Higurashi: When They Cry – Sotsu

Higurashi: When They Cry – Sotsu

Higurashi: When They Cry - Sotsu anime series cover art
Higurashi: When They Cry – Sotsu

Season Overview

Higurashi: When They Cry – Sotsu (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu / ひぐらしのなく頃に卒) is the second season of the revived Higurashi series. It completes the story which started in Gou, and I think it was actually able to salvage the story in a lot of ways.

Before I get into the spoilers of Sotsu, what does sotsu mean, anyway? Sotsu (卒) just means graduation. And in case I didn’t mention it in my review of Gou, gou (業) is basically the result of someone’s fate, karma, or destiny.

Now, for the spoilers. The majority of Sotsu revisits the same exact events from Gou up until the end, which is where the two seasons really diverge. But, the twist this time around is that it’s following Satoko Houjou as the protagonist.

Why does that matter? Because this season shows us that Satoko was actually the one behind all of the misfortune Rika was experiencing in the first season. Every time someone went crazy in Hinamizawa and Rika died and was reset as a result, Satoko was the one pulling the strings.

And, no, I didn’t think the fact that we effectively went through all the arcs for a second time was boring. There was a new dimension in play this time around that kept things interesting.

Toward the end of Gou, Rika is finally able to make it out of Hinamizawa and goes to St. Lucia with Satoko (before being reset once again). That doesn’t happen in Sotsu. Rika never makes it out of Hinamizawa this time around.

Instead, after revisiting all the previous arcs, we get a new arc that features the battle between Rika and Satoko over their shared fate. Rika is backed by the power of Hanyuu, while Satoko is backed by the power of Eua.

Vastly Superior to Gou

With the exception of the final two episodes, which I’ll discuss in the next section, I think Sotsu is vastly superior when compared to Gou. However, I have to admit that Sotsu probably wouldn’t be nearly as good without Gou having laid the groundwork.

I didn’t like Gou, and I don’t feel like that’s an unpopular opinion despite what you might think when looking at its average score on MyAnimeList. But, now that I’ve finished Sotsu, I’ve begun to view Gou as a necessary evil. It sets up all the arcs so that Sotsu can come in and tie them all together.

In that respect, I do appreciate Gou more now that I’ve watched Sotsu. But I still think Gou is a 5/10 anime. Sotsu actually fixes most of the major issues I had when watching Gou — such as the fact that the plot seemed to be all over the place.

Satoko Houjou from the anime series Higurashi: When They Cry - Sotsu
Satoko Houjou

With the introduction of Satoko as the main villain of the series, all of the various arcs finally make sense as a cohesive unit. I believe I complained about the source of Hinamizawa Syndrome changing every episode in my review of Gou.

At one point it was supernatural, then it was caused by a virus, then the Japanese military intelligence was involved, etc. We now know that it took on all these different forms based on the personal beliefs of whoever Satoko injected in that particular arc.

If Satoko injected someone who believed in Oyashiro-sama’s curse, then their psychosis would reflect that.

The only real problem I see with setting up the series in this fashion is that it leaves Gou as an extremely off-putting experience. I wouldn’t blame someone for dropping the series before they get to Sotsu.

The Final Two Episodes

Everything good I had to say about Sotsu so far doesn’t really apply to the final two episodes of the season. The second to last episode was a montage of Rika and Satoko having a superpower battle. And the last episode saw them simply make up and become friends again, which seemed way too easy.

I shouldn’t really need to explain why Rika and Satoko suddenly having superpowers and fighting in a shounen battle manga-style brawl felt out of place. But, this fight also seemed to go against some of the pre-established lore of the series.

For example, during the montage, we get a bunch of scenes of Rika and Satoko fighting over — and using — the sword that supposedly kills time-loopers for good. It’s even implied that the reason we’re getting a montage is that they’ve killed each other multiple times with it. So why are they coming back?

Rika vs. Satoko from the anime series Higurashi: When They Cry - Sotsu
Rika vs. Satoko

After the montage, once their fight is coming to an end, that’s when everyone seemingly remembers that the sword will kill them for good. Is the series trying to imply that all those other times they killed each other without the sword despite having it in their hands?

And, as I already mentioned, the way they made up seemed like it was just way too simple. They kind of quasi-compromised, with each one simply vowing to make the other see their side. Isn’t that what they had been doing and failing before this battle began?

I also didn’t really think the whole Hanyuu/Eua thing was resolved well either. Basically, Sotsu was good for most of its run because it expanded on Gou in the way it needed to. But then the ending went off the rails and felt like it was wrapped up too quickly.

Conclusion

Overall, I give Higurashi: When They Cry – Sotsu a 6/10. It would have been a 7/10 if the ending was better, but that brought it down. I probably would have preferred if the end of this season went to St. Lucia like the first. I actually thought that was the best part of Gou.

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