‘I won’t show pain.
I’m not crying…I don’t cry…
Hide my feelings…smile!’
“Sukizuki Nii-Nii” by Mika Kanai (Satoko’s image song)
With all the hardships she went through, I’m pretty convinced that Satoko is Higurashi’s punching bag (and it’s pin cushion). To say that her young life is rocky is an understatement. To start, she killed her own parents (whom she believed were trying to kill her) by pushing them off a deck. The village of Hinamizawa treats her like an outcast. Her uncle Teppei abuses and belittles her. Finally, her beloved brother (who would protect her from the abuse) is missing – leaving Satoko all alone in the world. Well, she has Rika, her best friend. The two are for each other greatly; as if they were sisters. The hardships they’ve suffered in young lives drew them closer to one another, creating a everlasting bond between the girls.
Rika and Satoko are inseparable friends.
One day, Satoko went off on her own without telling Rika (which alarmed her) and haven’t return since. She fears the worse – her Uncle returning to the village; therefore forcing Satoko to move back with him. Acting on this fear, Rika decides to confirm or deny her worries, and makes her way to the Houjou’s house. Rika arrives, with Satoko showing up behind her (who was returning from an errand at the “request” of Teppei). While Rika is relive to see Satoko “safe” and alive, she is shocked at her physical and mental state. Satoko appears drained. She’s not her normal, happy, and cheerful self.
Alarmed, Rika hits up Oisihi’s line. She requests to get in contact with her friend Mamoru , hoping he can save Satoko. However, Mamoru was away on vacation, ending her plan before it could start. Rika then decides to visit Dr. Irie and Miyo at their clinic. Rika figures she could convince the two to mobilize their personal militia (the Yamainu) to kill Teppei (in order to save Satoko, or at the very least, rescue her without violence). The two decline the request; stating that the Yamainu couldn’t move to attack due to the police investigating Teppei (he was the pimp of Rina, who was found murdered days prior). At best, they would have to wait until after the Cotton Drifting Festival to attack Teppei – which by then would be too late (due to the time loop).
The next morning, Rika’s classmates are asking why Satoko hasn’t shown up to school. Rika (who is visibly depressed) ignores them, but decides to inform Chie-Sensei on the situation. Chie-Sensei figures she should contact Child Counseling Center (an even worse version of the terrible real world child protective services [CPS] ) to see if they can intervene. Rika see this as hopeless, since Satoko filed false reports of abuse on her previous step-fathers, but Chie decides to take action regardless.
Chie visits the Houjou household in an attempt to talk Teppei into letting her speak with Satoko and get her back to school – which fails. Chie returns to the school, telling The Club about her lack of success. Shion goes off, demanding answers on why Chie backed down against Teppei. In her rage, Shion decides that rather than wait for the legal system to make a move, she would kill Teppei and rescue Satoko herself. She doesn’t want Satoko to suffer anymore hardships.
Shion attempts to leave but is stopped by Keiichi. He tries to talk sense into her, telling the girl that she’ll only regret killing him later. Shion ignores him and threatens to kill him first (if it means getting to kill Teppei). Mion tries to stop her but is quickly stopped by Rena. Rena has faith that Keiichi will calm Shion down and convince her to see the errors of her idea. Shion picks up a chair and smashes Keiichi’s head with, which calms her down. As Hanyuu attempts to cheer Rika up (since they’re able to prevent their friend from killing Teppei), Rika refuses to believe that things will resolve in a happy ending.
Rika’s depression and doubts reminds.
Later, Mion, Rena, and Keiichi discuss strategies to save Satoko without bloodshed. Rena mentions that she was scared that Keiichi was going to mimic Shion’s actions and ideas of killing Teppei. This is funny, given Keiichi actually did kill Teppei in a timeline before (which Keiichi tells the girls he had a feeling that she once did kill the him) They come up with the conclusion that it is best for them to fight without resorting to harming Teppei.
