Welcome back to the ongoing recaps of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, AKA When They Cry! I had a slight hiccup in the schedule, but I’ve got the series all sorted out now up to season 3 thanks to a blu-ray collection! Just never ask me how much money I’ve sunk into this blog or I will cry. Anyway, after the Cat Killing Chapter special episode we are now officially in the second season, When They Cry: Kai, with “Kai” translating to something like “Solution.” This series/season has a new opening in addition to a new name, and hopefully some new answers to all the questions I have after the first series/season. What kind of questions? What a great segue into a recap!
The story follows Keiichi Maebara, a new kid in the remote town of Hinamizawa. The town holds an annual Cotton Drifting Festival, and on the night of–like clockwork–someone dies and someone goes missing. What should be fun times with Keiichi and his friends seems to inevitably end in madness and murder. Those friends include Rena Ryugu, a sweet girl who believes all the tragedies in the town are because of Oyashiro-sama’s curse, something she knows because the god visited her; Mion Sonozaki, heir to the local crime family and possible co-conspirator to most of the curse-related deaths; Shion Sonozaki, Mion’s twin sister who normally is pretty nice but may actually be a demon-possessed sociopath; Satoko Hojo, a young girl whose family members sure do like to die and/or go missing; and Rika Furude, a shrine maiden with a dark secret. Most chapters see a good portion of the main characters either go insane or die (or both), but the next chapter resets everything, as if nothing previously had happened. But it did all happen, because Rika is somehow aware of the endless loop she and her friends are trapped in. Keiichi is sometimes aware of it, so far manifesting as realizing a time he was attacked by Rena and Mion was actually him completely out of his mind. But why the madness and death? Maybe the villagers have demon blood in them. Maybe Oyashiro-sama is a vengeful god. Maybe some devout followers want everyone to think that Oyashiro-sama is a vengeful god. Maybe the Sonozaki family is using the Festival as an excuse to eliminate rivals. Maybe the area is home to a parasite (or virus, or bacteria) that drives people to madness and forces them back to Hinamizawa if they ever move away. There are a lot of possibilities and not many solid answers.
That being said, there are some events that seem to happen in every loop. In 1983 when the main story takes place, the victims of the curse were photographer Jiro Tomitake and nurse Miyo Takano, presumably targeted for visiting Oyashiro-sama’s forbidden shrine. Tomitake ripped out his own throat while Takano was found burned to a crisp, but forensics says she was dead before the Festival despite her appearing there. Possibly not actually her body? She’s a weird one and has been giving off some serious bad vibes. Some time after the Festival, the Great Hinamizawa disaster occurs when–according to official reports–volcanic gas sweeps through the village and kills everyone. This seems to happen after Rika’s death, which may be something that also always happens. At least, she’s convinced it’s always going to happen. Little details can change, like it raining the night of the Festival in the Curse Killing arc, but so far every story (minus the Cat Killing special) involves madness and death.
But we’re supposedly in the answer arc phase! The first several stories were question arcs, where the mystery was laid out and very little information was given that you could/should trust. The answer arcs still leave a lot of stuff unexplained, but typically show a story from the question arcs through a new lens, revealing what was really going on. Got all that? No? Me neither! Luckily the first “arc” in the second series/season is only one episode, so I don’t feel as bad taking up so much space for a recap. Now let’s dive into today’s episode of The X Files!
25 years after the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, Reunion sees Akasaka (the police investigator from the Time Wasting arc set 5 years before the main stories) returns to the ruins of the town with an associate named Sawada. The two meet with an older, retired detective Oishi and look around. The Onigafuchi Swamp–the supposed location where the hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide gas erupted from–has been filled with concrete, something that’s not normally done with volcanic eruptions. Akasaka talks about how this has bolstered a lot of internet rumors regarding Document 34, a scrapbook compiled by Takano (34 being a Japanese-themed play on words with her name). The book alleges a UFO crashed in the swamp hundreds of years ago, and that an alien bacteria infected the local humans, making them go viciously insane. The aliens treated the villagers as best as they could, and were revered as Oyashiro-sama in return. The three main families–the Sonozakis, the Furudes, and Kimiyoshis–worked with the aliens to rule the village, but over time the severity of the bacteria–and therefore their influence–lessened. The document alleges that the gas attack was really the three families experimenting with the bacteria in an attempt to scare people into believing in their god, but it went horribly wrong and killed everyone. Well, almost everyone, but I’ll get to that. Sawada doesn’t believe any of this, even after seeing that Akasaka has Document 35 with him. Either way, the results of the Disaster don’t match government records on places hit with volcanic gas, so some kind of coverup happened. We also learn exactly when the attack happened: the day after a young girl took her school hostage, claiming the three families were going to make a bioterrorist attack. Hey, that means this takes place 25 years after Atonement! Sure enough they meet with an adult Rena, the only person to survive the Disaster (presumably since she was in jail outside the village at the time). She has no idea why she believed the crazy things she did, but suspects that Rika knew more than the little girl was letting on. Showing us a scene we previously hadn’t seen from Atonement, Rika–using her adult voice that she tends to use when no longer pretending to be a little girl–cornered Rena in her hideout in the dump and attempted to inject the crazy girl with… something. Presumably the same something she tried to inject Shion with in Eye Opening? Rena refused, and Rika simply left, casually dropping that she was done with this Hinamizawa and was ready to find the next one. Akasaka remembers Rika being similarly creepy in Time Wasting, but no one knows what it all means.
I know I seem to say this all the time, but this was a weird episode. I can’t imagine that aliens are the final answer as to what the hell is happening in Hinamizawa, but who knows? Rika, probably, but still. The episode also suggests that either Time Wasting was part of the timeline of Atonement, or Akasaka meeting Rika five years before the main story is a fixed point in the time loops. We also learned that right before the village was destroyed, Irie poisoned himself to death and Rika was murdered–just like how they died in Curse Killing, which ended with the Great Hinamizawa Disaster. Maybe those too are fixed points should the story go that far. I can’t prove one way or another, so I won’t say anything definitively. Hell, I’m not sure anything definitive has actually been offered in the series so far, considering I’ve previously fallen for several lies the show has told me.
A new season for When They Cry also means new opening and closing themes, which add two things worth noting. The first is that Rika is featured heavily with a new friend, a little girl with… horns? I think she has horns. Okay, sure, we’ve talked about demons in the village a lot, but I didn’t think they were so literal. The “tease” for the next episode that doesn’t actually provide any relevant information refers to one of the two as “Dark Rika,” but odds are that applies to Rika when she’s using her adult voice. I can’t imagine they’d show this little demon girl in the intro and NOT have her in this season, so I suppose we’ll get to her when we get to her. And in a much more minor thing, the end credits show Shion and Satoko hugging each other, a weird moment when you remember how Shion brutally tortured and murdered Satoko in Eye Opening. Maybe in other timelines they bond over their shared love for Satoshi, Satoko’s older brother. Not sure that moment matters, but it did raise my eyebrow.
So all this is a lot of words for a single episode, huh? Don’t worry, not every post is going to have almost a thousand words per episode. Hell, there are arcs coming up that are 8 or more episodes, and I’m planning on breaking those up into at least two posts. But yeah, we’re back into this. I feel like we’re so close to some serious answers, and I personally can’t wait. But maybe not, since there are more seasons after this one… I suppose we’ll find out one way or another soon enough.
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