The latest chapter in Gou is heading into the Cotton-Drifting Festival stage as Keiichi is given more ammo to work with in finding out the darker secrets behind Hinamizawa. But while he only operated off of newspaper headlines and deep-seated paranoia in the past arc, his affiliation with Mion and Shion gets his foot in the door to get word-of-mouth directly from them and their family’s personal involvement with the dam project murders.
One neat aspect of this arc is how much information Keiichi is given purely off the basis that he became closer with the Sonozaki sisters. The guess-timation he did when he was trying to pry info from Rena only got him in deep dookie. But getting acquainted with Mion and Shion allowed the both of them to eventually spill the beans about what happens every year at the festival without having to get pulled aside by Detective Oishi. At some point, both of the sisters give him a basic gist of what happened with the local protests the villagers have done against the dam project.
But this time around, Takano is an active participant in blowing the lid off of the mystery for Keiichi. With her role in outright blurting out the festival’s reputation in killing off a pair of victims every year, it places the sisters in the right position to let their perspectives on the killings be known to Keiichi. While Mion is adverse to the topic and would rather run away from the fact of the matter, Shion is blunt and upfront about what the town collectively did to those involved with the dam project.
It was the perfect episode for Shion to make a larger impression on Keiichi given how pivotal she is in introducing him to the open secret behind the town’s peace-keeping methods. She’s a lot more keen on having Keiichi witness what’s in the locked temple and what happened in the town, likely to help him get involved with the Sonozaki family’s affairs. And if that is Shion’s main goal, it’s made all the more effective with how many dates he’s been on with both of the sisters. It was cute to see how much Shion connected with Keiichi in this episode even if there was that weird moment where a perverted otaku tries to get Shion to rub his genitals.
If there’s one major complaint I have about this anime is that ED theme sucks the momentum out of the final scene of an episode. With the sweeping, triumphant sound the ED has, it’s a song that would be more fitting for an isekai finale where the overpowered, milquetoast teenager is given a cute gift by a shy elf girl to celebrate a close victory than a nerve-racking psychological thriller. Because of the ED, the impression I get from Keiichi, Tomitake, and Takano breaking into the home isn’t the dread of finding out what kind of torture devices might be in that house, but the whimsy of discovering new opportunities inside of the house. I mean, unless the next episode begins with Keiichi discovering a treasure chest inside of the house that holds the Ancient Chalice of Edelweiss von Wallenstein that gets him a higher rank in the White Falcon Knight’s Guild, then it just feels out-of-place.
Above all else, though, it was a nice episode to spice up this current arc by giving Keiichi more details to work with and providing some tension as to exactly how much he knows about the town. In addition, as he familiarizes himself with the Sonozaki sisters, it’ll be interesting to see how he is able to differentiate the two as the stakes rise higher and higher by the minute.