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Topic dedicated to the When They Cry series by Ryukishi07.

This is a mystery visual novel series that while technically a game that you can get in game stores, is more akin to a book since the only interactivity is saving your progress. You get the obvious perks of art, sound effects, voice acting, and a soundtrack, but the action happens in the text. I actually turn on auto mode and sit back, so in a way it's also like a tv show.

Even so, the author seems to consider them a game of a different kind, giving you a difficulty warning at the beginning of each chapter. This representing how difficult it would be to unravel the whole mystery with the information you'll get in that chapter.

It consists of three main stories, Higurashi, Umineko, and the ongoing Ciconia. The stories are known for the unusual narrative choice of (spoilered to keep the surprise if you so wish)

Spoiler

Telling the story several times over, putting the same characters in the same setting at the same point in time, but changing the events to provide different information with each iteration.

It also, at least in the case of Higurashi (though I'm pretty sure he does the same in later stories, judging by the author's comments on how he tells stories) bounces between tones. Each chapter starts as a lighthearted slice of life story, and roughly halfway through the mystery takes over, and the cheerful tone of the first half goes down by several notches all at once.

 

This thread may end up as a diary of my own playthrough and little more but I'll still leave the summary above just in case somebody may be interested.

 

That done, I have some thoughts after finishing chapter 2 of Higurashi.

Spoiler

That was a huge change, the first chapter was full horror but this one was just a really bittersweet murder mystery. Really, a lot of the second half was wiping tears off my face.

Rena you absolute angel, who knew you could be such a wonderful character when the "demon" is not in charge? She's definitely my favorite character now but I look forward to knowing the other characters in depth. In hindsight chapter 1 only gives you a shallow understanding of who they are.

I felt played with in episodes 1-5 (I'm calling them episodes for the sake of clarity). Logic told me that Shion was real, but then the story would start throwing around evidence to the contrary and I'd be back to square one. Then episode 5 basically convinces you that she was fake all along and it's only then that you get to see both in the same room. At the exact second I was finally convinced.

I'm also noticing a pattern here. Each chapter will be telling a story that makes a lot of sense on its own, then during the last episode it will rapid fire you with new questions that bring down the whole jenga tower, and then the next chapter doesn't address them at all. They just keep piling up.

So far on that category there's the drug, Keiichi's mysterious death at the very last second in chapter 1, the demons themselves, the director, the times of death that don't match, and we can probably throw Mion under Keiichi's bed in there too.

So to get the crazy baseless theories out of the way. What if every iteration is happening concurrently and evidence (specifically corpses) sometimes bleeds from one to the other? Mion probably falls into the well on camera in a later chapter but the body just so happened to appear in Watanagashi's reality. How's that for a crackpot theory?

There's also the whole demon deal, there's several possible explanations but I don't find any of them entirely convincing just yet. DID passed through my head more than once and the game even mentions it but it just doesn't seem plausible for that many people to have it, you know? I mean ok, just two so far, but I kind of doubt Satoko and Rika will stay uninvolved.

Oh yeah, this story just hates Satoko, doesn't it? One would think the curse is bullying her specifically. Looking forward to her chapter.

Back to the demon, they did mention the Sonozaki family deals in mind-affecting drugs. It's far fetched but I guess a drug that changes your personality and convinces you that there's a demon inside you is as good an explanation as any at this point.

I'm still partial to actual supernatural beings invading their bodies though. And on that topic, they don't seem to overcome their personalities completely. Keiichi does describe a sudden switch from one to the other, but Mion here seemed to retain all her memories, both when it was the demon speaking and when it was her. It's like their personalities mix together and they can be like, 80% in control vs 20% for example.

As a final point, Rena didn't have her demon in charge in this chapter, but she did seem to know what they are and how they work. So rather than the difference between chapters being that she was possessed in one but not in the other, I think she has a demon in both, and is aware of it, but it stayed dormant in this chapter.

Of course, none of this matters because then the all cast review comes and reveals that the author already knows everything you're thinking, and takes your theories and plays with them and storms he's good.

Still a lot of questions but I'm also addicted so on to chapter 3.

 

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I didn't intend to post again until finishing chapter 3 but, I need to take a moment to breathe. 

This chapter is getting absolutely unbearable. There are scenes where so much as clicking to see the next dialogue takes a good amount of courage. 

Spoiler

I'm at Satoko's breakdown at school. I can't complain they didn't give me a heads up, the notes at the end of the previous episode suggested as much, but it somehow turned out to be a much more painful scene to watch than I imagined. Turns out everything is a lot worse when you don't say it out loud. Show, don't tell, right? Storms. I genuinely lost physical strength by the end of it, it took some effort to stand up. I'm steel feeling a bit weak in the legs. 

