|December 17, 2007
|Naraku no Hana
Festival Music Chapter Eleven – End (祭囃し編 其の九 攻防, Matsuribayashi-hen Sono Kyū – Koubou) is the fifty-first episode of the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime as well as the twenty-fourth and final episode of the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai anime.
Continuing from where the last episode ended, Mamoru Akasaka and Jirou Tomitake attempt to crash through a barricade while the Mountain Hounds prepare to fire the anti-tank weapon. Suddenly, the Mountain Hounds attempting to fire falls back with a gunshot wound to his right shoulder. The Mountain Hounds in the van quickly realize he was hit by a sniper who, since they did not hear the gunshot, must be over 400 meters away. They attempt to fire at the oncoming care with machine guns to no avail, and Jirou and Akasaka crash through their barrier.
In the mountains a flash appears which is the reflection from Tatsuyoshi Kasai's rifle site. Acting as his spotter, Shion Sonozaki declares that their car was armored with the "Sonozaki family's preferred bulletproof plating." When the Mountain Hounds attempt to pursue, Kasai shoots out their tires.
In Okinomiya, Akasaka waits outside a phone booth as Jirou talks on the phone. The voice on the other side is the same as that of the man he called in his hotel in previous episodes. The man asks rhetorically if Miyo Takano is the mastermind. Jirou affirms this, "regrettably." He orders the man to take control of the Irie Institution. Jirou stresses that the Mountain Hounds have fired their weapons above ground, and it is only a matter of time before the villagers find out. He then requests the emergency deployment the Watchdogs unit. The man agrees. After Jirou hangs up, he sighs, then turns to Akasaka, who asks him if the Watchdogs unit is strong enough to take down the Mountain Hounds. Jirou explains that if the Mountain Hounds are a general purpose covert operations unit, the Watchdogs is a full combat unit. Akasaka asks him what he will do next. Jirou looks surprised at the question, and Akasaka continues that he is thinking of returning to Hinamizawa. "Everyone is still fighting." Jirou asks him if he is sure given how they barely escaped. Akasaka responds that Rika is still waiting, and he has not fulfilled his promise. Jirou agrees to go back to Hinamizawa with him since he also has "unfinished business."
Akasaka repeats "unfinished business" as a question, but before Jirou can explain, the scene shifts to Tetsurou Okonogi running through the mountain forest trying to raise his units on his headset. He receives only static. He sees his exhausted men and dismisses them to their vehicles at the base of the mountain. Takano arrives shocked and demands to know why the men are leaving when, "They're right in front of us!" She turns to Okonogi and demands to know if he is disobeying her. He merely laughs and remarks, "far from it." At that point, Takano sees Mion Sonozaki, Satoko Houjou, Rika Furude, Hanyuu, Rena Ryuuguu, and Keiichi Maebara standing together at the top of the hill. Okonogi ignores her demands he seize Rika, tells her to "Just shut up for a moment," then identifies himself to the group and asks to express his respect to their leader. Mion identifies herself. Okonogi declares she has won. Stunned, Takano protests, but he explains that their barricade was breached and it is only a matter of time until a unit arrives to put them down. He silences Takano further protests and suggests that, with proper training, Mion could succeed in the SAS or Delta Force. Mion laughs. The only thing she wants to do is be the leader of her club. She identifies the rest as: "Magician of Words, Keiichi," "Cute Mode Rena," "Trap specialist Satoko," "Sly fox Rika-chan," and "Our promising newbie, Hanyuu," who glares severely but with normal pupils.
Okonogi laughs heartily while Takano renews her protests. Okonogi sighs that though the battle is over, "it is Princess' orders!" As he aims his gun at the group, a helicopter appears giving an announcement to all members of the Irie Institution: at 12:30 P.M. the authority of the Irie Institution has been frozen, and all members must disarm themselves and surrender immediately. From the helicopter's perspective, Hanyuu stands between Rena and Rika. Okonogi lowers his gun and starts to walk away. Takano insists that "It's not over yet!" but he ignores her. Members of the Watchdogs descend from the helicopter. At this point Hanyuu is missing from the group. Satoko crouches and asks if it is "over now." As Rika responds that she does not know since, "This has never happened before," Keiichi puts his hand on Mion's shoulder. She turns to see him and Rena smiling.
