I feel like these Higurashi posts will start to come a lot thicker and faster now thanks to a well-timed rewatch on reddit that’s motivating me to get a move on and finish the Higurashi mystery. Still love it, just got distracted by other things. Spoilers for arc 2 abound.
Watanagashi is, where my completion rate stands at all question arcs plus Meakashi completed, currently, my favourite arc in Higurashi and a masterpiece of building up from the foundations that Onikakushi gave us. There’s an obvious reason for this and some rather less obvious reasons.
First, the obvious reason. Mion had quite clearly by the end of Onikakushi become my favourite character. She’s smart, beautiful, I love her character model, and she’s mature and that’s generally my type. There’s also hints in chapter 1, when you first meet her, of a quirky personality (her habit of calling herself ‘old man’) and a few hints that she has some geeky tendencies in that she likes manga and games. Plus her competitive spirit and general competence at everything meant that by the end of chapter 1, there was pretty much nothing I didn’t like about her, her possibly (could have just been Keiichi’s paranoia!!! any excuse for a best girl) trying to kill me/Keiichi aside. So when chapter 2 rolled around, that it was obviously going to be a Mion-centric arc was very exciting to me. The other girls are good and all but more Mion is Higurashi at its best.
And of course, early in the arc, you’re introduced to Shion. Who adds a huge dimension to Mion’s character and her place in the story overall, as well as being an individual actor with her own motives. The arc plays around the possibility that she could just be an alter-ego of Mion’s, but that could only work if Mion was far more responsible and hard-working than we’ve been led to believe so far (she is probably second last, just ahead of Satoko as far as conscientiousness goes in reality). So when the pretense drops, it’s a lot more interesting.
What’s also interesting is figuring out how the timeline differs from Onikakushi. If Keiichi met Shion at all in the first arc, it was not mentioned or deemed important, so we can assume he didn’t. They didn’t do the competition at the shop in the first arc either, at least not as described, so with that at the beginning, you have to ask what made them do that this time around as opposed to not doing so? They could have done it offscreen in Onikakushi as well, perhaps before that arc even started, indicating that maybe the doll was given to Mion and that did not set off the chain of dominoes it did towards Mion going crazy and killing Rika, Sakoto and Keiichi. Another difference in Watanagashi is that Takano and Tomitake both die and are found, whereas only the latter died in Onikakushi as far as we know. Of course, it’s possible that Takano died in route 1, and it’s possible that they caused the curse to fall on them in route 1 by going into the shrine, just without Keiichi and Shion. And that would be because Shion and Keiichi’s meetings weren’t so prominent that Shion came to the festival and lured Keiichi towards finding Tomitake and Takano breaking into the ritual shrine. Dominoes, guys, that’s the way they fall. And it eventually leads to Mion becoming a psycho murderer determined to… carry out the curse on Shion and Having finished Meakashi now (which as the answer arc to Watanagashi can be assumed to take place in the same timeline as it), I have a couple of theories but I’ll save them for my post on Meakashi.
Mion in the final act of this arc is just wonderful. Commanding the screen, from what we assume was that creepy phone call to Keiichi at the high point of the arc, to her admission of being “Mion Sonozaki, head of the Sonozaki family”, she plays off of Keiichi just perfectly, both appearing sympathetic despite the wrongs she’s done freaking him out in what I can only describe as perfect horror, particularly the fingernail scenes and the anguished cries of Shion. The music that plays here, as Keiichi takes in the betrayal of his best friend and potential love interest is just dark and heart-wrenching. It speaks to my love of having a group of heroic characters in your main cast, and one of them going against the rest of the heroes, falling into darkness, becoming a demon, as Mion does in this arc. And even after the end, Mion still strikes back at Keiichi as a phantom, thus keeping the idea of the supernatural still around in Higurashi, after Mion was revealed to have been responsible for most of the deaths this time around.
Watanagashi is a fantastic self-contained arc, and it is almost entirely to do with my love of Mion. Going into the next chapter, my hype and interest in Higurashi was at an all-time high.