Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU ?
For Higurashi veterans, this episode is going be divisive. While all of GOU's previous question arcs have ended differently than their original counterparts, the conclusion has still been within the same framework. The central problem of the first arc was always Keiichi's paranoia paired with Rena, followed by Mion/Shion, and then Satoko's abuse by her uncle Teppei. This week the failed ending hinges on a character that, while adversarial, was never previously "bad": Detective Ooishi.
Ooishi's purpose in most Higurashi arcs is to stir up shit. He prods around Hinamizawa in hopes of finding the truth behind the festival murders. He comes up with theories that have shades of truth but usually just serve to fuel Keiichi's paranoia about his friends and often lead to disastrous outcomes. Keiichi and Ooishi's relationship is especially adversarial in the original Tatarigoroshi chapter where Keiichi is attempting to get away with a crime. Yet Tataridamashi-hen has, as I said in previous episode reviews, seemed to be focused on recreating Minagoroshi-hen, the "Answer" arc where the gang successfully get Satoko away from Teppei. The first 2/3rds of this episode are exactly that, with everyone from town called in to force the Child Welfare Service's hand, including Mion and Shion's uncle (a politician) and another relative who is also a lawyer.
Everything seems to be going smoothly except for Ooishi, who is smugly obstinate. He shares that he's impressed with Keiichi's fortitude and ability to organize, but is cryptic as always. So when CWS agrees to do something and Ooishi offers to drive the social worker to Satoko's house, I felt my chest tighten. The writing does a lot of work to try to put you at ease despite patterns pointing that there's no way they'll make it out of this intact. I caught myself bargaining with myself so that the arc could get its happy ending. "Hey, this is the series' halfway point, this could be where it changes directions!" I thought, because I'm an absolute idiot.
Satoko may have learned that asking for help is its own kind of strength. She might have even found hope again in Keiichi. I'm pretty comfortable assuming she planned to gift him her brother's old baseball bat. But all hope is dashed when they return to Satoko's house on the night of the festival and discover that her uncle is there. Keiichi makes a mudpie out of the guy's head but when he wakes up in the hospital he doesn't remember anything that happened on that fateful night. Rena confides in him that she's the only survivor since Ooishi went on a shooting spree at the festival and killed everyone but her.
Which is just a big ol' WTF. I'm trying to parse what the show is signaling here about its end game. In Minagoroshi-hen, after Satoko is finally pulled out of her uncle's clutches thanks to the village, Higurashi starts showing its hand about the machinations behind all of the terrible events. GOU has done nothing of the sort, assuming these loops are still just variations of the singular truth and we aren't going to get something completely different. I appreciate that I cannot outright guess everything that's going to happen, but I'm starting to get a little frustrated. Repurposing the "correct path" does an effective job of keeping seasoned viewers on their toes about what to expect but spending five episodes watching Keiichi and the crew storm CWS only to pull this kind of bait-and-switch at the end feels, well, unfair. Previous "bad ends" were slowly built up over 3-4 episodes so you knew doom was coming. I prefer that descent into madness over this "made you hope, didn't I?"
The next arc is a variation of Nekogoroshi-hen, an anime original arc that took place between Higurashi and Higurashi Kai, which suggests to me that we may be done with GOU's "question arc" portion.
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