Higurashi Ch. 1 Onikakushi Spoiler-Free General

Please do not lament.
I will forgive you even if the world will not forgive you.

Please do not lament.
I will forgive you even if you will not forgive the world.

So please tell me.
What will it take for you, to forgive me?

Spoiler-free general discussion topic for Chapter 1: Onikakushi of Higurashi When They Cry. Chapter 1 refers to episodes 1-4 of the first anime series.

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This topic also served as a discussion hub of our Higurashi Tea Party, culminating in our podcast below.

What would you rate this chapter?

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4/5. Finished reading this an hour or two ago. This chapter was fairly interesting. To get right to the point, I enjoyed it a whole bunch, but just couldn’t agree with Keiichi’s decisions. Before I get to that, though, I’ll start from the beginning (after the “farewell” bit anyway).

Opening
Characters we’re introduced to
Keiichi: Protag-kun; just transferred in.
Keiichi’s father: A painter of some kind. (I’ll admit that at first I thought they were talking about a house painter… I have a neighbor that does that for a living so I didn’t find it too odd, but then later I realized they were referring to art. Oops.)
Rena: Kyute moe-moe classmate who comes to pick up Keiichi each day. Cool. At this point she doesn’t really have much of a personality.
Mion: Officially an upperclassman, but hidden underneath that cute exterior is an old man! At least judging from how she behaves. I quite liked her, but felt she was somehow lacking in something. Like her character was incomplete… But that’s completely fair at this point in the story.
Satoko: Pranking loli that seems to be a tsundere of some sort. At this point in time there’s nothing more I can really say about her character. There are a couple of things that interest me about her role in the story… but I’ll get to that later.
Rika: Best girl hands down. She’s pretty clever, has interesting quirks (like patting your head to console you, even if that doesn’t actually make sense), and is the quiet (yet not) sorta type. Unfortunately, there’s also not much more I can say about her either. Again, there are certain things that interest me about her role in the story…

Anyway.

Story
This starts out with the standard moe common-route type of formula. It felt really enjoyable in the beginning. “This wouldn’t be so bad,” I thought to myself. Of course, due to the opening (“Farewell”) I was also expecting something to happen. We see little hints of this as the story progresses. The way certain things are phrased, and how certain characters react, are painfully out of place. There were many times throughout the story where “death” was a prominent theme. To me, this can be taken in one of two ways once you notice it: It’s an intricate detail that should be relished; or it’s gallons of thick syrup on a pancake when you ordered waffles. There’s also a third option! Which is what I went with: I noticed it, but didn’t particularly mind it. Mostly I’d just find a wry smile infect my face after reading scenes like when Keiichi first met the photographer, Jirou and cracked that joke about the bodies. Not that any of this takes any of the enjoyment out of the story, mind you, I just view it to be worth noting.

The night of the festival was quite fun! Jirou was a total bro (or at least that’s what it felt like to me), and the way things played out left a smile on my face. Of course, there were certain hints thrown here and there (like I lamented about above), but overall it was a pretty fun portion of the story.

Middlegame
This is what I thought at this point in the story: “Who would’ve had time to kill Jirou? Rena, Mion, and the others were ‘missing’ for a period of time during the festival, but Jirou was still alive when they returned. At this point, I had begun to doubt the shrine maiden, Rika. She had to stay around after the festival for a meeting, and would’ve been with the adults. She’s witty and clever, so she’d be likely to be able to do something. Likewise, Jirou didn’t seem to suspect anything about her either.” Since we know it’s a group of people that attacked, it also seems possible that one of the others could have contacted another set of “demons” though. At this point we can also conclude that there’s a high probability that a drug was used to get Jirou to act the way he did. From my understanding, autopsies don’t reveal all known drugs; they have to do specific tests for them, so they do a common set of tests instead of “all tests.” We don’t have to make any leaps in logic, then, to conclude it was the doing of humans, rather than a curse or demons, here.

It takes quite a while from the beginning of the story for “something” to actually manifest. And that’s where I started getting really frustrated with Keiichi’s decisions and actions. I am aware that with the (likely) state of mind he’d be in, and considering his apparent age, it would be unreasonable to place a high standard on his ability to think rationally. Even so, I view his actions as idiotic even then. That was probably the most frustrating part about the story for me. However, I think a clear lesson can be drawn from this: believing something to be true, while dismissing contradicting evidence, will not have a favorable outcome. Put differently, imagine you’re sitting in the middle of an intersection in the dead of night, with the firm belief that a vehicle could not possibly hit you. A truck parked up the hill suddenly starts rolling down. Believing hard enough doesn’t change reality. I think Keiichi’s actions early on, and the progression as he realizes the proverbial truck is closing in on him, are a reflection of that. (Though I have no idea whether that’s actually intended, or if the protagonist just has to be dense so the player can feel superior, or something.)

