Professor Piggy: Supervillain. Fanfic author. Pig of taste and character.
I watch anime, blog about anime, and kill characters like it's going out of style.
I also sometimes write about ponies. If you're looking for my writing and I haven't forgotten to tag it all again, the stuff that isn't lost in the archives can be found under 'Piggy writes things'.
Inventive, I know.

12th January 2013

Question with 19 notes

babysealburritos said: Piggy-senpai! Can you explain why Best Wives are best wives? Please?

Ah, Kaitlyn, you would be better served to ask me the meaning of life, what birds sing about or why Pink Pony is once again best pony. Some things cannot be explained - need not be explained. Some things simply are.

Best Wives are best wives because they are, and I’m not really sure I can explain it any better than that - but if Best Wives teaches us anything, it teaches us to never, ever give up. And so I shall endeavour to answer your question in a slightly more serious, more interesting way.

For the sake of the people who have been deprived of Best Wives - listen to me, assuming other people will read this.  Tsk, Piggy - I should probably start by clarifying who Best Wives are.

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These are Best Wives - Rika Furude and Satoko Hojo, from Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni. As you can see, they’re dancing happily. But take my word for it - that happiness is a filthy lie.

Before I go any further I should probably say that the rest of this post will contain MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR HIGURASHI. I should also say that Higurashi is a series in which terrible things happen, and I’m unavoidably going to be talking about them here.

Okay, off we go. I have to admit I’m not entirely sure where to start here, so I’m just going to ramble and see where I end up. Hopefully that will be somewhere interesting and relevant.

I think the first thing we need to look at is the history of the characters, so I’m going to start there and I’m going to start with Rika.

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Although neither of the two has anything close to a happy backstory, even on the surface, it’s Rika who at first seems to be better off - and not by a small margin. And in a lot of ways, she is. As the daughter of the local priest, and current shrine maiden of Hinamizawa/recognised reincarnation of the local God, Rika is the town darling.

She’s an orphan - her father having died and her mother having ostensibly commited suicide a few years before the series begun - but she, like Satoko seems determined not to let it get her down. As well, the entire town does what it can to take care of her, dotes on her, and treats her with tremendous respect.

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Also, she’s adorable. That’s not important to her backstory, but it’s true.

It’s emphasized, time and time again, how well Rika is treated compared to Satoko and how easy, comparatively speaking, her life had been. And on the surface, it’s easy to see why.

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Satoko is an orphan too, her mother and step father having fallen from a cliff to their deaths right before her eyes, but unlike Rika Satoko had no support network - only her elder brother, Satoshi. Satoko and Satoshi are the children of two extremely vocal supporters of the Hinamizawa dam project, a failed plan by the government to build a dam which would have flooded the entire village, forcing the villagers to leave their home forever. Their support of the dam made the parents pariahs, hated and shunned by the ruling families of the town, and they treat their children exactly the same way.

Satoko and Satoshi end up in the custody of their aunt and uncle, who violently abuse, beating them regularly and treating them like garbage. This goes on for years until their aunt is mysteriously beaten to death, and Satoshi disappears - just another in the string of ritual murders and disappearances which have occurred on the same night each year for four years.

Satoko’s uncle abandons her and leaves the town, leaving Satoko all alone - until her best friend Rika takes her in.

Satoko’s life improves after that - with Rika (who is technically the head of one of the ruling families, as well as being considered the reincarnation of Oyashiro) protecting her, the town can’t really afford to treat her as badly as they otherwise might - and she makes friends, too, in Rena, Mion, and Keiichi. By the time the series begins a year later, the signs that Satoko has had such a horrible life are fairly subtle, at least at first. But they’re there from almost her first moment.

We first really meet Satoko and Rika when Keiichi, Mion and Rena decide to throw a picnic in the yard of the Furude Shrine - which is, as well as being public property, Rika and Satoko’s home. Satoko immediately accuses them of trespassing on someone else’s property and proceeds to march over like she owns the place to spar with Keiichi, more or less stealing the scene and the focus of all her friends - a habit she keeps throughout the series, since when she’s not horribly depressed, she seems to adore being the center of attention.

It’s all played for laughs, as though Satoko is joking, but I don’t think that she is - at least not entirely. Because when we first see Satoko in that scene, when she’s accusing them of trespassing, this is what we get.

