Higanbana 2nd Night Ch. 2: Reaper of the Thirteenth Step

Ch9

General discussion topic for Chapter 2: Reaper of the Thirteenth Step of Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni: The Second Night. Please tag any references to later chapters or outside works with the [spoiler] tag, providing adequate context in parenthesis.
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While this topic will serve as a general hub for discussion of the Chapter, if a conversation ends up flowing in a certain direction (eg. You start talking about the series as a whole rather than this particular Chapter), don’t be afraid to continue it in your own topic! Keep the “reply as linked topic” button beside each post in mind.

What would you rate this chapter?

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0 voters

This one was one of my favourites, after all that misery I liked the more positive message.

4 Likes

HECK YEAH THIS CHAPTER WAS PERFECT. It started off impossibly cruel and twisted, and filled you with fear and hopelessness, but by the end, Aya found her hope, and grew so much as a person. All I can say is, watching her reach the final message of “Isn’t living to not die a good enough reason?” was so fucking satisfying. This, is a message that really hit me hard. Like Aya, I often find myself trapped by philosophical musings about my own existence and wondering what it’s all worth. Feels like this chapter was written for people like me. If you have time to think about such absurdities, spend your time doing something more worthwhile! Keep struggling, smile and enjoy yourself, let that be your reason to live. FUCK YEAH this chapter is beautiful. A character who had given up on life, finding the value of life on her own. Best so far. I wasn’t disappointed by Izanami one bit. I too, will continue struggling to live with all my might.

And yeah. I know Higurashi and Umienko are amazing, but to me, this Chapter stands against even the high points of those series’ with the power of it’s simple message. Ryukishi’s done it again.

7 Likes

Reading your post and seeing your reactions was a real treat as I have the exact same thoughts. This is also by far my favorite chapter of Higanbana. Even though some others are really good, this one just stands out as one of the best thing written by Ryûkishi, despite its rather short length. A very beautiful message indeed! Maybe that in the end, the meaning of life is nothing more than to give life meaning… by living to the fullest.

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This is by far my favourite Chapter, and of course Izanami is the best Youkai. I really liked the Story it told and i enjoyed reading it (it also gave me motivation to do a bit more sport :stuck_out_tongue:).

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Is there anything else to say? A magnificent chapter, that’s what it was!

The way it discusses life, the meaning to live, and the people who can’t find the determination to live is amazing, and by the end I must admit even I was tempted to run along. (Damn you Izanami, you inspiring bastard)

That final part with Izanami and the Black Tea Gentleman intrigued me, but it wan’t enough to make me think youkai don’t exist. I think they do and that scene was just some sort of prank or something like that, after all, how else could someone explain the way Higanbana killed an entire classroom, or Marie’s death? Youkai surely exist, they simply take on human forms once in a while to either hunt or support humans.

A chapter 100% worth reading! I’m so glad I started reading this!

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Now that I think about it, I guess this was the first chapter where Marie and Higanbana didn’t appear at all.

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Higanbana appeared in a very small portion of it. But she was the one who made Aya notice the P.E. Days :stuck_out_tongue:

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It’s my favorite as well, I used to be like Aya, at some point in my life, so I guess that’s why :stuck_out_tongue:

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This chapter was some good shit. I saw the struggling of running away as a metaphor for the struggle that living is pretty early on, but it’s still a really damn good chapter. There’s also a pretty good reason why this chapter connects to so many of us on a personal level. It’s because it is a natural part of puberty. That is the point in time where everyone tries to find their place in life and their own personal meaning to it the most. And that philosophical, I would even say nihilistic view is just the negative extreme one can end up in. So what Izanami in the end tries to teach in his own way there is indeed that life has its meaning, that even just living has meaning.

Heh, thinking about it this chapter has all three motives found in european literature from barogue times: Carpe diem (enjoy the day), memento mori (remember that you will die) and vanitas (emptiness). Really goes to show that literature from centuries back can still be relevant with its themes and messages.

6 Likes

Just finished this chapter and it’s easily my favorite of Higanbana so far. I don’t have much to add, but a down to earth relatable message, presented in a way that is purely Ryukishi, peppered with symbolism? Storytelling at its finest. I was wondering why Higanbana popped up in this chapter at all until I thought about it; she bumps into Aya, and checks the class schedule in front of her eyes, foreshadowing to the reader the hint of surviving Izanami’s curse. As someone, like many people, who grew up with Aya’s initial outlook on life, having grown out of it, I felt immense satisfaction from this chapter and it has helped me grow still. I hated Aya at first, but seeing her grow parallel to how I did, I could not help but love her and cheer for her with all my heart. Such an introspective and impactful chapter. I wish to be an Izanami to those in the darkness who wish to see the light, without the extreme penalty for failure of course.