Endgame
The conclusion to the story was quite interesting to me. Rena and Mion are dead (assuming that’s actually them). While I was expecting this to happen, I still felt something from it. I guess I was hoping things could be explained away too, but at the same time I know that would have annoyed me. They revealed the drug, and put things quite bluntly. I didn’t think they’d stop being so ambiguous about what would happen next. I’m quite glad that Keiichi’s Fight-or-Flight response finally kicked on in a useful way for once, and managed to save him, at least temporarily. He was smart enough to try to secure the drug… Where he secured it was just… so stupid… But he didn’t have much time, and since he had already set up the clock to be searched in advance, I probably couldn’t have done it any better in that situation, with those conditions.

An initial erroneous thought I had was “How’d they get the drug into him? If the syringe was hidden, and everybody took chase, when’d they get the drug?” However, this has three immediately obvious flaws. First, it assumes the drug is actually what causes the “throat-ripping.” Even if that’s the case, second, there’s no reason to say the chasers wouldn’t have an extra syringe or vial with them. Perhaps, however, the chasers didn’t have the drug with them. In that case, third, it’s not stated that everybody went after Keiichi. It’s entirely possible, then, that someone could have found it and brought it to the rest of the chasers after they managed to catch up with Keiichi.

As for what Keiichi said in the end, my theory’s rough draft, so far, is that he was injected with that “unknown drug,” and somehow influenced to attack his throat.

Speculation and Miscellaneous
Demons or people?
Personally, I’m leaning far more toward the “people” side of the explanation. Nothing involving the “demons” couldn’t be explained with “people,” though the reason is still lacking either way. (I’d imagine it has something to do with that dam project still.)

What might happen next?
From what the “extra” section said (you get that after completing your reading of the main story), it seems that Keiichi will be in the next game. I think they mentioned something to the effect of seeing the same story again, but with a different narrative goal; meaning scenes that would’ve been “cut” here, won’t be “cut” there, perhaps. Or I might have misunderstood that part and we’ll be seeing things from someone else’s perspective entirely, or something else. So I’d say that we might learn more about some of the loose ends here… There’s really not much to go on, I think.

Things I haven’t fully considered yet
There’s a huge list of notable things that I haven’t yet taken the time to really consider their implications and meanings. One thing that really stood out to me was Mion’s reaction to Keiichi when he confronted her. It seemed… off. She never confirmed that she put a needle in anything. She just said she did ‘it’. I don’t know what to really say about this, it just didn’t seem like an act. In the case of Rena, her reactions seem like multiple personality disorder, or something similar at least (the disease they gave in the official English translation didn’t seem to really explain what she was doing when I looked into it, but a side effect of it might; plus it was just an umbrella term, not anything specific). Also, this felt like it was lacking a conclusion, but Mion said “I’ll kill him [the detective]”, however nothing ever happened. That’s fine, and all, but it feels like it had a purpose to it. Like it was supposed to be a narrative hint. First off, her response is completely unexpected. I figure that if she’d say something like that, she wouldn’t be referring to “him,” but rather Keiichi…

Anyway! That, and some other random tidbits are still hanging around in the back of my mind, begging to be explored. I’m debating whether to analyze them 'til there’s nothing left, or to just let them hang around until I read ch.2, which will be happening soon, so

Software and Presentation
I enjoyed how the text covered the entire screen, rather than just a small box. Not much to really say about that though.

The “special effects” (sound effects, text shaking, etc) were pretty fun. I was worried they might get overused in the more serious parts of the game, but they didn’t do that thankfully. At least, not as far as I’m concerned. The use of forced text progression pausing was rather decent as well. (Though at times it was frustrating since I was so interested in finding out what would happen next! The suspense the delay created only helped though.)

The use of what seemed to be real photos for backgrounds, with what seemed to be some interesting contrast + cartoon filters applied to it, created an interesting contrast with the bright art in the game. Almost as though it was meant to serve as a reminder of the serious undertones in the story. It really helped with pulling me into certain scenes as well. (I was on edge so many times throughout the story…) However, I’ll be honest, it did come across as a cop-out. “We can’t really afford to spend any more time working on art, since character sprites are hard enough, but we can take a few photos and slap some filters on 'em.” That said, I’m not docking any points for that, regardless of whether how it seemed to me is how it actually was; it worked well.

The music was pretty good. I wasn’t blown away or anything, but their use of it was well orchestrated. I didn’t have any complaints with their choice of music at any point in the story. More importantly, they used ambient sounds, and silence very well. Put another way, the audio only accentuated or amplified the mood, making this truly a sound novel. (At least in my opinion.)

I can’t say much about the individual tracks though, since I haven’t spent much time listening to just them.

The official English translation had a lot of typos. Not the fault of 07th Expansion, but still irritating at times. (Needing to reread a line because of a typo really kills the mood the story is trying to build up. It wasn’t just like one or two either… There were no branches either; it was just a straight read!)

