The reporter's lost tape
The reporter's lost tape is an important object in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and serves as the final scene in Tatarigoroshi-hen. In 2003, twenty years after the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, an old couple in Osaka finds a cassette tape left by their son who passed eight years prior. Their son had gone missing when he was involved in a shipwreck in 1995. The deceased used to work at a tabloid magazine company and the tape was assumed to be one of his interview tapes. The tape's label says Maebara Keiichi, November 28th, Shouwa 58 (1983). Over the course of the tape, the reporter questions Keiichi regarding his location during the Great Hinamizawa Disaster. He reveals that it is impossible for Keiichi to have been by the riverbed as he claims because it would have left Keiichi in the middle of the gas leak throughout the night. The reporter accuses Keiichi of knowing about the Disaster ahead of time and finding a hiding spot until the gas dissipated. Keiichi claims that he gained a sort of superpower after he began to hear an extra footstep as he walked. That superpower, he claims, made his wish for Hinamizawa to be destroyed come true. However, Keiichi says that the footstep stopped the day of the Disaster so he was unaware of how effective his powers now were. However, Keiichi, upset that the reporter didn't believe what he was saying, cursed the reporter and wished him to die of drowning. Two days after the interview, Keiichi told his nurse that he hears the footstep again and subsequently died of a fever.
- Kei: ......It's kind of hard to talk when it's recorded...
- Int: Don't pay attention. See, isn't this better? (From this point on, the recording gets unclear. The recording device may have been covered by something.)
- Int: Okay, let's begin... First question is...where were you that night when the disasaster happened?
- Kei:......If you go around the back of the shrine and...follow the trail in the woods......there's a suspenion bridge right in front of the mountain.......I fell from it. I was unconscious after that.
- Int: Was that the night of the disaster? I mean, the night of the 21st?
- Kei: ......No. The morning of Tuesday, 21st. I woke up at noon the next day......I believe I was unconscious for a day and a half.
- Int: Why were you there? I think a lot of people would wonder too. It was a weekday and the bridge was far from both your home and your school, right?
- Kei: ............................
- Int: To be blunt, some people say that you somehow knew about the disaster beforehand, and you fell from the bridge because you were escapeing. You know that?
- Kei: ...No way. That's ridiculous.
- Int: I think that's horrible, too. Don't be offended........So, the bridge you fell from is located here...on this map? The one at the end of the train in the woods behind the shrine?
- Kei:.........Probably...I'm not sure because I haven't been there many times.
- Int: Ha ha ha ha ha. I wonder what brought you there on a weekday morning.
- Kei: ...........................
- Int: And...? About the riverside where you were lying unconscious...do you know people say that's impossible?
- Kei: ..."Impossible"...again......Impossible...? Again...? Still...?
- (For a while, Maebara Keiichi repeats 'impossible')
- Kei: ....why.. impossible?
- Int: You know the gas came from the Onigafuchi swamp, right? Scholars simulated the incident using a precise diorama, and found out some interesting facts.
- Kei: ..........................
- Int: Volcanic gas is heavier than air, so it flows into the lower area along the landscape, like water. So, they held an experiment to find out how long it took for the gas to cover the area...... And they found out....that the gas must've flown through the riverside where you were unconscious.
- Kei: ......I dont understand what you're saying.
- Int: I mean, if you were lying by this riverside, that means you were in the middle of the volcanic gas throughout the night. So, it defied the possibility that you'd been unconscious here.
- Int: I'll talk more frankly. I think...I think you're lying....... You were hiding in some safe place at the time of the disaster, and came out when the gas started to thin down, then you were found by the Self-Defense Force crew......What do you think of this?....Am I right?
- (For a while, the reporter questions him as if teasing. But Maebara Keiichi just keeps sighing)
- Kei: ......I wouldn't be surprised..if that was true.
- Int: What do you mean you wouldn't be surprised...?
Some doubt that this tape is a recording with the real Maebara Keiichi
- Kei:...Like you said, it's impossible...But nothing is impossible in Hinamizawa.....People who weren't suppose to be there were there in that village! The dead people were still living!....That wasn't rare at all........I wasn't expecting to be the living dead myself............! Aha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Aha ha ha ha ha ha..........ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
- Int: Aha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...
- (For a while, both the reporter and Maebara Keiichi keep laughing.´)
To check the plausibility of the tape, the tape was brought to a relative of Maebara family and had them listen, but because the recording was aged and lacked clarity, the relative could not recognize his voice.
- Int: Okay, Keiichi-kun, I'll change the subject. What do you think of the theory that the disaster was the fifth curse, following the series of bizarre deaths in Hinamizawa?
- Kei: No, I don't think it was. The fifth curse was me.
- Int: Eh? Aha ha ha ha! What do you mean?
- Kei: What do I mean....? It's the answer to your question.
It is also doubtful that the date on the tape, November 28th is accurate.
- Kei: I'm sure you won't believe, but......I made that disaster happen....It was me.....I wished for the whole village to die, and that's why it happened.
- Int: Ha ha ha ha ha....That sounds excruciating.
- Kei: Excruciating?...That's a funny way to describe it.....
Because Maebara Keiichi had been committed to a mental institution after he tried to kill himself in August, two months after the disaster.
- Kei: I killed Takano-san, the manager, and Ooishi...I had a supernatural power at the time...Yeah...it was a footstep, so to speak.
- Int: A footstep...? Ha ha ha ha. What is it?
- Kei: Oh, haven't you heard of that?...pitter, pitter, Swash, swash. Heh heh heh.
The institution never allowed reporters, so it is highly unlikely that a recording exists after August of 1983.
- Kei: You should try stopping walking suddenly, it's fun.......And if you hear an extra footstep after you stopped.....you should be careful.....heh heh heh heh.
- Int: Ah...aha ha ha ha! O-okay, I'll be careful! Ha ha, ha ha!
- Kei:..........Is this conversation that funny?
Yet it is possible that this reporter had sneaked into the facility because at the time, he was famous for his forceful methods.
- You've been just laughing........You're the same as the manager....you pretend you sympathize with me, but....you think i'm a lunatic inside...
- Int: Ha ha, ha ha...No, thats not true at all! Ha ha ha...
- Kei: I can tell...You have the same look in your eyes as he did....
Is this recording really an interview with Maebara Keiichi...? The truth is unknown.
- Kei: ...The footsteps stopped that day...so I dont know if I still have that power, but...one more time....i wish you dead. I wish you dead because you up set me with your talking....Why don't I choose how you'll die this time?.........Takano-san was burned to death, so.............why not drown? ......How about you drown to death?
Ten and some years later. The reporter died in an oceanic accident as Maebara Keiichi prophesied.
- Kei: ..........Back in those days, I could kill you in one day, you'd die by the next morning..........I wonder how many days later you're going to die....Huh, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.........You should be careful. Don't! die because of my curse!...........Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
- (The recording stops in the middle of Maebara Keiichi's laughter.)
And Maebara Keiichi...
Two days after the interview, on November 30th of the 58th year of the Shouwa (1983), he died of a high fever from an unknown cause.
The day before his death, a strange remark was written on his medical record when he asked for a nurse.
"I hear... an extra footstep again..."