mentally ill as dangerous monsters.

Whatever the case, to me it feels so much like the new season is poisoning the well of what was once a very good story. While the portrayal of Hinamizawa Syndrome does perpetuate the depiction of the mentally ill as dangerous and/or monstrous, I'm more willing to give it a pass. Reason being that it's a fictional disease that, based on series lore, is likely to be functionally eradicated within a few years.

Having said all this, at this point I'm so far in that I may as well watch it to the end and hope that they manage to salvage something out of this mess.
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ThatGuyWhoLikesThings



Joined: 04 Jul 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 7:57 pm Reply with quote
Ryujin99 wrote:
ThatGuyWhoLikesThings wrote:
Ryujin99 wrote:
if it's so bad, then just don't go.


She kind of *did* tell Rika that she didn't want to go the second time, even telling her everything that she knew what happen. Rika insisted that she had nothing to worry about and pushed her to go anyway. Satoko decided to put her faith in Rika and lo and behold, the same thing happened again. She just snapped at that point.

And even the loop after that, where she confides a second time in Rika except this time much angrier, she makes it very clear that she won't go with Rika and that Rika needs to choose either St. Lucia or Satoko. Rika refuses to choose, so Satoko gives up on that fragment, and I think by the time of the next loop her mental state had already degraded into an obsession with keeping Rika in Hinamizawa.


I'd argue that the certainty with which she speaks is part of the problem. Rika had no idea that any looping is going on. I think it's perfectly reasonable for Rika to assume that Satoko is overblowing things to dissuade her from pursuing her stated dreams. We haven't been shown any case where Satoko tries to actually negotiate with Rika. From the get go her "negotiations" have been nothing but baseless claims (from Rika's perspective), manipulative behavior, and bullying.


As far as Satoko's concerned, Rika's already betrayed her trust multiple times now. I'm not sure why she'd give Rika the benefit of the doubt enough to even attempt "negotiations" after that.

Quote:
And, in my opinion, the over the top horrible treatment Satoko suffered there is smoke and mirrors to disguise a simple conflict as a complex one.


It's...not a simple conflict. Because Satoko is not a simple person with simple needs. If you were approaching this from Satoko's POV, you would understand this. I've already gone above and beyond to explain elsewhere in the thread so I don't really feel like reiterating all of those points again, but this kind of situation was inevitable (minus the looping) given who Satoko and Rika are as individuals and their respective circumstances.

And really, her suffering wasn't *that* over the top. St. Lucia is a strict, rigorous school with a lousy, stifling culture, and for a special needs kid like Satoko who is once again facing the same persecution and ostracization she did in Hinamizawa except with no support systems, that's more than enough to push her to her limit. The only thing that sticks out is the jail cell, but it was confirmed in an interview that it wasn't meant to be taken literally. It's just a visual metaphor because to Satoko, it *felt* like a cell. In actuality, it was an isolated self-study room with no windows, but functionally it serves a similar purpose.

Quote:
Further, we're currently left with pretty much no good way to view Satoko's portrayal. Either she's the stereotypical abuse victim becomes an abuser herself, or she's "insane" yet coherent enough to concoct and carry out a plan to force Rika to obey Satoko's will. Both of these interpretations are bad, but I think the former is more forgivable, because it gives Satoko the necessary agency to recognize the wrongs she has committed and eventually redeem herself; this is where my pondering over whether we could see some parallel with Teppei after the most recent episode. If we assume that she's "insane," then she isn't responsible for her actions and is thus easier to forgive, but this also means that the series has devolved into yet another tired portrayal of the mentally ill as dangerous monsters.


It's a difficult situation. I do believe that, had the original timeline proceeded normally, Satoko could've been able to healthily process these difficult and negative feelings, given time and support. But she didn't get that. She didn't get that chance or the help.

Her miserable experience at the school and the feeling of being abandoned by her only friend in that situation isn't what broke her. It put her in a bad place mentally, but it didn't break her.

