Battle in the Underground Well and Storming the Irie Clinic – The Festival Accompanying Chapter, Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai, Vol.3, Part 2

This week, I’m wrapping up the rest of Ryukishi Zeronana’s When the Cicada’s Cry: The Festival Accompanying Chapter, Volume 3 (竜騎士07の”ひぐらしのなく頃に解:祭囃し編 (下)”).  Most of this just follows the anime, though I think it has much more detail where the Yamainu is concerned. The Yamainu is made up of Ogonoki and many others who have the code names of Phoenix, Skylark, White Heron, and 鶑 paired with a number. I can’t find that latter character in any dictionary, so it must be pretty obscure unless it’s too small to see where the lines really are attached.

The place where we left off last time picks up with Rika and Shion discussing a popular song on the radio and observing a car accident. Kasai, their driver, slows down and exclaims that it’s Dr. Irie. They debate whether they should go to the clinic or to the Sonozaki house to hide out. Later, the Yamainu turn their attention to the Sonozoki house.

It comes out in the next scene that both the Sonozoki house and the clinic have underground rooms, but the kids go to the secure underground shrine at the Sonozokis’. The scenes rapidly switch between the perspectives of the kids and the Yamainu at this point.  The Yamainu prepare a plastic bomb to break into their hiding place and discuss Rika and her friends. The blast, which would be heard throughout the village, was set for 10 o’clock.

Meanwhile, in the underground room, each of the kids goes down a ladder deeper into a cave while Mion shines a light down for them. Irie and Tomitake don’t go down with them. The Yamainu also has some access to the cave apparently through a small hole that they flash a beam into. I think they can hear the kids talking, too.

Rika begs Akasaka to help them, and he eventually engages in a karate fight with Ogonoki that Rika witnesses somehow for a few scenes. It’s very detailed. Rika applauds Akasaka’s attempts. Eventually, Shion is told that Satoshi, Satoko’s older brother whom she was in love with before his disappearance, is still alive in the underground facility at the clinic. Irie admits that the boy is still alive, however, while they could cure Satoko’s Hinamizawa Syndrome with medication, Satoshi’s case proved more difficult to deal with.

One of the many nice interior sketches

There are more sections with Takano’s side of the plot dealing with the Yamainu and Nomura in Tokyo. The next one shows the Yamainu talking about her, referring to her as “the princess” and referencing another call from Nomura to her. Takano goes into a meeting with Tomitake where she tells him she planned to kill him that night, but rather than alarming him, they talk about a lot of different things like if she’s satisfied and the money she received. He also brings up her former life under another name, Miyoko Tanashi, the little girl she was before her parents died. Takano ponders if that girl will ever return.

The rest of this chapter then goes back and forth between scenes of the Yamainu on the mountain starting their hunt for the children, who are now their primary enemies, and the kids setting traps and getting help from a number of adult men who are either policemen or bodyguards. The movements of individual Yamainu agents are also tracked in this sequence.

The chapter “Storming the Irie Clinic” starts with Mion talking about surveillance with Tomitake on the mountain, but ultimately Irie, Kasai, Shion and Akasaka go to the clinic to try to get in. They think the Yamainu should be there since it would normally be examination day, and the group plots how they can get into the underground facility at the clinic where Satoshi is supposedly staying.  The four of them do eventually reach the entrance to the underground facility and go in, but it sets off a siren, forcing them to fight their way to Satoshi through a spray of bullets. Shion is very grateful when they reach him. At the end of the chapter, they try to figure out how to keep him safe for the duration of the conflict.    

The next couple of short chapters returns to Takano at the foot of the mountain and gives a blow by blow narration of the kids fighting with the Yamainu. The group from the Irie Clinic also returns to join the fight there.  The story concludes with a two page black and white drawing of the back of the group of kids clearly emerging as the winners against the authorities in their battle with Takano.

