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How Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Got Me into Old School Hip-Hop

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Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (lit. When The Cicadas Cry) is a fantastic, intense horror anime, manga, and visual novel series filled with nerve-wracking suspense, psychological terror, bloody brutality, and relentless ultra-violence written by Japanese author Ryukishi07. Higurashi is beloved by both anime and visual novel fans globally and is considered by many as Ryukishi07’s best work, and for many great reasons.

By crafting a cocktail of classic narrative themes/conflicts, traditional Japanese folklore, and supernatural elements with real-world topics/issues (such as mental illness, child abuse/neglect, ethics in scientific research, citizens vs. government, etc.), Ryukishi07 delivered to the world of  anime and visual novel a powerful and thought-provoking masterpiece. A masterpiece that ’s still respected and celebrated in anime and visual novel circles today; despite the visual novel ending in 2006 (not counting remakes, ports, remasters, etc. after 2006), and five years after the run of the anime (with Higurashi Outbreak in 2013).

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Series creator Ryukishi07

With Halloween drawing near, I figured that it now would be the best time to talk about this marvelous series – but not in a way you may expect.  Yes. The spooky holiday is almost here. Higurashi is a spooky anime. You would think that logically, I would talk about the spooky and horror themes of the series.

But, I’m going to take different approach.
A much different approach.

Would you call me crazy if I say that Higurashi, a Japanese otaku series, helped me get into old school Hip-Hop; a beloved urban American music artform?
Imagine that!

 Life…
I wonder…
Will it take me under?
I don’t know.
-Rika Furude probably

Yes.  As wild as it may sound, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni got me into old-school hip-hop.  Out of anything and everything that is a possibility in the world, it took a Japanese horror series for me to not only get into old-school hip-hop but have a strong love for it. You may be wondering how is that ’s even possible.

Well, in order for me to tell you this tale, we need to go back to the Summer of 2010.


I’ve been a fan of Higurashi for almost a year after discovering the series on YouTube (I was actually aware of it back in high school, but that’s for another tale). And by a fan, I was fucking obsessed with it. I spent most of that summer looking up anything Higurashi; in efforts to gain knowledge about it. The official manga.  The Fan doujins. The voice actors. Video games. Ryukishi07 himself even.  And of course, it’s music.

Goddamn, the music.

One night, I was bumpin’ Dear You: Destructive, one of many remixes of Shion’s image song You from the Higurashi visual novel.  As the song was ending, there was a video in the suggestion bar of YouTube that made me a bit curious thanks to its thumbnail.

The thumbnail featured a transparent face of Rena in the foreground of a  New York City borough with the word “You” in the top right corner in Old English font.  The title of the video was in Japanese, sans one single word: “HIPHOP”. I merely assumed that a Japanese doujin music producer created a hip-hop sample beat of the song and was excited to hear a hip-hop version of the song.

Being ever so curious and my attention grabbed, I clicked on the link.

 

The song starts to play. A lone piano playing arpeggios rang out for four bars. The piano version of You no doubt. A drumbeat sample from Shing02 and Nujabee’s  Luv Sic Pt. 1 played on the fifth beat  and throughout the song, along with a woman (Lauryn Hill) vocalizing “ooo ooo ooooo”, and an East Coast hip-hop legend spitting.

‘Imagine smokin’ weed in the streets without cops harassin’
Imagine going to court with no trial…’

‘This is Nas! This is Nas rapping over a Higurashi song!’ I was in both awe and disbelief. Some visual novel otaku fuck in Japan mashed up Nas’s If I Ruled The World with You! Not only did he do that, but he also threw in the drum track from Luv Sic as an added bonus!  Granted, I knew who Nas was thanks to a friend who’s a fan of his works – I just wasn’t a fan of him until I heard this mashup.

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Nas

I instantly fell in love with both the mashup and the lyrics of If I Ruled The World, even if it wasn’t the original song itself.  I let the song repeat itself for about seven times.  Upon Hearing the sorrowful piano notes of  You in unison of Nas’s speaking on of his vision of utopia for Black America, along with Lauryn Hill’s breathtaking vocals, and the cries of the summer cicadas, Goosebumps hit me hard.

I grew ever more curious about If I Ruled The World and the lyrics.

It’s elementary: they want us all gone eventually’.
‘Why does this fit well with how the Japanese government wants to wipe out Hinamizawa and the villagers in it?!’
I asked myself.

‘If I ruled the world (imagine that), I’d free all my sons!’.
‘I wonder; did the dude who made this thought about how Rika wanted to free herself from her tragic fate ?’ I pondered.

‘Strictly living longevity to the destiny
I thought I’d never see it, but reality struck
Better find out before your time’s out, what the fuck?’

‘I can see this for Rika and how she is desperately trying to find a way to cheat death for good before fate closes in on her.’

All Wild theories; but it made sense (in my head).
I had to let it marinate.

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Hanyuu of Higurashi fulfilling her dreams of being an NYC DJ after defeating fate

Even if the mashup creator didn’t mean to make certain lyrics relate to Higurashi, I couldn’t help but reflect. I let the song stop playing and decide to listen to the original version of Nas’s classic. There’s no denying that the beat was soaked in that definitive New York City hip-hop vibe. That electro notes playing up and down the scale.  The simple yet deep pulse of the bass.  The quiet layered strings.

I craved for more information.

Acting on a gut instinct that the beat for If I Ruled the World was a sample, I went on Google to see if my gut was correct – and it was. Not only was my gut was correct, but the sampled was also from Whodini’s 1984 classic Friends.

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Whodini

‘Friends…
How many of us have them?
Friends…
Ones we can depend on.’

It was like if the universe knew I was searching for a connection for the Higurashi mash up. The overarching theme of Higurashi is the power of friendship and there I was; listening to a classic hip-hop song with the hook asking if we have friends we can depend on.

‘Friends…Ones we can depend on.’
God. That’s powerful.

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Some are ok, and they treat you real cool
But some mistake your kindness for bein’ a fool

Satoko depended on her friends to save her from her abusive uncle – including her new friends; who were once her enemies (the villagers who once hated her and her family).  Rena realized that no matter what, her friends love her: even if Rena was having a mental breakdown and couldn’t trust the friends she loved.  Rika learned that how it was okay to open up to her friends about her depression and fear that Satoko – her best friend – was going to be taken away from her (by said abusive uncle mentioned earlier). Keiichi, like Rena, learned the value of trusting and opening up to his friends.

Was it all a coincidence that I would find a hip-hop song that has a famous hook that could relate to Higurashi? Perhaps.  But there was no denying the fact by me researching the source of Nas’s If I Ruled The World sample, it opened an entirely new world of music for me. Sure, I was aware of classic 80s hip-hop legends such as KRS-One, N.W.A, Public Enemy, and Grandmaster Flash, but I never went out of my way to listen to them.

Until then.

At the time,  my mind only focused on listening to modern artists who were on the real shit (J. Cole for example) and 90s rappers such as Tupac. I thought I didn’t need to listen to classic rappers; I foolishly believed they were outdated!  Nobody, sans OGs (original gangstas) and oldheads, went out their way to listen to the classic MCs. I was ignorant! Stupid even! For years, I allowed myself to miss out on what hip-hop legends of the past had to offer to the art form.  My jaded attitude caused me to miss out.

You can even say it was a shame that it took some weeaboo bullshit to get me into the classics.
But, it did.

As I’m finishing up this little insight of my world for you guys, I am reflecting on how hip-hop has a lot in common with not only Higurashi but with anime in general.
Two completely art forms.
Many endless similarities.

Let’s start with Higurashi, of course.  Both Higurashi and Hip-Hop share a common birth month: August.  In fact, the first Higurashi game, Onikakushi-Hen (lit. Spirited Away By The Demon Chapter) dropped on August 10th, 2002.  The official birthday of hip-hop? August 11th, 1973. A mere 29 years and a day apart, but it’s amazing on how they have back-to-back birthdays.

