Throughout the last Higurashi episode of 2020, I was waiting for the last pin to drop. But even with an intense, bloody finale, it feels like they tacked one climactic fight at the tail-end of a long, anticlimactic series of episodes that spent too much time trying to create a false sense of normalcy when it was far too apparent that plans were meant to fall apart.
I think the big issue for me was that you had so much set up to focus on protesting child protective services to no avail that it felt like the narrative hit a wall. Any semblance of horror in the series vanishes when the spookiest or most shocking scenes only arrive at the very end and the tense atmosphere is washed away by neutering the hair-raising sections. Like any instance of the Sonozaki’s, the old protest group, and Oiishi making things difficult for Keiichi should’ve been treated with more of a “life-or-death” urgency rather than them just being jerks who are getting in the way of our cool, determined, and angry protagonist.
As far as the final moments go, they fall into the same trap of having Keiichi get lectured about what went wrong in the arc rather than having him be front and center of the madness. Similarly, it also was an arc that dragged out with the set-up only for the punchline to kick in 5 minutes before the last episode of the arc ended. It was disappointing that, with all the fanfare that was going on about how everything was going great, it was never taken into account that Satoko was still forced to lie for her uncle and Oishi was gearing up to ruin everyone’s Cotton Drifting Festival. And it’s another arc that ends with Keiichi and another person trying to beat each other in a blood-covered room, so it’s sad that they leaned on an ending that was all too similar to how Keiichi and Rena wailed on each other.
On a lighter note, the arc does help solidify the idea that the Sonozaki’s could have been on-board with making life easier for everyone if they felt like it, so for that alone, there is a ton of value in the arc’s slower pace. And to its credit, it was a nice finale to the arc with the circular nature of time snapping in as Keiichi once again beats Satoko’s uncle to death with a bat while most of the town is killed as he’s knocked out. We also got faces that looked more like the ones from the old series with Rena and Keiichi looking mortified about what ended up happening even when it seemed like everything would end in a best-case-scenario.
As I was saying last week, I’ll likely cover Higurashi’s finale, but I won’t be continuing on an episode-by-episode basis to free up space for some of the new 2021 anime. Looking forward to seeing the rest of this series by next year.