I thought the argument at school before was bad (masterpiece of a scene, I tell you) but this came and now I just want to stop. But at the same time I have to keep going, I want to end this iteration and go back to the happy half of the story. 

I'm begging for the first murder to happen already so that the tone shifts again. Torture, dismemberment, describe the 30 nails technique to me, one by one, in full detail, it'll be easier to watch than this.

I really, really, really hope this is the lowest point of the series because this is turning into pure torture. 

Given this post I'll try to keep quiet until the end of chapter 4. I don't want to flood this too much with my own double posts. I don't care too much about the mystery at the moment anyway, I just really need this chapter to be over. 

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Oh hi! I just finished chapter 4 actually. Best moment to make theories I guess. Heck, even the author just gave me a warning (through Rena) that this will likely be less enjoyable once the answers start to drop. I'm eager to continue but I'm also tempted to spend a day or two theorizing. Idk.

Well, after this first half, I have a lot of questions and less theories than I would like. Specially since I thought chapter 4 would be a proper chapter. Telling me only 1-3 are officially question arcs gives me a lot less to work with than I hoped. After Tatarigoroshi's ending I thought for sure there were some vital pieces missing about to be dropped, but I'll do my best. Though I guess there were. Himatsubushi dropped some big bombs, just less than I expected. However, the amount of revelations you get there kinda contradicts the "You have a right to reject this chapter" line you get at the start. That has me a bit confused.

Spoiler

I actually read some theories from other readers up to Tatarigoroshi, and I noticed no one wants the curse scenario to be true for some reason. Every single theory was based on the assumption that there were no supernatural elements involved. I wonder why that is.

Personally, I think it's a mix of both. I don't think there's anything supernatural about the means by which the murders are carried out, but I also think Ghost Rena, the invisible presence, the apologizing theme, Rika's clairvoyance, the weird death timings, and other examples like that are a little too numerous for the "Oh yeah, hallucinations due to stress" a lot of people seem to use as a blanket explanation.

Sadly, I have no theories about the cause for the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, except maybe something under the Sonozaki household? I think the mud from the swamp leaked all the way to the well that was full of corpses? I might be misremembering.

Forgot to mention this before but since chapter 1, I've been playing with the idea that Keiichi was born in Hinamizawa. Not a lot of evidence for that. But he's not really treated as an outsider I think. He's welcomed into the community pretty easily and when he's killed you can trace his death to some mistake of his. Plus, he displayed the demon eyes in Tatarigoroshi, which only natives seem to do. Not to mention he was stalked by "Oyashiro-sama" which, again, only seems to happen to natives.

I believe also that, at the very least, not only is Keiichi convinced he killed Teppei, I think Satoko believes it too. That piece of her thoughts we got as a tip was proof enough for me. Not sure if he actually died since I can't really see evidence pointing either way, but just by personal belief, I think he did.

Now, I may be pulling at strings here, but there's something regarding the events during slice-of-life segments. Whenever a new arc came, Keiichi remembered every event that happened in the previous one, even though sometimes there wasn't even time for them to happen. Even if there was, it would imply a big change in the course of events even though the starting circumstances were supposed to be the same, and I don't see how things like a curry competition happening a different day would have any weight in the bigger picture, so that discards meddling. This of course could simply be to make narration easier so as to not have Keiichi be a complete newbie in the club every single time, but what if instead it means that experience accumulates itself with each iteration to some degree? For a bigger example there's the fact that every lesson Keiichi learns in an arc seems to stick even in the next ones. He spent an entire chapter messing up with Mion but in the next one he got her character right from the get-go. Each time he's just a little better prepared to deal with what's coming so, maybe every arc so far is just a setup to prepare him.

On the subject of time loops, if any one person is aware of it it's Rika. To me the biggest takeaway from Himatsubushi was that she's been through the entire story a lot of times already. Everything plays out the same every time, that's why even the weather bores her. She has probably memorized every day in the loop so she's begging for anything to change, even if it's a rainy day. She might have seen Akasaka die in one of those too, which is why she's happy that he didn't this time. Heck, this might even give some meaning to the running gag that Rika is the only kid around that openly asks for beer. She has to be waaay over the appropriate age mentally but never gets there physically, it must be frustrating to still have the limitations of a kid. Even her hostility during the chapter can be explained as the cynicism of a person who's just tired of seeing everyone she loves die the same way over and over. Her personality changes just the sign of someone who's spent a lot of time training to maintain that mask. At first it seems like another demon case, but she's clearly different.

