Following along with their choice to release the first two volumes of the Massacre Arc in one chunky issue, this volume contains volumes three and four of this arc. It's a fairly wise decision on their part as this is a rather long arc and drags slightly at various points. This is one of the more important arcs, as it's the penultimate arc and reveals the identity of the true villain behind everything, but I have to admit that at times I got a little impatient with the pacing of things.
All issues with pacing aside, this really is an interesting story arc even if only for this glimpse into Rika's emotions. The arc is the "answer" to Satoko's abuse arc (Curse Killing Arc), but the main focus is giving us a deeper look into what effect a 100+ years of death and rebirth have had on her. The previous chapters in the arc showed us that it had a large effect on her mental well-being, with Rika somewhat readily ditching worlds at the slightest hint that it would have a bad ending. This sense of depressing passivity has some far reaching implications for the series, making me question exactly how many of the worlds were unsavable more because of Rika giving up and putting only a superficial effort rather than unchangeable events. This volume plays more upon that theme, although the presence of another arc after this one tells me that in this case the cast might still face an unhappy ending. If this is so then her actions have still had an effect on the true mastermind behind the series of murders, forcing them to show themselves and give away valuable clues behind their intentions.
Art-wise, this is more of the great artwork you've come to expect from the series. There are some wonderful splash pages in here and while I love the upbeat "happy plot point" images, the series' strength has always come from the plot points where contorted faces and exaggerated emotions appear. You get one of these from Teppei, making it one of the more creepy scenes in the volume.
I'll continue on with the series and while I liked this volume more than its predecessor, I admit that part of me is slightly ready to see the end of the Higurashi series. I hope we get the remaining side arcs, but I think that this arc is driving home that at this point we've seen all that we really need to see for these characters.