Program: Noguchi, Toshio | Sound: Sugiyama, Chiharu | Screenplay: Kuriyama, Yuji
Note on the title card poem: Much like the art during the ending sequence of 開扉 KAIBYO, this title card is on screen for a very short time, certainly not enough to read the whole poem. Moreover, the way the colors are graded in it makes some words unintelligible. It is only by “breaking” the image with photoshop that we can read (most) of it. The poem itself relates to the relationship between Mika and Ryo, who are intrinsically linked yet distant. I find the usage of time in Moonlight Syndrome to be very interesting, especially when it comes to compressing something complex like this into a single image that only appears briefly. It also becomes apparent how these choices were purposeful since they tie into the game’s motif of time or the perception of time, and this technique was not used in Suda’s following work, The Silver Case.
Do you remember the night we were lost
The night of Mika’s accident, when she first met Ryo, as will be depicted in 陰約 INYAKU.
I’m here help me help you behold you
Mika must help Ryo find his true self, “behold” himself.
Being so alone doesn’t make a man
Ryo’s insistence on isolating himself and avoiding confrontation is not conductive to him becoming a man (caretaker / protector).
Though we are together
We hide ourselves apart
Mika and Ryo are connected, but Mika doesn’t consciously know of his presence and Ryo keeps her distant to avoid marking her as a sacrifice.
But you don’t know
What on earth to do
I am being haunted
As established in 開扉 KAIBYO, Ryo doesn’t know how to protect Mika from the white haired boy’s torment.
Where have you gone from me
Well I knew the time
would come I got
hanging on the wall
Maybe we should call it a day
I think this stanza is getting at the fact that Mika wants to give up on Ryo because she can sense that he’s ill-fated; the idea of having his picture on the wall (instead of him) means that he’s either dead or he left her, and only a picture remains.
We’re all alone but still it seems
We’re thousands of miles apart
There’s nothing in my life
I really can’t go on this way
Mika’s empty lifestyle of chasing trends and trying to belong, which is not conductive of true companionship that she might possibly find in Ryo as he is the one who would forgive/accept everything from her
I’m getting crazy can’t you see
Cos you don’t care if I should live or die
Where hearts got broken again and again
Mika is being driven insane by Mithra’s pranks and her aimless lifestyle because Ryo refuses to take charge and be her man, so she’s subjected to a series of heart breaks that will never end without his intervention.
The chapter opens on the demolition of the gym building of Hinashiro high-school; a girl is crushed by the scaffolding and the workers attempt to call an ambulance.
The next morning, after class, Arisa informs Yukari that Mika has gone missing. Their attempts at reaching her or her family are unsuccessful, so the two elect to question Chisato, who turns out to be equally as oblivious.
The trio then interrogates various girls around the school, with Yukari eventually teaming up with Kazuki as Arisa goes to check Mika’s house.
Investigating Mika’s locker in the changing room for the lacrosse club, Yukari and Kazuki come across a knife, the same one Mika was wielding in her nightmare in 片倫 HENLIN.
They rush back to her classroom to question some more of her classmates, which proves to be similarly useless. We are however shown that someone is watching the girls through what appears to be a hidden security camera. They eventually stumble onto the information that a girl died in the accident we were shown at the start, but the school is keeping the incident under wraps. Worrying that the victim of the accident might be Mika herself, the two decide to interrogate professor Hirose.
He confirms that the accident did indeed happen; however, the victim is Miki Kosaka, one of Mika and Kazuki’s classmates who had a few minor appearances up to this point.
Kazuki is shook by the revelation; Yukari calls Arisa to reconvene and she confirms that Mika’s apartment has been uninhabited for a while. (It was established earlier that Mika’s parents went on an overseas trip, so they’d be unaware of their own daughter’s disappearance.)
Kazuki leaves in order to attend her club activities, but promises Yukari that she’ll help with the investigation the following day.
The next scene is in the evening; after finishing up her club activities, Kazuki is ready to take the bus home, until she realizes she has forgotten her own school bag. Her friends leave and Kazuki enters the school building, eventually remembering that she left her bag in the chemistry room when meeting with Hirose. Once there, however, she is assaulted by none other than Mika Kishii herself, wielding the same knife from before. Mika then carries away Kazuki’s body.
