This time I’m finishing up Ryukishi Zeronana’s light novel version of When the Cicada’s Cry: The Festival Accompanying Chapter, Volume 1 (竜騎士07の”ひぐらしのなく頃に解:祭囃し編”), which makes a huge shift from Miyo Takano’s storyline and perspective to Rika Furude and Hinamizawa. There’s still a little more to talk about regarding Miyo’s situation before the story moves to Hinamizawa and the action starts in earnest.
In Part 3, which I don’t exactly know how to translate the title of (maybe “Six on the Dice”?), has a drawing of Hifumi Takano to kick it off. The six chapters or so mostly rehash in their titles the themes and characters we’ve already seen, Takano Miyo, Colonel Koizimi, the ryotei , and Hifumi Takano’s study, before it shifts to a chapter titled “Hinamizawa.”
The next chapter, “Presentation,” is written from the first person perspective. Miyo talks about her adoptive father’s mental strain due to ridicule as a black car comes and stops outside. A number of elegant gentlemen have stopped by to chat with them. Professor Takano introduces Miyo as his granddaughter, and they talk about his years during the war when he was working at Manchukuo’s Epidemic Prevention Research Institute. They get into a lot of medical topics here, like bone marrow, schistosomes, a formaldehyde compound called formalin, roundworms/nematodes, and how various symptoms like headaches, fainting, confusion, and self-harm relate to these. These particular symptoms are end-stage symptoms of the Hinamizawa Syndrome he has been are studying.
This section explains how the patient’s blood is full of parasite eggs and baby parasites, so when the soldiers leave Hinamizawa, the parasites start to take control of the soldiers’ thoughts. Professor Takano gives some of his specific ideas on the illness here, too. Comparisons with parasites found on mice and cats, horsehair worms and other parasites also are examined. It is pointed out that Hinamizawa’s isolated culture formed a singular set of beliefs, but I guess the people giving this presentation are floating the idea that all of Japan’s cultural ideas originate with parasites. The disease progression is affected by stress and the patient’s psychological equilibrium.
Unsurprisingly, the audience reacts badly to this theory. Professor Takano goes pale in response, yet he forges on, explaining how all of the world’s religious beliefs, particularly belief in the local deity of Hinamizawa, Oyashiro, originates with the parasites. Miyo observes the presentation and audience reaction.
Then Miyo appears briefly in another random ryotei to talk further about Hifumi Takano’s “unique” research. That word “unique” keeps coming up in the text in relation to his theory. In particular Miyo discusses lobotomy surgery with Mr. Koizimi.
The next section “Return to Takano’s Study” flashes back to when Miyo was a girl and men come to ridicule her adoptive father’s research, stepping all over the pages of his manuscript. This part is shown in the anime, but it goes a little further here since they talk about god and she thinks back to her angry conversation with god in the rainstorm at the orphanage. She collects the papers off of the floor and gets a cup of black tea for him but hears him sobbing in the next room as she does. This spurs her to want to help him however she can, and this moment is when Miyo Takano (still using his name last name orthography) was reborn, the moment she awakened. It continues along this vein, talking about her going to college and how people thoought that a woman shouldn’t show interest in research on parasites, the section punctuated by boldface poems a few lines each in a more philosophical vein on things like fate.
At this point, Miyo thinks this research is the reason she was born, and she sees her parents’ death as a sad time, but fate was leading her here. She will not cry the day her adoptive father dies because he will be resurrected and become a god through her actions. This part sounds odd since she refers to earth burial when the Japanese rate of cremation is almost at 100% and has been for some time.
Finally, we are introduced to the main setting of the story in a segment titled “Hinamizawa.” The Irie Clinic is about to open in the next month, and the research on Hinamizawa Syndrome will be supported by a secret counterintelligence unit called the yamainu (or mountain dogs), which is already lurking around the nearby city of Okinomiya, concealed by a dummy front company. Here’s the passage on that. Sounds pretty shady.
This chapter also shows her going to visit the shrine of the local god of Hinamizawa, Oyashiro. This is the god who protects the town and its boundaries, but the dam project the residents are fighting over could flood the area and endanger the god’s shrine. Miyo considers the village’s strange beliefs and thinks the villagers knew about Hinamizawa Syndrome much earlier than her adoptive father, but she feels this religion was an attempt to cover up the parasitic origins of the illness.
She feels this secret is something she should reveal to the world and muses again about the ten yen note she found and the phone booth that day she fled the orphanage. That was apparently her most significant life event since she never seems to stop thinking about it years later. She zeroes in at this point on the shrine maiden, Rika Furude, as a person of influence at the shrine, so some of her obsession with the girl and her opposition to her seems to be connected to Miyo’s destiny as the revealer of the shrine’s secrets.
This whole idea goes on for a number of pages as Miyo gets more maniacal and considers herself a strong force against the local god. The section closes with her laughing and ranting on these subjects, with this incredible line:
She’s “dragging someone down from the seat of god!” This dramatic statement closes part 4 and marks an abrupt shift in the novel.
Part 4 starts the novel over as if it were one of the usual novels in the series. The next two sections remind me of the author comments at the end of most novels but serve as an introduction to Hinamizawa and explicitly reference this Festival Accompanying Chapter from a perspective outside of the novel, though the author doesn’t identify himself or sign off here. It sets up the situation we return to in June of Showa 58 (1983) and the goals of the protagonists at this point, mainly Rika and her spiritual ally Hanyu, who is the real power behind the local deity Oyashiro.
Now we see the usual poem from Frederica Bernkastel, and the chapters immediately launch into the tensions and controversies of Hinamizawa in the 1970s.
