‘Oh I get by with a little help from my friends.
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends.
Oh, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.’
–“With a Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles (1961 rock single)
Rena, despite her naive and ditsy nature, has a rough past. She harbors hatred towards her mother (who cheated on her father and tore apart their family). Her “friends” from middle school tried to rape her. She fought back however, savagery beating them with a baseball bat. Following that, she went on a rampage at her school, smashing all the windows in it. Following, Rena was admitted to a mental health clinic (due to the stress of the incidents). After recovery, Rena and her father moved back to Hinamizawa in an attempt to continue their lives as normal.
Rena managed to move on, regaining her happiness and enjoying the company of her new friends, Rika, Satoko, Mion, and Keiichi. Together they formed “The Club”, a clique created from their friendship; spending many happy days with one another.
Yet, Rena’s happy days would come to an end thanks to her heinous acts of murder.
‘I do you one better and slay these niggas faithfully.
Murder is a tough thing to digress
It’s a slow process
And I ain’t got nothin’ but time.’
“Dead Presidents II” by Jay-Z (1996 hip-hop single)
Discovering that Mamiya Rina and her pimp Teppei Houjou entrapped her father into a badger game (with Rina pretending to act as her father’s boyfriend and Teppei coercing him into a payment plan), Rena decides to take action. She lured Teppei and Rina into her hideout (the garbage dump). First, she barbarously smashed Rina’s skull in with her lead pipe. Later, she cleaved Teppei’s head with her billhook – taking their lives.
The next day, The Club decides to check up on Rena, who was absent from school. Upon arrival at her hang out spot, they see Rena dismembering the bodies of her victims. Keiichi goes off on her; demanding Rena to explain why she committed such acts. He also asks why she didn’t ask for help before killing the two. Rena tells him that they couldn’t help her. She only sees friends as people to only have fun with – not as an outlet for emotional support. Because of past betrayals, Rena fears that she can’t disclose painful information to her friends. She doesn’t trust them to help her. She believes by murdering Teppei and Rina, she made the best choice for her life.
Keiichi calls her out on her bullshit; telling her that she crying and suffering. He presses the question of why won’t t trust her friends. Despite her crimes, he wants to forgive and understand her. The Clubs shares his idea, as they too want to still remind friends with her and help her (including helping her burying Teppei and Rina’s remains). They assure her that they’ll never turn their backs on her – and that they’ll still be friends. Rena thanks everyone for helping her out and understanding her actions. Rena feels that she no longer has to bare the cross of her sins alone. She can trust and rely on her friends.
And yet, this period of trust and reliance wouldn’t last for long.
Time has pass since the Cotton Drifting Festival. Oishi visits one classroom school of Hinimizawa, requesting to speak to Rena. The two have a little chat in his car, with him informingthe girl that Tomitake is dead and Miyo is missing. As the two talk, a flashback plays. Rena and Miyo are chilling at the library, speaking about Oyashiro’s curse and the influence it has on the village and Rena herself.
We learn from this flashback that Rena “broke the taboo” of leaving Hinamizawa. Rena believes that the cause of her being cursed by Oyashiro was in relation of her family leaving the village years ago. The incident at her school and her parents’ divorce was punishment brought upon by the resident god to her to suffer from. Rena then tells Miyo that she the god spoke to her, telling her she must return back to Hinamizawa.
“Believing” her story, Miyo gives Rena her bullshit “research” scrapbook. (Granted, Miyo only gave her this to agitate Rena’s Hinamizawa). Upon learning about Miyo’s disaperance, grows paranoid. With Tomitake’s murder and Miyo’s disappearance, Rena believes she’ll be targeted next. She hits Keiichi’s line up, informing him on the situation, and theorizes that the Three Great Family had Miyo (and the rest of the Cotton Drifting Festival victims) murdered in order to revive the Oyashiro curse.
Rena’s paranoia worsens. The following day, members of the Yamainu unit visit the Hinamizawa School for an “inspection”. Rena takes notice and investigates. Going over the information left behind by them, she calls their business number, only to discover that the company doesn’t exist. Rena thinks they’re after her , decides to leave school early, and goes into hiding. Worried about Rena’s behavior, Keiichi decides to search for her.
Learning that the both the police and Sonozaki clan are after her (given she stole money form the later), Keiichi grows concern about Rena’s wellbeing. Assuming that she’s hiding out in the dump, Keiichi searches for her there.
Meanwhile, Rena is indeed hiding around in the dump – with the police nearby. While evading them, she overhears a dispatcher (from the radio) telling the field officers that she has been spotted at a warehouse near the Sonozaki land, thus making the police leave the dump to confirm this information. This should relive Rena, but she’s freaking out. She thinks that she has been clone (thanks to Miyo’s bullshiting Rena in her scrapbook)! It doesn’t help that Rena’s paranoia has gotten worse and the Hinamizawa Syndrome is screwing with her head.
Rena attempts to leave the dump (and the village) but she is caught by Keiichi. He tries to convince her to return to the village but she refuses. She’s pretty pissed off at Keiichi. Earlier, she had went to check on the burial site of the victims and discovered that their bodies weren’t there. Keiichi tries to explain to her that Mion had her family exhume the bodies from the original burial site to their secret mass grave site (due to government deforesting). Rena doesn’t believe this. She feels betrayed by Mion (despite Mion was covering Rena’s ass for her own good) and snaps on Keiichi.