Hip-Hop, for generations, has been used as a platform to speak out against government oppression and corruption with hits such as N.W.A.’s Fuck The Police, Public Enemy’s By The Time I Get To Arizona, and Childish Gambino’s This is America. One could say that hip-hop inspires Black Americans to rise up and fight against the oppressive forces that threaten our quality of life.

During the second half of Higurashi (The Answer Arcs), the series switch from a supernatural, psychological thriller tale, to a story of the people of Hinamizawa rising up against the corrupt Japanese government (that was trying to wipe out the town and its people).

When it comes to the realm of anime in general, you can’t tell me there aren’t any hip-hop songs that can be used for anime and the characters and stories that make up this beloved art medium. Listen to Sky’s The Limit by Biggie Smalls: A song about the hustler’s rise to riches and achieving his dreams. After you listen to that go watch Gainax’s classic OVA Otaku no Video: an anime about an otaku becoming a hustler, to a businessman, to the world’s richest man.

Or maybe Tech N9ne’s Pyscho Bitch may persuade you. Listen to it and think about your classic psychotic yandere characters such as Yuno Gasai (The Future Diary), Kotonoha Katsura (School Days),  Kaede Fuyou (Shuffle!), and since we’re talking about Higurashi, the series best girl Shion Sonozaki.

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Shion A.K.A best Higurashi girl

To end my tale, let’s go back to my previous question: Would you, after reading all of this, call me crazy for the fact that it took Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – a classic otaku horror series, to get me into hip-hop? I can understand if you say yes. Of course, it is. It shouldn’t even make sense.

But, without that You x If I Ruled The World mash up I discovered nearly ten years ago, I would have gone through life never knowing about timeless artists that paved that path for talented, iconic wordsmiths such as J. Cole, Logic, Tupac, KRS-One, Kendrick Lamar, and many more.

That would have been much, much crazier.

-Yuki The Snowman

P.S.

Somebody on Wiz Khalifa’s team is a fucking weeaboo and sampled Main Theme Ai from the Higurashi anime for him to rap over:

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Higurashi is Back!

When I had first received word of a new Higurashi anime coming out, I was thinking to myself ‘This has to be a troll’.  The Higurashi series is over. There is  no casual anime fan that  fucked with Higurashi since Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kira (if even that)The visual novel side of the fandom is niche as hell.  You ask some norime anime fan they heard of Higurashi and they’re either going to look at you silly or think you’re a sick fuck that gets off to lolis killing each other. Higurashi is not and will never come back.

Or so I thought.

Right before I was going to take a power nap, my YouTube notification alert went off on my phone.  Subconsciously, I grabbed my phone to see what lame video some lame YouTuber has uploaded. As I scrolled down to unveil my shameful clutter of news in my notification bar, I was greeted with something that made my usual pathetic day better:

The haunting cries of the cicadas.  Rika doing her classic “Nippah!” catchphrase.  The yandere Shion in her Angel Mort uniform.  Mion…with a butcher’s knife.  Okay. She’s finally snapped or whatever but she’s back.  Our favorite characters are back…alongside some new characters that I don’t give a shit about.  One of them looks like series creator Ryukishi07. Okay,  it may not be him and I’m probably just being prejudice towards Asians.

 

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I mean, he looks like Ryukishi07.  I swear I don’t think all Asians look alike. I only think that about white people.

 

As I’m watching the trailer I couldn’t help but notice the text in the upper right-hand corner: Last Period.  ‘Did Ryukishi finally tell Studio Deen to fuck off and got with a new animation studio!?’ I thought to myself.  I went ahead to do some research on this “Last Period” and things became clear on why Higurashi was coming back.

Last Period is a smartphone RPG game.  Joy.  Fuckin’ joy. I mean, it’s awesome Higurashi is coming back in animation form.  However, it’s being pimped to sell a fuckin’ RPG. Ryukishi, did something happen?  I know BT’s death fucked your head up and everything but damn man, you broke too? Were those Umineko pachinko games secretly a front by the Yakuza for money and now you got too deep with them?  You owe them some cash?  You good bruh?

Jokes aside, I am happy Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is coming back. It’s one of those series that has a life-long impact on me as an otaku, consumer of art,  a creator, and as a person.  Even if Higurashi is crossing over with a smartphone JRPG series, I’m still going to watch anything Higurashi related.  Expect Kira.  That was a fuckin’ mess.  But really, I hope this collab project is a success because I want more Higurashi.  Hell, that might mean we might get a faithful adaption of Umineko no Naku Koro ni

…you know what, let me not get my hopes up.

 

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Bunny/Pervy Nurse Tanako was the only good thing about Higurashi Kira.

 

Maybe not all weeaboos on the internet aren’t all trolls trying to raise my hopes up. Maybe there is a God who actually loves me and wants me to be happy with my life.
Maybe Studio Deen won’t fuck this up. Regardless, there’s a new Higurashi anime coming out and I’m happy.

 

Sources:
Last Period x Higurashi no Naku Koro ni collab website:
http://lastperiod.happyelements.co.jp/collaboration/higurashi/

Last Period x Higurashi no Naku koro ni animation trailer

 

 

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Playing Favorites: Shion Sonozaki of Higurashi

Warning: Blood, gore, spoilers, bad grammar, and no direction in the post I needed to capitalize on the Halloween Holiday before it ended.  You’ve been warned.

Happy Halloween everyone!  While some of you guys are out partying and drinking, I’m out here working.   While ya party, I work and get shit done like a real nigga. Real niggas do real shit.  We ain’t out here partying like ya broke ass lames!

…okay, I’m not out here making moves.  I wish I could go out tonight and get drunk in a costume.  Being a responsible adult working a full-time job is suffering.

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Me after I’m finished with this post

Since it’s Halloween, I decided that I should talk about my one of my favorite anime horror characters: Shion Sonozaki from the anime series Higurahsi no Naku Koro ni.  We’re first introduced to her in episode 5 of Higurashi with her all cheerful and laughing that she made Rika stab herself to death (Great first impression dear, you made a child commit suicide).  She doesn’t seem fazed that Rika’s blood gotten all over her.  Heck, I say she even seem interested in the whole “Rika Is Killing Herself Again!” thing.  Granted, she was dressed like Mion, and everyone thought it was Mion doing all the killing but we’ll get back to that later.

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She’s watching a 10-year-old kid kill herself and she ain’t even worried about it.

 

Anyway, before that whole Shion snapping and killing people because she couldn’t ride Satoshi’s dick anymore thing happened, we see her at work at Angel Morte as a cosplay maid or some shit.  Shion seems like a normal girl. There’s nothing off or strange about her.  She’s nothing like her twin sister “crazy” ass (with that whole Mion trying to inject Keiichi with “drugs” an arc earlier). While Mion is more headstrong, rough, a bit boyish,  and traditional, Shion is mellow, chill, has feminine charms, and a bit of a rebel (she did escape her from her boarding school and was dating a boy who her family members hated).

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She also can be a bit…scary.  I mean, it’s Higurashi who isn’t a little scary or crazy?

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Today’s  lesson: foreshadowing.

 

But hey! Shion isn’t crazy or scary at all, right?  She’s just a normal girl who likes doing normal things.  Normal things such as teasing her sister, falling in love with a boy, sneaking into a holy shrine with a built-in torture chamber, and beating the shit out of her crush’s little sister. Normal things that every girl does at her age during the 80s.

Beating the shit out of your crush’s little sister isn’t normal, ain’t it?

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About that. One lovely summer afternoon during school, Satoko spilled her lunch all over the ground.  She starts to cry for her brother Satoshi and Shion gets all in her yandere feelings.  Rather than helping the poor child (who clearly was stressed out due to a lot of abuse at home) to win dick points with Satoshi, Shion channels her inner R. Mika off Street Fighter Alpha 3 and throw Satoko across the classroom.  Satoko, rightfully terrified, calls out for her brother to save her.  Shion gets enraged and starts throwing shit at Satoko.  As she tells her to go suffer and die alone, Shion picks up a chair and threatens to cave Satoko’s skull in, but is stop by Rika, Rena, and Satoshi.