Having to go through it *again* is what broke her, as well as the fear and anger at knowing it'll likely happen again. She was already "abandoned" (in quotes because it's not actually what happened but what's important is that she interprets it that way) by her beloved brother, having to go through that again, twice, by someone who is essentially equal to her brother in importance is far too much for her to bear.

Does not help that God Herself is egging on her to do this by ensuring her that she will be happy if she does this.

Quote:
Whatever the case, to me it feels so much like the new season is poisoning the well of what was once a very good story. While the portrayal of Hinamizawa Syndrome does perpetuate the depiction of the mentally ill as dangerous and/or monstrous, I'm more willing to give it a pass. Reason being that it's a fictional disease that, based on series lore, is likely to be functionally eradicated within a few years.


Maybe you haven't read the VN because the anime fails to really put you into the heads of its protagonists and kind of screws the pooch on a lot of the social and political commentary (S2 kind of rectifies this but frankly not enough), but those infected by Hinamizawa Syndrome were never once presented as monsters. The likes of Keiichi, Rena and Shion can do terrible, violent things under the right circumstances, but the writing approaches them from a place of empathy first and foremost and goes to incredible lengths to make sure the reader understands their suffering and why they do these things. Satoko's role in Gou is no different, even if the difference in formats means you may need to read into a lot of the details, both current and those already established in the original, to fully understand her feelings. "Those afflicted by mental illness can be violent and unstable" and "Those afflicted by mental illness are human beings in pain and in great need of help and empathy" are not mutually exclusive.

There's a quote from the VN that goes along the lines of "There are no real criminals. Just people looking for someone to understand them." I don't remember if that's the exact quote and even if it was it's probably quite paraphrased, but I think that's what it boils down to. Perhaps a bit of an idealistic stance, but one the writer believes in regardless. Even the big bad of the original series, a woman who was planning a localized genocide, wasn't an exception to this in his eyes.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1951
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 9:22 pm Reply with quote
ThatGuyWhoLikesThings wrote:

There's a quote from the VN that goes along the lines of "There are no real criminals. Just people looking for someone to understand them." I don't remember if that's the exact quote and even if it was it's probably quite paraphrased, but I think that's what it boils down to. Perhaps a bit of an idealistic stance, but one the writer believes in regardless. Even the big bad of the original series, a woman who was planning a localized genocide, wasn't an exception to this in his eyes.


I would posit that this idea falls apart when looking at Teppei, though. Rather than wanting someone to understand him, it seems more like he needed a literal vision of his own death to even start to understand himself, and even then, it’s sort of debatable if he’d still feel as charitable if he knew spoiler[Satoshi murdered his wife.] But on that Takano note, I wonder if she was similarly affected like Teppei. It’s a little unclear if Satoko has started killing Rika or letting her die in these timelines yet, and if not, it’s possible that Takano is having repeated visions of her own failure, and that sparked the heel-turn we saw in the rest of the series. I can’t imagine that Takano seeing visions of herself succeeding over and over, for example, would do much to effect a change of heart.
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Sven Viking



Joined: 09 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 6:17 am Reply with quote
Gem-Bug wrote:
https://twitter.com/batsugeemu/status/1369630789592309760?s=19

So apparently Gou is actually going to run for 30 episodes through the end of April?

Great. After this episode I was feeling pretty confident there must be something planned more than another couple of episodes.

kyokun47 wrote:
At least, if it wasn't for Ryukishi07 making the abused become the abuser.

Sadly, this might be a dated trope in fiction but it’s still far from dated in real life. Applying it as a general stereotype would be totally unreasonable, but a significant percentage of abusers have been abused previously and I don’t feel like fiction’s only job is to show the world as we would wish it to be. Imho the main thing that makes some of Satoko’s increasingly extreme responses somewhat plausible is the fact that she’s been taught from early childhood that the way to get someone to do what you want is to make them suffer until they break.

