Higurashi Fridays are back (or Thursdays if you live on the other side of the globe)! Dropping two episodes at once, Sotsu takes us back to the first arc, but this time we gain a deeper look at Rena. Already suspicious of her father’s late nights, Rena becomes even more agitated after being injected with H173 by Satoko. She eventually finds out her father has been using their savings at a Gentleman’s Club and Rena spirals even further, concocting a murderous plan to ‘save’ her family.
Note: I know at the end of Gou I said I would finally check out either the manga, VN or original anime. Unfortunately my dad had a pretty serious operation on his spine, so I didn’t have time. I’ll be trying to get into these now! However I’ve heard that Sotsu is completely new so hopefully my lack of prior knowledge will either provide a fresh perspective or won’t matter too much.
Most of this review is dedicated to looking at Rena’s character, so I’ll very quickly talk about Satoko. To be very honest I was shocked that Satoko would inject Rena with H173. While I knew Rika was always special to Satoko, I never expected her to view her other friends as dispensable. I always assumed that in one way or another they were still important to her. Still part of her world. When Satoko injects Rena, she does say that this will somehow give Rena the happy world that she desires, one she can be happy everyday. But ultimately I think Satoko just wished to use Rena. I guess it just goes to show how much off the deep end Satoko has gone. No one else matters but her and Rika.
Ok, onto Rena! To be honest I’ve never really paid Rena much thought in Higurashi, and almost found her a bit annoying with her over-the-top persona. But she’s become a favourite after seeing these two episodes and learning more about her and her history.
Rena has an obsession with ‘working hard’. When I reviewed the second episode of Gou I theorised when she said it, she was referring to how hard she worked to maintain her facade of a chirpy happy girl. But in fact it goes deeper than that. Rena works hard to maintain her perceived happy normalcy. Her facade is part of that. I do believe that she genuinely has a fun time with the group, but I also don’t believe she really shows her true emotions. I think she wants to appear as blissfully happy, rarely speaking up so as to not rock the boat. But in these two episodes we once again see the real Rena.
We see how quick she is at thinking on the spot (when Keiichi spots her at the tip she’s says she’s there for the statue), and how cool she is under pressure (able to clearly and carefully reply to questioning by Detective Oishi with her ‘true’ voice). I haven’t even mentioned how quickly she can put on her chirpy persona! Rena isn’t the happy idiot she likes to portray herself as, just as Rika isn’t the sweet ‘nypaaa’ girl and Satoko isn’t the harmless prankster. Everyone is hiding themselves one way or another in Higurashi.
Rika’s idea of ‘working hard’ was definitely built up during her parents divorce. Rena immediately blames herself for not shunning her mother’s lover. She says not everyone deserves to be treated nicely, some deserve to be treated poorly. But here, Rena is also quick to sort people into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and views the people close to her as doing no wrong. It takes two to cheat, and yet Rena’s focus is on the lover rather than her mother’s own choice to actively betray her husband. Similarly when Rena’s father begins visiting the Gentleman’s Club, the issue is with the hostess Rina. Not her father’s choice to leave his underage daughter alone at home while he gets blackout drunk most nights.
While Satoko injecting Rena with the syndrome certainly heightened Rena’s anger and frustration, it was already simmering from the constant pressure of maintaining her ‘happy’ life. However, it’s impossible to maintain a ‘perfect life’. You can’t control people’s actions and their feelings. A lesson that Satoko should learn as well.
Another point of interest we (or I learnt in case it was in the older anime) was that Rena’s name is actually Reina. In one scene she mutters to herself that she took the i out to “get rid of the icky stuff.” I found it interesting that there’s a parallel with Rina’s name (having the i in). Even when she learns of Rina’s real name (Ritsuko) from Detective Oishi, she still refers to her as Rina. Rena had already decided Rina was a ‘bad person’, unable to see the ‘grey’ in her. While yes, Rina’s actions of borderline extorting Rena’s father are inexcusable, she does try to explain herself to Rena and make amends. It’s totally up to Rena on whether to forgive her or not, but Rena never gives Rina a chance. She only ever views her as a ‘threat’.
While I call these posts reviews they usually tend to turn into a discussion so let me actually make some reviewer-like comments. I did notice that so far Sotsu seems to have a better animation quality than last season. I’m really loving it and I hope they manage to maintain it through the show’s 15 episodes. While, as you can tell by my rambling musings, I enjoyed this look into Rena’s personality, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t continue off from last season’s dramatic cliff hanger. I hope the story doesn’t drag itself out as tales like this tend to be better short and sharp.
Higurashi Sotsu is off an intriguing start. I’m actually surprised by how much I like Rena more, and I regret not pre-ordering her Nendoroid (haha). I’m looking forward to seeing how this story will unfold, and find out the answer to a question I’ve been musing on – is there any way Rika and Satoko can make amends? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Also quick PSA: Unlike last season, I am planning to review these fortnightly rather than weekly. If you checked out my personal update post, I’ve just got a few things going on with me so may not have to time to commit to weekly posts. Thank you for your understanding 🙂
Check out my review of episodes 3 & 4 over here!