Now, if what I said above about experiences sticking to some degree has any truth to it, I believe this iteration of Akasaka might just be the trigger for a happy ending. Or a better one anyway. He gets Rika's plea for help here, only 7 years late. If the experience leaves enough of a mark on him, and better yet, if the investigation that follows does, it might just be the "deja vu" that leads him to understand Rika's words on time in future loops. Maybe even save Yukie. (btw, was it suggested that she's from Hinamizawa too? I wouldn't think too much about her comment on the higurashi if it hadn't been the day she died)

The ultimate goal of these loops of course would be to prevent the disaster, if it can be prevented. If an evacuation won't do the trick (she's not trying to organize one anyway), it might have something to do with the deaths. Maybe don't pile up so many corpses that produce gases or something, to be honest that's as far as I can go at the moment. I just can't think of a convincing way for the disaster to be caused by humans.

Serious stuff aside, I can go for some fanboying. I'll say I love Akasaka as a protagonist, he was a nice change of pace. Ooishi really got to shine this time too, Tatarigoroshi made me doubt it for a bit, but I really like the guy. Regarding chapter 3, while Rena is still my favorite character, I'd be lying if I said Satoko isn't currently the character I'm attached to the most. I expected that since chapter 1 honestly, was just waiting to actually know her beyond a superficial level, and boy did I get more than I bargained for. Also, I now get a dopamine shot every time a character says their catchphrase. Except Ooishi. Assuming his catchphrase is his laugh, he does it waaaay too often. When you get 3 mii's in a row you know it's fanservice. When Ooishi laughs thrice in a row you know five more are coming. Oh, and good Tsukihime reference during the all cast review in Himatsubushi. Thinking about it now I can't decide if Chie in general was based on Ciel or not.

I think that's all I can come up with for now. I'll try to solve this, but I really doubt I'll resist the urge to start the answer arcs tomorrow.

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Well that took a while, finally finished Meakashi. First chapter with a main theme! I loved that, I already loved the previous soundtracks but having some (or so far one) leitmotifs is very welcome. Don't have as many thoughts on this one, I'm simply still really confused.

I swear, I liked Shion a lot better when I couldn't see her thoughts.

Spoiler

Sensible enough to see she's immature and selfish, but not enough to see anything wrong with it. Admires Satoshi's selfless nature, then tries to make him as selfish as she is. If you succeed he'd abandon you too you know. But well, I guess she paid for it, along with half the cast.

So this was weird. It's the longest chapter yet, it contains lots of explanations for a lot of things, theories getting updated and updated and updated only for that twist at the end to tell you "Ha, got you! All of that was false. Keep waiting". So the 'answer' in this answer arc was only to tell you what didn't happen.

At least I understand the two sisters a lot better. At the beginning of the chapter I was wondering why someone who didn't care for Mion's friends and outright hated two of the victims would cry and be traumatized by their deaths. Now that's clear.

I have been siding with the "Demons are real" theory for a while now, but every time we're inside the head of one of them it looks as if the only thoughts are those of the pov, so no demons. But then I'd have to acknowledge that everyone in Hinamizawa is a psycho waiting for a trigger to start killing, which doesn't make any sense so I go back to the demons. It's a vicious circle which only keeps going on in this chapter.

Even with the answers we did get, I can't help but wonder how you're supposed to get there with the information in the first three chapters. I know you're not exactly expected to, but you're also told the information is there and that it's possible to solve the entire thing with just those three. How?

I know the bad end isn't supposed to be canon, but I like how it tells you that if Keiichi had given Mion the doll, the result would be the same. This didn't happen because of a choice Keiichi made a week ago, but because of one Shion made a year ago.

I liked the notebook being 200 pages long. Literally the length of a notebook. It was a nice touch.

So why didn't the gas leak happen this time? So far as I can see this is the first chapter where it doesn't, if the theory that the loud title at the end during the first four chapters signifies the explosion is true at least. I need to think about this.

The "what if" scene at the end was painful. I really hope we can get there at the end.

I miss the All Cast Reviews.

I also managed to spoil myself a part of Umineko in a really dumb way so yay for me. Hope it doesn't affect the experience too much.

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What Umineko spoiler did you get?

Also, time to go on to a fan favorite Episode. A lot of people call the next one their top Episode in Higu

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Nice. Looking forward to it already. 

And the spoiler was 

Spoiler

That a person named Beatrice dies? I think they also called her a witch? I wouldn't pay too much mind to it if it wasn't apparently from chapter 8. It seems I have the ending or something in my music playlist, wanted to find out from which chapter it was and stupidly decided to look at the comments. 

 

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4 hours ago, Eluvianii said:

Nice. Looking forward to it already. 