I definitely get what you mean here though:
kyokun47 wrote:
It just feels like he's almost retconing Satoko's growth. Sure, Satoko is a multi-faceted character and exploring that is great for layered fiction like 07thExpansion universe, but Satoko went through hell and back and came out stronger. Now it feels like Ryukishi07 is just putting her through it again for content. I'm hoping for good things in the ending, and that there will just be a reason or some meaningful message to take away from this story, but right now it just feels cruel for cruelness's sake.

I’m also hoping the ending finds some way to avoid those problems.


To people saying the Teppei stuff is padding: don’t forget that he features prominently in one of the question arcs we’re likely about to get answers to. Keeping in mind what he’s going to be involved in later puts a somewhat different perspective on the events of this episode.

killjoy_the wrote:
Is the implication that Satoko was just killing herself mid-game because she got the wrong card there because that's a freaking hardcore gamer if I ever saw one

I think that’s the implication. She’s going to feel pretty silly once we flash back to the framing story where she’s monologue-narrating her entire evil plot, and Rika asks why she didn’t just memorise all of the cards on the first loop.

Florete wrote:
And isn't Rika supposed to be remembering the loops by now? Why wasn't there any indication of that?

I could be wrong, but I was assuming there was no indication that she’s remembering the loops because she’s not remembering them yet?

whiskeyii wrote:
But on that Takano note, I wonder if she was similarly affected like Teppei.

Excellent point.
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Ryujin99



Joined: 21 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 2:25 pm Reply with quote
ThatGuyWhoLikesThings wrote:

...Snipping for length...

There's a quote from the VN that goes along the lines of "There are no real criminals. Just people looking for someone to understand them." I don't remember if that's the exact quote and even if it was it's probably quite paraphrased, but I think that's what it boils down to. Perhaps a bit of an idealistic stance, but one the writer believes in regardless. Even the big bad of the original series, a woman who was planning a localized genocide, wasn't an exception to this in his eyes.


It's pretty much impossible to NOT view things from Satoko's POV, given that we've been inside her head for the past 6 episodes. But that doesn't change the fact that the inciting incident IS simple. Nor does it change the fact that her behavior towards Rika IS unreasonable: she is the one with the power to loop and she is aware that Rika has no memory of the loops. Satoko is the one in a position of power, not Rika. That, in my opinion, puts more responsibility to resolve the issues on Satoko. She knows how things will turn out if they both go to St. Lucia, yet the only things she does to try and prevent it from happening are to engage in bullying and emotional manipulation.

Having said all this, I'll grant that expecting reasonable behavior out of Satoko is itself unreasonable if we assume that she's completely broken and, therefore, not really in control of her actions. However, that brings us back to what is fundamentally a portrayal of "insane people are dangerous." This is an awful stereotype and in no way a realistic reflection of reality; it's long past time we moved past it.

For the record, I HAVE read the VNs. Thoroughly. The fact that we get a look inside different characters' heads doesn't change the fact that the story presents those suffering from mental disorders as dangerous to themselves and those around them. In fact, I'd argue seeing inside their heads actually makes the portrayal worse since it shows us the "mind of a madman." This is a bad stereotype that has been around for a long time, and Ryukishi ought to know better, given what's been said about his past work experience. But as I've said before, I'm willing to be a bit more lenient with the first story because HS is a fictional disease that is likely to be eradicated soon. Further, there's also the detail that HS can be managed by avoiding stress and generally maintaining good relationships around you, which directly contributes to the VN's key themes.

As far as the "no real criminals" line, I'm well aware of it. But as with any idealistic stance, it presents us with a tricky balancing act in terms of how things are portrayed and interpreted. If you're not careful, then you could find yourself arguing that there's nothing wrong with Takano wiping out the village, which I'm fairly certain is not what Ryukishi was trying to say. We can still say that club members should stop Takano from killing Rika and wiping out the village, while maintaining that Takano is a person that deserves love, respect, and understanding. As far as character development, I think that the original VNs did a much better job portraying Takano as a victim of circumstance than the new anime has done with Satoko up to this point; perhaps this is a problem of the anime vs. VN format.