Automode stopped working at times, and I wasn’t sure why. (Was it an intentional thing? Like “confirm you’re still reading this story please.” Or was it perhaps a bug? I’m not sure. It didn’t really bother me since I only really used it while I was eating.)

When a sprite or background was supposed to fade in sometimes there’d be a flicker of the screen showing it at full color, then slowly fade from black to full color.

Some sprites were missing for me. I just got giant red “?” boxes for certain sprites during the tag scene. That was extremely disappointing, but it probably was just an issue with Steam’s download (and in fact, it did seem to download something else for Higurashi after I closed out of the game, which may have been the missing or corrupted sprites).

Another issue was that there was no pet button for when Rika was dressed as a cat. However, I’ll have to forgive that since this was originally released before humankind had reached such an advanced technological state. ((I’m not being serious…))

Also, I played with the “updated sprites,” not the original sprites. Having seen screenshots of the original sprites, I figured it’d be better for me to experience this first with the updated sprites. However, next time I read this I’ll give the original sprites a go.

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There are many assumptions to keep into mind when discussing this issue. Firstly, like you said in the third possibility, it’s likely that one group was in charge of hunting down Keiichi and another to find and destroy his evidence (which was eventually destroyed as shown by the endgame). Second is the amount of drugs they have on them; who’s to say that they didn’t have even more of those syringes lying around for whenever they need it? And third is, well:

Like you, I am also leaning towards the people side of the explanation. Of course, Ryukishi writes it in a way that both of them are valid explanations, it’s just that the demons explanation is a little easier to argue for. Kind of reminds you of the case of science vs religion, huh.

This is one of the fun parts of the game because it really shows what sort of fucked up state of mind Keiichi was in. Maybe she really did put in that needle as a prank? If he weren’t so paranoid, he would have reacted to it totally differently. Episode 2 spoilers: they even make a reference to this in ep 2 when Keiichi receives a bento and implies that Mion might have put a needle in it (despite not believing she’d actually go that far. But if it did happen at that state of mind, then he would have passed it off as a regular prank.

Another interesting thing about this: Keiichi heard many stories, most of which incite terror unto him. One of those is of Rena’s past, with her breaking all the windows. True, while her personality definitely started to go off, one thing is for sure: she did not do anything that specifically harmed Keiichi or anybody else for that matter. One may even argue that her desperation to get to Keiichi was her simply pushing herself to try and stop Keiichi from the madness that was eating him up… Perhaps that madness is the true curse of Hinamizawa.

That being said, there is no need to use spoiler tags to refer to late-game parts of chapter 1. You should only use spoiler tags to refer to content that is not part of chapter 1. It kind of makes things harder for people who have only read chapter 1 as they no longer would know which spoiler tags are safe and not. Unfortunately that leaves no benefit for people who are still in the middle of reading the chapter but, hey, they shouldn’t be reading others’ posts in this topic to begin with :stuck_out_tongue:

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Just gonna leave this screenshot here. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I should reread Onikakushi. Again. :stuck_out_tongue:

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3/5 over here. I recently finished a start-to-finish series of streams playing through Onikakushi-hen for a group of friends over the course of a couple weeks. I’m going to stand by my oath of silence regarding actual plot details here just as I did while streaming, because there are likely people on this thread who are truly experiencing the series for the first time. However, there were a few points where I found Keiichi – and his antics – to be extremely grating. This goes for most of the arcs, but Onikakushi especially, I feel, kind of dips into Ryukishi07’s sense of slapstick humor… and it’s not a magnificent one by any stretch of the word (in my opinion.)

The meat of Onikakushi-hen’s plot is decent at worst and pretty engaging at best, and on a reread I feel it serves its purpose as a decent indicator of whether or not you should keep reading/watching Higurashi depending on how much you enjoyed it. Points detracted for a lot of moments where I wanted to knock K1’s teeth out, but it’s a pretty solid “Prologue” arc.

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One of my favorite arcs, personally. A nice prologue that really uses the fact that is it the first in the series to it’s advantage. The reader has no idea what kind of town Hinamizawa is, or who the characters really are the first time around, so it is really scary to follow along with Keiichi as he knows just about as much as you do. What makes this chapter work for me is the feeling of paranoia that comes along with it. I really felt confused and worried at what was going on with these events and it was this feeling that made me want to continue the series.

I agree with this for the most part. My guess was that Ryukishi was trying to up the innocent feel of the group of friends to contrast with Keiichi’s paranoid visions of his friends, but I find it can be a bit much.

Made me want to read the rest of the series, all you can ask for with a first chapter, in my opinion.

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Could you specify which antics you are referring to? Like, I can definitely see that sort of slapstick you are referring to in the earlier parts of the story, but once it gets into the meat of the story, I don’t see it as such…?