And the spoiler was 

  Hide contents

That a person named Beatrice dies? I think they also called her a witch? I wouldn't pay too much mind to it if it wasn't apparently from chapter 8. It seems I have the ending or something in my music playlist, wanted to find out from which chapter it was and stupidly decided to look at the comments. 

 

You weren't spoiled, don't worry. That comment is kind of inaccurate, and also very out of context. 

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1 hour ago, aneonfoxtribute said:

You weren't spoiled, don't worry. That comment is kind of inaccurate, and also very out of context. 

Phew, that's a relief. I'll be careful from now on. 

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Yeah definitely. It's very easy to be spoiled

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Finished Tsumihoroboshi! This is taking longer each time. I'd blame burnout (I have already put over 100 hours on this after all), but I'm not sure. I think it just gets harder to willingly come and see how all these characters I'm strongly attached to by now go through this amount of psychological torture. Back in Onikakushi it was fun. I didn't know these characters and it was easy to justify it like "They just go crazy at the end, so I don't have to feel bad about it". Now not feeling bad about it is plain impossible.

So this one hit a little close to home.

Spoiler

Being a kid and living through a divorce where your mom didn't tell your dad about it until after the deed was done can be hard, huh. Thankfully that's as far as my experience matches.

That said, I can see how this is people's favorite. It definitely is mine so far. It's the most interesting revelations-wise, and it has the highest highs, mood-wise. I read early on that the author considers that a story should be a roller coaster, and he seems to take that more to heart with every chapter. Onikakushi had a single high and a single down, neatly split into two halves. Tatarigoroshi was split in thirds. And Meakashi and Tsumihoroboshi just don't care anymore, you might find yourself really depressed and extremely happy in the same episode.

I can hear the author laughing when he wrote the difficulty warning. The difficulty is zero? This is a calm story with a little struggle at the end? I guess an entire episode dedicated to Rena's depression and two deaths as soon as episode 4 don't count as struggle.

I can't believe out of everything I thought of, the weirdest and most far-fetched theory was the one that got confirmed. So memories do stack and they are the key to a happy ending. I'm feeling more pleased with myself than I should in that regard.

And that finale! I mean, how? Wasn't expecting this anytime before Chapter 8. This kind of synchrony between the members of the club to fight the "curse" is what I've been hoping for for a while now. And they're kind of hinting at everyone being able to remember under the right circumstances. I hope they do. What better way to really solidify the unity between them than a long history of terrible mistakes and a strong promise to never repeat them?

So, immortal Rika was confirmed but out of every "theory" from the question arcs, that's the one that I don't think was ever in doubt. But now that she has newfound motivation, I'm really looking forward to whatever she does in Chapter 7.

On that note, the Disaster still happened. Shion killed a lot of people in Meakashi/Watanagashi, and it didn't happen there. So was one of those people the culprit? I swear, if it really was Oryou...

And Akasaka is back! Come on, dude, don't disappoint me. Come to Hinamizawa in 1983. Rika is more motivated now, maybe she can be more open when she asks him for help?

The fact that we're still considering aliens as a possibility is strange to me. I stopped believing Rena as soon as she mentioned that. But I still think the parasite is very viable. There's enough to say that the cause is physical, that she has it, that she's not the first one, and in general it's just hard to believe that we have that many kids willing to commit murder in the village. Every perpetrator in turn has been pushed over the edge, true, but a lot of it has to do with them being extremely prone to paranoia. Heck, in Keiichi's case his perception was altered down to his freaking eyesight.

On that note, I'm not sure I like that particular plot point. It's only marginally better than the overused "And then he woke up in a psychiatric hospital. He actually imagined the whole story". Everything we've seen in previous chapters may or may not have happened, I don't really like that, considering it's a mystery. But well, he didn't delete entire events, just changed how the protagonist perceives them, so there's probably a way to solve this taking that into account. But I guess I can only fully trust the disembodied third person narrator now, but third person narration barely ever happens.

Oh, speaking of paranoia, the text in Rena's POV played with my mind so hard. "Wait, wasn't the text purple before?" "Why is it salmon now? Has it always been like that?" "Wait, did it just get darker?" It was amazing.

Also, it almost feels wrong to ship characters, but they asked for it. Between Keiichi/Mion and Keiichi/Rena, now I definitely support the latter. Sure, Keiichi misunderstood Rena really hard at the beginning, but that's kind of the plot of every Chapter anyway. Keiichi doesn't understand one of his friends and gets killed for it. But even in that terrible situation these two were so in sync. Again, that finale was so storming good. And, well, Rena pretty much confessed during the fight, so.

