At long last, here it is – the final episode of Higurashi Gou. The episode opens with Eua questioning Satoko on her uncle’s change of heart. Satoko resolves to put the ‘new’ Teppei to good use and sets her sights on Takano who has experienced the ripple effects of Satoko and Rika’s looping. After dreaming of being betrayed by her unit and killed, Takano begins to question her work with the Hinamizawa syndrome and carrying on her grandfather’s research. But when Satoko learns that Takano may not go ahead, she decides to take things into her own hands and steals the three vials of H173. The episode and season ends with Satoko resolving to trap Rika in horrifying loops until she agrees to stay in Hinamizawa – no matter how long it takes.
Unfortunately the curse of being a first time watcher struck hard during this episode. It’s hard to be critical of this as it’s my fault for being stubborn, but it did take some time to get my bearings with the military brought back. But despite these confusing aspects, similar to Teppei, this episode provided an interesting vignette into a character affected by the ripple effects of Satoko and Rika’s looping. I suppose it’s a very human thing to wish to see if our choices were right, and think ‘what if’, and these characters are kind of given a chance to see their ‘worse case’ scenarios play out and the opportunity to change from that. While not a distinct parallel, I do wish to draw a comparison between Satoko and Takano.
Takano has a dream, one she was willing to risk everything for, even inject cutie Tomitake with H173 for!! But when she has her ‘ripple dream’, she begins questioning the world around her, and she also listens to (or more reads) the advice of others. She listens, reflects and decides to take a step back from her path of destruction. But Satoko refuses to. She’s hellbent on getting what she believes is owed to her – her perfect world with Rika. The difference between these characters is emphasised when they discuss Takano being disposed off like ingredients being used in soup stock.
On the surface it looks like Satoko is encouraging Takano, that she’s not useless despite being ‘thrown’ away. But the conversation highlights this key difference between how far they would go for their dreams. Takano sees the ingredients as ‘used up’, everything from them sucked into the soup with nothing remaining. Takano recognises that she too would be ‘used up’ and still wants to live a happy life, like her grandfather wished. But Satoko argues that they can still be used, that despite giving up almost everything they can still give more and be used again. The crux of it is, Satoko just doesn’t know when to let go, there is nothing else but this ‘dream’ / ‘wish’ to be with Rika. And just like the ingredients she’ll use again and again, she’ll keep looping and working until there’s nothing left.
As discussed in last week’s review, we can truly see Satoko’s mental state devolve, and it’s far more frightening than other bloody murder. Satoko is savvy and while not book smart is very astute and good at problem solving. And yet, when when she goes to open the briefcase she doesn’t think up any plan on how to get the passcode from Takano, instead she continues to kill herself until she guesses the right combination.
There’s something almost nauseating about how nonchalant she is about it, clicking her fingers like she’s doing one of her usual tricks with each reset. We know from Rika’s experience looping, loopers do feel pain and remember their deaths, but Satoko has no regard for this, no regard for herself. In a way, she’s completely detached herself from the ‘human’ Satoko, instead taking on the ‘god’ identity of Oyashiro-sama. An identity only to punish and take revenge.
While that’s the end of Gou, it’s not the end of Higurashi with the story continuing on in July 2021 with Higurashi Sotsu. As I was saying in last week’s review, I do feel that the show dragged out these flashbacks with Satoko and the story really could have wrapped itself up in these last four episodes. But, on the other hand, I am enjoying the show, and it’s hard to complain about more content.
There is one point that I am particularly interested to see unfold in the following season and that’s the build up rippled effect. Eua continues to make a point to tell Satoko that not only does it happen, but that it is irreversible. The next season we could very well see the entire village breakdown as everyone has horrible nightmares / visions of their brutal deaths or committing atrocious crimes. While this may be an interesting thread to explore, the one I most hope to see is not a reconciliation between Rika and Satoko but actually seeing Satoko be saved from herself.
Overall, Gou has surpassed my expectations. I think I’ve mentioned a few times but I really did come into Higurashi expecting just a splatter fest with the story at the background. But I’ve been surprised by how enraptured I’ve been by the story and the evolving dynamics between Satoko and Rika. There have been some bumps in the road, but overall it’s been fun tuning in each week. Now that there’s a decent wait for Sotsu, I should go back and watch the original Higurashi and get a start on the visual novels – something that is long overdue. Also, a big thank you to everyone who has been following my (usually) weekly episodic reviews!
Let’s do it all again!