Higurashi: When They Cry – SOTSU
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Higurashi: When They Cry – SOTSU ?
This episode suffers from some of the same issues we saw in the previous arc, namely that there are a lot of incongruent scenes that fit into the corresponding episode way back in GOU, which can feel difficult to parse if it's not fresh in your head. A few commenters also pointed out that my complaint about Teppei could be attributed to how memories from previous timelines are seeping into other characters.
That's...feasible, but it presents a problem with all this timeline hopping and how the Question/Answer arcs work. As far as we, the viewers, know, that effect resulted specifically from Satoko hopping around repeatedly. Which begs the question: how far into her fragment-hopping is the Rena arc? We know there was a substantial amount before she decided to "watch the world burn" in order to get back at Rika snubbing her in school, but I would think that would affect Teppei. I would think Teppei's regrets over his treatment of Satoko would stem from her repeatedly interacting with him over multiple timelines, at least. I could very easily be forgetting a technical detail in this time-travelling scenario, but even with that explanation in particular (memory leakage), I'm not thrilled at the characterization shift and how it may frame Satoko's trauma in particular.
Back to the Shion/Mion arc, this felt rushed in a few different ways. The scene-snip approach had me going back to my old reviews to see where things slide in at since there was initially some ambiguity on when something was Shion/Mion. Honestly, for the sake of following the plot thread, I wouldn't have minded a little more repeat of old scenes from GOU with new parts thrown in. What the episode does establish is that it was Mion filling in at the restaurant and that she masqueraded as Shion to bring Keiichi bento. Admittedly, I'm now hazy on how Keiichi ended up on a date with Shion to begin with (was it after that confrontation in front of the toy store?) But I think what really hurts this episode is not giving us more scenes from Mion's perspective, like when Keiichi admitted he liked "Shion" more or when he chooses to stay with Shion and hear the story of the dam despite Mion's urgings.
Mion's spiral into instability is mostly fueled by jealousy of the relationship she sees developing between Keiichi and Shion. Given that Satoko was obviously getting frustrated about Mion's mental stability, it also would have benefited to see her take a more behind-the-scenes role in pushing Shion and Keiichi together. It would make sense; Satoko used to call Shion her sister when she was dating Satoshi. There's plenty to work with there to see Satoko influence Shion or even give her "permission" to pursue Keiichi. Narratively, it seems like a missed opportunity.
I was also surprised to see Shion be cordial with Ooishi here when she was extremely hostile to him in the GOU arc.
The episode really rushes past the storehouse sequence as well which I expected to get a better explanation about. It seems to be telling us that Shion doesn't really believe in any of the folklore and thinks her bodyguard is overdoing it when he gives her an amped-up taser – which is weird. Does she not know what her grandma gets up to at all? In that case, her persuading Keiichi to go into the storehouse is supposed to be pretty innocent? Even then, the events that happen after she gets her taser, like with Takano and Tomitake, suggest that there are larger movements regarding the conspiracy there. It doesn't have anything to do with the storehouse break-in; it just seems to be a case of the two events aligning and the kids interpreting it as evidence of the curse. This explains things like Takano's disappearance and the men in the van from the GOU arc.
The best part of the episode is definitely the closer, where jealousy-fueled Mion overhears Shion talking to Keiichi about the curse exacts revenge on her sister for pulling her crush into dangerous waters. I thought the personality shifting was done pretty well, it shows that even in the throws of Hinamizawa Syndrome, Mion still maintains some control of her psyche. The scene still could have used more room to breathe, but now we know what sets off Mion's attempts to "protect" Keiichi within the Sonozaki compound.
It feels like SOTSU is more interested in getting back to the primary confrontation after these loops. The pacing here is going at a breakneck speed but it never had to set itself up in this format in the first place.
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