WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 3 of Higurashi: When They Cry - Gou, "Demon Deception - Part 3" now streaming on Crunchyroll.
With much of Higurashi: When They Cry – Gou’s recent focus being on Hinamizawa’s Watanagashi Festival, a string of mysterious events surrounding it offers a glimpse into the seemingly peaceful village’s dark past. As the festivities come to an end, Rena gives Keiichi a crash course in the festival’s traditions, rituals and their relation to the town deity, Oyashiro-sama. But there’s much more to it than Keiichi’s friends are letting on, as he soon discovers in the season's third episode.
Following the end of the festival, Keiichi is approached at school by a local detective by the name of Oishi Kuraudo. Oishi tells Keiichi that there have been multiple mysterious deaths and disappearances revolving around the annual festival over the last four years, revealing that the death of the dam construction manager Keiichi read about served as the catalyst for his investigation.
Rather than look at the events objectively, Oishi claims that the villagers have attributed the strange goings-on to Oyashiro-sama's curse -- a consequence of the government trying to flood the village as a part of the dam construction project.
The first incident involved the murder of the dam construction manager that Keiichi read about in the magazines he found in the junkyard, with the main culprit never being caught. The next year, a supporter of the dam project was drowned while on vacation with his wife having disappeared as well. In the third year, the local shrine’s Shinto Priest died of a sudden illness shortly before his wife drowned herself in a bog in an apparent suicide. Oishi then explains that the fourth year’s curse resulted in a woman beaten to death with a bat with her nephew going missing shortly after her body was discovered.
The common denominator with all these events is that they happened on the day of the Watanagashi Festival. Keiichi then learns that both Jiro and the woman he was with –- revealed to be local nurse Miyo Takano -- went missing the night of the recent festivities shortly after Keiichi saw them together by the riverside.
Keiichi lies about meeting with Oishi when talking to his friends, but the revelation about the Watanagashi Festival only causes him to further obsess over the dam murder incident. So, Keiichi once again meets with Oishi and the two discuss the past deaths and disappearances. Oishi then reveals that the fourth year’s murderer was apprehended, but died under strange circumstances while in custody. Having heard Rena and Mion use the term “demoned away” when discussing Jiro and Miyo’s disappearances, Keiichi inquires as to its meaning and is told that it refers to the people who have disappeared as a result of the curse.
The next day, as Keiichi and Rena walk home, Keiichi confronts Rena about the events surrounding the Watanagashi Festival. Rena responds by asking Keiichi if he’s been keeping things from her as well. Keiichi denies this, but Rena explodes and reveals that she knows that he hid the magazine from her at the junkyard and that he was with a stranger instead of being in the teacher’s office the day before. Rena, acting completely out of character, continues to press Keiichi before ultimately dropping the subject, saying everyone has things they want to hide from each other.
However, later that night, Keiichi receives a call from Oishi, who reveals some disturbing new information regarding Rena. Oishi tells Keiichi that Rena was involved in a violent incident at her old school and that she had actually lived in Hinamizawa before moving away and then moving back. Shortly after the call ends, Keiichi’s father tries to enter his room asking where Rena is. A confused Keiichi quickly realizes that Rena had entered his house, spied on his phone call, and then left without saying anything. As he has this revelation, Rena is showed peering at Keiichi through a crack in his door with demonic blue eyes...
Much of the “Demon Deception” (or “Deceived by Demons”) arc is playing out like the original “Spirited Away by the Demon” arc so far, with slight variations appearing here and there. Keiichi is growing more suspicious of Hinamizawa and his friends with every new discovery, and Rena’s odd behavior is only adding to his paranoia regarding the truth behind the Watanagashi Festival and Oyashiro-sama's curse. Gou could very well change the formula with its coming episodes.