Higurashi: When They Cry (2020) Episode 19


Student Council President
Not wanting to sound to negative each episode, I'll start with a positive. It's a nice change of pace seeing events that take place after 1983.

This arc thus far has clearly been focussed on showing the motive of Satoko. It might just be me, but the show does a very poor job of it. In a way this episode even felt like a filler episode. But despite the strong focus on the negative parts from the point of view of Satoko, it doesn't really work and knowing what Satoko will do to Rika, it remains insanely disproportionate and illogical. Here's a short breakdown:
  • They've lost most contact with Mion
    Always sad when once strong bonds water down. But I actually liked this realistic depiction. Despite the best intentions from both sides, it only takes some dividing factor (being it time, distance, etc...) and things can quite quickly come to an end. Now obviously this doesn't directly reflect on Rika, but does set the precedence that if she leaves the village, the same will happen.
  • The club isn't what it used to be
    This was honestly quite sad to see. The club that we all know and love still lives on, but simply isn't the same any more. Similar to the previous point, I find it somewhat nice to see such a realistic depiction. What I didn't really like was the attempt to make it seem that Satoko was somehow affected the worst due to this change. Sure, she likes to use her traps to win in unfair manners, but honestly it should be easy to still have fun and cheating from time to time should still be possible.
  • Rika wants to leave the village
    This is honestly something I have no trouble with. In fact, she even tells Satoko about her dreams first and even invites her to share that dream. Obviously from the perspective of Satoko she only has two options: follow Rika or experience the same she did with Mion
  • Rika spends all her time studying
    As a consequence of pursuing her dreams she is studying most of her time. She even studies in the middle of the night. Satoko decides to join her in this. It's clear at this point that Satoko doesn't do this because she has the same dreams, but solely to stay with Rika. She is setting herself up for a disappointment.
  • The school is harsh
    A lot of effort is required in this school. And the structured classes are a clear contrast to how things where back in Hinamizawa. Honestly I would expect that it's less effort than what Rika and Satoko put in the past two and a half years, but Satoko was actively working towards something back then, whereas now she has no motivation to do it.
  • Rika spends her free time with others beside Satoko
    This one hurts Satoko as she clearly wants to spend time with Rika. That was they whole reason she "suffered" through the studying in the first place.
Now the above does establish a motive, but not a compelling one. If someone goes somewhere where you can't follow them, that would make me sad rather than angry. The only thing in here that makes sense for Satoko to direct hatred towards Rika is the discrepancy between Rika wanting to go to St. Lucia together with Satoko and then ending up spending time with others. Having that be amplified by other negative emotions, like the pressure to continue studying, starts becoming something.

The problem, however, is that they didn't really depict it as such. Mainly because they don't want to make Rika the villain, while at the same time they need to. If they wanted this to work they should've made sure that we, the viewers, fully see it from Satoko's point of view. At this point the requirement of continuing to study to stay in the school didn't seem unreasonable, in fact Satoko doesn't seem to concentrate during class. So it felt more like a natural consequence of her slacking. Rika also doesn't actively prevent Satoko from joining her. It felt a bit 50/50 between Satoko not approaching Rika and Rika caving in to some peer pressure. To drive the point even further home, why not have Satoko be the only one that studied in the middle of the night to make it clear that it would've been unsustainable for her? Or why not let Rika quite clearly exclude Satoko or perhaps try to promise that they can spend some time together at a later date? Or, if you don't want to "taint" Rika's character, why not make it clear that Satoko perceives those things as such? Perhaps with a clichéd dream sequence where Rika is very mean and direct with her?

But as things stand, we have Satoko somehow turning this "motive" into torturing Rika in the worst way possible. Wouldn't it make more sense for Satoko to want Rika to experience the same pain or to persuade her from abandoning her side? Unless they somehow further build up the motive, I can't rhyme the two. Perhaps the idea is that whatever entity grants her the power to loop also further skews her view? Would also allow for a good resolution, the focus shifts on defeating this entity, at which point Satoko regains her sense, they reflect and become buddies again.

As for who that entity could be?
Evil Hanyuu

Also, does anyone know what's happening to Satoshi? I can only guess that having him in the mix would actually give Satoko a reason not to go along with Rika, which didn't fit the narrative, so we simply don't hear anything about him...