Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU continues to be more upfront about its mysteries as this episode revisits the Hinamizawa Dam Project, the victims of Oyashiro-sama's curse, and the relationship between twin sisters Mion and Shion Sonozaki. Up until this episode Keiichi seemed to be respecting the existence of "Shion," but ultimately believed it was just an alternate persona of Mion. He thought he was just playing along, probably to keep Mion happy, while she used the persona of a more feminine sister to act in ways that might be embarrassing otherwise.
But Shion and Mion are two distinct people with a complicated relationship, something Keiichi finds while out on a date where he finally sees both sisters in the same room together. Without going into too much detail, Shion admits there are parts of Mion's personality that she doesn't like and while she's vague about what it is, I get the sense that it's Mion's dishonesty about her own feelings. It becomes clearer during the date and later when Keiichi and the villagers are constructing the festival decorations that Shion is inserting herself into the friend group primarily to force Mion's hand. When she asks Keiichi to buy her the same doll he gifted Mion earlier, it's to push Mion into protesting and thus revealing her own attraction to Keiichi more openly.
Meanwhile Keiichi was definitely duped into thinking he was courting Mion the whole time. I'd also like to remind readers that he told one of the sisters (it's not really clear which) in the earlier episode that he preferred the Shion personality over Mion. This episode confirms that Mion did pretend to be Shion at least once and it was her who dropped off the lunch for Keiichi. This episode gives you a pretty good grasp on the personality differences between the two, namely Shion is shy. Looking back at previous episodes in the arc, I'm a little more confident in figuring out when Mion was pretending to be Shion versus the real Shion. Although that doesn't completely rule out the possibility of the reverse in some cases.
The character interactions also reveal that the Sonozaki sisters are squarely in the ACAB camp. Shion is practically seething with Ooishi shows up to deal with the biker thugs right when the Hinamizawa folks seemed ready to pounce. She details the Hinamizawa Dam incident but initially leaves out any mention of dismemberment, instead focusing on how the Hinamizawa villagers are closely knit and were able to put a stop to the project via protests and influencing politicians through representation.
It's not until the eve of the festival that Shion tells Keiichi the full story, and notably, Mion deliberately exits the scene. She tries to urge Keiichi to come with her, not wanting him to know about the dark part of the village's past, but Keiichi just can't resist a good murder story. The details are more or less the same as the last arc, down to the construction manager's missing arm. This scene also provides some details about the previous years' curse victims, as well as reintroducing us to the photographer Tomitake and his fellow former curse victim, Miyo. Miyo is a nurse at the Irie Clinic, the location Keiichi went to in the last arc when he was feeling ill but was turned away by suspicious dudes unloading boxes in unmarked vans.
We quickly get a sense that Miyo is weird in a crazy cat lady kind of way. She has what she describes as a "curiosity" in the local legends of Hinamizawa. At least, that's what she cites when Shion and Keiichi catch Miyo and Tomitake breaking into a storeroom behind the shrine during the festival. Now, I found this scene to be pretty strangely scripted. Miyo, Tomitake, and Shion allege that there are some interesting relics in the storehouse. The scene is framed in a sort of "don't be a chicken, there's interesting stuff in here, don't you wanna see?" way which probably wouldn't have convinced teenage me to literally break in. Especially right after hearing about a curse and that the local villagers dismembered a dude with pickaxes. What it really comes down to is that it's strange for a couple of adults to try to convince a kid to get in this kind of trouble, but Keiichi relents.
Shion's motivations earlier in the episode all seemed like an underhanded way to force Mion to be honest, but the way she dragged Keiichi to the storehouse feels duplicitous in a different way. I can't help but suspect it's the same reason she insisted on telling him about the murder and curse even though she knows Mion is trying to hide it from him. Suffice to say, it definitely felt like a set-up.
Also, I don't have a ton to say as asides for previous Higurashi watchers other than I have no idea how this arc will end compared to its companion to the original. The entire Mion-Shion-Keiichi triangle feels totally different.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history