Aside from that, another nice message from Ryukishi presented here is to exercise more. :hahaha:

6 Likes

Damn that was a good chapter. Makes me want to get into a routine of running every morning. It’s kinda interesting how the encounter with Izanami ultimately gave Aya the will to keep going even though he’s, well, a reaper and was out to eat her soul. I suppose this is a question to consider: What outcome did Izanami hope for in the beginning? Regardless of how he eventually came to congratulate Aya, what do you think was his initial desire: A delicious soul, or did he actually want her to sort out her own problems from the very start? Or maybe he’s just a fickle witch, shrugging and being okay with either outcome in their own way?

Higanbana casually butting into Izanami’s hunt very subtly was great. I wonder what her motivations were, there. Did she just want to undercut Izanami, or did she want to see Aya succeed? May have been a bit of both.

(Also, “Aya became the wind” goddamnit Ryukishi you magnificent bastard)

Edit: Sounds like we all pretty much agree on this one. I’m eternalizing this in case it stops being the case someday =P

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I think he’s really okay with both scenarios, like you yourself assumed. It’s kinda a win-win scenario for him. We see him spurring on his victims, so he hates them seeing give up, but he still enjoys their souls should they give up.

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The role of a youkai is to make the night as dark as possible. They’re a deterrent to keep humans on the right path. I’m sure he hoped all his victims would succeed, but if he weren’t to enact punishment, then he wouldn’t be able to drive people to act through fear. Like we saw, Aya wouldn’t have kept running if she didn’t see that hell the children were sent to.

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Hmm, yeah, so I guess it’s pretty much “If it’s your job, might as well enjoy doing it.”

This is currently my favorite chapter.

At first, Izanami was nothing more than a horrific demon that was going to send Aya to a cruel fate. I didn’t like his character, found him very scary. I think we all had a nightmare about being chased at some point in our lives, so what he does made me feel a little uncomfortable.

But giving Aya the determination she needed to change herself for the better was a twist I should have known to expect from Ryukishi yet still totally did not.

On a side note, I couldn’t let myself screencap this chapter because I would have had the whole thing saved as pngs… hah. I relate to Aya in a lot of ways and I have been inspired to make changes to better myself from this read, as well. I may pick up running!

5 Likes

Aww. This is one of my favorite chapters, too!

I had a dream recently about Izanami. He was chasing me, and yes, I lost, because some other cruel yokai teleported me outside of his realm, which I guess was against the rules? I don’t know. Either way, it reminded me that I should probably finish this chapter.

Lately, I’ve been feeling very similarly to Aya. I find myself thinking that, because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything in life, that my life is meaningless, worthless. It’s sad to think about, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I guess it’s good that this chapter sprung up at this time…Maybe we should get some sort of running group going on? I think it would be fun to start as a community? Haha!

Also, the idea of someone–no, a demon–walking at you with a fast pace is kind of scary. Just the image of it in my head was kind of horrifying, and I’m not easily scared by things written in text.

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Sorry for going a bit off-topic, but with running being a big topic in this chapter, I felt like sharing a bit from my personal life.

So I’m really not the sports guy. In fact, I have weaker muscles than everyone else (or something like that, a bunch of medical terms there that I don’t really remember), so I couldn’t be graded in PE as a result of that. Running in particular was one of the things that showed me that weakness, with me being at least 3 seconds slower in sprints than the slowest guy in my class. But endurance running was something that gave me some sort of acceptance, since speed isn’t the thing that matters the most, instead it’s about completing the thing, something not everyone in class was able to do, often because they ran too quickly at the start or something. So yeah, even for someone who sucks at sports, running is something they could take up.

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Hi everyone,

Contrary to the above positive posts and feelings about this chapter, I personally found it a very lukewarm and superficial chapter. In my view, it’s the worst ‘substantive’ chapter in all the chapters till now primarily because Ryushiki, through its characters explores the important musing of the meaning of life, yet never properly address the issue of ‘why’.

Let’s just start with this quote:
"However, I’ve realized my mistake.
I was being absurd.
One’s own meaning of life? Or value?
If you have the time to worry about that,
_then there’s so many other things in the world that you should be doing instead.
Like studying, exerising and laughing with friends at school."

What does it actually says? Well, simply put, the proposition is that you should study, exercise and laugh with friends (or basically do what is socially encouraged). It also suggests that thinking about your meaning of life is ‘absurd’.
Now, that’s fine and all, but the biggest issue I have is that Izanami/Aya/Ryushiki does not put forward the ‘why’.
Instead, throughout the entire chapter, Izanami keeps repeating to Aya to “clear her mind and just focus on running”.
Taken to the extreme, you can say that Izanami is suggesting Aya to “just focus on studying” and “just focus on laughing with your friends”. Don’t think about anything else. This is one way to live your life, and I would say it probably is a good way because you are supposingly living each moment yet feel like you have several short term goals. But then again, you are assuming that there is inherent value is the things you study, or in laughing with your friends.

After going through schooling, you guys/girls can probably understand what I mean when I say that many things studied during schooling was not worth it, and instead that time could have been used to pursue other more interesting things that you care about. Also, “laughing with friends” - for the sake of it because you want to live in the moment? Don’t you feel hollow when you laugh but don’t find the triggering event/joke humerous?

