June 11. The fated day is approaching. Rika tears another day off the calendar with a heavy heart and a futile resolve. She tries to keep her spirits up for the sake of her friends, but her emotional fatigue cannot hold up much longer. Maybe a trip to the festival grounds can cheer her up?
Wait, no… I take that back.
At the temple, the townspeople are busy preparing for Watanagashi. Keiichi, Rena, and the Sonozakis are checking out the scene, and are having a good time when the fat cop Ooishi shows up with his uniformed entourage and puts everyone in a crappy mode with his creepy voice and unseemly suspenders. Rika and Satoko show up right then and chase off the cops with their loli innocence.
Supposedly, Rika is doing a miko performance during the festival, so Keiichi pulls his onii-san card and tells her he’s looking forward to Watanagashi. Naturally, this puts her (and the rest of us) in an even worse mood – luckily Rena is there to salvage the mess with another string of “ooh~ Rika in a miko dress~ omochikaeri~”
That night, Rika and Satoko head off to buy some meat for dinner. Apparently, Satoko has some trauma against any adult in the village – her family had vehemently battled the construction of the dam previously, eventually leading to their death / disappearance – seeing her hesitation, Rika puts the verbal smackdown on the meat seller and finishes up her shopping quickly. The forlorn music and dim lights suggest that something tragic is about to happen.
The next day, the Hinamizawa baseball team is getting cleaned out by some ace pitcher from the other team. Satoko decides to take things into her own hands and recites an incantation… into the pay phone, where she’s telling Keiichi to bring his ass on over. Within minutes, he arrives on his bike and brandishes his… golf club. Naturally, worthless K-chan gets K’d in 3 pitches.
During the break, Keiichi finds the pitcher by the water fountain. Their exchange goes something like this:
K: I hear you like desserts, you pussy.
P: No! I like grilled mea…
K: Desserts with colorful cream for those little girls with frilly skirts!!
P: NOOOOOOO I’m a pervert!!
K: Yes, you are. …But what’s wrong with a guy being a pervert?
K: You must be honest to yourself! Here are two tickets to that dessert store down the street. All you have to do is follow my instructions…
P: Yes master!!
Granted that it was supposedly planned by Satoko, Keiichi’s ability to play both bad cop and the good cop by himself is nothing short of astounding. But how much longer can the imminent tragedy be prolonged?
Elsewhere, Rika continues to foul up the mood with her emoness. After some encouragement from Satoko, she realizes that being down won’t help the situation, and picks herself up and cheers for Keiichi. “At least I can enjoy this fleeting moment…”
Although cheerful on the outside, Satoko is still able to see the conflict that brews within Rika. That night, with Satoko asleep, Rika starts talking again, continuing to lament her powerlessness and the despair of futility. Except this time, a rather familiar voice answers back. It’s Horie Yui, with her optimistic voice trying to push Rika to keep fighting. Have patience. Keep trying. Don’t give up, she says, but the unsteadiness of her own voice understands that all this optimism is likely to be in vain. Something will eventually get us out of this… Rika gets mad and tells her to stfu, “I’ll just be killed off again as always.” Satoko, having been woken up by the last line, confronts Rika about it. Who’s going to get killed off? “I am,” Rika replies, “due to a fate that I cannot escape.”
And just like that, Satoko wakes up, as if it was all a bad dream. It’s morning again, and Rika is in the kitchen as always, her nipaa self cooking up some breakfast. Was it a dream? Did you really say you would be killed off? Rika denies everything, but Satoko’s insight tells her otherwise.
June 12th club activity is something called “survival can kicking,” which involves Satoko and a can in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by traps – first person to kick the can wins. Keiichi claims the traps are all bluffs and runs straight into them… only to get trapped. Then, Rika inexplicably runs into one of the traps herself… and pops up like a gopher with a trademark “mii~”
Satoko gets worried again, and while Rika is out of the room, fesses up her “dream” to everyone else. Who would want to kill Rika? Seems unlikely, Rena points out, considering that some people even consider Rika to be the reincarnation of Oyashiro-sama. Rika comes in and once again denies everything.
That evening, Rika is standing atop the lookout point with the town basked in the orange sunset. Hocchan is talking to her again, but even in the light we are unable to see what she looks like, or if she is even a physical manifestation at all. Rika explains that if she were to get Satoko, or anybody else involved, they would be cast in an unimaginable fate.
Satoko is woken up once more by Rika. “There’s nothing you can do. It’s already too late…”
An odd episode in the tradition Higurashi sense – the previous ep should have taken care of all the happy-go-lucky things, with the second ep delving into the real meat of the situation. Still, Rika’s continued spiral into lonely despair was a tragedy in itself – I’m sure that line about “don’t keep everything to yourself, let your friends help” still echoes in her mind, and she is doing all she can to keep herself from breaking down and crying out for help.
The introduction of Hocchan’s character (those who have played the game can tell you her name, as it has not yet been revealed in the anime) reminds me of that C.C. doppelganger trap character that is sure to play a prominent role in ep 24 and 25 – difference being that the one in Higurashi seems much more helpless, and is seemingly less mature. Perhaps she is something that Rika confided in, in one of her early reincarnations, and in doing so, dragged her into this endless cycle as well. Being one that wanted to help Rika, it’s understandable that she’s going to be the more optimistic one, but her wavering voice suggests that she also knows how foolish her hopes are.
It’s kinda like that movie “Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo” – no matter how many times you redo it, and no matter how many iterations you experience, what is predestined to happen is going to happen. How can one break free? Ashton Kutcher would tell you, just find the point where it all happened and make the ultimate sacrifice – give up the love of the very ones you are trying to protect in order to have them live on. Is Rika able to do this?