The next morning, The Club visit the CPS office to influence them to rescue Satoko. CPS tells everyone that they’re working on it, but Keiichi calls them out on their bullshit; Stating they failed to act upon the first reported case of abuse. He tells the case worker to not believe Satoko’s words, as she hasn’t shown up to school.
Reflecting on the situation at hand, Rika breaks down in tears. She starts to beg Keiichi to save Satoko and not give up. His words gave Rika courage and inspiration to fight.
Rika’s hope is restored.
‘Gift of the silver tongue. They say it’s the mark of a good officer.’
-Revolver Ocelot, Metal Gear Solid 2 (2002 Konami video game)
The next morning. Keiichi and The Club rally their classmates save Satoko. Keiichi – the magician of words – utilize his talents to convince everyone to save her. He reminds the class of Satoko’s suffering, unhappiness,and how much she needs them. Keiichi ends his speech by informing the class that CPS weren’t taking the matter serious. It’s up to them to fight for Satoko.
With his zeal, Keiichi is able to successfully recruit his classmates into his army.
With his unit, Keiichi marches forth to the CPS offices to negotiate against them. The two groups go back-and-forth, with Keiichi’s unit not backing down. Despite their efforts and emotional appear, The Club loses. Yet, they will not give up hope. They must regroup and try again. They can not give up. Keiichi’s unit needs the support of everyone, no matter what.
Keiichi gathers new allies from all over Hinamizawa.
After a successful night of enlisting new recruits, Keiichi and the others go over their new battle plan against CPS. As they talk, they’re surprise and relive that Satoko has returned to school. However, Satoko looks like hell: She show signs of physical, emotional, and mental abuse. Everyone surrounds her, happy to see her again, but thigns don’t seem right. Satoko lies about having a fever. Cleary a cover up for abuse given nobody asked if she was sick.
Keiichi questions Satoko, asking her if thing are hard for her, which she denies. Satoko then mentions her brother; Telling Keiichi while it’s hard for her, she must stay strong for Satoshi’s sake. Keiichi gives Satoko a friendly, yet sorrowful smile and praise her for her hard work. As a reward, he pats her on the head. Satoko starts to weep as Keiichi and everyone else reach out to her. They want to help their friend; they don’t want her to think that she has to suffer alone, but she refuses the help.
Until she has a trigger.
Satoko hears footsteeps in the distance. This alone causes her to have a panic attack (as she thinks her uncle was coming to hurt her again). They manage to calm her down with injections (to combat her HImiizawa Syndrome) and let her rest. Rika and Keiichi talk about what they should do. Rika reveals that Satoko was forced by her uncle to stay with him; as he threatened to burn and destroy Satoshi room. This enrages Keiichi, who now wants to kill Teppei. Rika manages to talk sense into Keiichi by calming him down. Keiichi regains his focus. At this point, they can’t afford anyone to lose it this far – victory draws near.
The Club regroups with new allies. They march back to the CPS. While talking to Hanyuu, Rika analyze the events leading up to this point. She realize that while she has been rooting for her friend, it was just at the sidelines. Rika was just a mere spectator, refusing to take center stage . She takes it up to herself to fight at the front lines. She plans to convince Satoko to admit to the abuse.
She can no longer just stand by and watch her best friend suffer any longer.
After the meeting, Keiichi receives word from Chie that they have stir up ill will from the elders who still hold a grudge against Satoko’s family (as they opposed the village during the Dam Wars). The villagers believe that Oyashiro will curse them for allying themselves with The Club, but Keiichi continue to fight undisturbed.
Keiichi stands up and steps up to the elders. He outs them for bullshiting around, preventing Satoko’s resuce, and letting the conflicts of the past impact the present and future. He gets bold – demanding the elders to tell him if they are his foe or ally. The rest of The Club then expose the elders’ connections with the government (as they were getting favors from them). They know that the elders don’t wanna lose that connection. Using this to their advantage, the Club forces the elders to play with their cards. Keiichi’s relentless spirit and logic works: He successfully recruits the elders to his side.