And that boys and girls, was any and all chance of Shion getting with Satoko.   I get having crushes.  Crushes are cute.  Crushes are fine. Hell, I have a crush on somebody that will never grow into anything serious.  But crushing a 10-year-old girl’s head in to get with her brother won’t get you laid – it’ll only land you in jail for murder.   Also why the fuck was Satoshi still fucking with Shion after the fact she beat his sister’s ass.  Like bruh, crazy pussy is amazing pussy but it ain’t worth it in the long run.

 

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Sure.  Go ahead and apologize to the bitch who almost killed your sister no wonder your uncle and aunt beats you

I digress.  Remember how I said that Shion is a bit of a rebel in her family?  So Higurashi season 1, Shion wasn’t really supposed to get close to Satoshi because Satoshi’s family doing that pro-dam bullshit. She also didn’t suppose to sneak out of her boarding school either.  Her family got word on both things and fun stuff happened to her; like her nails being forcibly removed from her fingers one-by-one (well three but eh).  That didn’t discourage her from wanting to be with Satoshi. She’s loyal.

 

Speaking of Shion’s loyalty towards Satoshi, she even covered his ass when he was a suspect in the murder of his aunt. Shion made up an alibi for the nigga.  She stood up to him when Oishi tried to bring him in for questioning as well.  And then later Satoshi “disappeared”, Shion got angry, and horrible things happen to a lot of people.  Shion kidnapped Mion, their grandma, Satoko, and some old dude and killed them one-by-one (watch/read Higurashi I ain’t obligated to explain shit).

Oh and after killing Satoko, Shion remembered that Satoshi told her to watch over Satoko if something would happen to him.

Yeah…Shion fucked up.  Bad. But hey!  At least in the Beyond Midnight manga arc, she became a total sexy badass adult of the future whose total older woman waifu material…even if it was just Shion’s body being controlled by the ghost of her dead sister in an alternate timeline. Still, Shion truly shines in that arc and it was nice to see her portrayed as a hero after watching her villainess yandere bullshit in the anime and visual novel.

 

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I would seriously kill for a hack-and-slash action game of the Beyond Midnight comic

 

 

However, her heroism wasn’t just a manga exclusive. In Higurashi Kai, we’re treated to a kinder, gentle, big sister Shion.  Kai Shion is way mellower and chiller compared to question arc Shion.  Yeah, she’s still pretty pissed about Satoshi’s disappearance, but she ain’t bloodthirsty about it.  She even starts to treat Satoko like a little sister she never had (as opposed to treating her like a punching bag and pin cushion).  Shion loves Satoko and is willing to do whatever for her – even if it means killing her abusive Uncle.

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Shion may have chilled the fuck out, but she still has problems with her temper and anger issues.  But this time she isn’t going around plotting to kill people in cold blood. Shion wants to kill Teppei to protect her little sister. And really, can you blame her? Yea?  Okay I get you,  she was kinda sorta on some premeditated murder type shit with Teppei so…

I guess this is the part where I explain why Shion is one of my favorite anime characters.  To be honest, I hate most yandere characters.  Hell, I’m not really a huge fan of the dere-archtype unless the character has a great reason to be dere (such as Hitagi off Monogatari being a tsundere because of abuse).  Shion gets a “pass” for being a yandere since her family pretty much rejected her for being a twin or some shit (it’s been a while since I last watched Higurashi I forgot).  Then, she had to deal with that bullshit from her family because she was in love with Satoshi.  There’s also the fact her family sent her away to boarding school.

Okay.  Maybe she does have her reason to be a yandere.

I admire Shion’s rebellious spirit.  I’m not a guy who likes tradition (especially Christian traditions — long stories lol).  Seeing Shion marching to her own beat and doing her own thing, rather than to do things to please her family, reminded me of me.  I don’t get traditions.  I rather do my own shit.

There’s also Shion’s anger.  While her anger wasn’t justified at all in the question arc, I totally understand her anger when she found out Satoko was being abused.  I feel her on her wanting to kill Teppei to save Satoko, and not rely on the justice system to make a move.

Overall, Shion is a cool character whom I would love to go more in depth and analyze her character in the future.  But for now, I’m going to end this here so I can spend the rest of my Halloween evening watching horror animu.

Later.

Anime Analysis 1

Higurashi and the Power of Friendship Pt. 2: Rena

‘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.

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The Club

Yet,  Rena’s happy days would come to an end thanks to her heinous acts of murder.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.’
-Mion Sonozaki

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.

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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”.

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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.

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Rena and Keiichi’s fight video source:
https://sakugabooru.com/post/show/18796

Anime Analysis 1

Higurashi and the Power of Friendship Pt. 1: Keiichi, Rena, and Mion.

 

‘Friends…
How many of us have them?
Friends…
Ones we can depend on.’
-Whodini, Friends (1983 rap single)

The power of friendship is a tired concept in anime. It’s  a trope used as either a final hour plot device or a moral boast given to the  hero from their freinds  as a power-up, or a motivation toll to push forward  in the face of despair. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni isn’t exempt from this.  However, how Higurashi tackles this theme makes it stand out from other series that uses the power of friendship such as Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh.

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Oh you’re my best friend…

Using mature and controversial themes (such as child abuse, mental health, trust issues, etc.) for its overarching narrative, Higurashi makes the power of friendship, and the benefits of it feel realistic compared to other anime series.

With series main character Keiichi, we see Rena and Mion attempt  to reach out to Keiichi in his time of stress and paranoia, whom he couldn’t seem to trust.  Rena herself would wind up untrusting of her friends; accusing them of betraying her (as she believed they snitched on her for murdering Rina and Teppei).

Finally, The Club unites the village of Hinamizawa to rescue Satoko Houjou from her abusive uncle – including villagers who once outcast and hated her.

Join me in part one of my analysis of the Power of Friendship in Higurashi as we explore how Rena and Mion reached out to help their friend Keiichi, only to be murdered by him due to his paranoia.

Keiichi, Rena, and Mion

‘Give me a reason why not to adapt in this way,
or judge me to be guilty of  so many incurable sins
Tell me why, or why not, complaining way too much,
Maybe I overlooked something fatal for me’


“Why or Why Not” by Katakiri Rekka (Higurashi no Naku koro ni  ED 1)

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Ever since he moved to the small and close-knit village of Hinamizawa, Keiichi grew close with new friends Rena and Mion.  They walk together to school, play after-school games and kick it and chill with one another as good friends.  It’s clear by their interactions and the time they spend with each other that they’re bonded by friendship.

A bond of destroyed by paranoia and distrust.

Keiichi’s distrust towards his friends began when he was informed by Tomitake about the Hinamizawa Dam War (a protest conflict against a dam construction in the village). The “war” resulted in the unsolved murder and dismemberment of the project’s director.  Now mind you, this information was given to Keiichi after he was joking with Tomitake that Rena may had hid a body in the garbage dump (the land that was going to be used for the dam) where she normally hangs out at. We must also note that some of the remains of the project director have yet to be recovered at this point of the story.

This news doesn’t ease Keiichi’s paranoia. It will get worse after the Cotton Drifting Festival.

It’s the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. After kicking it with The Club, Keiichi goes off  on his own to explore the area.  He links up with Tomitake and his girlfriend, Miyo.  The lovers get Keiichi hip on Oyashiro’s Curse: a series of unexplained “supernatural” deaths and disappearances occurring  at the festival for the past five years – with this year’s festival being the fifth anniversary. This new information in combination of the murder and dismemberment case freaks Keiichi out.

There’s more to the village than he is aware of.

