Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU ?
While GOU has sought out to surprise Higurashi fans by rearranging the last two arcs' events to reveal different conclusions, it still hasn't broken from its established format. The last two arcs, while different in increasingly less subtle ways, still ultimately ended in failure. Keiichi lives but his friends die and the audience is left with more questions than answers. This week's episode is the first hint that GOU may break tradition and opens up the possibility that Keiichi will get it right this time around.
The entire class, especially Keiichi and the club, are spurred into action in light of Satoko's panic attack. Yet, they feel hopeless in the face of such an urgent yet delicate situation. The Child Welfare Service hinges on its procedures which doesn't allow for sharing any kind of information that would put Keiichi, Mion, Shion, Rena, and Rika at ease. Shion, whose personality is far more aggressive in this arc, has her sights set on murdering Teppei.
Honestly, you can't really blame her. She can't accept sitting idly by while Satoko, who she considers like a little sister, is traumatized. When she presented the option to murder Teppei, I expected the arc to swing that way. It would be different than the circumstances in the original show but would still allow plenty of room for things to get twisted. Instead, Keiichi makes a show of force to stop Shion and it works. This proves to be a major turning point and Rika is obviously hopeful that this could spell the end of the loops. She has good reason to be hopeful; in this episode Keiichi's fortitude is tested a few more times and each time he clings to hope while also declaring that they will do things by the book (aka NO MURDERING, GUYS).
The repeated trips to the Child Welfare Services mirrors the successful Answer arc from the original series. I explained in an earlier episode review that the original Answer arc felt a bit tedious, but I think Passione has streamlined it a bit here. I wouldn't be surprised if the arc closes out in the next episode instead of occupying five episodes like the original. I don't know what that would mean for GOU's overall series structure, though. I'm expecting a two-cour series which is already half as long as the combined Higurashi and Kai installments that serve as the full-run of the story. This might mean the show doesn't intend to offer 1:1 alternate Question arcs and we're at the branching point. Or this is all a bunch of cruel false hope just to pull the rug out from under us all for yet another flavor of despair.
Also I want to note that the commenters made a really good point about Satoko's story being Ryukishi07's personal commentary on social services in Japan. Ryukishi07 was himself a civil servant prior to publishing the series, although I wasn't able to confirm that he worked in Child Welfare Services. He might have talked about it more in a magazine interview, but unfortunately the source link I found about his previous career is dead. If it's true, it would shine some light on how he was able to so accurately portray the bureaucracy behind these distressing situations and Satoko's own reaction to her environment.
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