ひぐらしのなく頃に解第12話:雛見沢症候群

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(I’m going to skip the first 11 because I don’t want to recap for now and jump straight into 12.  Maybe later I’ll go back and recap the arcs overall.)

After some tension on whether or not we’d ever get to see the rest of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, we finally get to see episode 12. I’m glad channels aren’t just dropping it because of some murders that aren’t even remotely close to this section of Higu Kai (although if we were in Ep. 23 of the first season, it would probably get a lot more flak than this). But anyway, this is a really good episode that provides a lot of answers not only to the viewer, but to the characters as well. I’m glad to see Hinamizawa Syndrome get explained at last.

The village finally realizes that Tomitake is dead and Takano has gone missing. Ooishi returns to Hinamizawa to ask Rika if she knows anything that may lead them to the ‘murderer’, but Rika isn’t able to say much. Since she is the shrine maiden, however, Ooishi lets Rika in on a secret: Takano’s corpse died 24 hours prior to the Wataganashi; however, everybody knew that Takano was still alive and walking around during the festival. This leaves Rika in a total state of shock. Ooishi concludes that the corpse might be fake, and Takano is alive, lurking in the shadows. Rika asks if Takano staged the whole thing, and Ooishi simply responds with ‘Oyashiro-sama’s curse’.

Meanwhile, Irie is confused and doesn’t understand why his two allies are killed. Rika tells him that both she and Ooishi don’t know either; Okonogi also comments that he doesn’t know much, but notes that Irie is under suspicion. He refutes those accusations however, wondering what Irie might gain from Tomitake and Takano’s deaths. Meanwhile, Okonogi reassures Rika that the Yamainu will continue their duty to protect her.

Later at the bank of the river, Hanyuu laments that they couldn’t change things after all. However, Rika says that things are different now. Rika has an idea that Takano might have done it, but neither her nor Hanyuu can say for sure. Nevertheless, Rika refuses to give up.
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Rika ends up not going to school, citing a fever to a very worried Satoko. Alone at home, Rika talks with Hanyuu, who seems to be ready to move on to the next Hinamizawa. Rika wonders what Hanyuu sees in the future Hinamizawa, and Hanyuu denies seeing anything special, saying that it’s too saddening to see Rika’s hopes continually betrayed by others. In the midst of their talks, Okonogi calls and reveals that Irie is the culprit; however, Rika is not amused at all, and refused to believe him. She places another call to Ooishi, asking for police protection.

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As she talks more with Hanyuu, she is interrupted by the rest of the club members, all worried about Rika. They can’t figure out what she meant by “being killed”, so they came to see if there was a problem. Rika asks Keiichi if he still believes he can defeat fate, and Keiichi affirms his beliefs for about the hundredth time in this chapter. Although Satoko and Mion don’t really like the idea, Rika decides to explain the root of all the problems: Hinamizawa Syndrome.

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Hinamizawa Syndrome is a disease found only in the village, in which the subject cannot tell friend from foe. As they progress through the stages of affliction, they continue to hunt and kill allies and enemies alike, and eventually succumb to their own hands by clawing out their throats. It only takes a huge amount of stress to trigger the reaction. Such a disease could be a powerful weapon, so the government decided to invest in creating a biological weapon out of the disease. Such is the birth of ‘Oyashiro-sama’s curse’. The Yamainu were formed in order to protect the research team and prevent their secrets from being leaked. Satoko starts to wonder whether she is suffering the same thing, and starts to go into her crazy paranoia mode until Rika calms her down, saying that there will be a time to remember her memories, but now is not that time.

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Rika then explains the worst part: herself. She explains that she alone holds the key to keeping Hinamizawa’s citizens sane by emitting pheromones that counteract the disease, and is probably why she is loved so much by the village. Should she die, then Onigafuchi would progress and the village would tear itself apart. She is afraid nobody would believe her, but as it turns out, her friends steadfastly stay by her side.

Meanwhile, Irie and Okonogi are chatting about what they should do when a Yamainu soldier walks in and whispers to Okonogi. While Irie stares dumbfoundedly, Okonogi reports that they found Takano and are continuing ‘as planned’.

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Back with Rika and company, Mion deduces that Takano is the culprit and unravels the mystery. Rika remains surprised that her friends trust her so easily, but Keiichi says that without trust, it would be the end of everything. Ooishi eventually calls and tells Rika that he will be there soon to help. Rika is relieved and says to come quickly, as she has some important information to give him.

However, on the way there, Ooishi and Kuma see a van stopped on the side of the road and a uniformed man picking the lock on a tower. They call for backup and question the man; out of side, however, more Yamainu operatives lie in wait. As he stares incredulously at the lockpicker’s excuse, he takes one bullet in the head and collapses back. As Kuma realizes what happened, he too falls victim to the sniper.

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Impressions

Wow. Maybe it’s just because I missed a couple extra days for it, but this episode really does an awesome job tying everything together from previous arcs (from last season) and answer a lot of the questions the viewer might have about Hinamizawa. I’m particularly impressed with how everything is beginning to fit together so neatly. I can see that for those who haven’t played through the Higu Kai games yet, this episode is one hell of a shocker. After all of the arcs where Mr. Delicious is an annoying prick, his death was surprisingly saddening. Without Ooishi, the link between the police and Hinamizawa is severed. It also answers Satoko’s weekly injections to keep her ‘in check’, as it seems that her level of paranoia is so high that even with Rika present, she can barely contain herself.

However, I couldn’t help but be annoyed with the reuse of old crappy animations from the previous series. It really looks like someone just ran a noise filter over it. Seriously, the animation was already pretty bad, why do we have to kill a dead horse by putting extra filters on top of it? I know it was supposed to be a reminiscing kind of scene, but isn’t there some other way we can get around doing that??

What does it NOT answer? Simply put, how to get out. It’s obvious that everybody dies in this chapter (Minagoroshi…), so there will be one last attempt to make things right. I won’t spoil Matsuribayashi, but I’m definitely excited about the next arc. Meanwhile, I’m also interested to see how they’re going to animate the next episode where everything falls apart (I think).

One last point is this anime in relation to recent deaths in Japan. Higu 12 aired with an edit to the opening sequence (taking out the axe). To me, linking a cartoon to a real life murder is just ridiculous, but then again, it is Japan, and crazy things happen there all the time. Hopefully Higu 13 won’t have too many edits, but it is a shame to see some people who cannot clearly distinguish between fiction and reality. Here’s to hoping people get a sanity check sometime soon.

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