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Miyo explaining the legend of Oyashiro’s curse. 

The following morning, Keiichi is visited by detective Oishi at his school. Oishi notifies the boy that Tomitake was discovered dead during the festival. In addition, Miyo is missing. He asks Keiichi if he believes these incidents are linked to the curse. Keiichi replies that he doesn’t believe in such things such as curses and gods.  Pleased, Oishi sees Keiichi as an useful person for the case . Oishi ends their meeting with him requesting that he does not repeat anything to anyone –especially to Mion – as she is a member of the notorious Sonozaki Yakuza clan.

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Oishi informing Keiichi that Miyo is missing.

Returning to class, Keiichi overhears Mion and Rena discussing the disappearance of past victims of the supposed curse.  Satoshi is mentioned, which Keiichi questions Rena about the boy later.  After school, Keiichi confronts his friends about the murders, the village, and the curse.  He suspects them of withholding information.  Rena counters this, asking him why he too is withholding information.  She brings up that she knows that he spoke with Oishi (contradicting his lie of him talking to their teacher).

The friends argue back and forth.  Rena grows hostile. In the height of their verbal fight, Rena questions the subject of Oishi and Keiichi’s discussion, which he dodges.     Rena snarls at Keiichi – accusing him of lying.  Returning to her normal sweet nature, she tells Keiichi that just like he has secrets, they too have their own.

Knowing that the Hinamizawa Syndrome causes paranoia, one can assume that Keiichi is imagining Rena becoming hostile in her actions. For all we know, Rena could have been teasing Keiichi for fun.  Maybe she was concern that Keiichi was talking to a police officer that he did not know.

Later that night, Keiichi receives a call from Oishi requesting new information.  Keiichi mentions Rena and Mion were talking about the curse, the murders, and Satoshi (with Oishi informing Keiichi that Satoshi was one of the victims of the curse the year before).  Keiichi links everything Rena and the others told him earlier – suspecting that he will be the next victim; Confirming his theory that his friends are withholding information from him.  The phone call is cut short when Keiichi’s dad comes up to his room to give both Keichi and Rena tea.   Keiichi freaks out. He never noticed Rena standing outside of his room, even though his father saw Rena going there. Keiichi believes that Rena might have overheard the phone call and starts to worry.

Keiichi decides to skip school the next morning.  Feeling sick, he heads to the doctor clinic. At the waiting room, he overhears that Miyo may had been spirited away by the demon.   Following that, he links up with Oishi for lunch (as well as to provide the kid with new information).  Oishi informs Keiichi that  Mion and her family were involved in the  Dam Wars. He also supplies Keiichi with new information on Satoshi’s disappearance. Finally, perhaps the most important pieces of information he can give Keiichi – Rena’s past as well the links the curse’s past victims and his friends.

Oishi reveals to Keiichi that a few years ago, Rena suffered a mental break down; resulting in her assaulting her friends with a baseball bat.  She was admitted to a mental health clinic following the incident.  It was documented that during therapy, she repeated the words “Oyashiro-Sama”. It was also noted that Rena believe Oyashiro was watching over her.

(Bare this part of Rena’s past in mind as it will be important later on in relation to Keiichi’s paranoia.)

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Oiishi then explains the link between Keiichi’s friends and the victims. The victims had a relationship with each friend.  The dam director got into it with Mion and her family.   The dam project’s supporters, the housewife that died in the fourth year, and Satoshi were kin of Satoko – blood or otherwise. The priest who died and his wife who disappeared were Rika’s parents.  Finally, Tomitake was friends with The Club.

With this knowledge, Oishi theorizes that Keiichi will be targeted next.

That night, Rena and Mion visits Keiichi out of concern (due to his absence from school).  They gift him with dinner and make him play a game to see who prepped it.  As they chat, the light-hearted visit turns into an interrogation of sorts.  They question Keiichi on his meeting with Oishi, which Rena brings up she noticed the two at Angel Mort. Keiichi starts to worry.  He tells Rena that they weren’t talking about them, but she doesn’t believe him.  Mion  tells  Keiichi that no matter what, she’ll find out his secrets between him and Oishi before leaving.

 

Keiichi examines the ohagai, suspecting nothing of it. As he takes a bite out of it, he starts to freak out and spits the food out into his hand. He spots a “needle” covered in “blood” sticking out and goes berserk.  He tosses the food in the garbage and screams.  Fearing that his life in his danger, Keiichi hurries back to his room, grab a piece of paper and starts writing:

‘I am Keiichi Maebara, and my life is in danger. I don’t know why or who. The only thing I know is that it has something to do Oyrashiro-Sama’s curse.’

In reality of course, the Hinamizawa Syndrome is clouding Keiichi’s thoughts.  As the disease grows, so does his paranoia – therefore, creating false perceptions of reality.  When examining the situation outside Keiichi’s perceptive of fear, you have to take in a few points:

  • The “needle” in Keiichi food (and the pain caused by it) is an illusion. The sharp, painful poke from the “needle” was actually spicy hot sauce (which also explains the “blood”).  This was a prank by from Mion used to mess with Keiichi and cheer him up.  We can assume that Rena and Mion both knew that something was bothering Keiichi and wanted to make him happy.  This can be further supportive with the fact the girls visited him to check up on him.
  • It’s possible that Mion and Rena knew Oishi and Keiichi were at Angel Mort through Shion; Mion’s twin sister and an employee at the café.  One could theorize that Shion informed Mion that Keiichi was talking to Oishi.  Keep in mind that Oishi and the Sozonakis have beef.  Oishi suspects that the Sonozaki are behind the mysterious murders.  The dam director (one of the victims) was Oiishi’s best friend and father-like mentor.  Taking this into account, you can assume that Mion thinks that Oishi is using Keiichi to get information off Mion. Mion could also just have been playfully teasing Keiichi (as well as telling him to stay away from Oishi because her family doesn’t like him due to reasons).

The following morning, Keiichi heads to school alone; planning his next course of action against his enemies.  He’s nearly run over by a van (driven by members of the Yamainu).   Thinking that they’re after him, Keiichi declares that he must not drop his guard. He must fight back.  Upon arriving to school, Keiichi search the lockers for a weapon. Coming across Satoshi’s locker he finds the perfect weapon – Satoshi’s metal baseball bat.

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At recess, Keiichi is “practicing” swinging the bat with aggression.  Rena and Mion see this, questioning why he’s playing around with the bat.  Keiichi lies, stating that he’s practicing for the national finals.  The girls looked on with confusion and concern.  They leave, letting Keiichi do his own thing. After school, Keiichi decides to drop out of The Club’s after school activities and tells them to leave him alone.

They’re worried about him.

Rena follows Keiichi to check up on him.  Keiichi sees her and snaps.  He points his bat at Rena with a threatening stance; demanding the girl to walk ahead of him.  Rena complies, but not before asking him why he’s emulating Satoshi’s actions from last year (as well as using his bat) Rena tells Keiichi how he and Satoshi are alike (such as carrying baseball bats despite not being athletic, being paranoid,  and dropping out of  the club activities). Then Rena asks Keiichi if he’ll “transfer out” of school like Satoshi did prior.  Keiichi uneasiness worsens.  He believes that he’ll disappear like Satoshi from the tone and body language of Rena’s words.

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Reality: Rena is troubled by Keiichi’s actions. She cares for him. She doesn’t want to see another friend suffering (remember: she regrets not reaching out Satoshi when he was suffering).  To take it one step further, Rena had her own bouts with paranoia, stress, and mistrust in others before receiving help.  She is by all means attempting to reach out and help Keiichi.

That night, Oishi calls up Keiichi again.  Keiichi tells the cop that he’s certain that Rena and Mion are trying to kill him (with the whole “needle” in his food ordeal and the Yamainu trying to run him over) Oishi asks Keiichi to find the needle for him for evidence.  Keiichi fails to do so (since the “needle” was hot sauce) and thinks he had accidently thrown it away.  Next, he explains how he got new information on the Satoshi situation from Rena to Oishi.  During this, he is startled by Rena ringing his door bell.  Keiichi goes answer the door.

