Higurashi: When They Cry (2020) episode 4

Rena Ryuugu

Oyashiro-Sama
A good end to the first arc. Loved seeing the changes this time around and Rena was awesome this episode <3 Can't wait to see what the cotton deceiving arc will bring.
 

Vincentdante

Pokémon Master
The bit when Keichii hugged Rena after coming to his senses was such a nice moment, it was a kind of redemption arc for Keichii in a way after Tsumi. Pity that it escalated as it did.

In the spirit of the visual novel where we try to solve the arc. We are speculating over in my discord that in this fragment Rena must have killed Rina and Teppei at the junkyard and has become suspicious of Keichii who found and hid something from her there. And of course she caught him talking to Ooishi a number of times afterwards so she hit level 5 pretty quick through that paranoia. That's the best theory proposed anyway lol.

The next arc is Watadamashi to replace Watanagashi soooo we are expecting things to get crazier.
 
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IdiomaticLynx

Dandy Guy, in Space
Nice episode and finally some real structural changes. I find the inaction from Rika quite weird, hopefully she did do something behind the scenes that simply wasn't shown to the viewers (perhaps the cause of the "remodeling" at the clinic?).

We are speculating over in my discord that in this fragment Rena must have killed Rina and Teppei at the junkyard and has become suspicious of Keichii who found and hid something from her there. And of course she caught him talking to Ooishi a number of times afterwards so she hit level 5 pretty quick through that paranoia.
Interesting, although I have a couple of issue with that speculation. First of all, Rika should know that if Rina tricks Rena's father, Rena would off her. She has seen that happen way too often and knows that it's effectively a dead end. Either she tried to prevent it and failed, or she didn't notice it. While I find the latter hard to believe, the normal signs (Rena going home straight after school) might've been different for some reason. As a result neither Rika nor the others would've noticed it.

Second of all, while Keichii was hiding something from Rena at the junkyard, that was while retrieving Kenta-kun and IIRC, murdering Rina would take place after it was successfully retrieved. So Rena has no reason to suspect that Keichii would know about it. Granted, seeing Keichii talk to Ooishi could still fill her with doubt.

What I find most difficult is figuring out what the motivation of Rena was to murder Keichii and then (expecting) to be "demoned away". It clearly seems to be to complete the curse, but would that still make sense if she had already killed Rina and/or Teppei? In Tsumi it seemed that Rena was rationalizing the murdering as atoning to Oyashiro-sama and expected to finally be able to live a happy live together with her dad. Assuming something similar transpired, what would lead her to continue murdering and even disregarding her own life?

That being said, none of the points really exclude the possibility and I don't really have a satisfying alternative present. From the start there was a weird focus on Rena if you ask me. As a result the "twist" in this episode wasn't really a surprise, but that might give us some hints into what actually transpired. In episode three, after the cotton drifting, Rena runs off "to look for the others", but moments later we see her watch Keichii and(?) Tomitake and Takano from behind the trees. So it's safe to presume that by this time something was already amiss. The directing leads to believe that she is mainly looking at Keichii. If true, that suggest the reason for killing (or at the very least doubting) him already took place. (Alternatively, since we don't see the remainder of the festival, she could've interacted with Tomitake and Takano and perhaps even ended up trespassing in the tool shed, but I highly doubt it).

My working theory was that Rena might've been able to remember things from other fragments, just like Keichii. At the junkyard the scene of Keichii hacking away to free Kenta-kun was clearly reminiscent of the scene where he beat Rena and Mion to death. During and shortly after Rena started acting weird, which might be after she "remembered" this from her perspective. This would be enough to be wary of Keichii (explaining other scenes where she spaces off, spying on Keichii during the festival, etc...). I'm not entirely sure how this would translate to her performing the curse. Perhaps she assumed that Keichii would be demoned away and she would be killed (not knowing Mion was also killed). Not wanting her dad to experience his daughter found brutally murdered, she decides to perform the curse herself, killing Keichii and being "demoned away" herself instead (which might be the lesser of two evils?). If anything, she was well prepared and given we saw these things in the kitchen before Keichii saw it, I don't think he was imaging this, unlike with the marker.

Obviously not convinced about the last part. But regardless of the actual reason, I think that is a red herring. It won't really bring us closer to the real question: who is the antagonist? It can't really be Takano as then Rika would know and (presumably) be able to stop it, but it would also ruin the original ending. The most logical motives would be either to torment Rika (or possible others of the main cast, although unlikely) or to get a hold of the Hinamizawa Syndrome. So while we, the viewers, are following the story of Rena and Keichii unfold, Rika is trying to figure out what is going on, Takano gets "replaced" and this change is ultimately too big for Rika to stop or prevent and she and Satoko end up being murdered. While they left the option of "suicide" open, that is a bit too predictable for Rika to do as soon as she would realize that this fragment doesn't lead to an happy end and would also not explain why Satoko died. (I'd also be concerned about how often Rika would be able to try new fragments, given how weak Hanyu has gotton, so even if it would already be a dead end, she could still continue to learn as much as possible)

Given the speculations of connecting this to Umineko, there are some candidates for antagonist. Perhaps this could even serve as background/origin for some...?

(Since this isn't a remake but an actual sequel of sorts, do we need spoiler tags?)

I really liked how they managed to keep in the door scene without actually repeating it. And seeing the arcs resembling/following the original arcs is a nice way to put in lots of fanservice, so still looking forward to a lot of my favourite scenes :). The only thing I find strange is that Rika didn't seem to do a lot, so hopefully we'll learn what she's up to in the following arcs.

Rena killing Keichii was a bit predictable IMHO. And while I liked the fight, it's a bit hard to believe that Keichii would still have enough strength left to raise his upper body and hit Rena in the head after being stabbed a dozen of times. I also have no idea how he survived it (nor who found them), but I'll let it pass.
 

Vincentdante

Pokémon Master
@IdiomaticLynx

Interesting.

The best explanation for Rika's mistake would be simply she thought this was an Onikakushi timeline instead of Tsumi. So she had her eye on Keichii who was acting distant and calmed him down. She must not have suspected Rena would behave differently as she never did in this timeline. It was an error of judgement on Rika's part as she thought it would play out exactly the same as always. If I'm right it would imply there is another entity behind the scenes. Perhapes it will all turn out to be Lambdadelta just screwing around?
 
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