I don't think we're supposed to see what Satoko has done in recent episodes as good or reasonable. She hasn't made any effort to actually understand Rika, and is instead trying just force Rika to do what she wants. Hopefully be rectified in the future, but I don't see that happening until essentially the end of the story. It's also worth saying that Rika hasn't made any effort to understand Satoko either, but it's harder to blame her for that because she doesn't know what's going on (and each loop is essentially an entirely new Rika). Hopefully she'll also recognize the need to better understand Satoko by the end of the story.

Having said all this, it feels to me like Satoko snapping and losing control of herself makes it harder to see how she could be brought around to reconciling her issues with Rika. Does she just... snap back at some point? If so, then how? In my opinion, it works better if she is still (at least mostly) in control of herself, but has let her suffering from Rika abandoning her at St. Lucia blind her to what she actually needs to do. This, I think, fits more in line with how characters were portrayed in the original VN and anime. Namely, that having faith in and trusting your friends and those around you does a lot to keep HS symptoms at bay, while losing that faith and giving into paranoia can blind them to reality (the results of which are exacerbated by HS) and lead to tragic consequences. It's also also critical to reaching that Miracle Fragment of Matsuribayashi.

Edit: fixing italics issue.


Last edited by Ryujin99 on Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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casenumber00



Joined: 05 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 7:15 pm Reply with quote
Love seems to really be bothered on the Teppi redemption. After seeing just about every character in the show do unspeakable things, we see that there are no terrible people but rather ordinary people doing terrible things, Teppi is no exception.

Anyway, i think it isnt solely a redemption episode of Teppi but will come full circle to a previous arc. It seems we may be in the Tataridamashi-hen arc where the group saves Satako, but now we see this arc from a new angle. It may be that Teppi was a good person this time around and all the groups effort was unwanted and maybe unwanted by Satako. Satako may now find a reason to stop these loops and pursue a happy life in town since Rika really wants to leave.

Going back a little, in ep 23 we learn that, since Eua's powers are stronger than Hanyu's, people can recollect previous fragments more and faster. And at the very start, we learn Satako loves using the loop ability frivolously to get her way while Rika is a lot more cautious. This maybe the introduction of a weakness with this ability. In any case, this loop has brought an unexpected turn of of events for Satako.

Going back to the 2nd paragraph, we may be see Satako reconcile with Teppi and actually want to stay in the loop. However, if this is Tataridamashi-hen, we know the events of what will happen. But with this new info from the last few eps, Satako may be mad that K1 ruining things for Satako so she lured K1 to her home with the phone call and was ambushed by Teppi.

But why did this happen? Eua is playing that classic bored god/omnipresent trope and she wants to see Rika and Satako continue to struggle and will interfere to keep the game going. Satako cant stop and now knows she will not get out or acheive happiness unless she satiates Eua's boredom with the game. Satako now knows she is trapped as well aln=ong with Rika. This may explain why Satako was going rapid fire on Rika in Nekodamashi-hen that takes place after Tataridamashi-hen. Satako wants to end the struggle as quickly as possible since she now she knows she cant get out any other way than to torture Rika into submission.

So what this episode did was, use Teppi as a plot device with his memory recollection, establish a weakness to Satakos ability, and she may learn she is just a much a prisoner as Rika in the loops, Love was starting to get bored why this was starting to drag on and get bothered by the motivated conflict of Satako and what I explained may give a real reason for Satako's motivation than her just being the most jealous ass to ever have existed. Hopefully we will get our answers next episode.
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Gem-Bug



Joined: 10 Nov 2018
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 12:48 pm Reply with quote
Episode 24

spoiler[Okay, okay, so this -was- the last episode? But there's going to be a followup series? Alright, I guess. The stuff with Miyo was good, though I was wondering why we were, again, spending an episode on a character's loop-altered memories at this point in the series. Turns out it was all just a big vehicle to show us that Satoko had stolen a sample of the virus(Which most of us assumed weeks and weeks ago). The end.