Just like the other day, Rena brings Keiichi over food and checks up on him.  She asks him if he had anything to eat all night.  He lies to her, which Rena calls him out on.  Rena brings up that she saw him eating noodles and food  he brought from the market.  She starts playing around by yanking on the door chain of his house in an attempt to “break in”. Thinking Rena is out to kill him, Keiichi smashes her hand in the door several time, forcing Rena to leave.

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Now, if I was Keiichi and Rena came through to my crib while my parents were away for the weekend, I would totally invite her in for a few hours.  Just being real. 

Reality: Rena was reaching out and  checking up on him like last time (since he scared everyone earlier that day) Plus, Rena is close with his mom, so it is possible for her to know that Keiichi was alone without food.  And given that Rena has a playful nature, her attempting to break him was just a joke.

Returning to his room, he notices Rena standing outside in the rain, looking into his bedroom chanting “I’m sorry” repeatedly.  The following morning, Keiichi is back to practicing his swing with the bat.  Mion confronts Keiichi and orders him to stop.  Everyone is frightened of Keiichi’s unexplained erratic behavior.  He goes off on Mion, asking her why is everyone is scared. He also tells her that he knows that Satoshi never “transfer” (given his sister Satoko is still in the same school and town).  He tells her that he also knows about her fights with the dam war and asked why did she wasn’t truthful to him about that fact.

Mion breaks down in tears.   She becomes enrage soon after.  She assumes that Oishi – the “old bastard” – was the one who told Keiichi about her fights between the dam director and express regrets of not killing him earlier.  Keiichi ponders if the “old bastard” in question is Oishi.

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Reality: Mion is troubled by Keiichi’s actions.  Like Rena, Mion fears Keiichi will end up like Satoshi and run away.   Mion is also angry that Oishi made her seem like a ruthless killer to Keiichi due to her past with the dam director.  The stress of her family dealing with Oishi’s police force, as well as rumors of her family murdering people has taken its toll on Mion.  Therefore, out of rage, Mion snapped. Her wishing death on Oishi was due to anger.  Deep down, I just think Mion was blowing off steam.

Keiichi leaves school and walks alone again.  He spots Rena and  books it, hiding into the woods, but his efforts fail.  Rena catches up to him.  He notices her billhook in her hand and questions her why she has it.  She laughs at him.  She then explains about how Satoshi was doing everything that Keiichi was doing in the past, her regrets for not helping him, and if he knows about Oyashiro’s curse. She ends with telling Keiichi that only she and she alone can help him solve his problems and that she’ll save him.

Rena starts to manically laugh and Keiichi runs off in the woods.

Reality: Rena was carrying her billhook for one of two reasons:
1. To help her on her grand ‘ol treasure hunting adventures in the not-so-grand garbage dump
2. To protect Keiichi from danger, as it’s implied from Rena’s point of view of the Onikakushi-hen arc (which you can watch a video of that POV  below):

Rena is very observant.  Her watching Keiichi becoming like Satoshi and him pushing everyone away is something not out of the ordinary for her.  Like everyone else, she clearly noticed Keiichi felt and appeared troubled.  Thus, reaching out to him was a priority. She states that she felt regret for not helping Satoshi out with his problems before he left.  Perhaps she felt guilty for that and to atone for her it, she vows to save Keiichi.

Maybe, just maybe, she can save him.

A few hours later, Keiichi awakens in his room (he appeared to have been knocked out by a Yamainu solider).  In his daze, he notices Rena sitting at the foot of his futon.   He starts freaking out, asking her why is she in his house.  Rena tells him that she found him in the woods and decided to carry him back to his house to recover.  While they’re chatting, Mion comes through to the house, welcoming herself to his room.  Mion ask if Rena called the sports supervisor, given Keiichi has an “interest” in baseball. Keiichi (with his paranoia at its highest) asks who the supervisor is.  The girl simply laugh at him.

Mion suggests that they finish the Punishment Game before he comes, which Rena agrees.  Rena gets up, walks over to Keiichi, and restrains him.  Mion gets up and pulls out a syringe from her pocket with a sadistic smile.  Keiichi is terrified.  As he struggle to break free from Rena she asks what they’re about to do to him.  Keiichi remembers Oishi telling him how Tomitake died and they suspected drugs were involved.

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Keiichi overpowers Rena, grabs his baseball bat and beat the two girls to death with it in what he believes to be in self-defense.  After killing the girls, he spots Dr. Irie rolling up to  his house in the same van that attempted to run him over earlier that week.  Seeing this, he reaches into the back of his clock to recover the letter he wrote earlier.

Finishing the letter, he names Rena and Mion as suspects, list five adults in the van, and suggests that the “drug” that Rena and Mion were planning to use on him is the same as the one that killed Tomitake.   He then escapes the house, dodging Yamainu guards in the process.  Keiichi calls up Oishi from a phone booth, panicking.  In his dying breath, Keiichi tells Oishi that he thought the suspects were human, but at this point believes that Oyashiro’s curse is real and that the god is following him.  Keiichi starts to tear at his throat – effectively killing.

Reality: Keiichi murdered Rena and Mion in cold blood.  There were no drugs discovered at the crime scene.  The “drug” he spoke of was a marker. Rena and Mion never attempted to harmed or kill Keiichi – simply, they wanted to help him and be there for him as friends.  They wanted to cheer him up and wish him to get better.  Sadly, Keiichi’s perspective of reality was distorted from his paranoia and the  Hinamizawa Syndrome.   He could not see that his friends only wanted to help him, not harm him.

Because of his paranoia, three young lives were cut short.

The truth of Rena and Mion’s kindness and Keiichi sins would be later revealed in the Atoment Arc.  Rena, the airheaded, kindhearted girl, needed help herself.  Help from her own pain, mistrust, and paranoia.

And what better friend to save her than Keiichi himself?

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Continued in part 2.

(My bad about the spoilers fam  lmfao)

Uncategorized 0

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10 pages worth of notes for 13 episodes of Higurashi: When They Cry for my next analytical article on Higurashi and the power of friendship.

I’m gonna need a case of beer and some coffee for the next few days.

umineko no naku koro ni 0

Umineko no Naku Koro Ni – Raw Thoughts Pt. 1

August 17th, 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the hit visual novel series “Umineko no Naku Koro ni”.  Umineko no Naku Koro ni was adapted into a terrible, low rating animated series by Studio Deen in 2009. The manga adaption and the fighting game spin off are better. Seriously, don’t watch the anime.  In reflection and celebration of the series 10th anniversary, I will be providing my raw, unedited thoughts of the anime throughout the month of August.  I hope you’ll enjoy! 

WARNING:
Violent, gory images below.   Umineko spoilers below.  If you do not like gory imagery  or want to be spoiled, then please turn back now.  Check out my other Umineko related content on my website such as my utter hatred for Kinzo Ushiromiya  and my shame for enjoying the anime adaption of Umineko.

If you’re still here then that means you’re okay with being spoiled and you’re comfortable with viewing  gory imagery.

How I got into Umineko is funny.  Weird, but funny.  I had just powered through Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai and Rei around mid November 2009.  I was addicted.  I needed more When They Cry and Higurashi in my life.  A manga.  A new anime series. A torrent link (don’t pirate kids) to the VN so I could experience this beautiful and deep story  in it’s original,  ham fisted characters design and terrible free licence music form.

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I don’t know how anyone can play the VNs with the original sprites and music.

 

I just needed a new When They Cry in my life!

Desperate,  I searched through /jp/ (4chan’s otaku board) for any information on  new and upcoming When They Cry material.  The degenerate weebs of /jp/ were discussing a new entry to the series: Umineko no Naku koro ni (lit. When Seagulls Cry) and its anime adaption by Studio Deen.  They had some rather…not-so-nice opinions on the anime, and were encouraging everyone to stay far away from it.

