The Summer 2021 Preview Guide
Higurashi: When They Cry – SOTSU
How would you rate episode 1 of
Higurashi: When They Cry – SOTSU ?
What is this?
Following the revelation of the key players behind the recent string of tragedies, Keiichi, Rena, Mion, Shion, and Rika will have to unravel the horrific events and take on a force greater than any they've ever faced before.
How was the first episode?
I have to admit, I've always found Satoko to be a miserable little gremlin. Higurashi: Sotsu isn't doing anything to change my mind. It is, however, set to make decent use of the things we already know, or at least think we know, about the story and setting from the original series. This season is positioning Satoko as the author of all of the many terrible versions of Hinamizawa that Keiichi had to find his way out of back in the day, and for no other reason than to torment Rika with the possibility that she might be able to escape the town and her fate.
If you want to talk about miserable motives, this is definitely one of the worst. Satoko's entire reason for forcing people to relive June 1983 over and over again is to punish Rika for daring to want to leave, to want more for herself than the existence she's already been stuck living for a hundred years. While we could have called Rika selfish in the original series, or maybe even in parts of GOU, nothing she's done even compares to the spite that Satoko is willing to unleash just because she feels slighted. I get it, losing a friend, or just realizing that they've outgrown the things you used to do, sucks. It's a miserable feeling. But that's no excuse to go all sociopath on them.
The question is, of course, whether or not Satoko was a sociopath all along, even before Rika managed to escape the cycle. I'd tend towards yes, because her “traps” have always verged on the cruel and dangerous, and the whole chandelier incident from GOU was merely the logical culmination of her escalating pranks. How much of this is tied up in her family history is what I'm hoping this season will really delve into. The missing piece of the puzzle where Satoko is concerned is and always has been Satoshi, her older brother who was one of the “vanished” of the Cotton Drifting Festival. While he's sometimes framed as weaker than his sister, someone who just couldn't handle things anymore, there's also the possibility that he was afraid of Satoko. If she's always had these alarming tendencies towards vengeance and “harmless” pranks, there's a good chance that she was what he just couldn't take anymore, not their aunt and uncle. Maybe he wasn't protecting his sister so much as himself.
I bring this up because he's the piece of the original series we really haven't seen much of in GOU. Sotsu brings us back to Reina/Rena and her father's involvement with hostess Rina, so that says to me that Satoshi may be revived for this season as well. Satoko's clearly on a power trip as she gleefully infects Rena, somehow convinced that this will bring about a better life in Hinamizawa for everyone. I'm not sure any of the other kids could stop her at this point. And if we find out what happened to her brother in this iteration of things, I think we might get some better answers as to what, or who, could.
While I have mixed feelings about the necessity of GOU and its rather straightforward 'mysteries,' I found myself really enjoying the two-part opener for SOTSU. Like the previous Higurashi and KAI, SOTSU looks to be the "Answers" to GOU. We appear to be starting off in the first GOU timeline and following Rena much more closely to see what led to her break. These first two episodes serve to show her home life with her dad, a putz that has been roped in by a hostess named Rina and spends his evenings getting drunk.
Satoko's role as the instigator of Rena plunging off the deep end is minimal and inadequately justified, to be honest. Where the episode excels is its depiction of divorce and the emotional taxation it had on Rena. Without saying it outright, you can easily draw a line from her decision to go from Reina to Rena due to her feelings of betrayal by her mother, Reiko. Taking the "i" out of her name effectively severs her connection to her mother.
The highlight of these first two episodes is Rena and Rina's confrontation, which is done with all the tension of a good slasher film. The audience knows how the situation is going to end when Rena convinces Rina to join her at the dump. The conclusion of their meeting goes as far back as the original Higurashi story, but Passione makes a successful attempt to fill the scene with tension and cast Rena as an intimidating force.
I might already have the 'answers' to this season of Higurashi, but I'm still excited for the ride.
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