For a story that just repeats itself, it sure can hype up the climax. If I can expect longer segments resembling this Chapter's finale, maybe I won't have to worry about crying myself to sleep after a session anymore :P .

The CG's are great too. Some of these are coming directly to my wallpaper folder. This Chapter in particular had a lot of good ones.

Even though the author said the answer arcs would be less enjoyable because it's only answers, I don't feel like I'm getting many. It's like the game gives you a lot of them but then tells you not to trust them so everything feels fake. And it wants you to weed out the fake answers. With that in mind, I look forward to the mind games in Chapter 7.

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I think that 

Spoiler

Onikakushi being a complete hallucination by Keiichi, and really everyone was normal and he was the crazy one, was great. And I have seen some people figure it out, I have no idea how but they did.

Also, get used to unreliable narration, Ryukishi loves it.

Quick question, are you doing the All Cast Review sessions?

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2 hours ago, aneonfoxtribute said:

Also, get used to unreliable narration, Ryukishi loves it.

Yeah, I'll try to be prepared. I like unreliable narration, really, but seeing it on this level was a bit of a curve ball.

Spoiler

What I understood as unreliable narration was more about the character's biases. Misinterpreting or twisting what they hear and stuff. But usually I can trust that they did see or hear what we're told. Even odder is that Rena doesn't seem to be on that level. There's proof of everything she saw and heard and it was just her interpretation that was twisted, so I wonder why Keiichi's case was worse.

 

2 hours ago, aneonfoxtribute said:

Quick question, are you doing the All Cast Review sessions?

They were one of my favorite parts, a great way to relax after a sad ending and to compare your theories to theirs, but they stopped happening in the answer arcs. Now there's just a short message narrated by Ryukishi himself.

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11 minutes ago, Eluvianii said:

Yeah, I'll try to be prepared. I like unreliable narration, really, but seeing it on this level was a bit of a curve ball.

  Hide contents

What I understood as unreliable narration was more about the character's biases. Misinterpreting or twisting what they hear and stuff. But usually I can trust that they did see or hear what we're told. Even odder is that Rena doesn't seem to be on that level. There's proof of everything she saw and heard and it was just her interpretation that was twisted, so I wonder why Keiichi's case was worse.

 

They were one of my favorite parts, a great way to relax after a sad ending and to compare your theories to theirs, but they stopped happening in the answer arcs. Now there's just a short message narrated by Ryukishi himself.

Alright I was just wondering about the All Star Review for Umineko, because in Umi, their equivalent is fantastic.

Also, as for 

Spoiler

Rena and Keiichi, Rena is very clearly making things up. She thinks she has bugs inside of her skin. Thats not as drastic as some of Keiichi's hallucinations, but it's still there

 

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School has slowed me down massively. I come home too focused on wanting to sleep. It's hard to motivate myself to read. But I'm trying to get back into it. 

I, however, have lost my save file, so might as well write some general thoughts up to chapter 5 of Minagoroshi while the skip button does its thing. 

Spoiler

So the fantasy element is pretty unobtrusive. Literally just an excuse to loop the story, while the story itself remains perfectly grounded. A good balance I think. 

You know, my thoughts overlapped with Rika's around chapter 4 or so. When Teppei came back I was ready to give up on this chapter. I was already considering skipping Tatarigoroshi on a reread (I most likely won't, it's a great chapter, but the middle third is a masochistic experience).

However, I have to trust Ryushiki here. His ability to avoid repetition is amazing and it really shows in Meakashi. Heck, even Tsumihoroboshi could be considered a redo of Onikakushi to some extent, and yet it's massively different. We already know how much of a scumbag Teppei is, I don't think he'll resort to write another 4 chapters of torture here to bring the point home all over again. 

Actually, the tip at the end of chapter 5 tells me I'm right, Teppei seems to be about to give up and leave. It isn't a perfect run like Rika wanted, but it's pretty darn close. I'm betting on Rika snapping this time though, so I'm still wondering about a good reason for it. But there's plenty of time to get another one. 

Oh, I love Hanyuu and her personality just confirms that this story shouldn't even be happening. No one in town is inherently prone to murder. Oyashiro-sama exists but she hates violence, let alone murder and sacrifice. The parasite seems pretty much confirmed though, or at least another form of illness, but that shouldn't be enough to have things go so consistently wrong over 100 years of retries. So yeah, at this point I'm convinced there is a culprit, but no clue who. Each chapter so far only convinces me of the innocence of more people. 