The next morning, the police is shown investigating Kazuki’s body. As Yukari enters the classroom, Chisato informs her that Kazuki apparently “fell” from one of the windows.
Yukari decides to question Arisa, but she too is oblivious to the actual events that transpired. However, she informs Yukari of a rumor going around that Miyuki from the stargazing club has seen Mika roam around the school late at night within the past few days.
When questioned, Miyuki does confirm that she happened to see Mika at around 10PM two days before. However, she is quite unresponsive to any other question, and she considers the incidents to be a nuisance since access to the school at night will be restricted, putting her stargazing hobby on hold.
Yukari and Arisa comment on Miyuki’s lack on empathy, before Hirose hurries them home in accordance to the new curfew.
The following day, Yukari inquires as per Arisa’s whereabouts, and she is told by her classmates that she went to find Miyuki. However, once she reaches the observatory, she is greeted by Miyuki’s mangled corpse, dripping blood on the floor from the top of the telescope.
Worried for Arisa’s safety she rushes back into the school, but she luckily finds her unarmed. Relieved, she informs Arisa of Miyuki’s death. The two are once again being spied on from a mysterious monitoring room.
Two weeks pass since Mika’s disappearance; as both Kazuki and Miyuki died after helping Yukari and more of Mika’s friends disappeared during this time frame, the students became afraid of involving themselves and the investigation consequently hit a dead end.
At night, Miho Katsuragi receives a call from Fumiko’s (presumably one of her friends, she was never mentioned before or since) mother, inquiring as per her daughter’s whereabouts (it’s implied that Miho and Fumiko were together earlier in the evening, then went her separate ways to go to their respective homes. Fumiko, however, never arrived.) to which suspicion arises that she may be the next victim of the killing spree.
Miho calls Arisa, who in turn calls Yukari and Chisato. The four of them decide to investigate the school building, with Miho going in ahead of them. As the trio investigates the school, avoiding the patrolling policeman, they come to notice the bizzarre layout of the northern building: the lowest basement abruptly ends in a wall on its western side, unlike other floors, right below the reception area which is also below the headmaster’s office.
Ultimately, Arisa stumbles onto the lifeless body of Miho along with professor Hirose in the chemistry room. Hirose hurries Arisa into calling an ambulance, but as she’s about to do so, the patrolling policeman also stumbles into the room and aims his gun at Hirose. His twitchy and erratic behavior makes him suspicious, so Hirose is shot down as the culprit.
Yukari and Chisato also reach the chemistry room and reassure Arisa; Chisato then stumbles onto a collection of items that were presumably used as a crude Mika Kishii disguise: a wig, her yellow backpack and a school uniform.
They surmise that Hirose must have been using the disguise in order to get close to the girls before killing them, with him being the “Mika” that Miyuki spotted at night.
Arisa passes out and she’s presumably escorted home by the policeman from earlier; However, Chisato remains unconvinced that Hirose must have been the true culprit, while also being suspicious of the building’s weird layout, and she convinces Yukari to go back in for one last investigation.
The duo eventually stumbles upon a mysterious pillar in the reception area which they realize stretches all the way to the headmaster’s office.
Investigating said office reveals the pillar as being the shaft for a secret elevator; by taking it upwards, towards the forbidden fifth floor, they find the monitoring room we’ve been shown several times through the chapter, along with a list of measurements for Mika’s classmates (the victims of the recent killing spree.)
Taking it downwards, towards the blocked off part of the basement, leads them to an operating room where unidentifiable body parts from the victims are kept in formaldehyde.
In the back, Chisato finds a grotesque meat puppet composed of Kimika Takahashi’s head and several other body parts, presumably all collected from the girls that the headmaster assassinated. (This is also the only moment in-game when we are told that Kimika used to be Mika’s friend; it never comes up again in the game, but it’s going to be important for 陰約 INYAKU.)
Terrified, the two girls head back to the elevator and attempt to escape from the headmaster’s office; however, the door is locked, and they are soon joined by the headmaster himself.
