For the finale of the latest Higurashi arc, it appears I made a huge mistake trying to build a roadmap towards the discrepancies between the past anime and this one. With nothing but Keiichi’s gesture of giving a doll to Mion determining whether he lives or dies, this episode brings an abrupt close to Keiichi’s first interactions with the Sonozaki sisters.
Much like how the first arc ended in Gou, the rising action that led to the most devastating parts of this arc was lacking something special. The ladder-shaking moment felt like it was slapped in, but didn’t have the impact it should’ve had because the art made the characters appear as if they were trying to emote with Botox (hey, another 2006 throwback). The arc in this series also lacked enough of Shion’s perspective to understand what her place is in the Sonozaki family, which was solidified when not a mention was made of Satoshi.
It also doesn’t help that Keiichi relies on the other characters to carry him through the story in this arc. He’s been passing the buck off to Shion the moment he entered the shed with her, but his saving grace was the one message he took from Rika to give Mion the doll. From then on, he could act as dumb as he wanted because Mion fell in love with him and was ready to die to protect him from the town and the other Sonozaki family members that would have snuffed him out in no time. Not that it would’ve convinced Keiichi not to try to open a metal door by bashing his own head into it repeatedly on the off-chance that it’ll fall as easily as the prison cell door did.
On the plus side though, it does allow Gou to provide mysteries of its own by creating new twists that redefine what exactly this pseudo-sequel has up its sleeve for the future. It was nice to see an alternative scenario where Mion would have the experience and gumption to confess her love for Keiichi.
At the same time, the episode provides intrigue as far as what exactly Satoko has up her sleeve. She immediately suspects foul play was involved with Keiichi when he asks about Rika’s whereabouts, and she was also killed in the same place where Mion died. And with Keiichi’s survival in this arc, it left him with a myriad of questions about what Mion’s motives were if she was ready to protect him by killing her family and suspicious townspeople in the process. I also have to give props to this anime for making me disgusted by the image of Rika’s corpse floating in filthy septic tank water. It might lack the scares and spills that the old anime had, but the creative efforts that went into the twists of Gou still harken back to some of the magic that made Higurashi‘s story fascinating and edgy.