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She’s not up front, the way she usually is when she knows she’s safe, and she’s not smiling or laughing - her words are cheerful enough, but for those few seconds she’s almost hiding behind Rika, and to me she looks afraid. It’s not until Rika assures her that it’s okay for Keiichi and the others to be there that Satoko relaxes, and the rest of the scene really is her messing around - but those few moments say a lot to me.

They tell me that Satoko is afraid. All the time, even if it’s only a little. She knows Keiichi. She knows Mion, and Rena. They’re her friends. But she doesn’t trust them - at least not entirely. And why should she? Everyone she’s ever trusted, except for Rika, has betrayed her horribly. It suggests to me that Satoko doesn’t like people around her home - or, more accurately, that she doesn’t like people there unannounced. And that, again, makes sense to me. She likes to know where the people around her are, and what they’re doing, because the environment she grew up in almost required her to do so.

But above all, those moments tell me that Satoko trusts Rika. Because when Rika says it’s okay, she believes it - with no hesitation, no doubt, no fear. All her uncertainty melts away, and she marches in and takes over the place without a second thought. It was hilarious the first time - and her interactions with Keiichi still are - but knowing what she’s being through and what it represents, it becomes kind of amazing too.

That’s not the only time that Satoko’s trust for Rika comes up. We see it over and over and over throughout the series - it’s never said outright, but there’s a significant difference between how Satoko treats the others, and how Satoko treats Rika.

Take Satoko’s shots - she takes them every day, and doesn’t understand why, or why the tests involved with them are so strange. She knows it doesn’t make sense for the shots to be a nutrition supplement test - she says so herself more than once. Not to mention the psychological tests she sits through. She knows it doesn’t make sense - and yet she accepts it as true anyway.

It’s completely out of character for Satoko given what we see of her - Satoko is the one who - it seems to me - needs to know and understand everything that happens to her, the one who worries about things and can’t let go, the one who’s constantly waiting for - and used to - being stabbed in the back. Her mastery of traps, her quick thinking and ability to pick apart so much of what happens? All of that comes from that mindset, that expectation she’ll be hurt again. All of that comes, in large part, from her abuse.

So why would she take a suspicious drug and sit through all these tests without ever seriously questioning them except to complain?

Because Rika told her it was okay, and asked her to do it. And she knows that Rika wouldn’t do anything to hurt her.

And she’s right. Rika’s lying to her about what the shots are - and about many other things - but she’s doing it for Satoko’s own good, because she believes that it’s better to let Satoko forget that she pushed her parents off a cliff in the grip of insanity caused by a disease she had no way of fighting. To Rika’s mind, it’s better for Satoko not to know that the shots are the only thing keeping her sane.

These aren’t the only examples of Satoko trusting Rika - they’re not even the only ones I’m going to bring up - but they’re enough for now. Because there’s more to love than trust, and many, many people would argue (and have argued) that Satoko is using Rika for her own benefit, and doesn’t actually give a damn about her.

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As you can see, Satoko is not impressed by this opinion, and it’s not a thing I can comprehend. We see so many times - over and over and over - that Satoko loves Rika to an incredible extent. I’m not even arguing shipping here - it could be completely platonic love (though it’s not), it could be sisterly love (but it isn’t) but it’sso there and it makes me sad that people say otherwise.

Just in case there’s anyone reading this who doesn’t know the series (and in case there’s anyone still reading this at all because really how do you put up with my rambling) I think I need to explain a little more about both the series and Rika now.

Higurashi is, at its core, a story about friendship and the bonds people share. But it’s also a dark psychological thriller with a twist. In every arc we see at least one character fall apart. We see their worlds shatter around them as horrible things begin to happen one after the other after the other, and we see them break.

We see Keiichi beat his two closest friends to death with a bat in a fit of paranoid rage because he truly believed that they were trying to kill him - and we see it through his eyes, fooling us too. And then, suddenly and without warning, everything’s fine. It’s a few weeks earlier, and everyone is alive. Noone’s crazy, until they are again. And noone remembers.

We see Shion kidnap and torture several people - including poor, poor Satoko - to death because she blames them for Satoshi disappearing and she loved him. We see her realise what she’s done as she (in the manga) takes her own life because she can’t handle the guilt. But earlier than that, we see Rika.