Yet, I could care less for their opinions! It was a new entry to this excellent saga!

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Umineko’s anime promotional art.  One of only three good things about the anime.

I hit up YouTube to see if any episodes of Umineko were uploaded.  To my excitement, there were some episodes up! Just that they were only in Japanese, as the subs weren’t up on YouTube at the time.  I was never smart enough to download a torrent for the subs, so I gave up. (again kids don’t pirate).

Disappointed, I turned to the image-board Danbooru.  I figured that I could get some minor information on the characters through fanart and fan comics.  A quick search of the title lead me to some interesting fanart and 4koma four panel by the artist Rifyu.

I randomly selected one of his artwork; a crossover of the Umineko and Higurashi cast.  The art was crude and simple,  but it wasn’t too bad (and it was a hella better than Ryukishi’s art for the Higurashi visual novel).  Based on this art, I assumed that that the characters of Higurashi might appear  in Umineko, or at the very least Umineko was an expansion to Higurashi’s story.

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I continue to scroll through his comics when I came across a 4koma of a gothic lolita cat-like girl who I presumed was Higurashi’s Rika, and a redhead schoolgirl at a bowling alley.  The redhead made a successful strike and is at all cheers.  Interesting, the word “strike” was in red.   The gothic lolita doesn’t seem too  impressed.  Not by the efforts of her “friend” (ha ha ha), but by her usage of “red text”.

“Why is ‘strike’ is in red and why is Rika upset about her using this ‘red text’?” I questioned.   I was confused by this “red text”.  Was it something special for those two or anything?

Oh well.

The third panel focused on Gothic Lolita Rika throwing her ball in what I guessed was an attempt to one-up the redhead girl.  Gothic Lolita Rika not only earned herself a strike, she also destroyed the bowling alley, and possibly killed a few people in panel 4.

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Ange: “Yes!  STRIKE!” Bernkastel:”Didn’t I tell you not to use the red text?”

“So I guess Rika is a jealous bitch in Umineko who feels the need to outshine people.” I assumed.  I went on to read another 4koma, this time featuring  a blue hair girl name Erika – a girl with bad fashion taste.

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Erika Furudo

“Erika, huh?  Is she like another Rika because of their names?”  I questioned, thinking there were a connection between the two.

 

From reading the Erika centered 4koma, I took a wild guess that she had a hardcore crush on Ange’s brother, Battler.  I mean yea, having a cute little crush is cool, but Erika was taking her crush way too far.   Creepy-stalker-with-a-crush levels of too far.  She will sexually harass you too far.  Erika is totally the type of girl you put a restraining order on because she doesn’t know what personal space means. And she might kill you in your sleep.

 

“Ya know, maybe this is why Ange is overprotected and super close with Battler in some of the 4komas. The women who are attracted to him are crazy.”

Not only was she a bit too protective of Battler in these comics, she might have been like him a bit wee too close as siblings. There were two other 4komas of Battler chilling with different women: Beatrice and Gertrude.  In these comics, Battle is on a date with either woman but suddenly Ange burst in and blocks any attempt of the Beatrice/Gerrude growing close with Battler.

“So, does Ange has a brother complex like she Lachesis off Fire Emblem 4?  Is she one of them fujoshi wotaku nerds that take their otaku hobbies and fantasies too far and want to get with her brother like some weird anime character?  Ange got some issues.”

(Man, she has issues indeed but I won’t go over them in this post.)

I spent the entire night reading through Riyfu’s comics of Umineko.  They were funny as fuck and gave me a nice insight of the series and characters.

“Man, Umineko is nothing like Higurashi! I hope the anime is light-heart and funny as these comics!” I foolishly told myself.

Man.

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My.

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Black.

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Ass.

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Was.

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Wrong.

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AFTERWORD:
My bad for waiting until two days after the anniversary to post this work was kicking my ass and I didn’t have the energy or drive to work on this freewrite Thursday.   I am working on Part 3 of my Higurashi raw thoughts if you’re looking forward to that!

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – Raw Thoughts Pt 2.

August 10th, 2017 marked the 15th anniversary of the hit visual novel series “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni”.  Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was adapted into  a successful animated series by Studio Deen in 2006 – setting the standard for horror anime which many series have tried and failed to emulate since.  In reflection and celebration of the series 15th anniversary, I will be providing my raw, unedited thoughts of the anime throughout the month of August.  I hope you’ll enjoy! 

WARNING:
Before I start I want to make it clear that this raw freewrite touch upon sensitive subjects such as child abuse and molestation.  There are also manga/comics scans below with gore and abuse. If you’re not comfortable with those things then please,  turn back now.  Check out some other contents on my website instead!

If you’re still here then that means you’re okay with reading about such topics and seeing the scans below.

During my first run through of the Higurashi  anime and manga back in 2009 I realized this: Higurashi was (and still is) that real shit.  I mean yea, it has that moe bullshit and slice of life elements to it,  but when you analyze and dissect how the series play with those elements,  it works well for the themes of Higurashi and it characters.  Themes such as child abuse, mental health, and (childhood) trauma.

Let’s take say Satoko for example.  Satoko is the typical (annoying) moe little sister type character in anime, right?  She’s a bit of a brat, a prankster, and an overall energetic child who seems happy to everyone who knows her.

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Satoko and her smugness.

Yet, she has an incredibly fucked up life; resulted from a series of tragic events that no child should experience.

 

Deranged (from the Hinamizawa Syndrome), she pushed her parents to their deaths from an observation deck.  She was abused (both physically and possibly sexually as it was hinted in the Nintendo DS remakes of the VNs) by her uncle Teppei who downright hates her.  Her family were the subject of hatred from the villagers of Hinamizawa (due to her late parents supporting the government’s attempts of flooding the village).  Her beloved brother, Satoshi, disappeared, leaving her without any supporting and loving family members.

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Fuck Teppei. 

The horrific events of her life would eventually take its toll on her mental health. Overtime, Satoko withdrew herself from her friends and club activities – believing she’s a burden on everyone.  In one incident, Satoko had a meltdown during class.  Keiichi’s seemly innocent gesture of  patting Satoko on her the head to cheer her up triggered a flashback of Satoshi doing the same.  Satoko violently shoved Keiichi across the classroom, blanks out, and starts to vomit.  After that, she tells everyone “I’m sorry” repeatedly while crying.

Nobody (sans her best friend Rika I’m assuming) knew she was struggling mentality (as far as I know).  Everyone thought she was doing (somewhat) okay with her cheerful, playful attitude that  she showing  everyone in school.   No one forreal knew she was suffering hardcore, she was  stressed out, that her happiness was just a mask for her pain.

‘Now if there’s a smile on my face
It’s only there trying to fool the public’
‘Now if I appear to be carefree
It’s only to camouflage my sadness

-“Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robbison

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Since I’m on the topic of playful blonde characters who’re lowkey insane, Miyo Takano is another Higurashi character who appears they’re okay but deep down, she just as fucked up in the head like Satoko if not worse.   Like Satoko, Miyo lost her parents at a young age (from a train accident, and she witnessed her father bloodied and dying in the ER), leaving her orphaned.  She was adopted  by a government sponsored orphanage where she experienced extreme abuse from the so called “care-givers.

She was constantly beaten, saw children her age die from abused, forced to watch her friend’s remains consumed by chicken, and was forced to clean the bottom of an outhouse with her mouth.

The physical and psychological abuse she suffered would be one of two causes of her insanity which in turn would lead to one of the biggest tragic events later on in the series.

