Yeah, we’re totally off the grid now – at least any part of the grid that I, as an anime-only, have any recollection of. We’ve seen St. Lucia of course (not least in the Gou OP), but that’s through Shion. There’s been mention of Rika going there in some possible future but this is the first time I remember that possibility has been seriously explored in “present” tense. One thing we can say for certain – when it seems as idyllic as it seemed for most of this episode, things aren’t going to end well.
- OK, on the cold open and Hanyuu’s role. I assume she materialized herself and that’s how she managed to “save” Rika and seemingly get us to this good end, using herself up in the process. Was Rika specifically talking about her when she referred to Oyashiro-sama going back to sleep?
- Is it Hanyuu’s effort that’s caused Hinamizawa Syndrome to into mysterious remission for a year? Or is that because Takano was taken out of the equation? And as I asked before, is HS going to be basically irrelevant in the final denouement of the story this time?
- It’s nice that Satoko is cured, but what about Satoshi? If HS is going away shouldn’t he be at least improving as well?
- Rika and Satoko seriously growth spurted for just one year passing.
- All the Ts and Is were crossed and dotted very neatly here, right down to Rika getting Oryou-san to agree to declare the dam war over.
All this leads us to the question of what it is that sets us off on the wayward path again, which is obviously inevitable. Does it happen because Satoko doesn’t get into St. Lucia and Rika does, and she goes psycho out of resentment? That seems a bit of a stretch to me. Perhaps Hinamizawa Syndrome will make a comeback. More likely, though, I think the other looper (who I’m still assuming is not Satoko, but rather the one using Satoko for their own ends) intervenes to put a spanner in the works here. That seems the most likely endgame to me.
Whatever happens, it’s kind of interesting to see the cast grow up a little (though Keiichi and Rena look exactly the same). For the first time Gou feels like a true sequel, and the first 17 episodes feel like the setup to get us to this point. I have no idea how well the series is going to pull off whatever happens next, but at least it figures to be something we haven’t seen from this mythology before.