|Birthday||April 13, 1969|
|Image Song||COOL ni nare! ~Keep on Our Love~ and Overload|
Maebara Keiichi (前原 圭一) is one of the protagonists in the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni series. He serves as the protagonist of four Question Arcs: Onikakushi-hen; Watanagashi-hen; Tatarigoroshi-hen; Taraimawashi-hen. He acts as the villain in Tsukiotoshi-hen. Other than Akasaka Mamoru in Himatsubushi-hen, he is the only male protagonist. He is a very sociable, charismatic boy with a lively attitude, and his talented tongue allows him to quickly fit in the town and make new friends. While his exact age is never explicitly stated, he is implied to be 14 in most media (or around 17 in the live-action adaptations) since he is a grade below Mion, who is facing her final year at their school before entering high school. It is confirmed in the visual novels that his birthday lies in April, making him the same age as Mion for a couple of months each year.
Keiichi is the son of a famous artist, Maebara Ichirō, and his wife, Maebara Aiko, who recently moved to Hinamizawa after an array of unfortunate and awful events in his hometown. He and his family live in a large house, dubbed the "Maebara Mansion" by many of the villagers, built on property bought from the Sonozaki family. As a result, many of his friends believe that they must be quite rich; however, their house was only built large so that it would also contain his father's art gallery and allow for visitors.
In Onikakushi-hen, paranoia drives him to believe that his friends are trying to kill him, which leads to his murder of Sonozaki Mion and Ryūgū Rena. Likewise, he also kills Hōjō Satoko's uncle, Hōjō Teppei and contemplates killing Takano Miyo in Tatarigoroshi-hen. However, in subsequent arcs, he gains inner strength and faith in his friends, enough to change the fate of Hinamizawa, as he is able to remember the events of previous worlds through similar events, which helps Rika to defeat fate.
When in need of a weapon, he is often seen with Hōjō Satoshi's baseball bat; however, on one occasion in Tatarigoroshi-hen he wields a nata in an attempt to kill Satoko's uncle "for the second time." Contrary to Rena and Mion's comments in Onikakushi-hen about how Keiichi is not athletic at all, he actually is quite skilled in baseball and had frequently gone to a batting practice center with his father before he moved to Hinamizawa.
Keiichi often ends up being the butt of the jokes in the club's activities, he is usually forced to take the "penalty," and the girls like to pick on him. Even Hanyū has a moment of triumph in a game against him. Mion and Satoko seem to be especially fond of teasing him. Satoko spends hours designing and setting up traps just to humiliate him while Mion gives him tabasco sauce filled ohagi in Onikakushi-hen. Since he suffers from Hinamizawa Syndrome in that arc, he imagines the ohagi contains needles. In the manga, he declares Mion's punishment games to be "sexual harassment," since they seem to always involve him wearing embarrassing costumes such as a dress with a short skirt, a cat-maid costume, and swimming trunks with a ridiculously suggestive swan goose neck and head.
For his part, Keiichi frequently teases the girls suggestively; however, Higurashi is not a "harem" story where the main male character struggles with a number of girls vying for his affections. In the anime and manga, he appears quite innocent and never pursues a relationship with Rena, Mion, or Shion. In the Sound Novels, Keiichi will make frequent suggestive jokes, but he does not pursue the issue. Thus, he appears embarrassed by Shion clutching his arm. In the manga, Mion and Shion's mother, Sonozaki Akane, happily announces that she approves of him and invites him to marry either of her daughters over their embarrassed protests, Keiichi seems shocked. It is heavily implied in the arcs in all media that both Rena and Mion have crushes on him. Shion makes Mion's interests clear, much to Keiichi's surprise. In comic relief end pages of the manga, his cluelessness to Mion's interests is one subject for humor. Nevertheless, in certain arcs, his inability to see Mion as a girl rather as a "tomboy" drives the tragedy.
Tsumihoroboshi-hen reveals that Keiichi has a fear of sewing needles in his food from a manga he read as a child. This is expanded in Minagoroshi-hen where the manga is about a girl who put sewing needles in a man's food. This mentally scarred him for quite a while and explains his paranoid delusion under the Hinamizawa Syndrome of finding a "needle" in his ohagi in Onikakushi-hen.
When Keiichi was little, he did not really excel at anything. However, an intelligence test he took to enter a cram school showed that he was actually very smart, but the reason he did not do that well in school was that he did poorly when he was asked to solve problems that had no meaning to him or connection to his life. He could solve difficult problems when phrased differently. After the intelligence test, he was placed into an advanced class in the cram school. His grades improved rapidly until they were among the best in his school. He worked hard for the feeling of superiority it gave him to have the best grades, as well as for the praise from his teachers, and, more importantly, his parents, and he was given allowance raises as a reward.
