|Age||Probably around 70s|
Sonozaki Oryō (園崎 お魎) is a character in the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni series, and is the current head of the Sonozaki family, mother of Sonozaki Akane, and grandmother of Sonozaki Mion and Sonozaki Shion.
As she is a family head, according to the tradition her name is chosen so that it contains the character for demon (鬼).
Oryō is the true power in Hinamizawa, although for appearances sake the Kimiyoshi family have been the town heads for generations. Politicians, political groups, even the child protective services group, look to her for direction and approval. She disinherited her daughter after she married outside the family, and raises her granddaughter Mion to inherit her position as head after her eventual death.
During the Dam War she was the head of the resistance, and it was her anger at the behavior the head of the Hōjō family showed, especially the disrespect he showed her, that fueled the town's negative attitude toward that family. However, despite the belief of some of the local people and Det. Ōishi Kuraudo, neither she nor her family had anything to do with the deaths that have occurred each Watanagashi, or even the kidnapping of the Minister of Construction's grandson during the war. All these acts were committed by others, but because of their power the family, and Oryō in particular, has been seen as the ones at fault.
Although not addressed in the anime, she has come to accept that she will take the ill will for the things that have been done by the family in her time, as she does not have too much longer to live one way or another. Although she comes off quite harsh and even cruel in public, she has been known to show quite a bit of kindness behind the scenes. The problem is that as head of the family she must maintain that tough façade, and cannot compromise her position. She never intended for the treatment of the Hōjō parents to extend to their children, and certainly not for so long. Before the final answer arc of Matsuribayashi-hen, she is primarily "seen" through the understanding of other characters. Thus, in Meakashi-hen, Shion sees her as an unrelenting tyrant, while Mion tries to tell her later that Oryō accepted her apology and even accepts her seeing Hōjō Satoshi. In later arcs, her kindness becomes more apparent. After maintaining a severe "face" against Keiichi and his friends pleas to help Hōjō Satoko in Minagoroshi-hen, she works on her behalf, including meeting with the mayor. She behaves similarly in Tataridamashi-hen.
Mion usually refers to her as "granny (ばっちゃ・ baccha)." When fighting with her, Shion repeatedly insults her with "Old Hag/Witch (鬼婆・ Onibaba)." In the Third Season's Tataridamashi-hen, the two freely refer to her by this nickname. In a happy moment with her daughters, Kimiyoshi Kiichirō, Keiichi, and Rena, Akane acknowledges her mother's reputation by also referring to her by that nickname. When she addresses her mother in pleasant conversation, she refers to her as "bā-sama (婆様)" with the higher honorific sama.
Although she cannot publicly forgive her daughter, in private they are quite close. Sonozaki tradition dictated that she should have killed one of her granddaughters at birth, as twins were considered very bad luck. For reasons never explained, she does not. She treats Shion and Mion differently possibly to save face with the family and prevent possible conflict. Despite her dislike for outsiders, she also arranged for land that belonged to the family for generations to go up for sale, in hope of attracting new people to the village to "freshen the air." It was this land that the Maebara Family purchased to build their house. She is also possibly grateful to Keiichi, as she admires his will, spirit and determination. She has even asked Akane to keep an eye on him if something were to happen to her. She is also highly aware of Mion's feelings towards Keiichi She tells Mion to go forward and confess to Keiichi in Musubienishi-hen. Earlier, she embarrassed Mion in front of Keiichi by telling him he should get ready if he wanted to get cozy with Mion.
- The kanji in her name is 魎, which is a type of spirit that lives in the mountains.
- In the final TIP of Meakashi-hen, it heavily implied that at one point Oryō went through the Nail Punishment herself to atone for making her daughter, Akane, go through the same punishment.
- Later Mion, as the next successor, will demand the same from Shion in some arcs. She will similarly punish herself.