Keiichi begs Rena to trust The Club and Mion’s action but Rena is blinded by rage. In her anger (and derange fits of laughter) she tells Keiichi a little secret – a secret that Keiichi hidden for years. Before Keiichi moved to Hinamizawa, he was facing legal issues. Due to stress, Keiichi hunted down young girls and shot them with a BB Gun (with one of the victims losing an eye). In her normally sweet voice, Rena taunts him with this reveal, calling him a shameless pervert (for attacking little girls) and that it must had been fun for him to install fear into young girls for his actions. She finds joy in making Keiichi cry and forcing him to beg her to stop, but Rena keeps at it. Rena finish her sadistic taunting by telling Keiichi that she’s not his friend and for not telling The Club about his past.
She leaves Keiichi alone in his pitiful state.
‘I think we all have stories we don’t want to share of misery, sadness, mistakes, or even memories we don’t want to recall.’
The morning after, Keiichi reveals his past to the Club. When questioned by his friends on why he’s revealing such things, he tells them that he doens’t feel right about it from them. To his surprise, Mion and Rika tell him that he shouldn’t feel shame from it. Satoko follows suite, telling her friend that he’s a good person now.
His friends’ words of forgiveness and kindness trigger yet another seemly forgotten past: his distrust towards his beloved friends – and of him killing Mion and Rena in another world.
Keiichi freaks out, weeping in front of the others. He remembers his delusions of Rena and Mion plotting against him. In reality, they were only trying to help him get better. Especially Rena whom, even at the final seconds of her life (of that world) literally reached out to him to tell him that it’s everything is okay – to believe in her.
Keiichi laments over this. He questions himself on why he couldn’t see the fact that his friends wanted to help him. Rika calms Keiichi down and tells him that she forgives him. She knows that he’s a good person now. Fully aware and understanding what Rena is going through (and awared of the multiple worlds), Keiichi is inspired to fight against fate and save his friend – and to atone for his own sins.
The following school day Rena, who hasn’t shown up to class in a while, finally shows up! To celebrate her triumphant return, she decides to take everyone hostage! Yea, she pretty much went completely insane. She forces Keiichi to join her side, as he was the only one who “believed” her story( along with Oishi) As time passes, things get worse. Rena starts to spread gasoline around the classroom. You know, just a simple insurance policy, just in case things go south.
It’s normal in hostage situation trust me.
Rena takes her anger out on her best friend Mion. She beats her with the blunt end of her billhook, screaming at her. “I trusted you!” She yells, slamming her billhook downwards on to her friend’s forehead and busting her open. Keiichi tries to stop Rena but she threatens to blow up the school right then and there. Despite Keiichi telling Rena that Mion only had the bodies moved to a secured location; Rena still neither trust nor believe her friends.
Observation: It can be theorized that Rena does not trust her friends because she experienced mistrust and betrayal from people she once trust in her past. Remember: three of her former male friends attempted to raped her years ago, friends that she probably trusted. Additionally, her own mother lied to her father about her having an affair with a coworker. This coworker impregnated her. The mother tried to convince her to leave her father, which she refused. Perhaps in Rena’s head, Mion and Keiichi’s acts against was yet another betrayal.
Her so-called friends violated her trust – therefore, they must be punished.
The day passes. Keiichi (through an earpiece provided by the police) is informed about a homemade bomb crafted by Rena, which is hidden in the school. Keiichi sneaks out of the classroom in search of it. He encounters Satoko, who concludes that the bomb was hidden away in the school’s storage room. Satoko then gives Keiichi a weapon – her beloved brother’s baseball bat.
Observation: This scene can be considered a full circle of sorts. During the events of the first arc Keiichi “borrowed” Satoshi’s bat. Keiichi was planning to use the bat for self-defense Rena (during his bout with paranoia). This made Satoko upset. Flash forward to the Atonement Arc. Satoko trust Keiichi. She trusts him so much that she allows him to use her brother’s bat – one of the few items she has to remember him. After giving him the bat, Satoko is staring at Keiichi, quietly saying “Nii-Nii”.
What we can take from this is two things:
1. Keiichi reminds her of Satoshi
2. Satoko sees Keiichi like an older brother.
(This is very important for the finale of this analysis series)
Keiichi finds the bomb and disarms it (with a second to spare). As the hostages escape and the police charge in the school to capture Rena, she encounters Keiichi on the rooftop. The two talk some shit, mostly with Rena speaking about aliens and Keiichi calling her an idiot. She then challenges her to a fight to prove who’s right. During their clash, Keiichi jokes about making Rena his service maid if she loses. He brings up that their rooftop battle is like their old fun water gun fights and other past club games and ask if her she wanna go back to those days.
The two fight again but then stop when Keiichi thinks of all the fun things he would do to Rena if she was his maid. He then asks what she would want if she wins, which are the same rewards of the battle he requests. Rena tells Keiichi that regardless of the winner, they will still be together and happy. Rena will still have her friends – something she truly wants.
Before they prep for their final blow, Keiichi brings up that this was fun, which Rena plies that it was fun for her too. The two charge at each other, with Rena wining it by disarming Keiichi of his bat and knocking him to the ground.
“The fight’s over now, right?” Rena asks him. Keiichi replies once she swings her weapon towards him for the finishing blow. Rena – regaining her sanity – breaks down crying. She doesn’t want to hurt her friends. She weeps as she questions herself on why she cause her friends to suffer and shaming herself for not believing in her friends who only wanted to help her and ruining the happy, fun days they had.
Keiichi then tells Rena that she was right to be suspicious when she sensed something was wrong – anyone would have done the same. He then follows up with that if there was something painful going on in her life she needs to talk to her friends about it. Reazling this, Rena starts t ocry uncontrollably in Keiichi’s arms.
It is then that Rena realized her mistake – she needed her friends for support.
‘Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
Buy if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on’
-“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers (1972 soul single)
Series continued in part 3.
Rena and Keiichi’s fight video source: