It’s just like this show to find an ominous turn in the midst of hope, and foretell the arc’s title “Massacre”–though of course not in the way we were led to think. And, honestly, without knowing where it’s exactly heading, I can’t say for sure whether it works or not. But as they say: “I have a bad feeling about this.” Especially since, as far as I know, this show is going to go on for another season, and at this point I’m really not sure how much more there is to know; most of the key mysteries have been revealed this season.
The Satoko child abuse plot appears to have been a red herring, unless they have a clever way to tie all of it together. Plus, they appear to follow the naturalistic explanation for the Oyashiro-sama curse that was hinted at in the last arc of season 1. The former disappoints me and the latter, while beginning to solve one of the more glaring apparent plot holes from last time around, is so…well, ho hum. It’s the sort of thing one sees in B-movies and the Resident Evil games all the time. The air of mysterious, uncontrollable power that lurked in the shadows, and exerted believable influence over people–that was what was so appealing about the show for me. And using Satoko’s plot primarily, it seems, to get Rika’s hopes up took far too long, though I suppose it had the additional effect of getting the viewer’s hopes up too. I admit that I felt genuinely glad when the abusive uncle got taken away by the police. All this time I was thinking about how that situation could collapse at any minute, when the collapse was going to come from a different source altogether: but, in my opinion, with not enough foreshadowing (except in previous arcs perhaps). There’s almost a sense where the “bad turn” feels forced.
Of course, having not played the game, it’s difficult to prejudge all this. Rika/Oyashiro-sama-avatar/Hanyuu is real, and that’s perhaps the last factor in all of this that remains relatively unexplained: if the naturalistic explanation for the town’s demise and for the curses in general is true, then what of the actual supernatural elements? Perhaps both the curse and the “Hinamizawa Syndrome” work together, or the curse worked in the past and this time it’s facilitated by the government plot? Or perhaps the curse is not the murder + disappearance so much as the overall way things just repeat themselves over and over again with no end to the cycle of death.
I’m beginning to see why some people are complaining of the slowness of this arc, especially if the Satoko plot turns out to be nothing more than a diversion from the real conspiracy that’s going on. Not that I’m giving up on the show, but at the same time, at this juncture I guess I’m just feeling a little disappointed. There’s plenty of time to win me back, though, and the show has survived far worse lapses of logic and plot in the past…