Higanbana 1st Night Ch. 7: Utopia


General discussion topic for Chapter 7: Utopia of Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni: The First Night. Please tag any references to later chapters or outside works with the [spoiler] tag, providing adequate context in parenthesis.
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What would you rate this chapter?

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This story is basically Ange’s scenes in Saint Lucia Academy turned up to eleven. Jesus Fucking Christ. And the way the way the main conflict was suddenly and unexpectedly resolved left a impression on me.


The way the bullying criticism is starting to pile up in The Princess Lie topic is seriously making me worried for when Aspirety and Vyse eventually get to this story, as I also felt my suspicion of belief being stretched near the end.

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Well I can’t say it would surprise me if they don’t enjoy it much, since I also felt this chapter was actually one of the low points of the novel. It just feels too far gone.

I was definitely feeling myself very unimpressed with the writing with how far he was taking the bullying, riiight up until the twist at the end which is actually super creative and interesting! Sure, the story does feel a bit distanced from reality with the introduction of the supernatural drama, but that doesn’t make the messages any less meaningful. I really, really liked how this chapter turned out; I was actually really impressed how my sour opinion got flipped upside down by the end. Sumire, you bastard, you saved this chapter.

I’ll work on a more comprehensive review later, really tired right now. But so far, loving The First Night.

With the twist are you refering to that the bullying was created by Sumire or that all the bullies from the class died in a bus accident? I expect you mean the former. Am I correct?

Yes the former. The latter was more or less expected at some point. Shit had gotten so twisted that it could only be resolved with the equally twisted resolve of Higanbana to mercilessly kill all those kids.

I consider Utopia to be Ryukishi’s… “Horror Magnum Opus,” so to speak? It’s doubtless my favorite story in the First Night. While I consider Higurashi and Umineko to be superior works overall, and while those two are far more gory, Utopia, and Higanbana as a whole, is fueled by pure atmosphere. While it might not make me cringe as much as a certain scene involving fingernails, Sumire’s reveal might be the most unsettling moment in all of 07th Expansion.

“That’s because you don’t know the f u n o f b u l l y i n g .”

(On a side note, I am disappointed with how Sumire is depicted in later stories, but we’ll get there when we get there.)

I think what really sold me on the Sumire twist was how, she isn’t a direct cause of any of the bullying in Higanbana. She doesn’t cause any bullying, she just takes advantage of those who decide to bully. That’s why she has no power over Yukari. Everyone who bullied Reiko did so at first of their own free will. All Sumire’s presence does is provide a satisfying explaination with the bullies go so over the top and unhealthily obsessed with bullying (and also explains why the Teacher goes along with it so easily). That’s, actually fantastic imo. I can see this chapter being divisive and some people not liking how Sumire fits in, but I feel like I would’ve liked this chapter a lot less if she didn’t show up.

Also, check out @310’s fanart if you didn’t see it yet! She dedicated her art to this story arc. It’s certainly a pairing which invokes very mixed feelings in me, haha…


I can’t help but find it funny, because my reaction to the Sumire twist was literally the exact opposite. It’s what made it go from a story that could’ve turned out pretty interesting into a pretty meh experience. My reaction to the Sumire reveal was mostly just disappointment.

Maybe my standards are too high, but when the answer to “why are they so cruel” is “because a youkai is manipulating them into it” it just feels like a letdown. Especially in a Ryukishi story. Though even that I would’ve still enjoyed, but I didn’t really find much to enjoy about it, so this was a really awkward final arc for me.


You know, suspension (not suspicion, that’s something else entirely :stuck_out_tongue:) of disbelief is a funny thing. If there wouldn’t have been that twist with Sumire, yeah, I wouldn’t really have been able to take it seriously, or rather, after listening to the podcast of the first three chapters, I’d fully agree that this is a crapsack world and we can be happy that in our world it isn’t that terrible. Although it’s actually the teacher going along with it what would break it for me. I also don’t feel underwhelmed by the twist as @Karifean did, partly because this story doesn’t seem to question Youkai at all. They are a part of the world, and as such they can be a valid cause of bad things here. What I see Ryukishi accomplishing through that, is basically being able to show just how awful those bad parts in school could be if you were to take them to their extreme. The two messages I took from this chapter specifically were:

  1. Bullying exists, and it’s terrible.
  2. Therefore, bullying should be fought, not ignored.

So now I want to ask everyone of you, How do you fight bullying? In the epilogue we saw how it can be fought as a fellow student. But let’s do a little thought experiment, so try to answer the three following questions:

1. Imagine you are a bullied child. What do you do against it?
2. Imagine you are a parent and your child tells you it is bullied in school. What do you do?
3. Imagine you are a teacher at a school and a child comes to you and tells you it is bullied. What do you do?