We see Rika who, attempting to save her friends, confronts Shion and tries to inject her with the cure for her madness only to have the tables turned on her. Injected with the cure - also a powerful anaesthetic - herself, we see her rise to her feet, pick up a knife, and throw herself onto it again and again until she no longer can. Why?

Because Rika has been tortured by Shion before. She’s been killed by her before, and she knows which was she’d rather go. Because unlike all her friends who start each world having forgotten the old one, Rika remembers. She remembers each and every world that time has looped through - over a thousand of them - and she remembers dying in each and every one.

She remembers those deaths, and she remembers her friends deaths - seeing them fail and murder each other time and time and time again. Rika is not the child she appears to be - she was a real eight-ish year old girl the first time it happened, but since then she’s relived that June in new and nightmarish ways for centuries.

She is not a happy child. She is an emotionally dead human being so numb to everything around her that by this point she wonders if she’s still human. She spends her life counting down the days until her death, and doing her best to find what little happiness she can in the happy moments she has with them.

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She wants to fix things. To create a world in which none of her friends die, and to move past the time loop that she - and to a lesser extent everyone else - is trapped in. But she can’t. She’s tried so hard, for so long, and she’s failed. And she’s at the point now where she finds it hard to truly care anymore. But she keeps trying. And she keeps trying because she wants her friends to be happy.

They’re not used to it, like she is - it breaks her heart to go through all this, and saps away at her will, but she knows it’s coming. For them it’s a new and terrifying hell each time. And sometimes she wants to give up. To stop trying to set things right, and to stop pretending to be that innocent, sweet little girl that became a mask so very long ago, and stop trying to cling to her sanity and her humanity.

But she doesn’t. Why? Well, I can’t really prove it in any definite way, but I believe that it’s because of Satoko. Rika loves all her friends, there is no room at all for doubt there, but it’s Satoko she seems to care for the most. Some people argue that it’s because Satoko needs her the most - and I don’t agree, but maybe it is. But if that’s the reason I think that it caused Rika to care a hell of a lot more about Satoko too.

And maybe that makes sense. Rika needs an anchor to cling to - something to keep her sane, and human, and alive. She clings to her friends, it’s true, and tries to keep them happy, but the focus is almost always on Satoko. We see time and time again that Rika puts on a show of being happy every day for Satoko’s sake, so that Satoko won’t worry. We see the way she strives to protect Satoko, and keep her safe, and the way she tries to get the others to do the same. Take Keiichi, for example - when Satoko starts to look up to him as a big brother figure, Rika makes it very very clear to him that she expects him to treat her kindly. It’s phrased as a polite request, but even as that it’s abundantly clear that Rika is trying to manipulate things for Satoko’s benefit.

And then we have possibly the best examples. Throughout the series, Rika is pretty emotionally dead. She expresses sorrow, many times, and hints or irritation. Occasionally she smiles a real smile. The rest of her emotions are largely faked. But twice, we see her snap. Once, when she tries to mobilise the group of soldiers ostensibly assigned to protect her to save Satoko from her uncle’s abuse, and is told that they won’t be able to do so until after the day she knows at least one of her friends will die.

Rika snaps.

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She screams at the doctors who have been helping her - and have been helped by her, telling them exactly how they will die, how she’s seen them die over and over and over because she knows. But more than that, she wishes death on them - if they can’t save Satoko, if Satoko isn’t okay, Rika doesn’t give a damn about anything else. As far as she’s concerned, everything and everyone can die.

Why?

In part because she allowed herself to believe, however briefly, that this world would be her perfect world. But not entirely. Because she’s used to that. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that she failed, once again, to save Satoko. And there’s further evidence for this later.

When Rika dies and awakens in a world where her friends don’t know her, but are all happy and lead perfect, joyful lives with no tragedy she at first tries to accept it. To live peacefully in the world. For the first time she doesn’t try to behave like a child, but it doesn’t matter because she has no friends to act for. And then Satoko begins bullying her.

We’ve seen Rika endure worse than this. A thousand times worse than this, without breaking. Satoko insults her, takes her things, and eventually ends up playing keep away with a book she had. And Rika can’t handle it. She can’t handle Satoko hating her. This world is everything she wanted for her friends, but with Satoko looking at her with that much HATE, she can’t accept it. And she can’t allow herself to believe that Satoko COULD hate her.