Akasaka calls her name and Rika leaps through the air to hug him in tears. He explains that the Irie Clinic has been taken under control under Kyousuke Irie and that members of the Mountain Hounds are surrendering. He then notes that they have taken charge of "that boy that was with them, too." Satoko looks surprised and asks, "Boy?" Rika turns to her and tells her she is glad, but Satoko does not understand. Keiichi then notices Hanyuu's absence. Rena notes that she was "just there" a moment ago. Rika looks confused and asks, "Hanyuu?"
In another area of the forest Takano angrily declares that she does not understand what is going on. Okonogi explains that with the arrival of the Watchdogs they are at a "stalemate." He laughs at her suggestion they fight against them. When she demands to know why the Watchdogs were deployed, he explains that Jirou escaped and contacted "Tokyo". As she protests that she was never informed of these facts, Okonogi receives a call from the command vehicle. They relate "Cuckoo's final message: 'Initiate cleanup operations.'" He looks at Takano and replies, "Roger that!" He then gives them permission to surrender to the Watchdogs. Takano renews her protests declaring she will somehow contact Nomura and they can still carry out the operation. Losing his patience, Okonogi declares "We have lost the game! Being poor losers isn't going to do either of us any good."
Finally sensing something is wrong, Takano asks him what he is talking about. He informs her that her "role is already over." As she protests, he snatches Takano Hifumi's scrapbook away from her and throws it to the ground. As she chases after it he informs her that no one really cared about the research. All that was important was whether or not "Tokyo" could reap political benefits from it. He then informs her that "Tokyo" still has a role for her. He hands her his gun, informing her that it has only one bullet. He then asks her to "kindly put a bullet through your head." As she looks shocked, he gently reminds her that this is not uncommon: "The lizard sometimes has to shed its tail." "The client" can then wrap up the matter by putting the blame squarely upon her, and "Tokyo" is already making the arrangements for this. When she starts to cry refusing, he calmly continues by saying after he tried to persuade her to surrender, she resisted, and he had not choice but to shot her. "That's how the scenario has been drawn up."
Takano demands to know who came up with this scenario. He replies it was Nomura. Takano starts to scratch vigorously at her neck with both her hands. Okonogi declares her "helpless" and fires two warning shots at her. "A pierrot dances his way off the stage," he continues. He fires again, but she flees screaming with the gun he gave her and Hifumi's scrapbook. Okonogi smiles and muses that he is being far too soft on her.
A communique reveals that Takano is still on the run as Okonogi walks under guard with his hands behind his head. As Takano flees, she trips over a tree root. The thesis slides out of the scrapbook and drops of water appear on it as it starts to rain. She walks slowly barefoot and crying as she scratches at her neck. Two bare feet appear in front of her, and she looks up to see Hanyuu staring at her with bright red spots in her pupils. "Child of man," Hanyuu asks in one of the rare times she uses her Adult Voice, "What did you seek from this world." Takano sobs as she continues to scratch at her through that she simply wanted to be told, "It's okay to live." She has flashback memories: of her happily eating a child's meal with her parents and gaining another flag; then being dragged by her hair into the orphanage toilet; then promising with Hifumi to work together. Back to present time, with her throat red from her continued scratching, Takano asks why it came to this. She raises and looks at the gun and surmises that it is retribution for her sins. "I am not human," Hanyuu interrupts, "I am one who stands above man. An existence that forgives man's sins." She explains that the sins of man cannot be forgiven by man, but she can forgive man. She then declares that she forgives Takano. Takano declares it is "impossible" and "too late."