I think it is important to think about this situation from each perspective, so that’s why I’m asking these questions. Of course, I’m aware it’s difficult to answer such a generic question as every bullying situation is different in the end, but please try regardless. I myself do have answers for these questions, but as my answers have professional background (meaning I asked my mom who is a teacher in a kindergarten), I fear my answers would stop you from thinking.

Now, next in line, this chapter is called Utopia, and indeed, we do see a so-called utopia being build here, and as it often is in both reality and fiction, that utopia is not a true utopia, as someone has to suffer for that utopia to exist. If you’re wondering where this was the case in reality, just look at any part of history where a certain ethnical group was abused for the benefit of others.

Sometimes the best stories are those that imitate reality, and near the end there was certainly a moment that mirrored a part of my mother’s life, however, I’ll wait to talk about that until we got to discuss those questions I asked earlier, as it is one example of how bullying can be fought.

Furthermore, there’s another little experiment I want to do to prove a point, but I want to focus on one topic at a time, so that’ll have to wait a little bit as well.



Fantastic post Vyse. I feel like I could write an essay in response to it, but it’s 1am here and I need to get to bed. Give me time, because I’m definitely going to formulate a response to this, I just need time to consolidate my thoughts. I think those questions will be a great point to focus on in the podcast too.

Alright this chapter seems a little divisive to me. Was Sumire a good addition to the story or was she just a fucking Disney Villain complete with cape and villain gambit to hold over the heroes?


Hoo boy

Look, I’m not opposed to hammy villains. Heck, I love Beatrice more than maybe any other character ever, and Higanbana’s little display in chapter 2 gets the thumbs up from me. But I could not take this seriously at all. I was already expecting Reiko to either be a Youkai or a Youkai’s puppet but the sheer scale of her master plan makes her laughable to me.

I’m totally on board with the idea that the Youkai represent tragedy or other phenomena that occur in society. In this chapter Sumire represents the phenomena that creates bullies. This is something that Ryukishi is very familiar with, and I really appreciated the way that he pushed Yukari’s character up until this point in the novel. Ryukishi even poses a nuanced argument on how bullying is part of society, that even if one abuser is put down, whether killed or scared or reformed or whatever there will be more because society creates bullies in the perfectly ‘natural way’ that Sumire describes as a need for nutrients for the heart. The way Ryukishi outlines the hierarchy of the school and its effect on the students behaviour was incredibly intelligent.



What blows my mind is that whether because of time or creative restraints (he ran out of Youkai power and couldn’t write anymore) Ryukishi ends the story in the easiest possible way. By murdering every single bully horribly. This is great for Higanbana’s character in showing us that even though she’s friends with Marie and has changed she really is still a cruel Youkai, but I felt very dissatisfied with it. I really wanted Ryukishi to push the angle that the system is broken. The bullying continues because the teachers don’t care, because the parents don’t understand and they’re detached from their own children’s lives.


The kids continue to pick on each other because it makes them feel better than someone else and it makes them feel better about their own personal problems. I appreciated the final scene with Yukari helping out someone else in her class but I don’t feel like the ultimate solution is to ‘stand up to bullies’ because even that is often suppressed by the system (either because the student standing up doesn’t know the socially acceptable way to do so and just makes a further target of themselves or because people in positions of power don’t care or don’t know how to deal with the problem). I think that Ryukishi is smart enough to see that the school system has problems and to propose solutions.

And on that topic let’s give those questions a shot @VyseGolbez

  1. If you are a bullied child you may or may not have a few options depending on school environment, personal attitude and the authority of the bullies. Speaking with a teacher is always a good start but if the teacher doesn’t know how to handle it things can go poorly. It’s best to find a teacher who has time to speak with you who can advise you on how to proceed, and take a friend so the situation can be presented honestly and with some certainty. If you have friends in the grade you can rely on then staying with them while on school grounds is an excellent bully deterrent, it’s much more difficult to exert power over a group of people than an individual. You absolutely do not start a physical fight with the bully because they will inevitably claim you started it and that just causes even more unnecessary trouble.

If teachers and friends fail you then you are in the absolute worst situation. You have 3 options 1. You may be acting antisocially without realizing it, reflecting upon yourself and figuring out how to make yourself approachable will help a lot in school. 2. Switch schools. If this is available to you the fresh start will probably help you make a good first impression, and your old class was probably full of assholes anyway. 3. Read Higurashi it will help with option 1

  1. If my child comes to me and tells me they have been bullied my priority is to establish communication with the school and find out what’s going on. From there supporting my child and talking with them about it is key, it’s important to understand what the problem is in order to fix it.