So either the calendar spoilers that this series was going to run until sometime in April were fake, or this Higurashi SOTSU will immediately take it's place beginning next week? We'll see, I guess.

Final thoughts if this actually was the end? I mean Gou is shiny and pretty, and the buzz around episode 2 is what got me -into- this franchise back in the Fall, so it gets major points from me for that, at least. It's done some interesting character things, and others that folks are going to think are controversial. I've enjoyed the ride thus far(maybe just because it is more Higurashi)but feel like overall it wasted a lot of time in places and really went out of it's way to try and erase any kinda of good ending from the previous series. If anything, I hope Gou at least got other folks into the franchise.

EDIT: Right after posting Funimation's FB posted that SOTSU will air in July. So...great. ]
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killjoy_the



Joined: 30 May 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 1:01 pm Reply with quote
Gem-Bug wrote:
spoiler[So either the calendar spoilers that this series was going to run until sometime in April were fake, or this Higurashi SOTSU will immediately take it's place beginning next week? We'll see, I guess.]


They were not fake, but the TV stations calendar's were updated just last week or so to confirm the 24 episode run. It's possible it was originally planned to run for longer but instead they decided to wait a cour spoiler[to air Sotsu]? Who knows
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Florete



Joined: 21 Jan 2018
Posts: 178
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 6:42 pm Reply with quote
The one thing I'm unsure about is, (ep 24) spoiler[when (as in what timeline) did that part with Miyo and the Mountain Dogs and her shooting herself happen?]

Overall, though, I liked this series a lot. I guess I could see why people had issues with the pacing, but it didn't bother me. Out of everything I watched this season, this was consistently the one that I didn't want to wait to watch.
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theNightster



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 8:24 pm Reply with quote
spoiler[Satako went full on Yandere at the end]
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Sven Viking



Joined: 09 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 9:54 pm Reply with quote
Surely the spoiler[red eyes indicate that Satoko is being affected by Hinamizawa Syndrome? Maybe a kind of gradual buildup of mild effects over the years as her mind persists between loops?]
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 10:17 pm Reply with quote
Sven Viking wrote:
Surely the spoiler[red eyes indicate that Satoko is being affected by Hinamizawa Syndrome? Maybe a kind of gradual buildup of mild effects over the years as her mind persists between loops?]


I don’t think so; Rika had the same look in her eyes in the first episode. I initially thought it was an indication of her looper status, but now I think it’s meant to be indicative of when each of them slips into their spoiler[witch] personas.
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FlamingFirewire



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 424
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 10:25 pm Reply with quote
I feel GOU probably would've gone done better with more people had it not been so heavily marketed as a remake - it's definitely it's own continuation of the original series.

That being said about ep24, I had a similar feeling after finishing Higurashi S1, so I'm very excited to see how SOTSU will re-frame what's come to pass, and in a satisfying manner. If they don't land a definitive ending in SOTSU though...

spoiler[For anyone who's seen the SOTSU PV, and the way they're telegraphing how the characters are starting to remember more and more of the other loops, I get the feeling we're going to have a lot more scenes of the characters cluing into Satoko being a consistent, bad force in their flashbacks - and could drastically affect how they treat her & Satoko's likely redemption by the end of SOTSU.

Still not sure how they're going to handle all that to get there, so it'll be interesting to see what Ryukishi07 has up his sleeve to justify this new series. I'm on board the hype train for July though!]
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Sven Viking



Joined: 09 May 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2021 12:12 am Reply with quote
whiskeyii wrote:
Sven Viking wrote:
Surely the spoiler[red eyes indicate that Satoko is being affected by Hinamizawa Syndrome? Maybe a kind of gradual buildup of mild effects over the years as her mind persists between loops?]


I don’t think so; Rika had the same look in her eyes in the first episode. I initially thought it was an indication of her looper status, but now I think it’s meant to be indicative of when each of them slips into their spoiler[witch] personas.

Ah yes, thanks, I was momentarily forgetting about that.
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