However, the feeling of superiority gradually faded, and his parents and teachers stopped praising him, and yet their expectations of him just got higher and higher. In frustration, he bought an airsoft gun with his extra allowance. He started out shooting cardboard to relieve stress, but when he spotted the warning on the gun's box not to shoot at people, he decided to start shooting at smaller children as they walked home from school.
Keiichi was never connected to the shootings, due to his clever ways of hiding and sneaking, but his actions did not go unnoticed, and parents were asked to never let their children go home alone. One day, however, a young girl was on her own, and Keiichi found her too easy a target to resist. The girl turned around as he was shooting and she was hit in the eye. Her pained screams seemed to register with Keiichi, as he froze in horror. He wanted to help her, but could not do so without revealing himself and thus ran away. He felt so guilty and panicked that he even researched what it would take for someone to go blind from an injury to the eye.
Keiichi, in the end, confessed to being the shooter to his parents that night. His parents were greatly upset, but they also felt guilty for not hearing their son's "cry for help". For the sake of a new start, Keiichi's parents paid his bail and moved to a quiet town, Hinamizawa.
This incident is quite possibly why Keiichi feels extra protective toward his friends, especially Satoko when she is abused in Tatarigoroshi-hen and Minagoroshi-hen.
In Matsuribayashi-hen, it's revealed that Keiichi's greatest desire in Hinamizawa is to make a fresh start and this time become “the Maebara Keiichi I really wanted to be.”
Keiichi is a slender boy with brown hair and blue or violet eyes. He is the tallest member of the club, except for Satoshi, and is taller even than his teacher, Chie Rumiko.
During school, he wears a white collared shirt over a red t-shirt, black pants, a belt, and black shoes. During his free days, Keiichi wears a black, sleeveless shirt beneath a red vest, green shorts with a black belt and red shoes.
Keiichi's school uniform is almost an exact replica of Satoshi's, but with a red undershirt instead of a blue one.
Keiichi is a passionate individual who tends to express strong emotions freely, for good or ill. He also has a great amount of charisma, which is presumably why he's already so well-liked in Hinamizawa by his friends and the other villagers who know him. Keiichi is also in love with life in Hinamizawa, because it's so much more fulfilling than his old life.
He has a strong belief that fate can be defeated, and he's the one who teaches Rika and Hanyū through his actions that fate can be broken, and how to do so. He inspires Rika multiple times with his unyielding determination.
Keiichi is normally open and outgoing, but when something comes between him and his friends, he can become very withdrawn and overly self-reliant, making it easy for him to develop Hinamizawa syndrome. It takes him remembering his mistakes from other worlds for him to really start trusting his friends.
Keiichi is terrible at cooking. When he tries to cook for himself in Tatarigoroshi-hen after his parents have to leave town for a few days, he almost sets his house on fire. Luckily, Satoko and Rika arrive and prevent the disaster. It seems that one of the only things he can safely make is instant noodles, which happens to be one of his favorite foods (ginger pork flavor). He also dislikes other housework.
Keiichi's most important talent is his ability to influence people with words, which is such that Rika has dubbed him the “Magician of Words.” He often uses this ability in playful situations, such as when he successfully sold tako(octopus)-less takoyaki at the Watanagashi festival, or when he got 100% on a curry-cooking assignment by making riceballs.
He is also perfectly capable of using words to good effect in serious situations. In Tsumihoroboshi-hen, when the club was on the verge of falling apart at the junkyard, he was able to reunite its members. Likewise, later on, he was able to snap Rena out of her madness. In Minagoroshi-hen, he convinced Shion not to kill Teppei. He even managed to rouse Rika from the depths of despair. Not to mention, he made use of his ability several other times during the long process of freeing Satoko from her uncle.
On the other hand, Keiichi has been known to accidentally wound his friends with insensitive remarks, sometimes exploding in anger at people, even at those who don't deserve it. He is also extremely curious, especially towards “forbidden” things, which often gets him into trouble, sometimes leading to his demise (see Onikakushi-hen, Watanagashi-hen/Meakashi-hen, Nekogoroshi-hen).
