Apologies for the lateness, but I’ve been quite buy for the past week.
Still… wow. Just wow. I don’t think that I’ve ever watched an OVA that contributed as much to its original series as Higurashi Rei (the only one that comes close is the Rurouni Kenshin OVA). This is really why I like Studio Deen so much: at first sight they seem like your average overly cute production company, but SO many of their stories are just SO DEEP and meaningful. Now that the director has become the director of Shion no Ou, this series can really show its true potential now.
What a bunch of awesomeness this episode was. Rika once again demonstrates that she is a truly unique character and really, the way the events unfold in this episode is just amazing, even though this really was a very quiet episode. Again the themes of friendship are explored: it turns out that Rika was very much acting like a princess before she ended up in this world, and this caused the mysterious distance between her and her other classmates: she used to have so many friends, and when they disappeared she always felt alone.
And it makes SO MUCH damned sense. The original Rika was cursed from the point where her mother died, and there was no way that she would have grown up to be a normal girl if she knew about her identity, not to mention that Oyashiro-Rika would never start acting like a stuck up princess, but now that she had nothing to fear, nor wasn’t involved with the whole Oyashiro-sama, she’d indeed grow up to be a very normal girl, and since she was a member of one of the three great families, she probably was quite spoiled as well.
There are two episodes left, and in these two episodes Rika is going to have to kill her mother. When the episode started, she very nonchalantly said that she’d have to kill her own mother if she had to (and I really could see her commit a murder easily, considering all of the things she has been through, which is just shown by the downright brutal way she attacked Satoko), but later this episode, she finally after centuries learns of the feeling of having a caring mother. I believe that in the earlier arcs when Rika’s mother was still alive, she was too busy with the dam and started losing interest (judging by the way how Rika says that her mother never believed her stories).
I’m really not sure what happened to Toshifumi Kawase. He directed some really crappy series in the past, like Beyblade, Dragon Drive and Tenjou Tenge… but then at one point he suddently became incredibly good, churning out Shion no Ou, writing the series composition for Higurashi, the Law of Ueki, and now successfully directs this Higurashi Rei OVA. I don’t know what made him see the light, but I really hope that he can keep this up for the future. At the same time, I’m getting more and more worried about Chiaki Kon. When Higurashi aired, I used to think that he was a great director, but his following series have gotten progressively worse: Junjo Romantica went nowhere in the end, Nodame Cantabile Paris, while good, raped the original series, and Hanasakeru was a complete and utter cheese and emo-fest. Is he really going to be the right guy to direct Umineko no Naku Koro ni?
Rating: *** (Awesome)
A quiet episode, but the sheer depth of it still amazes me.