This week’s Higurashi thankfully skirts much of the slice-of-life fanfare for the beginning of Satoko’s arc as we spend the first episode of the new chapter with more plot-heavy material. We do get to see what Satoko is like when she isn’t trying to test her friends’ patience, but with this arc, many of the key players who take it upon themselves to be a part of Satoko’s life, for better or worse.
It’s a relief to see that Satoko gets to have some time to shine with this chapter. While past arcs have her playing tricks on her classmates until they are more than ready to sacrifice her to Oyashiro, this one has her getting closer to Keiichi. With the challenge they give to each other to cook a competent meal, it gives them time to bond and gives Keiichi a chance to become familiarized with her. I’m not usually as keen on moments where Keiichi acts too dopey, but it was funny to see him almost burn down his kitchen when he attempts to make a stir fry by throwing chopped vegetables on a pan.
Satoko’s many accomplishments in this episode such as getting a decent dinner together and doing well at her brother’s old sport of baseball give her some much needed development that the other girls weren’t able to have as much of in past chapters. As Keiichi endears himself to her, you see shades of discomfort from her and her friends as they are more aware of her current living situation. It’s the first instance we hear about Satoshi, and it’s from the context that he went missing, her parents are dead, and the closest reminder she has of Satoshi are the headpats that Keiichi gives her.
Coach Irie makes his debut in this episode, but with his introduction also comes the dilemma of who is going to raise Satoko. As Satoshi’s coach, Irie is more familiar with the kids in the Hojo family. But even though he is looking out for Satoko and cares for her well-being, he also has contingency plans in mind for going full Woody Allen on Satoko and thinking of her as a potential wife of his.
Satoko is currently between a rock and a hard place because it’s either possibly get into a marriage with your brother’s creepy baseball coach who seems kind enough or stay in the custody of her dirtbag uncle who goes out of his way to be absolute human garbage to everyone around him.
Of the opening episodes for the arcs we’ve had so far, I’ve gotta say that this one’s definitely the best because it gives you some background and details to keep your eye on for the coming episodes. While the other openers just eased you into the town, it at least gives off a foreboding feeling to start off by letting us know that Oyashiro’s curse is coming, the town took Satoko’s parents and brother for being pro-dam, and we’re in for a world of hurt once Keiichi gets curious enough to be a part of Satoko’s life.