Higurashi GOU/SOTSU’s Sakoto Hojo: The Certainty of Change

I just keep finding myself coming back to this series! While I’m currently working on another collaboration post with a fellow blogger, I wanted to take some time and discuss a character that has interested me for a while now. While many people have turned on GOU/SOTSU for reasons both understandable and not, I do think there is a lot of good that isn’t being shown. With that, let’s take a dive into the character of Sakoto Hojo right after the cut.

The best thing the sequel series to Higurashi had going for it was that its stakes were more personal. Instead of the grand governmental conspiracy mixed with fantasy elements, the plot is more intimate. Satoko wants to spend the rest of her life in the village with Rika. Rika meanwhile wants to get out of town and enjoy a fancy life in St Lucia. They are both valid things to want, but they are both incompatible with each other.

Looking at Satoko, it is clear why she feels the way she does. Out of the entire cast of the first Higurashi series, it is Satoko who has the rawest deal out of all of them. A child whose mother went through multiple different men. Parents who became outcasts when they supported the dam project, only to be killed when Satoko succumbed to the virus. An aunt and uncle who abused her regularly, and a brother who despite his best efforts to protect her, became victim to a disease that drove him insane. It’s not a good life to put it mildly, which is why Satoko clings to Rika so much. Aside from being the same age, and being able to grow up together, Rika represents a warm blanket and safe place where Satoko is able to be free. No fear, no worries, just a peaceful life in the countryside. Despite having the support and affections of the rest of the cast, it is Rika who has the biggest influence on Satoko, and is the bright spot in an otherwise dark world that would consume most people. 

Episode 9 - Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU [2020-11-30] - Anime News Network
Satoko and Rika have a peaceful and loving childhood, one anyone could wish for. The risk of it being ripped away is what Satoko most fears.

So when that life is threatened, not by diseases, or governments, or spirits, but the inevitable winds of change and time. Is it wrong to blame Satoko for fighting it? Despite trying the best she can, Satoko does not belong in the world that Rika wants. She cannot live that high life, and she is right in thinking that all the other girls will look down at her. She is a country girl to the bone, and does not have the refined grace that allows Rika to shift between. Without Rika in her life, and Keiichi and the others having already moved on, Satoko would be alone, with nothing to protect her from the demons and traumas that have plagued her. It is a fight she cannot win, because Rika’s desire to move on is just as powerful as Satoko’s desire to stay. They are the immovable object and unstoppable force, until Eua shows up.

Higurashi When They Cry – Gou Episode 24 Review (Final) | Two Happy Cats
Satoko’s madness leads to the development of another personality, which allows us to glimpse her remorse.

Satoko’s life through the loops, the insane length she goes to break Rika are horrible, no question, but they are also understandable. That I think is the brilliance of Higurashi GOU/SOTSU. Like the first series did with Miyo Takano and her desire to do right by her grandpa, Satoko’s objectives are driven by a realistic and sympathetic fear of change. She is terrified of the unknown, of what a world would be like without Rika by her side. They make the villain relatable to the viewer, as I am sure many people can understand  not liking change, or having to move away from the warm comforts of your childhood. We’ve all done that, all have had to ‘move on’ from one point in our lives. But, as Satoko learns by the end, after endless loops, growing up may mean growing apart, but if the bonds of friendship are strong, then it can survive anything. You don’t always have to be around each other to be friends, and you need to trust that what you have can survive.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni - Sotsu - Episode 15 discussion - FINAL: anime
Despite being apart, Satoko and Rika’s looping personas will forever be together, more than a hint towards the other visual novels.

Satoko Hojo’s star turn in Higurashi GOU/SOTSU was probably the best thing that came out of the sequel series. Her character, always a supporting player in the first series, steps into the spotlight and helps steer a shaky and frankly un-needed sequel into new directions that, while not always working, are a bold and earnest attempt to move things forward. A child who clings to her comforts in a world of trauma, her journey is as relatable as it is blood-soaked. Even if you don’t care for the sequel at all, I think we need to credit Higurashi for once again taking a baddie and giving them a backstory and motives that anyone can relate to. Or showing what happens when someone REALLY doesn’t like studying.

At least that’s what I think.

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Also probably lesbians…

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