I love this arc (I loved both Higurashi arcs I’ve read really). The atmosphere as it decays from moege-ish pleasant village atmosphere (which I also love thanks to the music and the blurry CGs) to a few spooky or confusing moments here and there to utterly terrifying moments like THAT’S A LIE (especially with VA, it scared the living crap out of me despite I knew it was coming and I was playing it in broad daylight) and the truck, I think Onikakushi is a quite special VN in itself. The cast is pretty good but Hinamizawa and the music is what’s drawing me into this game.

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In the earlier parts of the story, not later on, when stuff gets darker and you’re actually starting to see the real mystery behind it all. There’s not much slapstick there (and if there was I’d be a little confused.)

I personally find Keiichi a frustrating protagonist at a lot of points in this chapter, but I probably should specify that I wasn’t referring to later parts of Onikakushi-hen as slapstick, and I should have chosen a better term from the beginning, really. The earlier bits were obviously meant to have a really generic slice of life feel, but they’re sometimes awfully distasteful, in my opinion.

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Ahhhh yes, indeed. The entire concept of their club is “win by all means necessary” so I can see many instances where the things he had done bordered on desperation (like planning to put a dog collar on Satoko-chan ;_:wink:

Also, (Tatarigoroshi and Matsuribayashi spoilers) It causes you to look at the club in a different light when you find out that it was originally formed so that Satoshi and Satoko didn’t have to spend as much time at home with their abusive aunt and uncle, and it’s been used to distract its various members from their pain ever since.

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I can respect that point of view, but personally, for me as a reader and for a couple of the people who watched me play through Onikakushi-hen, some of the club scenes – well, actually, one in particular – were pretty… off-color…?

I’m not asking for no slice of life, far from it. I actually really enjoy a lot of the slice of life bits throughout Onikakushi; there’s a lot of bits that just make me smile. If I skipped straight to the mystery bits it’d be a much less fulfilling experience. But on the other hand, just because this sort of humor supposedly makes sense in-universe, in my opinion, does not excuse the scene where he makes everyone in the club into his harem, or whatever. I’m down for a lot of things but there’s places where I draw the line.

It hurts a little to say that 'cause I enjoy this chapter for the most part, and I don’t feel that it’s always too out there with these sorts of things, but sometimes stuff crosses the line for me personally. It may not be the fault of any single character but instead the fault of cultural differences/the humor of the writer, but it doesn’t really change the outcome for me. If other people can enjoy those scenes/view them differently, that’s fine! That’s really the extent of my opinion on it as best as I can articulate it now, honestly.

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I can respect that. It’s really a matter of personal taste, so I don’t think it makes sense to argue about it either way.

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Discussing the harem scene specifically… I think the whole point of that scene is that it isn’t supposed to be excusable. The girls don’t like it, and I’m pretty sure Keiichi himself is aware it is wrong. But he is, after all, a healthy teenage male with ~raging hormones~ and is all too willing to let his fantasies overcome that fine line of respect towards the others (which is why he gets what he deserves in the end). He’ll grow up, eventually :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

(although it can be argued, with the kind of club activities they do, their respect for each other wanes with every punishment, heh)

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Well, everyone in the club is pretty merciless. :stuck_out_tongue: Apparently, (Minor Watanagashi spoiler) Rena was once made to stand out in the snow in a Rio Carnival outfit.

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I’ve finally found time off from working on the CLANNAD Bookclub to start reading this! I finished the first chapter of… the first chapter… tonight. That’s terrible naming sense, wow. Anyway, how many chapters are there in Onikakushi? That should give me some indication of the pace I’ll need to read at.

Lots of interesting things happening right off the bat. I love that Keiichi immediately feels like an interesting character, a good distance from your standard anime or vn protagonist. But the one scene I’ve decided to focus on right now is the whole, voice apologising over and over again on the train. I know that this comes up later in the chapter with Rena, begging for forgiveness over and over. What was the significance of this scene at the start of the VN? And who’s voice was it exactly? With the way we can see they’re in a train, we’re lead to think that it’s someone on the train. But we know that he’s half asleep when he hears the voice, so maybe it’s some sort of dream? Is Keiichi predicting the future? Interesting, regardless.

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There are 15 chapters in Onikakushi, not counting the prologue.

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I think that’s overthinking things, already; while it is a very good narrative, because that scene says things from Keiichi such as “there’s no such thing as an irreparable mistake”, I honestly doubt that they would go so far as to make that a premonition of sorts. It’s simply just Keiichi dozing off, watching something happen to somebody he doesn’t know, not realizing later on that what is happening to them and what he is thinking about that situation will apply to him later on in his life.

Granted, if Keiichi genuinely has abilities of premonition shown later in the game, then your theory has ground, but having only read the first two games, I can’t be convinced.

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