On the topic of Satoko being a former L5 victim of the "curse", and knowing hallucinations are a symptom, I guess that explains her thoughts back in Tatarigoroshi. I'm betting Keiichi did kill Teppei, but Satoko, with her sanity already hitting rock bottom, responded by hallucinating his presence, and her mental image of him came up with even crueler punishments. I'm curious about the issue being her smell though. There wasn't a corpse in the house was there? 

And on the topic of people remembering Keiichi at the festival, that was probably orchestrated by Shion. I don't know why it was her that replied to his phone call but it's obvious now that it was her, and a big criticisms she had back when Satoshi killed his aunt was that Mion didn't make up an alibi for him. She probably didn't want to let that happen twice.

Oh, speaking of Shion, I'm starting to respect her more now. It seems it wasn't so much that Satoshi was special in being able to make Shion care, but that Shion was special in being unable to. But when she does start to care, it's with the same intensity, be it Satoshi or Satoko. I respect that, especially since at the start of the chapter I was afraid she was faking her attachment to Satoko, or taking care of her purely out of obligation. It's a huge relief to see that's not the case. I wish she stopped dropping the kill bombs in front of Chie though. 

And that's about it so far. This chapter seems to want to give me a taste of the dream ending and it's just biding its time to crush my hopes. Not looking forward to that, but at the same time I kind of am. We'll see how this goes. 

As a side note, the more this progresses, the more meta jokes we get. Rika complaining that the audience wanted to see Miyo in a cat costume, or the whole deal with Mion saying she wanted this to be an animation, or Rika looking at the camera. Pure gold. 

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Alright, Minagoroshi done. This is the most uplifting chapter so far, no contest. Also the longest. I was aware that they were going to get longer as they went but not to this degree. At 26 hours, for me this was almost twice as long as Onikakushi. Anyway, spoilers ahead.

Spoiler

I said it was the most uplifting chapter but I swear, it was the most tense too. I've been so conditioned to expect balance that this really threw me off. So far joy and suffering have had about an equal amount of weight. If the first half of the chapter is happy, then the second half will be tragic. If that isn't the case then every win the protagonists score will be immediately followed by a loss. So of course when the first half of this chapter turned out to be happy, and that gave no signs of changing after said halfway point, I was a nervous mess. The more victories they scored, the harder I expected reality to hit in the end. Maybe Satoko would be beaten to death by his uncle, maybe Rika would go mad after seeing that. Maybe Hanyuu would rewind time against Rika's wishes and in the next world she would go berserk. But none of that happened. It was extremely unexpected, extremely nerve wracking, and extremely satisfying once I accepted the tone wouldn't spiral into madness. I mean, everyone did die, but it still managed to end in a positive note.

Miyo's reveal was brilliant, at least to me. See, this has been released for a long time now, so of course I had already seen Miyo on the cover of chapter 8 before even starting Onikakushi. And of course my first thought was that she was the villain. But the more the story progressed the more convinced I was that it wasn't her. And then this very chapter was the one that put the last nail on that coffin. So yeah, I was handed the answer on a silver tray before even starting and I still managed to miss it. Nice.

That said, I'm still not completely sold on her as a villain. I like a crazy megalomaniac as much as anyone, but I like that attitude to be the end result rather than the goal. Though I'm expecting her character to be explored in more detail over Matsuribayashi so maybe I'll find out she had a more sympathetic origin.

The disease was such a frustrating revelation. I was expecting Rena to be right on some accounts and wrong on others. But turns out she was almost right on every single one, and missed by just enough to make the story end the way it did. Miyo put enough truth into those notebooks to make them believable but enough lies to make them impossible to prove. Gotta admit she's good.

Interesting to see there weren't any demon eyes this time. I guess they're difficult to include once you find out they're a literal hallucination. I wouldn't be surprised if they appear on Miyo, errr Hifumi next time though.

This chapter also continued the answer arc's trend of fulfilling everything the previous chapter made me wish for. Tsumihoroboshi gave me a taste of what Keiichi and Rena could be like if they were actually fully on sync, and now here they are, throughout the whole chapter, being the best duo ever. Remembering the scene where they decide to challenge the Council gives me chills. Seeing Keiichi, Satoko, and Rika unite against Rena made me want to see all of them unite against the curse. And now I got to see just that, shattering my suspension of disbelief by holding their ground against trained elites, like the amazing unit they are once they open themselves.

This came two chapters after instead of one but I wanted to see Shion get close to Satoko, and here she is, like an overprotective older sister with an illegal self-defense weapon. Four chapters late but I wanted to see Satoko break free of her own powerlessness and she did. Not only that but she was so strong. Seeing her being the dependable one after Rika almost gave up was so heartwarming. And of course, for a while now I've been waiting for the perfect version of Keiichi that doesn't succumb to insensitivity during that moment of fear, and here he is, leading the effort to save Satoko and saying all the right things to Rika when it counted the most.