  2. Okay this is the hardest one considering both of my previous answers included communicating with the school. Common procedure in Australia at least is to collect all students involved in the bullying incident and have them fill out ‘witness forms’ to say what occurred at the scene. It is always worth giving the supposedly bullied child the benefit of the doubt, and organizing school counselling sessions for them and/or contacting their parents to establish communication with the family is important. That’s a bit difficult as an individual teacher, in the moment of contact I would probably take the student to a teacher’s lounge or other semi-private space to talk with them and learn about the immediate problem.

I might’ve rambled a little bit let me know if there’s anything more specific you’d like from me Vyse. I firmly believe that establishing a firm support/communication structure in schools is the first major step to fixing bullying between students.


So I promised I would give my own thoughts to the questions I posed, and I did so in the podcast as well, so here I go. Again, these answers are the result of talking to someone who works with children.

  1. This one is really the most difficult one to answer. @MagusVerborum does have a point in seeking help from others, and even in the worst case situation of both teachers and parents being crap and not helping you, there is always some instance that should be open to children, thinking of social workers here basically, and if there is not, then there needs to be a change in the system at large. What can also be done though is simply confronting the bullies, saying that what they do is not nice. Sometimes bullies don’t realize that the thing they’re doing is bullying, so confrontation can solve the problem.
    Another thing that can be helpful and is one that often occurs, although it’s more of a subconcious choice for children in these situations, is basically starting to behave very differently. Because, in the end, both hurting yourself and misbehaving like crazy can be calls for help. This sort of behaviour is somethiing a child does when it is at the end of its wits, and sociaty at large should then realize that something is wrong. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually advice someone doing that, I am more observing that this can be another result of these sorts of things, and that others should see these as signs that something is probably wrong and troubling the child.
  2. As a parent, it would be important to assure my child that I support it. Furthermore, I would seek contact with the teacher, informing him of the situation. If I realize that the teacher isn’t doing anything and the situation doesn’t get better, I would address the next higher person in hirarchy, so the rector of the school for example.
  3. Now this one is the most interesting. I touched a bit in the podcast that the advice of “Ignore it” can be good advice. I mean, some of you perhaps heard that advice yourself when you were teased and complained at teachers or ypur parents. And the reasoning there is indeed as the teacher said, one would think that the ones teasing would get bored of it because there’s n reaction. What the teacher forgot to do in this story though is for one to say that the child should keep him informed in case ignoring doesn’t solve the problem, so again getting that message across of “I am there for you.”, and two he should observe the situation himself. What he shouldn’t do, at least not immediately, is intervene from the get-go. This decision as well has its reasoning. We all know that life is hard and that you have to frequently work with problems. By not immediately intervening the teacher would give the child the opportunity to try to solve the problem itself, possibly learning for the future how to deal with such situations. Things where a teacher should interfere immediately is if the child’s physical or mental health is in danger. Such a situation would for example be where Yukari was forcibly stripped naked in this story.

This is basically the bottom line, and I couldn’t have said it better.

Now I also promised a little story in my first post. The scene right before Sumire’s reveal reminded me of something out of my mom’s life, you see, so I though about sharing that. And don’t worry, my mom gave her okay to tell that here.

So when my mom was at school, there were 6 girls and about 20 boys in her class. The group of girls in particular had the kind of power structure where one of them would always be isolated, that one person changing pretty much on the whims of the leading girl basically, and as the boys didn’t really care much about the power fights there and the person in charge of the girl group being famous with the boys, for the isolated person it really did seem like the entire class was against her. While it at first may seem that every girl in that group could be the isolated one, it was more that three of the six girls more often ended up being the isolated one, my mom being one of those girls. My mom then realized that this situation sucks, so she basically offered the other girls to still talk with them and do stuff should they end up being isolated again, and asked that they’d do in return. It took a while for one of the three to do that as well, while the other pretty quickly went along with it, so soon something that was “planned” to be a 5 vs 1 situation became either a 4 vs 2 or a 3 vs 3 situation, and that is way less fun, since the person supposed to be alone wasn’t alone. Later on my mom also realized the power structure of the group, and basically confronted the leading girl, saying what she’s doing is terrible. And the best part about this is that she, perhaps reluctantly, agreed and the group continued being friends afterwards.


It’s something Ryukishi himself addressed here, albeit awkwardly. When the isolated victim is joined by others, it becomes much harder for them to be bullied. This is what gave Yukari her strength to stand up for Reiko, and what she couldn’t find when the entire class was truly against her in the end.

But man, we really glossed over how important that scene where Yukari stands up for Reiko is. Even if Reiko was a lie, the strength and development Yukari demonstrated here was beautiful, and made me feel so proud of her. Even if the basis of the strength crumbled before her, that message is still important. Find allies, support each other.

