Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU ?
Jesus H. Christ this episode is going to be a difficult watch for what I assume is most of the audience. Higurashi has never shied away from gruesome and psychological horror, but Satoko's arc hits different. There's no curse or supernatural boogeymen hiding around the corner; just the uncomfortable experience of helplessness in the face of monstrous adults.
The episode starts with Keiichi having another "past loop dream" like we saw in the first arc. This time he sees himself waiting for Satoko's uncle Teppei in the woods where he knocks his block off with a baseball bat. That day at school, Satoko is nowhere to be found and Rika arrives late while looking solemn. The group comes to learn that Satoko's uncle is back in Hinamizawa after leaving a year ago and is likely abusing Satoko again. Keiichi, who has taken on a brother-like role, is angered at how ineffective the system is at protecting Satoko. He starts like how most kids would when confronted with something like this and turns to the adults in his life.
This only reveals how hairy abuse situations can get because, in reality, there is no "perfect victim". Prior to the death of Satoko and Satoshi's mother and (as we learn) step-father, there were already issues in her household. This isn't elaborated on, but Dr. Irie and Mion both said that Satoko "cried wolf" once on her step-father and now Child Welfare Services are reluctant to investigate claims of abuse without clear evidence. "Clear evidence" is not cut and dry; there are rarely records of abuse unless a child sees a doctor and in those cases it would be up to the doctor to make a report. Unless Teppei injures Satoko to such a degree that she needs immediate medical attention, that evidence isn't going to exist. Unless he leaves marks on her that are exposed, no one is going to see the abuse and even in the latter case, Satoko would need to cooperate.
Which she doesn't do because again, like with many abuse situations, the abuse gets worse if she reports it. That's what happened last time Child Welfare Services was involved, and that was when she had Satoshi to protect her. But her brother disappeared the same night Satoko's aunt, Teppei's wife, was murdered. Dr. Irie describes the suspect as a roving drug addict but I think the audience can put two-and-two together at this point that the killer was Satoshi. He killed his aunt and disappeared which freaked out his uncle enough to cause him to leave Hinamizawa. That's how Satoko was able to get her one year of respite while living with Rika. Dr. Irie likely knows this, given his disdain for Ooishi trying to uncover the truth of the situation and his own closeness to the Hojos.
But that's over now. The gang tries to get their teacher involved and she does pay a visit but Teppei keeps Satoko out of her sight. She calls Child Welfare but all they do is make a phone call. Satoko likely suffered further abuse as a result. At this point in the episode, the tension is already at a boiling point. Keiichi is frustrated by his inability to protect his 11-year-old friend and the system's reluctance to believe her. Satoko attempts to act normal but as Keiichi goes in for his usual headpat, Satoko recoils and has a full-blown panic attack.
Honestly, I found this episode to be horrifying for everything it does right. Both the very sensitive topic of post-traumatic stress disorder and the ineffective bureaucracy that keeps children in abusive situations are handled realistically. On the other hand, I do have mixed feelings about the topic's inclusion at all mainly because I have to question the reasoning behind it. Is Higurashi hoping to shine a light on a rarely discussed topic or is it just another part of "look how fucked up this is!" spectacle? Studio DEEN's adaptation was far more bonkers than Passione's, something I admitted missing in my last episode write up. On the other hand, GOU seems less concerned with playing up the "Bad End" so in turn, Satoko's arc this time around feels more measured and earnest. I'm interested to hear how the rest of you feel about it.
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