「Episode 11」

Episode 11 of Higurashi, takes on a more optimistic tone when Keiichi uses his memories as a way of shaking things up and going an entirely different route than what his ideas went towards in the old series. But while the push to fight for Satoko to be removed from her abusive uncle’s custody has a cheerier mood than usual for Higurashi, there is bound to be some obstacle in the way that ruins it for everyone.

So far, this arc has been impressive because Keiichi has been making proactive measures to correct the timeline and sees his past memories now as mistakes that he could make if he doesn’t think the situation through. Keiichi beating Satoko’s uncle to death might be the satisfying solution, but that would make Satoko freak out and throw Keiichi over a bridge.

Because of Keiichi’s forward thinking, it gives Rika time to shine considering how important it is for her to see that she didn’t have to intervene for him to realize what path he shouldn’t go on. Keiichi putting his flashforwards to better use gave Rika a burst of inspiration as she finally sees a solid opening towards resolving the issue without bloodshed. Not sure if Keiichi retains everything from every past timeline that he’s experienced, but since he places far more importance on Rika this time around, there is a much more emotional payoff to seeing her ecstatic about how Keiichi is starting to learn more about what not to do and how they are actively taking measures to avoid a Bad End.

I also wanted to discuss Shion’s role in the episode because it was interesting to see her take on a compassionate point-of-view for Satoko’s situation. Without the influence of the “curse”, it really shines a different light on the events of the next arc by having Shion personally invested in Satoko’s safety and taking her promise to Satoshi to protect her as seriously as she can. Of the main cast, she is the most passionately angry one about Satoko’s situation and is willing to call out Mion for being complicit in the Sonozaki family’s approach to the Hojo family, not to mention smacking Keiichi with a chair for not letting her kill the uncle herself. It gives some of the older fans more to chew on considering how the past anime was light on material that had Shion taking on an older sister role for Satoko.

But with a majority of the episode taking place in the Child Protective Services office, Keiichi’s class takes measures to resolve the situation through petitions and protests. While the overall mood of the episode was peppy in showing a possible pathway towards a peaceful solution, there is definitely something on the horizon that will bungle it all. Detective Oiishi seems like the weakest link as he seems to have more incentive in this route to provide obstacles to keep Keiichi from protecting Satoko. Spirits are also high as Shion is ready to kill and Rena was incensed by her second interaction with a Child Protective Services that didn’t see the reason to allow the office to go out-of-their-way to save Satoko.

However, I think that one way all of this could fall apart would be due to the involvement of the other schoolchildren. Keiichi and his friends might’ve been furious about the situation, but the other students had an easier time invoking the memories attached to the Dam protests. Knowing how those turned out, I have a hard time seeing this end in a way that doesn’t involve purging members of the community that would get in the way of Satoko being removed from her uncle’s custody. And because we don’t get to see as much of her uncle, I wouldn’t be surprised if his story was altered for the sake of adding extra twists to Gou. With how the episode ended, it should be interesting to see how the uplifting mood is suddenly derailed in the next one.

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