I can't ask anything from the next chapter anymore except for the same thing with a happy ending this time. Also, please give Akasaka something to do. He may not be the end to everyone's troubles as Rika hoped, but I hope he at least gets to be a part of it.

Side note, where does Satoko keep all those buckets? It feels like she can will one appearing over your head any time she wants. What a frightening power.

Oh and a tangent. Dude's making a Silent Hill now? What the hell?! I need a ps5, I have high hopes for that.

Anyway, so close to the grand finale now. On to Matsuribayashi.

Edited by Eluvianii
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Waitwaitwaitwait

Spoiler

What is with this game's structure?! Is it an actual game this time? It feels like a gigantic puzzle. Is it an actual puzzle or does it only look like one? No matter which one it is, it's really cool. Even if it's just an excuse to tell the story out of order, that's a fun way to narrate things in itself. I also love the way they involve the player in this. A miracle will only happen if everyone believes in it, and you're one of those people. What a storming way to motivate you. 

Also I didn't expect to get what I wanted so immediately. 4 whole hours of Miyo lore, and it was just the storming prologue. Yeah, okay, consider me sold. That was a wonderful way to get to know the villain. 

 

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I don't know the structure, I never actually played the VN. I know what it's like but I don't know how much it actually matters

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Turns out it was a puzzle, and apparently after finishing the game you can repeat it and get a secret ending if you make no mistakes. Thing is now I don't know which ending is the true one, but I guess I'll find out. 

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Well, it's over. Finally finished Matsuribayashi. I wonder what would be the word for it. Cathartic is one, that's for sure. Liberating is another. Once I realized there weren't any more plot twists left I started to cry. Not because I knew it was the end, but because I finally relaxed and that's what came out of it. You're constantly bracing yourself for the next drop on the roller coaster, so when you realize there aren't any more, it's like you can finally exhale after a long time holding your breath.

It was also very frenetic.

Spoiler

All three acts of the chapter are extremely different from one another and yet, the word frenetic applies to all of them. First act just speeds through Miyo's past to get you to understand a character you effectively knew nothing about, and you were just told that she was playing the most important role in the story. It was a lot to take in, so I think the prologue does a very good job condensing that.

The second act serves to set the stage, and again, getting so many questions answered in rapid fire is quite a bit to absorb. This is it, they wanted to get rid of every question in about 42 short scenes, and they manage it remarkably well.

And the last act, even though it goes back to a traditional story, has a much faster pace than anything that came before it. Long gone are the hour-long scenes describing a club activity. Every scene goes straight to the point and the POVs jump around so frequently half the time it's near impossible to tell who's thoughts I'm reading.

No more distrust, no more setbacks, absolutely everything went exactly as the protagonists needed. That would be considered cheap as stories go but after everything you get to see before this, I can't help but think this is simply what they have earned through all that suffering. They deserve the win.

On that note, for a story that didn't step too far away from mystery and psychological drama, turns out Ryukishi is actually really good at writing adventure, huh. It was really thrilling to see each scene flowing into the next, with every single character getting their turn under the spotlight. Previously you are only told that Tomitake has more than simple desktop background at the SDF. You are only told that Satoko is capable of much more dangerous traps than what she usually uses. You are only told about all the training Mion and Shion have gone through, and how they would shine in a real combat situation. Now what seemed like simple background for the sake of fun pays off into the most exciting sequence this could ever have turned into.

I bet this guy would kill a spy drama story. Wait, isn't Ciconia supposed to be something more military? Maybe that's it.

I swear, if you had told me when I started Onikakushi that the main message of the series would be about the power of friendship, I would have thought you were pulling a prank on me, trying to get me into a false sense of security.

I can't believe I just read about a group of six kids beating such a big group of trained soldiers and believed every second of it. The whole sequence was perfect, it felt like the natural conclusion to the story. Everyone put their part, but if someone had to beat the final challenge it had to be the club. The whole club.... minus Shion I guess, but even in Minagoroshi I can't remember if she joined.

Also, I'm stealing Hanyuu's quote. "If you can only learn by making mistakes, then I shall teach you." like storms does it give me shivers.

Oh, yeah. Satoshi! It was a shame he couldn't get an actual part to play but simply learning he was alive, like I storming knew it. Even during the Fragments segment they just refused to confirm or deny if he had died. At that point it would have been tremendously underwhelming for them to just say he had died mid-treatment. So happy about that.

Ah, also, as cool as Akasaka's fighting was, his fighting stance sprite looks like an anime portrait of Jackie Chan and I can't get that out of my head...