Keiichi and Rena are very close friends, and over the course of their story, their relationship proves arguably one of the most significant. They face off against each other in many of the Club's activities, most notably the "Water Gun Face Off" and their battle on the school's roof in Tsumihoroboshi-hen. Keiichi also likes to "flirt", or tease her, while they walk to school together. It's noted by Keiichi in Onikakushi-hen that the villagers are used to seeing Keiichi and Rena, in particular, walking together every day. Shion considers Rena to be Mion's rival, due to Keiichi giving the doll to Rena in Watanagashi-hen. Tomitake also implies that Rena and Keiichi are a couple, something that neither of them deny.
In Daybreak of Hirukowashi-hen, Rena confesses her feelings for him, though she was under influence of the magatamas, so it is debatable whether or not this can be considered canonical. Aside from "flirting" with Rena, Keiichi cares a lot about her, just as he does for his other friends. He calls Rena a "very good friend", and it was Keiichi who snapped Rena out of her insanity in Tsumihoroboshi-hen. Just like to all of his friends, Keiichi is also seen to be protective of her. The friendship between the two is very strong, which later shows for both to have good teamwork. This was seen when such both were able to beat down and kill several groups of maddened villagers in the attempt to save Satoko in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kaku.
It is also revealed in Tsumihoroboshi-hen that during Onikakushi-hen, after Keiichi had beaten Mion to death in front of her, Rena offered Keiichi her forgiveness and held out her arms to him. Unfortunately, in his paranoid confusion, Keiichi did not understand her gesture of kindness and instead smashed her in the face. This, evidently, was the last in a long line of efforts by Rena to calm Keiichi during Onikakushi-hen. Following the murder in Onikakushi-hen, during a monologue given at the start of the arc in the sound novel, Keiichi admits that he perhaps really did love Rena. During the same arc, on the night of the festival, it's revealed by Mion that Rena had kissed Keiichi after he won a stuffed bear for her.
Ano Hi, Ano Basho, Subete ni "Arigatō" (unofficially called "Dear You -Trust-") serves as sort of a paired song with Rena's Dear You -Cry-, as it talks about how Keiichi feels about Rena's situation in Tsumihoroboshi-hen, just as Dear You -Cry- is about how Rena feels in Onikakushi-hen.
Keiichi and Mion's relationship is arguably the one most explored but ultimately undefined throughout the series. In Meakashi-hen when Keiichi fails to give to whom he believes is Mion a doll he won, saying she would not like it anyway and instead gives it to Rena. Mion later cries over this when she learns about it from her twin sister Shion who pretended to be Mion.
In Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Keiichi hugs Mion as an apology for killing her and Rena in Onikakushi-hen, much to her and Rena's surprise since neither "remember" the incident. Mion gasps, blushes, and stammers. When she asks him what he is sorry about, he tells her not to worry about it and that he is very sorry.
A significant example of Keiichi's feelings towards Mion occurs during Watanagashi-hen, when he is about to be tortured by Shion, whom he believes to be Mion. Instead of resisting, he offers that if it will soothe the demon inside of "Mion" she may go ahead. He only wants the "demon" to give him back "the best friend I've ever had.," and to forgive and release "Shion." In Minagoroshi-hen, Keiichi gives the doll to the actual Mion, changing the timeline completely and avoiding the events of Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen. The timeline after this follows a different set of events where Shion does not develop Hinamizawa Syndrome, does not commit any murders, and proves to be more open and accepting of her feelings. In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, Mion is seen to still own the doll.
In Matsuribayashi-hen, Shion whispers into Keiichi's ear that, "Although the person I love is gone, Sis (Mion) still has hers." Their feelings for one another are most clearly shown in Miotsukushi-hen, where the two of them engage in a large amount of flirtation at one point and have quite a bit of unresolved tension. In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kaku, Keiichi is very thankful to Mion for risking her life to help Keiichi's and Rena's family to escape from Hinamizawa. She bursts into tears and blames herself for bringing more trouble upon them. Keiichi responds by saying that no one hates her, and he is grateful to her for warning them, and for putting the rumors about the Maebara and Ryūgū families to rest. Later, Keiichi comforts Mion by hugging her. At the end of the episode, he helps Mion by carrying her on his back due to her arm injury which left her in a weakened state.
Things become clearer in the anime-only arcs of the third season. In Onidamashi-hen, Mion appears quite happy to encourage Rena's crush on Keiichi. In one comic scene, she quickly drags away Satoko after Rika's dance to leave the two alone. In Watadamashi-hen, however, she directly confesses to him that she loves him.
Whether or not Keiichi has a crush on Mion proves less certain, unless clarified in a future episode of the third season. In the Sound Novels in particular, Keiichi flirts with both Rena and Mion but does not pursue either further. His flirtations seem more like jokes to him rather than attempts to start a relationship with either. He seems at times oblivious to both of their feelings or even the possibility that they would have feelings for him. When Shion suggests in her whisper to him that Mion loves him, he reacts with surprise; however, whether or not he will approach Mion does not occur in the story timeline.