With the elders and youth in his army, there’s one more person whom Keiichi must convince to fight in his war – Oryou Sonozaki – the head of the Sonozaki clan: The elder who still harbors hatred towards the Houjo family’s past sins.
Keiichi confronts her. He presents his case to her in hopes that she’ll let go of her anger towards the Houjous for just a little bit to help Satoko. When she doesn’t bulge, Keiichi threatens to kill her and make Mion the new head of the family. This isn’t a smart move on our talented magican of words as Oryou threatens to kill him. Keiichi tries again, begging her to change her mind. She still won’t buldge but it isn’t hopeless. Shion and Mion’s parents seem supportive of helping Keiichi’s cause, which pisses Oryou off. Keiichi goes off on her once again, which doesn’t piss off Oryou but her daughter, Akane. Akane tells Keiichi to fuck off and return once he matured.
Keiichi’s effort (and perhaps his stupidity) pays off: Oryou agrees to join his side and save Satoko.
The next morning, CPS is bombard with phone calls from the villagers of Hinamizawa. The pressure and heat is on and the CPS office can feel it. Supporters from not just Hinamizawa, but other villages and towns join forces to express their concerns of CPS delaying efforts to investigate the case. Somebody even pulls up on the rally with a protest van equpired with speakers. The CPS director starts to freak out. He’s corner and knows it.
Victory is in sight…or so it seems.
Oishi pulls up on Keiichi’s protest. He informs them that their assembly is illegal and they must stand down and break up, or risk arrest. Keiichi refuses. They cannot give up. They’ve come so far and worked effortlessly. Surrender means defeat; not only for theme – but as Satoko well.
Inside the office, the director is planning to escape, but is thwarted. Central office is calling. Elder members of the Sonozaki clan have reached out physically to the central offices. Learning this, the director surrenders to the demands of the people. With the pressure on, he decides to take action and calls the Houjou household.
Meanwhile, Satoko is assaulted by Teppei…
After beating her, Teppei answers the phone. The director requests him to speak to Satoko, which he agrees to. Before handing the phone to Satoko, Teppei violently grips her shoulder and tells her to tell the director that they’re a happy family. He threatens to burn Satoshi’s room down if Satoko betrays him.
Satoko speaks with the director while Teppei behind her, installing fear in her. Keiichi speaks to Satoko first. He tells him how the village is rallying for her. He promises her that nobody will ever bully or harass her again, even if she is a Houjou. The same village that once outcast her and her family is now rooting for her. They want to see her safe and sound. For a second, Satoko ponders if there is any hope for her to live a happy life in the village that once rejected her.
Keiichi then puts Rika on the phone to talk to her best friend.
Rika reiterates Keiichi’s statement. She promises her that nobody will mistreat her again. Rika tells Satoko that she almost gave up, until Keiichi show her otherwise. Rika then tells Satoko that she knows that she was doing all of this to atone for her sins. She tells her that if she wants to make up for that the sins, t she must also ask for her friend’s help. It is the job of Satoko to reach out like her friends did for her. Rika hands the phone over to the director.
The director asks Satoko if there have been any problems with her and Teppei since she returned to live with him. There is a tense pause followed by stuttering from Satoko.
“He…He-help me!” At last, Satoko admits she needs help. She stands up to Teppei, telling her abuser that this is her and her precious “Nii-Nii” (older brother) house; she will do anything to protect it – even if it means forcing him to leave.
Teppei snaps. He slaps her, knocking the girl to the ground. He then picks her up from her hair and slams her to the ground, threatening to kill her. Before he can do further damage to her, the police force their way in, arresting Teppei and saving Satoko.
Satoko steps out of the house, greeted with the sight of her friends: friends whom all joined forces to save her. Satoko spots Rika, runs over to her arms and break down crying.
Satoko is finally free. With her courage, Satoko was able to stand up to her abusive uncle and confess she needed help.
Satoko has finally reached out to her friends.