Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 14 of
Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU ?
Our weekly dose of murder is back but I'll be the first to say that this episode was low on mystery and high on unrelenting despair.
The episode opens with a flashback to episode 13, but this time it shows us what happened at the festival. First thing to note is that Ooishi enters the gathering with the bloody baseball bat, basically confirming that Teppei wasn't the one in Satoko's house at all and it was likely Ooishi the whole time. He's very obviously come down with the paranoia we've seen afflict the villains of previous arcs, specifically Rena. This series hasn't revealed exactly what causes the itchy paranoia yet, but those familiar with the original know what's going on here. Events go down exactly as Rena described them to Keiichi in the previous episode, but I actually found it pretty difficult to watch. The entire time Rika is grappling with her fate, Rena is unable to reach her due to the crowd and actually yells for Ooishi to kill her instead.
We get to see the dimensional space again, somewhere the series hasn't revisited since the second episode. The residual power of Hanyuu (a character whose backstory has not been made available for new viewers but is extremely important in Higurashi) gives us an info dump. She has used her powers so that moving forward, Rika will be able to remember past loops. We also get a much deeper understanding of Rika's despair here. She previously escaped the loops (in Higurashi Rei) and was able to start a normal life only to be dragged back in. We don't know why this has happened, but I expect GOU to upend the original's villains and answers in place of something, well, else.
When Rika awakens again in 1983, I was honestly filled with dread. I knew what her goals would be from the start after Hanyuu mentioned an artifact that would be able to permanently kill a looper. The remaining third of the episode is spent with Rika playing "hide-and-seek" with her unsuspecting friends as she intends to commit suicide with a fragment of the sword found in the Oyashiro-sama statue within the shrine's supply house. The calls of her friends persuade her to hold on, but just for five more loops.
We did get some hints this episode that clear up a few things from previous arcs. We know that someone in the village has the sword since it was missing in the previous arc where Keiichi and Shion entered the storage room. Presumably, whoever took it also broke Oyashiro's head. We also know that, generally, Rena is a reliable narrator of events, at least in the previous loop. I'm inclined to believe all the "here's what happened while you were knocked out" monologues are likely true while Keiichi's perception of events is dubious.
I am not exactly thrilled about the introduction of the sword. Higurashi's original story had elements of the supernatural (see: Hanyuu, timeslips) but there weren't ~*~magic items~*~ lying around. Solving the mysteries was reliant on Keiichi keeping a cool head and trusting his friends, not gaining possession of some divine item. I can't immediately see how this will factor into the second half of the series unless the manipulator ends up being...a witch.
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