Their possible relationship does prove a subject for some comic relief in the arcs. As one example, in the manga, impressed with his concern for Satoko and his willingness to stand up against her mother, Sonozaki Akane, Shion and Mion's mother, genially grants him permission to marry one of them, inviting him to take his pick since it does not matter which he chooses, to both his shock and the twins' comically violent protests. This scene is adapted in Curse Deceiving Chapter Part Four.
In the beginning, Keiichi does not believe in the existence of a "Shion," believing her to be her twin, Mion. In various scenes where Shion pretends to be Mion, Keiichi appears just as fond of her as he seems of the real Mion, but as soon as she is her usual self again, he does not find her as interesting nor attractive, perhaps with the exception of when she is wearing her work uniform. He does suffer a nosebleed when Shion wraps her chest around his arm in the manga. However, in later arcs, such as Minagoroshi-hen and Matsuribayashi-hen, they both seem to get along well and appear to be very good friends, attending the same school in Minagoroshi-hen, with Keiichi being a target of Shion's tricks just like he is to Mion.
Keiichi is also a target of Shion's comic manipulation in making Mion jealous, as seen in the episode Affinity Chapter of Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kira. In Musubienishi-hen, Shion tries to improve Keiichi and Mion's relationship as she fears that, because her sister cannot be honest with herself and is always ruining potentially romantic moments, he might end up with Rena instead. However, after unforeseen circumstances happen in her plan, Shion accidentally ends up falling for Keiichi and imagines a life where he comes to pick her up from school and study together. She is initially hesitant as she does not want to steal her sister's love interest, but Kasai convinces her to push forward because even Shion deserves her own happiness.
Keiichi may also be shown to worry for her safety as he said he wanted to take her place in holding the Yamainu guards, to which she kindly rejected his offer, but Shion thanks him nonetheless. Possibly unknown to him, Shion has a great amount of trust in Keiichi as she may want him to keep her sister happy. Keiichi also seems to know who Shion is, as noticing the difference between the twins. Also, in Musubienishi-hen, Keiichi doesn't seem to be mad or blame Shion for anything, such as when he got beat up by a bunch of thugs for falling on their motorcycles. Instead, he comforts her by wiping a tear off her face, saying he does not blame her, and saying that he just tries to do what is best for his friends.
In Meakashi-hen, Shion meets Keiichi in a situation very similar to her first encounter with Satoshi. At first, she even thinks Satoshi stands before her again. But she recognizes that Keiichi is very different from Satoshi, trying to avoid physical contact with the attackers by talking to them about their hidden fantasies, making himself also look like a kind of pervert, which Shion disapproves of but describes him as a fun guy who makes her laugh a lot. However, later Shion seems to be afraid that Keiichi's personality might push her memories of Satoshi aside and indeed by the end of the arc she admits that she had fallen for him after being in denial for a while, as she points out that she and her sister have similar tastes. Mion even admitted that she used to like Satoshi too which reaffirms this claim.
Keiichi and Satoko are really good friends that have an older brother/younger sister relationship, and like most brothers and sisters, they like to pick on each other. Satoko is skilled in making elaborate traps and she likes to use those skills against Keiichi. Despite this, Satoko does like Keiichi, so far as to call him "nii-nii" (a cuter term for "older brother"), as Keiichi resembles her older brother Satoshi in terms of physical appearance, behavior, and paranoia. It is confirmed in the manga that Keiichi treats Satoko as though she were his younger sister so much so that he commits the murder of her uncle who abuses her.
Just as Rika is revealed to be the primary character of the series, her relationship with Keiichi similarly proves pivotal. The presence of Maebara Keiichi becomes one of the needed catalysts to help the group survive and move beyond that fateful June 1983. Keiichi is the one who gives Rika hope, as all worlds where he does not move to Hinamizawa are "dead ends". The two are otherwise good friends in general, and Rika often "comforts" Keiichi whenever he loses a club game, petting him on the head and saying "pity pity". She also helped him when he remembered he killed Mion and Rena in Onikakushi-hen. In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, Rika seems to have given Keiichi a nickname of her own, calling him "KeiKei". In Hirukowashi-hen it can be noted that she was slightly bothered when Rena confessed to Keiichi.