Rika's voice calling Hanyuu interrupts them. The rest of the group join them, and Takano seems to stir from her thoughts. She laughs and declares that she will be able to "go out with a bang at the very, very end." She raises the gun at them and demands that Mion step forward if she does not want her friends shot. Mion steps forward as Takano blames her for her plan failing. She laughingly asks for some "pay back." Keiichi declares her "desperate," which Takano agrees. She has only one bullet, "but as long as I have one, nee?!" Mion orders that everyone stand behind her. She then threatens that if Takano hits one of her friends, she will put her through a fate "worse than death!" "Scary!" Takano replies sarcastically. Mion demands that no one else move and nothing will make her happier than protecting all of them. Takano then asks her that since they play a lot of games has she ever played "Old Maid." Mion replies that they never do, they play "Old Geezer." Takano replies that the rules are about the same: "The sin in this world is just like Old Maid. Everyone pushes the one old maid onto one another." She has drawn the Old Maid and will take revenge for it by shooting Mion.
Speaking again in her Adult Voice, Hanyuu steps in front of Mion: "You have shown enough bravery for now." She declares that it is her role to accept the Old Maid. When Rika protests, Hanyuu responds in her Child Voice: "I had a lot of fun in this world." Returning to her Adult Voice, Hanyuu demands that the "child of man" fire. "Fine. Fine! DIE!" Takano shouts and fires. As the red fills Hanyuu's pupils the bullet seems to deviate from her head to strike the tree behind her. Takano stares stunned. She drops the scrapbook, and wonders how she could miss at this range.
The rain starts to dissipate. Rika, in her Adult Voice, asks Takano and Hanyuu if they listened to Mion. She notes that Takano laughed off Old Geezer thinking it is the same as Old Maid. On the contrary, if one adds the missing card in the game, Old Geezer has no losers. Hanyuu was the missing card, and the world became free of losers: "That is the answer Rika Furude reached at the end of her thousand year journey in search of a miracle."
The Watchdogs arrive to take Takano in custody. As she scratches at her throat, she suspects she will be held responsible for everything. She screams as they start to take her away, demanding to take "Grandfather's scrapbook" with her. Jirou's voice is heard demanding they stop. He identifies himself as "First Lieutenant Tomitake of the Investigation Bureau" and states the Investigation Bureau will take her into custody. When the Watchdogs insist they have been given orders to take her to Tokyo immediately, Jirou draws their attention to the scratches on her neck as well as all over her body. He states they suspect she has contracted "a considerably high level of Hinamizawa Syndrome." The Watchdogs immediately let go of her, and Jirou orders her taken immediately to the Irie Institution Headquarters and to have Irie prepare for treatment. He takes her into his arms. She cries his name as she holds on to him.
The wind blows and the higurashi start to cry, and Rika remarks in her Child Voice that this is the day of the Watanagashi Festival.
In the evening of the Festival. Mion declares she will win a stuffed Teddy bear by shooting it with an air rifle. When she fails, Keiichi teases her only to be assaulted by rapid air rifle fire from an angry Mion. This is halted by the sound of a drum that announces the start of Rika's performance. They run away to reveal Kuraudo laughing with Irie.
During the end credits and music, Rika performs her dance. As villagers and the friends place their balls of cotton in the river, Shion arrives with Kasai and reveals she has a ball of cotton. Rika places her ball in the river and all watch a number of balls float by. From inside of her home she shares with Satoko, Satoko complain that if Rika does not wake up she will be late. Rika and Hanyuu lie curled up next to one another on the futon. Rika happily awakens. Satoko is cooking breakfast. As Rika walks towards a wall, the waking Hanyuu mutters that she "can't eat anymore." Rika tears a sheet of paper off of the wall calendar as Hanyuu watches. They both laugh. Satoko scolds them to put away their futons. They agree and run off revealing that the day is, at last, July 1, 1983.
With a flashback to outside the Tanashi home, Miyoko Tanashi declares that she is going outside to play. She runs out of the house turns a corner and crashes into a mysterious woman. The woman asks Miyoko if she wants to live or die. Miyoko initially says she wants to live but inquires about what it means if she says she wanted to die. The woman says that, if she opted to die she would receive the 20th flag souvenir that Miyoko wanted to complete her collection.
This statement leads Miyoko to believe that her parents are going to the mall without her, causing her to rush back home to join them. As a result, a miracle occurs and Miyoko's parents don't die on a train. Thus, Miyoko is never orphaned, never becomes involved with Hinamizawa Syndrome, and never becomes the villain "Miyo Takano".