The second cause came after she was rescued from the orphanage by her dad’s mentor,  Hifumi.  Hifumi wanted to become God-like through his research of the Hinamizawa Syndrome.  One day, Hifumi presented his research, findings theories to fellow doctors and researchers – whom all mocked his work.  Miyo watched as  Hifumi’s peers mocking him, pissing her off. She believed in her beloved “grandfather” findings, watch him pour his soul into countless, sleepless hours of hard work, and not only encouraged him to continue despite the criticism, but she pushed herself to study as well.

After Hifumi passed away, Miyo continue where her grandfather left off.  in hopes of not only proving his theories correct, but also to prove themselves as gods.

Miyo’s God complex, in combination of her insanity from being abused as a child,  led to Great Hinamizawa Disaster – the massacre of 2,000 plus innocent people.  Miyo led a military force in slaughtering the Hinimizawa villagers, with six of the villagers were people she executed herself.  Six people she personally knew and befriended.

All of this, just because she wanted people to respect her and her grandfather.  Just because she wanted to become a God.

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‘I can tell you why people go insane’
-“Shadow of the Sun” by Chris Cornell and Audioslave

AFTERWORD:
The Umineko 10th Anniversary is coming soon.  May tie in Pt. 3 of my raw thoughts on Higurashi with that series.   Also I lied this wasn’t completely raw and unedited I had to change some things about Miyo given it wasn’t consistent with what I saw in the anime and manga.

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – Raw Thoughts Pt. 1

August 10th, 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of the hit visual novel series “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni”.  Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was adapted into  a successful animated series by Studio Deen in 2006 – setting the standard for horror anime which many series have tried and failed to emulate since.  In reflection and celebration of the series 15th  anniversary, I will be providing my raw, unedited thoughts of the anime throughout the month of August.  I hope you’ll enjoy! 

It was about ten years ago during my senior year of high school.  I was at my computer in business class, browsing Google for  anime wallpapers. While aimlessly browsing the images, I came across a wallpaper that stood out to me.  The wallpaper featured a young  teenager with a baseball bat, blood splatter, and film frames with the young boy  the frames  At the bottom there was layered text that  read “Please uncover the truth.  This is my only wish.”

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I didn’t think much of who was the character, what anime he was from, or the text in the image.  I just saw this wallpaper as a cool and edgy anime background for my computer.  Yet, there was something about this it that made me drawn to it.  Overtime, I became curious about the character on my screen and the meaning of his words.

“Please uncover the truth.  This is my only wish.”

“What does that mean, ‘uncover the truth’?”  I questioned.  Beyond that, I thought of nothing else.  My dumbass wasn’t smart enough to google that line at the time, so that mystery wasn’t going to be solved , at least during high school that is.

Little did I know back then that the image would mark the prelude of  one of my most beloved series of all time: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (lit. When The Cicadas Cry).  So, when and how did I discovered the series?  Well, let’s fast forward to  my sophomore year of college in Fall 2009.  A friend recommended that I watch Elfen Lied so I could learn the OP “Lilium” on the violin after class. Once I was completed with classes for the day, I hurried  home, pull up the YouTube app on my Wii, looked up Elfen Lied, found the first episode and enjoy it.  Upon completion of the first episode, another anime appeared on the suggestion playlist.

 

“Higurashi no Naku Koro ni?  What is this?” I asked myself.  Curious, I clicked the thumbnail and laid back on my couch.

“This better be as good as that crazy ass Elfen Lied anime.”

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The video starts to play.  The show opens  with a young teen boy violently smashing the bodies of two lifeless, bloodied girls with a metal baseball bat.   Immediately, my eyes widen as I continued watching this dude beat these two girls to death.  The young boy dropped his bat as the camera focused on his carnage.  Finally, the focus was on the kid’s face as he panted, his eyes widened and blood on his face.

“Holy shit. ” I said to my self quietly.     “What is this show?”
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I’ve never been much of a horror media guy. I find them boring and cheesy (due to American films) and thoughtless gore fest.  Most of them are just the bad guy slicing and dicing up their stupid victims, lacking focus on true fear – psychological fear . But the first 30 seconds of Higurashi felt different.   This feeling was solidly in the OP animation and music.

The distance, distorted haunting vocals, the fast-paced arpeggio bass-line, the visual contrast of of a bloodied Rena walking on glass barefoot, Satoko alone in a flower fields crying, and Shion surrounded in red with her face twisted in rage. Each character’s expression and the color usage of their introduction told me that this anime was not like any horror media I’ve seen prior.   Just off the OP, I could understand their feeling of sadness, confusion, rage, etc. Emotion plays a huge role in the show I assumed; based off the OP.

This sold me to watching Higurashi.

So, I watched.  I watched in confusion at Keiichi waking up in the morning and chilling with Rena and Mion – the two girls he had killed earlier.  Was that a dream? A vision he had? I did not know but I stay glued to my seat, wanting answers.  Yet, the more I watched, the more questions I started asking.

“What’s with this Himizawa muders and are those girls behind it? “ and “Are they pretending to be happy and carefree to lure Keiichi into a trap?”

As I progressed the first few episodes,  I started to figure things out about Higurashi , how the time-loop work, how each arc featured a character just one misstep away from snapping and killing everyone or themselves.  And it wasn’t just for say edginess like Elfen Lied, these characters legit have psychological reasons behind their actions.

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Rena was bullied and almost raped by two male peers.  She (justifying) snapped and beat the two boys with a baseball bat.  Keep in mind this:  she was already  emotionally wrecked by her mom cheating on her dad and splitting the family up, so the bullies attacking her was her breaking point.   Shion was treated as a black sheep by her family, and was further disowned by them when she fell in love with Satoshi (a boy who is hated by her family).  Satoko (Satoshi’s sister) is a completely wreck mentality due to her the murders of her parents,  the disappearance of Satoshi, and her uncle physically abusing her.  Rika’s parents were murdered as well and suffers from hopelessness from living thorugh 100 of years of timeloops ending in the same result – death.

Hell, even the series final villain Miyo had issues that lead her into becoming the bad guy;  She was left orphaned after the death of her parents.  She was taken in by a government run orphanage which was abusing and torturing the children in it.  She was no exception to the abuse.  Thankfully, she was taken in by her dad’s mentor who treated and loved her like his own granddaughter, but the damage  done to her by her abusers at the orphanage took it toll.  Stack that with her witnessing her “grandfather” being belittled by his peers for his research, fueling her revenge against everyone that did him (and her) wrong and you got Miyo’s desires to become a God – desires that resulted in the massacred of 2,000+ innocent people a couple of  years later.

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You just feel so sorry for these characters and understood why they’re behave the way they did throughout the series, ya know?

Anyway I’m going to end this raw freewrite thoughts here but don’t fret!  To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Higurashi VN, I will be dropping more raw freewrites on my love for the series and possibly an analysis article .

Stay tune!

Also sorry for the bad grammar I have to get to my gig ASAP

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30 Day Anime Challenge Day 23: Most Hated Character (Kinzo Ushiromiya of Umineko no Naku Koro ni)

Kinzo. Fuck you.

Kinzo Ushiromiya; the patriarch of the (in)famous multi-billion dollar Ushiromiya family. He’s a superior demon summoner and black magic user, owner of the private island of gold: Rokkenjima, diligent businessman, and an abusive, psychotic piece of shit.   This man, boy.  Let me tell you why I hate this  how horrible dude.

ominous-kinzo

 

Prior to the Umineko series, he lost his lover, Beatrice Castiglioni (who died during childbirth) and was grief stricken.  Honoring her, he named their (illegitimate) daughter “Beatrice”, after the mother. Cool.  Whatever helps you overcome grief . What’s not fucking cool was Kinzo raping and impregnating his teenage daughter – because she resembled his lover.

That’s fucking sick.

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Beatrice Castiglioni.  Kinzo’s late mistress.
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Beatrice Ushiromiya – daughter of Kinzo. She’s a lovely, charismatic  young lass with cowtits and is a huge fan of weird, outlandish kinky BDSM play.