As Hanyū only appears in the later part of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, it is hard to determine the relationship between her and Keiichi. They do, however, appear to quickly become friends. Worth noticing is that in the anime Keiichi calls her Hanyū-kun at one point, even though the "-kun" suffix is usually reserved for boys. This might be an often-overlooked tease, as Hanyū refers to herself with the pronoun "boku", which is also usually reserved for boys. Hanyū seems to be very grateful to Keiichi, since it was his words that helped her to gain the courage to fight and defeat Takano in the final arc, avoiding all the tragedies that occurred in the previous worlds.
Though Keiichi and Satoshi never meet in the eight core arcs, they are connected in several ways. When Keiichi starts carrying a baseball bat in Onikakushi-hen, Rena tells him that Satoshi did the same before he disappeared. Keiichi is afraid he might be "demoned away" like Satoshi. In Tatarigoroshi-hen, Keiichi first badmouths Satoshi for having abandoned his little sister. However, later on, Keiichi recognizes that Satoshi probably killed his aunt, thus ending the abuse Satoko suffered from her. Therefore, he feels connected to Satoshi, and even speaks to him when holding his metal bat, being under the impression that the bat somehow represents Satoshi's personality.
In Outbreak, Keichii is shot by an insane villager and falls to the ground in shock. As the villager attempts to kill Rena and Satoko, Keichii suddenly rises and hits him with the bat, and as the bat falls Rena grabs it and uses it to kill the villager. Keichii reveals that since the bullet hit the center of Satoshi’s bat instead of him, he owes one to Satoshi.
References in other media
- In episode 6 of Seitokai no Ichizon, Magiru, the student council's advisor, says that she would prefer if the student council did its meeting with a hatchet or a bat, and her dream is "getting sent to Hinimizawa".
- On episode 8 of Seitokai no Ichizon, Minatsu is seen swinging a bat similar to the one Keiichi is seen using several times, saying, "I could care less about this than everything else."
- "Like a Fine Wine": Keiichi and other character's ages may seem fluid given conflicts in different arcs and versions. However, Japanese students enter high school at the age of 15 and university at 18. Mion is in her last year prior to graduating and entering high school (or possibly university in some adaptations) which would make her 14 (or 17) during June 1983, since she has not yet had her birthday that year. This forces Keiichi to be the same age. While When They Cry Wiki understands the desire for precision, their specific ages is not important to the story other than they are all very young.
- By taking apart his full name and combining the definitions of each separate character, Keiichi's name could literally mean, "The One and Only K1", which can be a reference to his unmatched dynamic and hot-blooded personality that he is famous for in Hinamizawa and Okinomiya for (also a reference to his famous nicknames of "K" and "K1").
- Keiichi is killed as many times as Mion, Irie Kyōsuke and Tomitake.
- Keiichi's eye color changes between the games, anime, and manga, ranging from purple on his original VN sprite to a sort of periwinkle in the anime to indigo and/or blue in the color panels of the manga.
- Keiichi at times appears to have some perverted tendencies, especially during club activities and the first episode of Rei. In one episode, he indirectly admits to this when comforting an opponent baseball player, proudly declaring that there is absolutely nothing wrong for a true man to be perverted. In the manga, however, it is revealed that his perversion is mainly to make fun of his friends. In Watanagashi-hen, he even "saves" Shion and the other Angel Mort waitresses from a large group of perverted men, clearly angered by their intentions. Also, in the same arc, he is rather disturbed by Ōishi bringing him porn magazines at the hospital. In the Sound Novels, from his perspective, he seems innocent of the implications of his teasing.
- In Minagoroshi-hen, Rika said that Keiichi did not move to Hinamizawa in two worlds a hundred years ago from Rika's time perspective. Those two worlds, as described by Rika, were "incredibly sad, doomed worlds."
- Keiichi did not make his first physical appearance in the sound novels until Kai, due to the fact that Meakashi-hen is the first arc told from the perspective of another main character. This is referenced by Rika in the first All-Cast Review Session when she says he can not appear because he does not have a picture.
- Out of all the main characters, Keiichi has reached the L5 stage of the Hinamizawa Syndrome the most number of times (Onikakushi-hen, Watanagashi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen, Meakashi-hen, Tsukiotoshi-hen, Tsubamegaeshi-hen) however, he only commits murder in three of these arcs (Onikakushi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen, and Tsukiotoshi-hen).
- Despite being one of the central characters in almost every arc, Keiichi has among the lowest amount of sprites, largely on account of having only been given sprites from Kai onward.
- Just like Shion and Rena, Keiichi can also be counted as a villain-protagonist in three arcs (Onikakushi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen, and Tsukiotoshi-hen).