After ascertaining that they witnessed what he calls his “collection”, completely out of his mind, he reassures the girls that they have nothing to fear, and that he will free their souls from their cramped bodies by making them part of his artwork. He then attempts to stab them with the same knife as before (indirectly confirming that Hirose was, in fact, innocent) but the glow of the moon causes the floor to collapse underneath the headmaster, who falls to his death.
The events of this chapter are pretty straightforward: the headmaster (whom we can learn studied management in Denmark from an optional conversation in 夢題 MOWDEI) cleaned up the school’s budget and spearheaded the construction of the northern building as his own playground, making it so the west side of the building would be largely inaccessible and connected by a secret elevator, which joined his office to the monitoring room on the fifth floor, where he would control the student body, and the walled off part of the basement, where he would dismember his victims in order to reconstruct them as meat puppets, which he considers to be artwork.
He would approach the victims under the guise of Mika Kishii in order to kill them; therefore, when Mika disappears because of unrelated circumstances, Yukari’s, Chisato’s and Arisa’s investigation (which he’s aware of through the security cameras) risks exposing his operation. He is therefore pushed into action and starts killing off everyone involved with Mika, which is the massacre she was forewarned about in 片倫 HENLIN. (While she didn’t kill them directly, the headmaster did, using her guise and the knife she saw, only because they were involved with her.)
He initially tries to blame the murders on Mika herself, by planting his knife in her locker, but as it proves ineffective, he sets up Hirose as a scapegoat by framing him with Miho’s body and planting the disguise.
Chisato and Yukari, by investigating the school’s layout, ultimately find out about his “hobby”, which is when he tries to kill them, his façade of normality completely gone, but luck would have it that the floor collapsed under him, saving the two.
However, a few questions arise. How was the headmaster capable of convincingly posing as Mika? Kimika Takahashi set herself on fire; how was her head spared? Why did the floor collapse when it did?
The In-depth Guide Q&A actually contains answers to all these questions, albeit some of the answers being indirect:
The headmaster and Lil actually had contracts with Mithra, too. The cost was, of course, their deaths. It is Mithra’s intent that leads to Kimika Takahashi’s pretty face ending up in the headmaster’s office. However, he was destroyed by Chisato before Mithra could take his soul. When the headmaster’s office suddenly collapses in Dowaku, it is seemingly due to a phenomenon caused by Chisato’s will. In the world of Zoroastrianism, it is said that when you die, you cross Chinvat Bridge and receive judgement. If Rashnu’s scales lean towards goodness, the bridge is thick and stable, but if they lean towards evil, the bridge becomes as narrow as a knife and you fall into hell. It is just like the image of falling into hell. On the other hand, Lil is spared. This is because she was saved by Chisato as Hanako-san. The price of her father taking her place (as he was passing beneath as Lil jumped) must be a heavy burden to bear, though…Source.
What isn’t said here is that, as we previously established, entering a contract with Mithra seems to warp reality to facilitate the results one wishes for; if Riru was able to appear as Arisa in order to kidnap Nana, then it falls to reason that the headmaster would be able to appear as Mika. (Or rather, a “substitute” of Mika.)
Kimika’s head follows the same logic; the headmaster just wanted it as the centerpiece for his artwork, so Mithra provided it.
Also, when he refers to Chisato’s will, I am assuming that Chisato makes these things happen almost subconsciously as an avatar of human justice rather than consciously deciding for them to happen.
One thing is weird though: the game has been associating the full moon with Mithra until now, with 陰約 INYAKU even verbalizing that allegory by describing him as “the light of the moon.” However, the glow of the moon in this instance is what saves the girls, destroying the pillar. Is Mithra himself bound to Chisato’s influence in some way?
In a way, this chapter shows us the school as a miniaturized version of the town of Hinashiro: the filo-foreign plutocrat in power pushes for urbanization (renovation of the school) in order to turn it into a cage, making mincemeat of their citizens (students) due to their sick obsessions, which creates a setting in which each individual is atomized and congregation or coalition is impossible (Mika’s classmates don’t really seem to know her, and her friends barely know where to look for her, which is why the investigation is mostly aimless.)