And so she snaps. Satoko takes her book, and Rika pounces on her - she beats her mercilessly with a chair and accuses her of ‘wearing Satoko’s face’ before telling her she won’t tolerate being treated like that anymore - that if it happens again, there is worse coming. Essentially, Rika begins to act less like a human and more like a monster. Because without Satoko, she loses her reason for trying to remain human. It’s horrible. But it says a lot.

It says, to me, that to Rika a world where she can’t have Satoko could never be a perfect world. That the idea of Satoko hating her is so painful to her - she, who willingly admits and accepts the brutal murders her friends have committed so often - that she has to deny to herself that it’s Satoko doing it. And that tells me that she loves Satoko more than anything. It’s not a healthy love, by any means, but it is a real love and it has a good basis.

Rika wants to protect Satoko. She wants her to be happy. And that’s good. But over the centuries she’s endured, it’s become all that keeps her going. And so when she loses that - when Satoko no longer needs her and no longer cares about her at all - she can’t handle it. She chooses to destroy that perfect world where she herself has her parents back, because she needs Satoko.

It’s not healthy. But it was never going to be.It is real, though, and what it stems from - a child’s unbreakable love for her best friend - is beautiful and wonderful. I think, given the series ending, the love she has for Satoko is healthy, though some of the symptoms of it have become twisted and terrible. In time, I think things could be okay.

Anyways. Back to Satoko. Satoko, who catches poor drunk Rika talking to apparently herself in the dead of night about how she’s going to die and is afraid. Satoko, who can’t accept it when Rika tries to tell her she was dreaming. Poor Satoko does everything in her power to cheer Rika up, not realising that Rika’s problems go far deeper than she could ever imagine, and she believes. She believes Rika, when Rika tells her that Rika is going to be murdered. But when Rika later tells her it can’t be stopped, Satoko won’t accept it.

She pretends to buy Rika’s story. She pretends to because Rika clearly wants her to. But she never stops trying to save Rika. She sets up traps, informs their friends, goes to the police, and turns their shrine into a place that simply cannot be penetrated without her knowing about it. And then she watches. She sits up all night, every night watching over Rika to ensure that she’ll be okay. And it hurts.

It hurts to watch, because you know she’s going to fail. And she does. Her traps catch the attackers coming, and she begs Rika to run and hide with her not knowing what Rika does - the group after Rika is too powerful and too organised for them to get away. Rika hides Satoko despite Satoko’s pleading, and then flees her attackers anyway - so that they will chase her, and not find Satoko. Because even though she’s doomed to die, she wants to save the Satoko of that world and let her live a long and hopefully happy life. It’s all she wants. All she lives for.

But it doesn’t stop Satoko. As soon as she’s sure that she won’t be killed as soon as she steps out she is out that door and looking for Rika. And she finds her. Things go downhill from there. But it baffles me that people can see this arc, see these things happen, and say that these girls don’t care for each other.

Then there are the people who say that Satoko doesn’t know the real Rika. There’s truth to that - but that argument suggest that the mask Rika wears is nothing of her real self, and I don’t see that. Satoko might be surprised by the way Rika laughs and smiles less, and pained by it - but the actions Rika takes are all who Rika really is. Satoko knows this. Satoko trusts this. So much that when Rika finally reveals the truth to all of her friends, Satoko who doesn’t trust anyone doesn’t even blink.

She just smiles, and stands with Rika, knowing that she can trust her and that she loves her.

Best Wives are never going to have a relationship full of makeouts and kisses and intimacy - neither of them have that in them, after what they’ve been through. Theirs will be a relationship of holding one another, holding hands and sharing comforting words. But they will always be there for one another, and they love each other more than anything.

Their love endured a thousand years, and whether it’s romantic or not it’s what kept Rika going, and without it fate could never have been changed the way it was.

Best Wives are Best Wives because they are amazing, and broken, and completely in love - and maybe they’re Best Wives because they make each other happy, and they deserve that, too.

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Also, they’re adorable together. Seriously.

Tagged: Best WivesRika FurudeSatoko HojoHigurashiMASSIVE SPOILERSShippingPiggy talks way too much againDear god how do you people put up with me

  1. donnys-boy said: FWIW, I read through the whole thing, and I’ve never even seen this show. I really enjoy your character and relationship analyses, and I was particularly struck by the statement “Their love endured a thousand years.” Best Wives~
  2. professorpiggy posted this