The club’s carefree days of cook offs and other challenges come to an end as the Hinamizawa Syndrome takes over Mion. Shion’s increasing closeness to Keiichi sparks a paranoia in Mion which only becomes more volatile after she learns of their sneaky adventure during the festival. Mion become obsessively convinced that she needs to protect Keiichi from Oyashiro-sama’s curse. She begins by taking on the heads of the three big families (including her own grandmother). However, it doesn’t take long for her rampage to drag others into it, and this loop quickly comes to a bloody close.
I remember the last time we saw this arc, I had a bit of a chuckle when Shion hung up the phone on Keiichi. I had kind of assume she was sick of his screaming and just hung up. But with Sotsu we’re learning the truth behind seemingly innocuous scenes. For this one we see Shion didn’t hang up because of Keiichi. Instead, we see that Mion had snuck up behind Shion, scaring her and Shion quickly put the phone receiver down. Shion immediately knows something is wrong and so begins a tense confrontation between the twins.
And unfortunately, we all knew how the confrontation would end. Over the course of Gou and Sotsu, the show has never shied away from graphic scenes. I swear I still have nightmares about Rika’s evisceration. But the copious amounts of blood we see in most Higurashi death scenes add a layer of surrealism to them. They’re still brutal and gross, but unrealistic. But seeing Mion strangle Shion was too real. We see Shion struggle with all her might before finally going still. And then, when Mion snaps out of her trance, facing what she has done and begins to wail – it was perhaps one of the more haunting moments in Higurashi so far.
It’s been a while since we saw this arc play out in episodes 5-8 of Gou so while I did critique Satoko for saying she wanted to see how Mion would react with the syndrome, I have to admit it has been interesting seeing how it affected her compared to others. When we see the people who are infected, they can appear their normal selves one moment and then become brutal the next. It happens so quickly, almost like the snap of the fingers. But with Mion, even when she’s in her heightened state she still maintains some semblance of herself.
For example, when she was torturing the mayor she was begging him to tell her the truth as she didn’t want to hurt him. And when she murdered Rika she was saying that she’ll follow Rika shortly after, to perhaps both atone for her ‘sins’ and ensure Rika wouldn’t be ‘alone’ in death. It’s in these moments we can see Mion still maintains some of her sanity. But it makes what follows next all the more nauseating.
Mion is in tears when she kills Rika but once Rika is dead she just throws her body in the toilet, and stomps her down the drainage. It’s shockingly cold and brutal. Later when Satoko questions Mion about where Rika is, Mion manically laughs saying that she either died when she was strangled or drowned in everyone’s piss and shit. Over episodes 5 and 6, there’s a far more gradual decline of Mion’s mental state, but it happens nonetheless. It just goes to show how vicious the syndrome is. No matter how strong you are, it will still destroy you and those closest to you.
On a smaller note there were two things related to Rika which interested me. The first is how her speech to Keiichi, actually came back to bite her. Events in loops seem to repeat themselves as just like Rena acted on information she overhead out of context, Mion too reacted based on Rika telling Keiichi they were all doomed. She interpreted Rika’s words as a threat to Keiichi, rather than a lamentation of the loop heading towards a ‘bad end’. It’s an act that ultimately leads to Rika’s horrifying death. Secondly, while we’ve been told numerous times that Rika has to die before Satoko so they can be placed in the same loop, it didn’t click how careful Satoko has to be to ensure Rika is dead before she dies.
This may also be the key to how Rika can escape from Satoko. I may be wrong as it’s been a while since I watched when it was explained in Gou but I believe Rika dying before Satoko was just to ensure that they were placed in the same loop. If Satoko dies before Rika, they both return to looping but in different fragments. If Rika can get into a different fragment, she can ‘save’ Hinamizawa without Satoko’s interference and then escape the looping. There’s hope yet for our characters!
Well, that’s all my musings for these episodes. I hope you enjoyed reading them and thank you for checking them out. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out my thoughts on episodes 3 & 4 over here!
Also just as a final note, I recently received some donations via ko-fi. I would like to say a big thank you to those who donated. The last few months have been hard for me, so seeing that people enjoy and wish to support my content brought a big smile to my face. Thank you.