Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 20 of
Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU ?
This episode hones in on Satoko's continuing isolation from Rika, her attempts to course-correct, and ultimately opening up the door that will lead to Rika's torturous loop. Now, my knowledge of St. Lucia Academy is limited to Shion going there; I've seen in the comments that it's also mentioned in Umineko, where its darker side is more evident, but I didn't expect the hoity-toity girls' school to have an underground prison. That's where Satoko ends up after her attempt to lay a trap with washbasins ends up actually injuring someone.
The scene is reflective of the major differences between Rika and Satoko. Rika has had to live as a child for a century, so it's understandable that she's enthusiastic at playing a fancy lady at St. Lucia that gives her a chance to feel mature for once. Satoko doesn't have that knowledge – she's a traumatized girl who had to act grown-up to withstand social isolation in the village, abuse at home, and the loss of her entire family. Her childhood was taken from her, and that's how you get someone who both puts on airs of aloofness and capability while also being immature and childish. There was no way her cartoonish prank was going to end well, but it also felt like a wake-up call that there are consequences and that this really isn't Hinamizawa anymore.
Now, in a normal world, Satoko would probably just be expelled since her shenanigans led to a legitimate injury. I definitely don't condone the solitary isolation treatment (for anyone). It's actually a miracle that she didn't come out of there completely disassociated, as it's pretty normal for people put in those conditions for long periods to start hearing voices and things like that. Her inability to keep her grades up also leads to her demotion into the "special class" full of overworked, miserable students. Compound this with Satoko's continued ostracization by St. Lucia students and Satoko's assumption that Rika turned her in, it's not hard to see how the girl is absolutely at her breaking point.
Mion is able to get both girls out of school for a Game Club reunion, so this episode also includes "grown-up" Mion, Keiichi, and Rena. Mion hilariously dresses like a yakuza's daughter and seeing her drive a car was giving me Misato vibes. The group plays some games together, just enough to really get Satoko thinking about how much she misses home and accentuating how far apart she and Rika are now. She takes a walk with those emotions and goes inside the shrine's storehouse to the Oyashiro-sama statue and then...
Satoko touches the statue and it crumbles away to reveal a horn. Touching the horn takes Satoko to that "in-between timeline space" where she's confronted by a demon-like figure in a miko outfit who has either specifically met Satoko or interacted with humans before; the way it's worded is intentionally ambiguous. Now, I read the comments and fans have suggested that this person is actually Featherine, a witch from Umineko. There are plenty of suggestions that Featherine and Hanyu are one and the same, as well as Rika and Bernkastel (another Umineko witch). My current thought right now is that Gou may further establish that connection. So here are some clues, comments, and questions if the anime is truly going that route:
- When Higurashi was ported to the Nintendo DS, an additional chapter was included with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna: Dai Yon Kan "Kizuna", titled "Kotohogushi-hen." The chapter further adds to Hanyu's backstory, revealing that she's also basically an alien, and that she married a human and had a child. A somewhat complicated series of events that relate to the Hinamizawa Syndrome corrupted her and led to her eventual sacrifice in the swamp. That story includes the origin of her cracked horn and the sword that was used to sacrifice her (also hidden in the statue), not unlike the weapon that Rika currently holds a piece of to defeat loopers.
- While Hanyu's horn is cracked, she hasn't completely lost it. The 'Featherine' version we see in episode 20 also has both her 'horns', so what's up with the horn sealed inside the statue?
- There's been debate over the identity of another witch, Lambdadelta, who visually resembles Satoko in some ways but also harbors a few connections to Miyo via the kanji in her name. Satoko's direct interaction with Featherine/alt version of Hanyu might suggest that Lambdadelta really is witch!Satoko.
- However this connection ends up playing out, I hope it doesn't require too much knowledge related strictly to Umineko because, if I'm honest, that series confuses the hell out of me. It has so many moving parts, fake-outs, alternate identities that it makes my head spin.
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