I don’t even know where to start this review – what an absolutely insane episode that was! But I suppose the beginning is the best place to, well, begin. After last week’s creepy Rena incident, Keiichi begins to avoid her as he tries to work out exactly what’s going on in the village. Rika confronts him about his behaviour and after he explains what’s been happening she pretty much gaslights him and tells him that before he doubts Rena he should doubt himself. Let’s just say this advice doesn’t pan out well for Keiichi as the episode races towards its bloody ending.
I wouldn’t say the episode when from 0 to 100, but it certainly went from around a 20 to 100. All of the insidious tension built up over the last three episodes comes to a head as Rena descends into madness. I was always expecting something to happen to her, not just from hints of previous episodes, but from things I’ve heard about the other Higurashi anime seasons. But boy, oh boy, I didn’t not expect it all to spiral so quickly! But while it was completely unexpected, the horror definitely did not disappoint. Not just just because of what was happening on screen, but how well-crafted it was. Key amongst it – the expert use of sound. The sharp, discordant violin music as Keiichi faces the locked door, the sickening blood splatter and the unnerving squelching as Rena scratches uncontrollably at her neck – all of it really came together to create such a frightening and tense fifteen minute segment of terror.
This week’s episode also brought up a whole lot of questions. Key amongst them is about Rika and her intensions. From the beginning of episode two, it’s clear she has some understanding of the upcoming events in the village. I had naively assumed that she would be a force of good in the series – working to avoid the upcoming tragedy in Hinamizawa. But the fact that she asked Keiichi to disregard his suspicions of Rena only has made me doubt her. But, as we learn at the end of the episode, this arc didn’t play out well for her either. So that might be a question we never fully get the answer to.
I did have a few very nit-picky things I wanted to mention. First of all, why is Keiichi walking around his house with all the lights off? That’s like horror’s #1 big no-no, but also horror’s #1 cliche. Secondly, I have to admit I absolutely facepalmed when Keiichi woke up in the hospital and the cop was standing over him wanting to question him. Seriously, give the kid a break! However the episode’s biggest sin was expecting us to believe that after being stabbed at least twenty times Keiichi could still manage to, not only survive, but fight back against Rena. That was just a bit too much for me to put aside my disbelief. But I have a feeling it’s something viewers will have to get used to.
This week’s episode was the final of the ‘Demon Deceiving’ arc, and what a final it was. From a rather insidious beginning, it spiralled into absolute insanity. One moment I was biting my nails in anxious anticipation and the next shouting at my screen during the deadly fight. Episode four was the definition of a wild ride, and I honestly have no idea where the show will go from here. Perhaps we’ll be restarting the story anew to see if the characters can survive this fateful June in 1983? Wherever the next arc takes us, I can’t wait to see it!
What did you think of the fourth episode of Higurashi: When They Cry – Gou? Let me know in the comments (no spoilers for the VN and 2005 anime please)!