With each school day that passes the relationship between Rika and Satoko only worsens. Where Rika is now lauded as an almost idol amongst her classmates, Satoko continues to be scorned and looked on as a trouble maker. Just when Satoko seems ready to explode, a letter from an old friend acts as a lifeline. Mion is getting the games club together for a reunion and where better to catch up than home sweet home? Mion picks Rika and Satoko up and drives them to Hinamizawa where they meet up with Rena and Keiichi.
As the day unfolds it’s almost like no time has passed, and for the first time in a year Rika and Satoko are actually joking and laughing together. But with the setting sun, Satoko realises that this short reprieve is coming to an end. She decides to walk around Hinamizawa, while the others go to a local cafe. As she wanders around, her feet take her to the shrine of Oyashiro-sama and we finally learn how she managed to gain her mysterious power.
In my previous review, I tried to give Rika the benefit of the doubt. But in this week’s episode, it’s getting harder to sympathise with her actions. For someone who has not only lived for one hundred years, but also spent that time trying to understand and influence people’s actions and emotions, you’d think she’d be a bit more savvy. I don’t know if she was being callous or it just didn’t click her with how much Satoko was suffering but the opening scene of this week’s episode was truly shocking. Satoko is clearly in distress and Rika was far more concerned of the reactions of the other students rather than her friend’s pain. She ends up telling Satoko she’ll make some time for her in the afternoon – almost like she had to book her in for an appointment, and she had better/ more important things to do. While you could argue that Satoko thinking Rika dobbed her into the teacher was her breaking point, I think from this early scene on, the relationship was barely hanging by a thread.
One particularly jarring moment in this week’s episode is watching Mion drive Satoko and Rika into Hinamizawa. Almost as soon as seeing the village, Rika’s personality does a 180 and she’s back to ‘normal’ (in Satoko’s eyes). It’s hard, as a viewer, to tell between her Hinamizawa and St Lucia personality which one is closest to her real self and which one is a true facade. Over the years looping, I’m sure she’s some combination of both, but perhaps she’s so used to playing a role she doesn’t wish to show her true self and uses both these personalities as a crutch. Which in its own way is kind of tragic. But for Satoko, returning to Hinamizawa was a sharp reminder of all that she has given up for Rika and also the Rika she ‘lost’. One question that kept popping up for me is why Satoko didn’t just transfer schools and return to Hinamiawa. Ultimately, I suppose, it’s a combination of pride and not wanting to truly sever the relationship with Rika that’s stopping her. From what we’ve seen of the last few episodes, it’s hardly a surprise Satoko would do anything to get it all back.
On a final note – why on earth does St Lucia’s have it’s own prison!? I know Higurashi has its fantastical elements but that was just truly absurd. I’m sure the prison facilities weren’t on the brochure that Rika showed Satoko.
I remember when I first started the Higurashi Gou series I kind of went into it excited for the splatter fest and not thinking too much of the story. Of course as the episodes have gone by, I’ve become more and more invested in this interweaving story and the tragedy that permeates these characters lives. And yet, out of everything that has happened so far, I’ve found these last few episodes looking at the relationship between Rika and Satoko the most compelling. With only four episodes to go, I can hardly guess where this wild ride will take us but I can certainly say I’m all in.