What else, I'm running out of time here, it's late and I'm already in for a rough awakening as it is. Well, just, I'm happy. Really happy. I believe in ridiculously happy endings earned through equally ridiculous struggle. I know however that a lot of people like to have a point of no return, to have a line where things are so messed up they can't become fully happy again. Heaven knows that's why Evangelion 4.0 + 1.0 was so divisive. And I was afraid to find out in which camp Ryukishi was, and I'm so glad to know it was the former. The ending is unrealistically happy, yes, but they storming earned it and I couldn't be more satisfied.

If anything, I'm a little sad that it's over. I spent 161 hours overall on this, which is really long but I will miss it. I wish there was (is?) a spin-off or something that happens post-Matsuribayashi that's only SoL stuff. It would be nice to see the club being the club without having to worry about murders anymore.

Oh yeah, the story also makes a point of creating even more questions right after the end. 7 chapters to prove that demons aren't real, only for this one to come and say they actually are. And then it just drops the mic, leaves, and refuses to elaborate. Hope that is tackled in Umineko.

I've read it's a good idea to watch/read Rei before Umineko, so maybe I'll do that as it's apparently pretty short. I also followed the steps to get the secret ending right after I finished and it didn't work. That said I read the Tip that was unlocked after the credits before trying, and after that both the staff room and the tip disappeared from the Extras menu. So maybe it glitched or I triggered something I shouldn't have. It's late and it's been a long session though, I'll figure it out later. The ending was great as it is. If it can get even better, I can wait a bit to see it.

Ah yes, there are also the console arcs. But if VNDB is to be believed, together they are as long as the main 8.... so I think I will tackle those another time.

Anyway, I went into this expecting 8 chapters of horror mystery. Turned out the horror was only a mirage you have to step through to find a variety of genres that don't seem to fit with one another but they do somehow, and they are weaved into one of the best crafted stories I've had the pleasure to read.

And if everyone's comments are to be believed, Umineko is the same thing but even better. So well, here I go. Time to find out what an umineko is. Hopefully not a cat fish.

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Based, you did it. 

Idk anything about Rei, but Saikokoroshi is something to probably read before Umineko. If that's in Rei than cool, I don't know lol. It's not too important though, just something to do if you want

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And here I thought the heartstring tugging was over... 

So you were right, Saikoroshi was actually one of three arcs in Rei and so far as I could tell, the only one directly relevant to the main plot. (I'll check the other two in due time but I'm itching to start Umineko if I'm being perfectly honest).

I actually came out of this with questions this time around. 

Spoiler

So Rika was Frederica. That should have been obvious in hindsight though I admit I didn't see it coming. They both did write the exact same poem so that's a pretty embarrassing slip on my part. 

But my question would be, Rika basically names that persona as the part of her that spent a hundred years jumping between worlds, so she can remain as Rika, a normal girl with no more second chances. She also mentions that Frederica could continue to exist in a higher plane but that was unrelated to her now. So did she just create a deity-like being? Is this like a Fate kind of scenario where the actions of the individual transcend the individual themself, meaning I can expect more of her in the future? 

Also, Hanyuu apologizes to Rika at the end while she's asleep, telling her that she only made her see that vision. Was she referring to the vision of her killing her mother? Or to the other world as a whole? Tbh I'm hoping that she actually only hit her head instead of dying and Hanyuu just took the chance to perform a bit of good old godly sin cleansing. 

Also, this is smaller but, I found it a bit upsetting that Hanyuu stayed in spirit form the whole time. She also didn't interact with anyone beside Rika. She's still there, right? My hope is that they limited their interactions to Rika for the sake of brevity but revealing now that she just went back to spirit form permanently after Matsuribayashi would be pretty hard to swallow. 

Sorry for question dumping all of a sudden but for the first time I got questions that I legitimately don't know if they will get answered in later novels/ovas/whatever. Not replying is fine too, I guess this isn't too different from my usual rambles post-chapter. And what I'm asking could be spoilers, probably. 

Argh, anyway. On to Umineko chapter 1, which I actually don't know the name to. Time to learn another 8 complicated names. 

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I'm honestly not sure of the answers, idk enough about Higu to answer. 

Umineko's chapter names are more straightforward than Higu, but also most people just call them "Episode" and then the number

Edited by aneonfoxtribute
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Saw that, it's cool though I'll miss the shi's. 

Now, if anyone, and by anyone I mean Ryukishi, dares to touch a single hair over Maria's head, I'll go to hell when I die just so I can drag him with me. 

(also I've been preparing for a story maybe in England 1800s, wth) 

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