After much prodding, I guess I have to start discussing this chapter, especially considering I’ve been active for the past three bookclubs (while barely anybody else was).
But the problem is, well, there really isn’t much to discuss. I loved Akasaka’s story, yes. I loved the intensity of many scenes; the mahjong fight, the confrontation with the kidnappers; figuring out Rika’s “other” self. I also loved the conclusion we had at the end, what with Akasaka coming to the sudden realization that everything could have changed, and that Rika could have just been giving him a call for help. It goes to show that, simply, hindsight is 20/20. But with whatever circumstances we are given, we have to keep a level head and make the best decision we can. Maybe we’ll regret it, maybe we won’t; only the future will be able to tell. This links well with the only choice given in the game: in hindsight, the choice doesn’t really matter. But if we could go back and see the choice, then it seems to open a whole realm of possibilities. (and yes, I did go back and try both choices )
There are a lot of unanswered questions in Higurashi, many of which I personally have no answer to. But nearly all of them can be discussed fairly equally without even having read Himatsubushi. Sure, we learn that Oryou has the power to very casually kidnap the grandson of a VIP, but I’m sure those were things that most readers would have figured out by now. The chapter, however, throws only one wrench into the system:
So we all know Rika-chama is clairvoyant, at least, for all the mysteries surrounding the watanagashi. But the question remains: was it through Oyashiro-sama that she learned that? Or was it through the rest of the humans, during the village meetings?
Naturally, the first one is kind of a cheat code. Once we subscribe to the whole “oyashiro-sama” bit, that takes away all mysteries in the game and lets us just say “Oh you silly oyashiro-sama, killing and kidnapping people again”. And with the second one, we can only assume that everything was planned out by some of, if not all the villagers (which includes the death of Akasaka’s wife, unfortunately), and Rika just happened to overhear everything. Whichever one we choose, however, we are left with only one option: to deduce whether our choice matches up with what happened in all the previous stories.
Does the story have enough proof at this point to prove or disprove either theory? Frankly, I can’t tell. And I don’t really want to go to the effort of deductive reasoning as it honestly feels like a game of trial and error; I’d much rather go through it from an inductive line of reasoning but the story doesn’t really provide that to me. But hey, if it does have enough proof, and someone can show that, then I guess they’ve beaten the game.
The only thing I can provide is a gut feeling that, well, the world of Higurashi isn’t all black-and-white. Maybe there is something supernatural going on? Perhaps it doesn’t have to do with the killing (as I believe the deaths, great disaster aside, are all human-induced), but maybe the world itself is affected by the whims of a mystical being. Is it Oyashiro-sama? Is it a divine being? Is it a storyteller? Or is it a witch?
I don’t know. And to be honest, I’m okay in not knowing. Because as long as my gut feeling is correct, I’m going to enjoy the ride. After all, the world of either black or white is kind of boring, isn’t it?