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It was a fine chapter. Besides being really long, a bit roundabout, and kinda unrealistic, it is fitting for a final chapter.

How not to love Yukari? Her resolve was really impressive, and a very nice thing to see. STILL Higanbana completely stole the spotlight on that ending. Even if I saw Sumire coming I would never think things would end like that.

2nd night, here I go!

When we refer to bullying in Japan, one might notice that the Japanese tend to “deal with it” passively. This is kind of mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, and even a little in Chapter 5. We’ve seen, throughout Higanbana, victims be told to change their ways and join the collective rather than putting any fault on the group of bullies, even though many characters seem to acknowledge that it’s wrong. Very rarely in any Japanese media–at least, from the ones I’ve read/seen–do characters stand up for injustices. Instead, they tend to be very quiet about it or place blame on the victim, as I’ve seen. I do not know if this is as true for Japanese culture, but surely there is some truth to how bullying is depicted in its media. So… for a character like Yukari to develop a strong resolve like that, to stand up to bullying, is very impressive and noteworthy, in my opinion. It is a strong message that I feel Ryukishi is trying to project onto Japanese society.

I thought the ending was very sweet, and I look forward to reading the second night.


Just finished reading this chapter, and I agree with @Aspirety on the degree of the bullying. What shocked me the most, however, was when the story implied to me to Sumire had utterly destroyed Marie and eliminated her. Everything turned out fine at the end, but my heart had sunk at that point, and I sort of wish they’d kept her out of commission permanently. That would have made a nice downer ending to get me ready for the second night, having the only true beacon of good in the story gone.

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Yeah that surprised me too. I guess you can’t kill what’s already dead, huh…

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Yay! A happy ending, and all it took was a bus full of dead children! :smirking:

Oh boy, this chapter seems to have been divisive! I personally thought it was the least inspired major chapter in the First Night, but de I still think that it was probably good here like this.

This chapter was much more straight forward feeling than everything else so far, and it felt very Ryuukishi to me at any rate. One of the things I mentioned in one of my earlier posts is that Higanbana has been very pessimistic as a work, and I thought that contrasted with the feelings in Higurashi and Umineko. Ryuukishi isn’t really a fundamentally pessimistic author, so I was kind of waiting for the “And Still You Fight” chapter. Which is what this was.

The story here seemed pretty straight forward to me. Yukari is our most upstanding and relateable lead yet. She came to be bullied because she went through a rough period in her life, but she did everything society tells you to do - fixing her hygiene, turning to parents and teachers - but she is still bullied. When Reiko shows up, bell in hair talking about how she is nourishment for the class she makes it clear that she was going to play the demon-sent-temptation to give in. And the climax is Yukari gaining the will to fight, resisting the temptation to join in and bully Reiko, and then further tested by personification of bullying-creation-force Sumire. But despite things getting decidedly worse for Yukari before the end, the takeaway is that she still must fight. We must fight bullying and there is never really a good excuse not to. The end note of Yukari standing up for a bullied kid at the end was the message of hope that Ryuukishi wanted to leave us with.

I think having this kind of a chapter was an important sendoff for Higanbana The First Night. We have had some pretty heavy endings, and with stories like Hamlen’s Castanets the gloom can leave even stony readers with a gloomy outlook. This chapter doesn’t deny the horrors of the previous or the horrors Yukari has to put up with. It tells us it is not despite these horrors we fight, because these horrors we fight. And so, even though this chapter was probably the least interesting meditation on bullying, it is still an important one, and probably the best one to end on.

  1. I would probably ignore it. It is hard to say though because a lot depends on what the bulling looks like. But my personality is such where I would avoid engagement. I was bullied a bit in Elementary School - not to any of the degrees shown here thankfully. I know the bullies managed to get me to react then. When I was older though I more or less just isolated myself, and I was lucky enough to get friends along the way so we just created our own bubble outside of the jerks in class.

  2. I would want to be a resource of love and support first and foremost. I think parents are really quick (at least in the US) to jump in when it may not be the best option. One of the themes we have seen to various degrees through Higanbana has been that the person being bullied generally has to face the bullies themselves. I think there is some merit to this, and when bullying is involved adults often create false peace. I would want to be a safe place my child to talk, and work through it. Of course if they wanted to lean on me to do more I would, and I would be monitoring the situation for escalation as well.

  3. This one is the hardest for me to project myself into. I think ideally I would want to understand the power structure of the classroom and I would try to make administrative moves - pairing students up, grouping them, that sort of thing to undermine the social power of the bullies. And again you would want to monitor for escalation as well. Being a safe zone the bullied student can trust is also key.