First up is “A Local Information Session” that shows the residents of Hinamizawa gathered at an angry meeting over the dam project. The discussion turns into a free for all with an emphasis on the conflict between the Sonozakis and the Houjos. Lots of exclamation points in this section with colorful condemnations like “Die, Houjo” and “damn Sonozaki hag.” This meeting decides the fate of the Houjo children, Satoko and Satoshi.
Next we have a chapter titled “Rike Furude” where we see Satoko immediately at home discussing what they’re having for dinner before she ends up going out shopping with Rika. This scene shows how cold the local women are toward Satoko because of her parents’ position on the dam. Rika tries to act like a good friend should but wonders if she does enough to show her loyalty. The rest of the chapter gets more deeply into the conflict between the three main village families and the Houjos due to the village’s political factions on this issue.
The chapter “The Dam Project Disbursement Strategy” turns to the situation at the Irie Clinic where they are now seeing patients. We find out that Irie has been given the military rank of lieutenant colonel, but he doesn’t want anyone to call him by his new rank since he really considers himself a doctor. Jiro Tomitake is also present along with Miyo Takano in this scene. They get into discussion of the dam project and the contentious meeting, including the threat the dam poses to the village since it will put it entirely under water, which will force the evacuation of the villagers permanently from their ancestral land.
Interestingly, this type of situation did happen around the world, for example in two villages in Europe near the Italian-Swiss border, Graun and Reschen, in the 1950s, which is interesting as a point of comparison to this part of the novel’s plot:
There was also one in Venezuela in Potosi in the 1980s:
There are many others that are less famous and dramatic, but notably nothing prominent that occurred in Japan, though maybe we just don’t pay attention to these things in the West when they happen in Asia:
Next, we see a string of chapters focusing on particular characters in Miyo Takano’s orbit, first Jiro Tomitake, then Kyosuke Irie and a second section on Irie that delves into his personal history.
In “Jiro Tomitake,” Jiro apologizing to Miyo. He plans on returning to Tokyo, but she doesn’t intend to go back. There is some investigation going on in Tokyo that has come up in these chapters, but mostly Jiro and Miyo talk about bird watching together and what camera she needs to get. Recall that the village Hinamizawa’s name actually is a reference to this pastime.
The chapters that turn to Irie’s background, written in the first person from Irie’s perspective, include information about how the research on Hinamizawa Syndrome is progressing, the Tokyo investigation’s results and some Tokyo “client” of Miyo’s. They also get into more about autopsies in their parasite research, more on how fleas on mice act, and the need to check on the patient’s brains using psychiatric surgery. However, this autopsy will be conducted on live patients who have been portrayed as dead publicly apparently.
Irie’s background at school and his parents come next. He had dreamed of being a doctor, even going as far as borrowing medical books from the library, and his parents were happy though they are rather stoic about the whole thing. But his father becomes violent with Irie’s mother very often, especially after Kyosuke goes to Tokyo and his parents return to their hometown. Irie can’t do anything about the situation. The police arrest his father with a wooden sword after an incident in the neighborhood, but he was immediately acquitted. Someone died in the neighborhood, however, but they weren’t beaten with a stick and there was some gang hanging around, so his father wasn’t assumed to be responsible for this death.
His mother doesn’t understand the sudden change in his father, but his father had been in an accident that caused a severe head injury. His father had been a civil engineer and had suffered a head injury on the job, after which he started having headaches. His handicap got worse as he reached old age. However, when he died and an autopsy was done, they didn’t find anything to support the idea of a brain injury. Irie struggled to explain it since he thinks he’s too much like his father, and he knows how difficult it is to cure mental illness and mental handicaps like this. Irie then started studying the brain.
The next chapter shows the three families gathered for a meeting about the village ancestors and this idea that there’s an illness affecting the people who live in Hinamizawa. Rika and her parents are present, but when she refers to herself as the rebirth of Oyashiro, her mother gets angry. The illness they appear to be talking about is Hinamizawa Syndrome, which affects citizens who leave the village, though consider it Oyashiro’s curse. They do know this curse brings a localized illness for people who leave.
Eventually, they do call this disease by the name the Irie Clinic knows it by, Hinamizawa Syndrome, and it comes out that the Irie Clinic is doing research on it – it’s hard to tell who is talking here since the dialogue is rarely tagged. They mention that the Tokyo National Research Center is involved in this research somehow, too, as well as the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The curious detail that Oyashiro will be reincarnated in the eighth generation of the Furude family, which means Rika, is somehow connected to the illness, which they admit here is caused by parasites. So at this point, all of the Irie Clinic’s research is being brought before the leaders of Hinamizawa to ponder. Someone objects to this theory. However, Rika is connected to finding a cure for this illness given her family bloodline. Rika is interested in helping, but someone objects strongly to her being used for such research.
Then the story gets into the weird theory that Rika is the contagion queen whose death can cause everyone to go crazy, which I’m going to skip since for this volume I wanted to focus more on the research backstory than the murders, which are covered numerous times from different angles throughout the series. It’s enough to say that this is being discussed at the Irie Clinic. The remaining chapters shift to the Furude Shrine and Rika’s role as shrine maiden, then it gets to the first of the string of gruesome murders which form the core story of the series, the dam worker’s dismemberment in Showa 54 (1979). It shows what really happened to the murder victim, and there is a marked change in how they talk about the village. Here it calls it by its old, more sinister name, Onigafuchi, or the Ogre’s or Demon’s Abyss. We also see Takano excited about finding a new patient exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
One of the last chapters includes the visit from Rika’s father at the Irie Clinic as her examination there concludes. When he leaves, Takano bursts out into laughter, which is always a bad sign. The volume ends with her talking with Mr. Koizimi about her research. We’ll continue to look at the sinister developments in volume 2 once we cycle back through the books.
Part three of a three part series.
Next time: We return to Korea with volume 2 of Land!