Anyways, Ryushiki elaborated a bit more in the marathon part:
I think I finally understand. The meaning of life.
‘Living because you don’t want to die.’ That’s enough of a meaning.
People, just by living, already have a wonderful meaning and worth in life.
And if you find yourself wanting more meaning to life… then you should try living each moment to its fullest.
Learn. Play. Laugh. Be angry. Cry. Anything is fine. Just live life with all your might.
To be able to put your heart into something, and do it until you’re literally too exhausted to continue.
That is the value of human life.

“‘Living because you don’t want to die.’ That’s enough of a meaning” - for Aya. That’s right, for Aya. It would be presumptous to generalise that to the rest of the world.
“if you find yourself wanting more meaning to life… then you should try living each moment to its fullest.” but again Ryushiki left out the most important ‘why’.

You may say the use of ‘running’ is just one example. But know this: running causes adrenaline to go through your body. There is something called a “runner’s high” (triggered by endorphins), which makes athletes push themselves. That partly explains why Aya was feeling what she was feeling at the end of the marathon. In other words, there is inherent neural reward in this activity. Therefore, in my view, to use the concept of running to put forward the message of ‘living each moment to its fullest’ is fallicious. That is because, it’s no different from taking an illicit drug, though it requires the person’s effort to initiate and maintain that process.

Personally, I don’t mind Ryushiki putting forward propositions about what he consider is the meaning of life or what should satisfy that concept. In fact, I hope he does so because it help us all to think about it. What I really don’t like is what he did here, by putting forward propositions without addressing ‘why’. I don’t think I can agree to the meaning of life of another person or be convinced of any important proposition unless I can understand the process of how they got to that proposition.

Let us just consider the last chapter of Higanbana 1 - the proposition being that bullying nourishes people (and sets the hierarchy due to uncertainty of ranking) and that is why they do it. In that chapter, the ‘why’ and the process to reaching that conclusion was fleshed out by the dialogue just before the youkai revealed herself. It is an anomaly that the message in this chapter was just put forward without any proper justification.

Also, in this chapter, Higanbana essentially overtly helps Aya in understanding the rostering system. Taken in conjunction with the ending dialogue of the ‘One Day Girl’ chapter, I can no longer believe she is malevolent. Though whether she is inherently not malevolent or that she has changed after the past few chapters - I don’t know.

Izanami is clearly portrayed as a benevolent youkai, but yet it is true that the upperclass student did disappear. Though whether the demise was through the belly digestive system or just a quick disappearance I don’t know.
Anyways, Izanami is a liar. He said he would never run. But he did in the marathon part. Therefore, we can no longer be certain that he can provide a ‘quick’ disappearance to Aya as he claims.

3 Likes

So not only do I get to bring my own analysis, I’m going to directly respond to @HolyHawk’s response, because I 100% understand your viewpoint and yet I still believe that was a phenomenal chapter. Time to start running!

Alright, so sexy Reaperboi traps people who he sees as failures of society, those who go to school but don’t really ‘live’ and are socially outcast and really just prime targets for other Youkai who like to hunt (so anyone but Marie or the Headmaster) and makes them run. For 49 days. Izanami is taken from Izanami-no-Mikoto, a goddess of both creation and death, with a name that literally means “she who invites” obviously alluding to the fact that Reaperboi is ‘inviting’ his victims to run, he doesn’t really want to kill them and even at the end of the marathon it’s not her physical strength but her willpower that gets Aya to the finish. As I’ve said in pretty much every comment I’ve ever made, a lot of the Youkai were never malevolent in the first place though it is in their nature to hunt for sustenance.

The moral that Reaperboi is teaching Aya, and that the novel is arguing to us is that when you live in a life without struggle it is meaningless. I think this is just as much a call to action to Sloth-like humans as it is comfort to those who suffer through hardship themselves. This is a moral that’s prevalent in Ryukishi’s other works, that those who endure hardship and survive will be stronger for it. They will be able to do great things. Izanami isn’t perfect, as you pointed out HolyHawk, his own (supposed) philosophy on life, to just not think about it, is flawed. I don’t think that this philosophy is a be-all and end-all and I’d much rather treat it as an argument for a certain circumstance. If you are over-thinking things, if you are depressed and you feel the nihilism of your own existence encroaching in the back of your mind, you just need to be reminded that there’s something worth living for, and that something can be something as simple as just living. Personally I disagree with Izanami’s assertion that you shouldn’t give yourself a noble goal in life, but I also noticed that he himself has a noble goal, in fact it’s almost like his whole reason for existence is to train people to be better. Izanami didn’t even want to catch Aya at the end, he may be a monster but he has rules. Something to think about.

The why of the chapter is never explicitly stated to us but simply through the tone of the narration for Aya’s scenes we can tell she’s not enjoying life. The running through the school is a nice metaphor for the struggle that everyone faces day-to-day. It’s a very simple ‘why’ but that’s why I like it. It’s short, succinct, and full of Youkai beefy Reaperboi goodness.

TLDR: I think this chapter should be taken as an argument more than a manual.

8 Likes