Oh, it gets worse. This wouldn’t be the last time he abused his children.  Yes.  Children.  I did say Beatrice was his love child.  So, what about his real children? Well,  to “toughen up” the others  (Kruass, Eva, Rudolf, and Rosa)  for the real and business world, he  physically, emotionally and psychologically abused them. Naturally, his abusive ways caused his children to disdain him.  Worse, his children would pass down the cycle of abusive towards their own, and in many causes, the siblings would abuse each other – Kruass (the eldest) being the worst offender.

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Third Generation Ushiromiyas.  From left-to-right: Eva (2nd child) Rudolph (3rd child), Kruass (Eldest Child), and Rosa (youngest child) 

 

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Kinzo lifting and chocking Kruass

Due to Kinzo’s abusive parenting and teachings, Krauss emulated his dad’s abuse. He would emotionally bullying his little sister, Eva  (as well as being sexist towards her).  This created much disdain in and anger in her heart, which she passes down to her husband, the kind-hearted Hideyoshi (who loves Eva to death), and her only child, George.  Further in the future, Eva passes the abuse down to her niece, Ange, but more on her later. Let’s focus on Eva’s sister, Rosa.

Rosa (just like her only sister Eva), was too abused by not only Kinzo and Krauss, but her other siblings as well (due to her status as the youngest).  Lacking someone to hurt in their family to soothe her rage, she had nobody to further the chain of abuse, until she had her daughter, Maria. Rosa (never recovered or attacking her pain in a healthy matter) starts to abuse Maria, verbally and physically beating her.

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fate/rosa

See how Kinzo’s chain of abuse goes further?  Kinzo abuses Krauss, whom abuses Rosa, who in turn abuses her daughter, Maria.   Now his grandchildren are affected by the abuse her created.   Speaking of his grandchildren, let’s go back to series best girl Ange.

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Ange smiling for once in her life.

So Ange. Her entire family (sans Eva) was massacred on Rokkenjima (due to Kinzo’s bullshit), leaving her orphaned.  Eva, being the “good” aunt that she is, adopts Ange.  The two somewhat got along, until the stress  of her family’s  deaths (as well as the media accusing her for their murders) took its toll on her.   Eva in turn, took her anger out on Ange, putting her through the same abusive treatment as her father did her.  This ruined Ange’s  already troubling mental state.  Due to Eva’s abuse (among other things), Ange  would grow to hate herself, becoming suicidal.  In one scene, Ange is seen lashing out on her best friend, Mammon and her sisters.  She calls them “useless” and wish that they all die.

Even after his death, Kinzo’s abusive cycle  continues.

 

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Remember how I said that the massacre  of Rokkenjima was due to Kinzo’s bullsht in the last paragraph?  Well, Kinzo is not above having his own family members killed for his own desires.

As mentioned earlier, Kinzo dedicated his life  to learning summoning and  black magic, and studying occult spells. His plan was to master black magic in order to revive Beatrice.  Not his lover Beatrice, but their daughter.  The same daughter that he raped.  He wants to see her once more So, he successfully revives Beatrice, right?  However, as exchange for her revival, Kinzo must sacrifice a few people.

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Six members of the Ushiromiya family sacrificed to Beatrice 

Kinzo selects his own family members as sacrifices. He seems them as vultures after his riches.  He believes his nether children nor his grandchildren gives a damn about him (as they rightfully should not), and wants them all dead.   Beatrice kills them for him, nad in turns – kills her abuser Kinzo.

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Kinzo burning alive by Beatrice;s magic.

Kinzo if you think about it, is the main source of his entire family’s pain and suffering, from him raping his daughter, abusing his children.  The same abuse in which was passed on to his kids down to their own.  By direct and indirection action, he ruined his family.

Fuck you Kinzo.

AFTERWORD

Whew.  I didn’t expect this post to go on that long, but I figure I would provide details and proof to show how much I despise this dude.  This would had been much longer if I would had gotten drunk  to write about how much I hate Kinzo as I originally planned lmfao (all the liquor stores in my area were closed at the time of writing the first draft..  You know those 3 o’ clock A.M.  alcohol laws can be.

 

Fuck you, Kinzo.

Ushiromiya FAMILY art source:

https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=7436300

Further Reading on the abusive cycle of Umineko:

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Day 2 – Anime You’re Ashamed You Enjoyed: Umineko no Naku Koro Ni

One should never feel ashamed for enjoying an anime (well, unless it’s some sexualized loli crap, then you should be ashamed and arrested). You shouldn’t feel embarrassed by it – even if it’s a terrible, flawed adaption.  You enjoy it regardless.  This is how I feel about Studio DEEN’s infamous animation adaption of the visual novel series “Umineko no Naku Koro ni” (When The Seagulls Cry).  Despite the disrespect towards the original source material, such as key story elements left out (creating loose ends untied) and animation errors, I hold a small space in my heart for Umineko.

A space I use to make fun of shitty adaptions, but a space nonetheless.

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Nigga how?
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Seriously nigga how?

The Umineko anime is garbage compared to the original visual novel and amazing manga counterparts. I can’t deny that Studio DEEN did a horrible job on it. Even if visual novels are awkward to adapt (I assume it’s hard to animated scenes from a source material that only has a static image, character sprites, and background music) , Studio Deen is known in the anime community for being lazy with their work and  creating horrible adaptions (see: their version of the Fate/Zero anime). Umineko isn’t exempt from DEEN’s laziness.

The Umineko VN is heavy with detailed dialogue scenes which were omitted from the anime (which I can assume DEEN was being lazy). Any mention of kid Ange’s sickness preventing her to attend the Ushiromiya annual family meeting by her parents from Episode 1 in the anime?  Nope! Did you love how Rosa barbarically jammed an ink pen in the eyes of a Goat Butler and  saying her saying her epic line ‘I’ll show you how lukewarm the hell you came from is!’  before blowing it brains out with her gun in the visual novel? Well, DEEN decide to not add that in.

Reflect on how sorrowful  you felt for Ange when she revealed her true identity  was to her brother Battler, pleading to him to defeat Beatrice and return to Kid Ange to prevent living the lonely, depressing life as her future self as she was dying in the visual novel. Remember man?

Well, It’s in the anime, but DEEN managed to ruin that with one simple frame:

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Oh the jokes the fanbase were cracking with this awkward shot. 2009 was an amazing time in the Umineko fan community.  

Because  of Deen’s  hilarious errors , the Umineko fanbase straight up loathe the anime.  The very mention of  the anime and anyone admitting that they enjoy it will trigger even the most chilliest Umineko fan. You’ll get attacked with great vigor by the diehards.  It’s not worth it unless you like creating conflict.  Go on the Umineko tag on tumblr or /jp/, say you think Studio DEEN did nothing wrong with the anime,  sit back and watch the rage.

Despite the  flaws of the anime, I still love it as  it’s special to me.

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Ange (best Umineko girl) and one reason why I love the series

 

There’s something about the anime that I can forgive its awfulness.  It made me aware of narrative themes in anime such as abuse (sexual, emotional, and physical), the past returning, revenge, and suicide.    Umineko (both the visual novel and anime) shows how abuse can be passed down within a family, as we see patriarch figure Kinzo passing down his abusive ways to his children. This results in mother Rosa abusing daughter Maria.

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Hell, this gets worse with Eva (suffering from being the sole survival of the massacre of her family in Episode 4) abusing her niece Ange (who too was suffering from losing her love ones).  The abuse from her aunt, the impact of losing her family (who was involved in some pretty illegal shit mind you), and being bullied in school drove her to become suicidal. Even with the awfulness of the anime, it made me aware of narrative themes within the story-line which got me hooked into the series.

I do not feel ashamed about my love for the Umineko anime.  In fact, I feel given it got me into the original visual novel and the manga (which is a superior adaption compare to the anime),  Yea, it’s garbage, but it made me notice themes in anime.

But seriously, you fucked up Studio Deen.

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