Higurashi Rei #4 – Stop me if you’ve heard this before

I don’t ever want to say that Higurashi has every disappointed me, but… it’s admittedly hard for me not to say that I was disappointed by the resolution of this arc. And I can’t help but think that I’d rather have had Studio DEEN explore alternate scenarios in a full third season than release this half-hearted OVA. With that said, I am looking forward to the next throwaway Rena episode, just because she’s so cute (when she’s not killing people). Onto the episode.

baby Rika Hanyuu in a marble

So basically, the first half of the episode consists of Rika talking to Hanyuu about her situation and trying to get some advice on what to do next. In response, Hanyuu tells her that centuries ago, before she became a God, she asked her daughter to kill her to save the village. Hanyuu tells Rika that she didn’t blame her daughter for doing so, and that it was no big deal. Hanyuu, seeing that Rika’s not completely convinced by her demotivational speech, then tells her that in Rika’s new world, everyone’s happy and well adjusted. Keiichi’s not killing people with his baseball bat, Rena’s not killing people with her billhook, Mion’s not getting killed or tortured by Shion, Satoko’s not getting abused, tortured or killed by anyone, Satoshi’s not getting abused, tortured, killed by anyone, nor abandoning anyone himself, and Ooishi is keeping his shirt on (probably).

Basically, it’s a nice kill-free zone they’re living in. And while they may not be best of friends, at least they’re not bathing in their own blood every couple of weeks. So Rika has a choice of staying in this well-adjusted world where no one’s a killer, or going back to her old world where Rena’s parents are still divorced, Satoshi’s still missing, and everyone else is probably destined for a lifetime of therapy after everything that occurred. All Rika has to do to get back to her old, screwed-up world is to chop down her mom like a Amazonian rainforest tree. As you can see, Hanyuu paints a difficult picture.

The Higurashi gangHanyuu and Rika

But next thing you know, Rika wakes up at the Irie clinic with all her old friends back! Did Rika do the dirty deed? Well, that’s perhaps open to debate, but if you believe Hanyuu – and there’s probably no good reason not to – no she did not. And instead, they pulled an "it was all a dream" ending. Hanyuu, upset with how Rika had so easily and quickly thrown away her life after fighting so hard for her freedom, decided to bring her back to life one last time, and play a cruel trick on her to teach her a lesson. That lesson being, don’t race bikes down the wrong side of a windy, mountain road.

I didn’t mind the slow pace. I didn’t mind that nothing really happened, and there was little of the Higurashi horror we’ve come to love. And although I know they stayed true to the original material (unfortunately I spoiled myself accidentally like a year ago, I just didn’t know how the pieces would come together for the dream ending), I think Hanyuu’s "lesson" would’ve been more powerful if Rika had done something more to deserve it. Ostensibly, this would require a bigger build-up than a 5 minute intro and a quick ride down a mountain road. Did Rika take her new life lightly? Perhaps. But it wasn’t as if she had a death wish when she was racing with her bike. What should she have done? Thought about her life more intensely, before riding down at an appropriate pace?

On the flip side, I can empathize with Hanyuu’s frustration and anger. You fight for so long, trying, trying to get your friend to break their destiny of horrendous fate. And once you do, you see her throw it all away in a second. That’s the kind of stuff that will literally drive you insane. However, because the story centers around Rika, we don’t get the same insight into Hanyuu’s thoughts until the final couple minutes where she reveals to Rika that it was all a dream she created. Only then do we realize that hey, maybe this story should have been centered around Hanyuu, because it seems like she was the one carrying the emotional baggage of having to continue to save her friend. I think that could’ve made the story a lot more powerful, and it definitely would’ve used the characters better than just having Hanyuu narrate everything from a magical marble.

Oh well, rarely do these OVAs ever turn out to be very good. Despite my criticisms, any Higurashi is good Higurashi, and I’m glad we got the OVAs. Now, onto Rena! And Umineko!

6 Replies to “Higurashi Rei #4 – Stop me if you’ve heard this before”

  1. Bikes are an unreliable means of transportation and we should all buy Japanese cars instead.

    I can understand why the latest OVA might leave some people dissatisfied taking into consideration that they were being released one by one each month just to let us know that it was all a dream in the end. Too bad that K1 only got like 5m in these OVAs and there were no soul brothers either. But despair not. I see that Ooishi, Rena and the others are going to be playing Mahjong. Oh Mahjong.
    .-= keikakudoori´s last blog ..Saki #14 : what it feels like to be a supporting character =-.

  2. Hanyuu didn’t pull the “dream” — if it really was one — because Rika took her new life for granted. Hanyuu pulled it more out of anger at how Rika viewed her mother (her general lack of care). Since this had to do with Rika and her mother, the arc then needed to focus on Rika.

    I think this works so well because we the viewer also always took for granted that Rika’s mom was never going to make it through. Now we are forced to ask why Rika never focused on saving her? Why did we too never think of saving her (or the other parents). This also means that the arc’s setup was the entirety of Higurashi.

    They also do go into whether Hanyuu should really be resurrecting Rika all these times, but that’s an issue brought up to give finality to the story (as in there will be no more Rika dying and coming back for more murder mysteries). Besides, how mad can Hanyuu get at Rika getting run over. I mean, it was a freak accident.
    .-= Michael | Low on Hit Points´s last blog ..Defending Haruhi, wrapping up Higurashi: Dice Killing Chapter, and final thoughts on Hatsukoi Limited =-.

    1. You know what, you’re right. I re-watched the last scene and I must’ve been thinking about something else in my head while it was one. Thanks for clearing that up.

      However, I still think the episode could’ve been more effective if it was Hanyuu-centric (or even if the screentime were more evenly distributed), because while Rika learns the lesson, it was Hanyuu’s anguish that led to this chain of events. And I would’ve loved to see more of the background behind her struggle with that, and bringing Rika back one last time. Of course, if you do that, you change the whole structure of the episodes, but I think that would’ve been a fair trade off, and would’ve given us some real good Hanyuu character development.

      With that said, the more I think about it, the more I feel like this was a really nice capper to the 1st and 2nd seasons. It feels “final.”

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