Sketch depicting the children’s win

Following this climax, there is a long section titled “The Cotton-Drifting Festival” that details the outcome of each of the protagonists once the festival is held without further disruption after the battle. Brief mention is also made of the Self-Defense Forces who intervened in the situation from their base camp on Mt. Fuji; I seem to recall when I was reading one of the novels from an early story arc that Hinamizawa is actually situated in the region near Nagoya, so that’s not outrageously far for troops to come from Mt. Fuji to deal with the crisis. The summer ends, and Mion and Keiichi are back in school studying. Satoshi never recovers from Hinamizawa Syndrome, though Shion stays at his side. There was talk of shutting down the Irie Clinic even though Dr. Irie was still respected by the villagers. It reviews the fate of all three policemen, Tomitake and even Hanyuu before it finishes with a reflection on the events of Showa 58.

Then we have two poems by Frederica Bernkastel on opposing pages, one black and one white. The first one with the black background starts off with “Everyone has the right to be happy,” while the second one with the white background starts off with “But from now on there are things that will make you increasingly happy.” So they are concerned with finally reaching the resolution of Rika’s repeating struggles against Takano through multiple timelines and defeating her fate of dying as a murder victim while in middle school.

The end of the novel has a lot of short, interesting sections, starting with “The Irie Facility Coup d’Etat Incident Report (Draft),” which is a disciplinary committee report signed off on by the mysterious Nomura from Tokyo. It has a lot of short sections detailing the background issues of Manual 34 and the money Major Takano and First Lieutenant Ogonoki were getting, among other details about the clinic and its major players, including Irie himself though he turned on them in the end.

Takano is turned over to a disciplinary committee to determine her punishment while she is recovering from a serious illness after her capture. Ogonoki’s unspecified punishment is mitigated by the fact he cooperated with the committee and explained what happened. Irie is merely dismissed as clinic director with no further details provided. I personally think all of that sounds pretty tepid in response to their crazy plot, but then this timeline didn’t result in them actually implementing Manual 34 and killing the whole village like the other story arcs show. Therefore, it’s a little difficult to process that ending since the readers should have had the gruesome murders and high body count burned into their brains by now.  This story’s presentation really plays with the reader’s emotions in an effective way, but now it’s a letdown to some degree with the single storyline where the deaths don’t happen. That’s what good horror is supposed to do, but can you imagine if the last story arc was the only one telling the whole story? It’s the multiple false narratives that give it the necessary weight and drama by the final resolution.

Next, we have the author’s brief commentary on the epilogue about Rika’s family called “The Dice Killing Chapter” as well as a word about how strong faith led to a happy world for Showa 58, concluding after 100 years for Rika and 1,000 for Hanyu.

There’s a bonus section after the author’s afterword that has a couple of provocative segments. The first segment is titled “A Forbidden Treasure ‘The Demon Hunting Willow Cherry,’” and it features a special item from the age of the gods stored in the Furude shrine’s ritual tool shed. This item was a special sword handed down from a time when humans and demons mixed on earth, and it had demon-destroying power.  This section goes deeper into the treasure’s relationship to banned books and the Furude clan.

The second and final section of the novel is “Children’s Lunch Flag” where a young Miyoko, Miyo Takano when she was a child before her family tragedy, is at home and is considering going with her parents to the department store on the train instead of playing with her friends. She is only called “Miyoko” in the dialogue once, but everywhere else in the long series of passages, she is referred to as “the girl.” She is playing a game with flags and a secret fortress, but in the end she decides to go on the outing with her parents and departs with them to the train station. The story cuts off there, though in the anime, we see Miyoko with Frederica Bernkastel (say Furude Rika really fast to get Frederica, because this is some spiritual, future version of Rika in her adult form) as she makes this same decision to go along with her parents in the accident that killed them instead of staying behind like she did in all of the other timelines and surviving them. It’s a dramatic if more enigmatic ending to the novel.

Now that we’ve finished this series, I’m going to amend my 2019 schedule since I’m falling behind and will skip the next volume of Queen Seondok until 2020 to try to catch up. Next, I will return to the Literati Corner.

Part two of a two part series.

About Lady Xiansa

Lady Xiansa is a writer, linguist, artist, and dancer. She has been a core volunteer for the Silk Screen Asian Arts Organization from 2007 to 2018 and has provided content for Pitt JCS anime events since 2011. She has taught both ESL and Beginning Korean. Her gothic horror novel, The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak, won the Bronze Award for Young Adult Fiction E-book in the 2016 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards and earned the 2018 Story Monsters Approved Seal in the Tween Category.
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