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Another chapter of Higurashi begins and yet again black becomes white, right becomes left and you just don't know what to believe in. It is amazing how carefully constructed theories seem to be way off the mark in one moment and looking very much like the truth behind it all mere minutes later. This story arc is called Tatarigoroshi-hen and it concentrates on Satoko and despite the same characters and setting it feels a lot different than the previous two which is an achievement in itself.

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Not surprisingly episode nine starts with the discovery of a dead body in a river. It's not clear whose it is but it's mutilated and the fingers joints have nails pushed into them. Sounds familiar? Also this scene appears to have taken place about the time the events start in the episode, not at some future point as the opening scenes of Onikakushi-hen and Watanagashi-hen. Maybe this time the murderer was busy at the time of festival so he took care to kill his victim earlier?

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Although that begs the question what kind of schedule this murderer has. I will venture a guess – let's look at his diary: "Fifth of June. Killed X. Ate his liver. Delicious. Sixth of June. Got a new haircut, I must look great for my mugshot. Seventh of June – dinner with Mum. Must resist the temptation to show her my collection of human bones. Ninth of June – the World Cup starts, I am taking a break, so everyone can sleep safely for a month. I don't care about the stupid festival". And yes, I know there was no football world cup in 1983. 🙂

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Keiichi's parents leave the village again, this time in the very beginning of the arc. I really wonder whether their trips have to do with the different events in each chapter, or rather how much they have to do with that. Keiichi tries to cook for himself but almost ends up with a house burned to the ground.

Satoko and Rika arrive just in time to turn off the gas (kind of an obvious solution to the crisis), Satoko makes a dinner, one thing leads to another so they end up kissing each…oops, wrong series. Basically Satoko starts to see in Keiichi a possible replacement for her older brother Satoshi, who as we know from Onikakushi-hen has disappeared some time ago. The bond between the two develops and it turns out to be a major factor in the upcoming events as you can see in the next episodes. Unfortunately all happens a bit too quickly but apart from that it's not presented badly.

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On the next day Keiichi once again gets the wrong idea and mistakes a baseball game for a brawl. He arrives ready to fight instead of play and has a golf club instead of bat. Typical of Keiichi, I must say. Later on, he talks with the infamous manager (initially translated as "director" in the Wind fansub) from Onikakushi who turns out to be none other than Irie, the local doctor whom we saw in episode three for the first time. He is called "kantoku" which can be translated as a manager because he is in charge of the school baseball team.

He seems to be a nice guy but there are things working against him. First, he is a maid fetishist and probably has a thing for lolis too, considering his love for Satoko and desire to marry her. Well, these things seem harmless enough in anime these days but here comes the biggest clue this guy is probably the avatar of Satan or something like that – his seiyuu is none other than Seki Toshihiko who has built quite a reputation as a great voice actor for anime villains (for instance Legato from Trigun). I really hope Studio Deen is not as dumb as Sunrise and they have not chosen Seki for the role of the hidden villain because it would not only be so obvious but also the guy needs to sometimes voice other types of characters for a change. 🙂

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In this arc Keiichi already knows Shion. She claims to be some kind of phantom manager of the Hinamizava baseball team. Well, since I suspect Shion was the evil sister from the previous arc, I guess she inspires the team by threatening them with a short but painful visit to her torture chamber in case they do badly. I think this could make wonders for the team performances.

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Irie claims Satoshi had just transferred to another school in a different town. upon hearing this Shion is shocked and angry. Not yet angry enough to use the nails but who knows whether this will be the case by the end of Tatarigoroshi-hen. I am starting to suspect that Shion knew Satoshi quite intimately. Or maybe she killed him and is angry that she does not get the credit for that.

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Keiichi later decides to confront Reana and Mion with what he knows about Satoshi. Surprisingly Rena goes into a psycho mode and starts talking about the Oyashiro-sama curse and how Satoshi had been punished for leaving the village, while she had apologized to the god and had been spared this fate. The weird thing is that on the day of the disappearance all the money had been withdrawn from Satoshi's bank account. My conclusion? Oyashiro-sama is a bloody thief!

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The animation is positively weird during Rena's psycho scene, her eyes seem to have a life of their own. Mion ends the outburst by slapping Rena on the face and then complicates things further by telling Keiichi about Satoko's parents whose death is suspected to have a lot to do with the fact they had supported the dam project. No one brings up Satoshi around Satoko because it upsets her. Well, I think a lot more things are bound to upset her in this arc, poor thing.

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Not much more to say about the episode, it just continues the tradition of the Higurashi plot to have more twists than the Monaco racing track. Irie seems to be an important character, we learn more about the personalities of the other characters and it just made me wanna watch the next episode of the arc right after this one. And having watched all but the last one I can safely say that the promise of the starting episode is a real sign of things to come and Tatarigoroshi is yet another amazing story arc. Not enough info for complicated theories yet but the fact that Rena believes in Oysashiro-sama's curse while Keiichi seems fully normal (as opposed to his mental state in episode three and four) should be noted. She was a great detective in Watanagashi-hen which leads to the question – if she is convinced something supernatural is behind it all why did she bother investigating at all? So many questions, so few answers…But I love it nevertheless.

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