"So cute! I wanna take you home!"
- Rena Ryuuguu
Rena Ryuuguu is a heroine from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. She is the main protagonist of Tsumihoroboshi-hen and a villain in Tsukiotoshi-hen. Rena is a favorite among Higurashi fans, as she is the most well-known character in the entire series despite not being the main character, and often appears on much of Higurashi's official art and serves as something of a mascot for 07th Expansion. She has a habit of being obsessed with things she perceives as "cute," screaming "Hauu! Omochikaeri! (I wanna take it home!)" as a reaction to whatever she perceives as cute. She is voiced by Mai Nakahara in Japanese and Mela Lee in English.
Rena is in the same grade level as Keiichi Maebara, though she is slightly younger than him, with her birthday falling in July. As Higurashi takes place in June, Rena would not yet have turned 16.
Rena is known to have an obsession with all things cute and will often try to take those things home with her, whether they are hers to take or not. Such things include the "Kenta-kun" doll, Rika Furude, Hanyuu, Satoko Hojo, and any of the club members in punishment game outfits. She spends much of her time "treasure-hunting" at the town's trash heap in search of cute things, which often appear appealing only to Rena and more often than not are rather odd. According to Mion Sonozaki, while Rena might seem cute herself, people should be careful not to anger her as she becomes quite scary. She is very sensitive about the topic of Oyashiro-sama, who she fears will curse her for leaving Hinamizawa.
Rena has a sort of secret base in the trash heap: an old van that has been hollowed out filled with the sort of things she likes, which she sometimes retreats to when she's distressed. In her words, no one else knows about her secret spot, and it is close enough to the middle of the dump that no one outside can hear anything. The Higurashi fanbase tends to be argue over whether the item she found in the town's trash heap (anime), or a tool shed (manga and visual novels) was a cleaver, billhook, cane knife, or a hatchet. The popular term is "cleaver", however the most accurate term would be nata. A nata is a gardening tool used for clearing brush, though it generally does not have the spike on the end that Rena's does.
Rena's parents are both fashion designers, and while she was born in Hinamizawa, her family soon moved away to Ibaraki, for the sake of her mother's advancing career. Her mother soon started an affair with a co-worker, and Rena met him a couple of times. She found him to be generally agreeable, although she didn't understand the reality of her mother's relationship with him until her mother asked her come away to start a new family with the two of them. Her mother was pregnant with the man's child, and was planning to leave her father.
Her father was devastated, and Rena blamed herself. She remained very loyal to her father after her mother betrayed/cheated on him, and as shown in Tsumihoroboshi-hen she is willing to go to extreme lengths to protect him. She spurned her mother, saying she never wanted to see her again, and nearly went mad with the guilt. She would cut at herself, especially at and around the neck area, trying to get rid of the "filthy blood" that was left in her by her mother, and imagined it to be filled with maggots.
Rena started to behave in violent and erratic ways, and during this time she attacked three of her male classmates. However, there is some implication that they were the instigators of the incident since they decided not to press charges, and in Matsuribayashi-hen it is revealed that they had attempted to rape her. She also smashed all the windows in her school with a baseball bat and was eventually hospitalized.
Rena later claimed that what broke her out of this state was the Shrine God of Hinamizawa, Oyashiro-sama, who "said" to Rena: "If you want to live, move back to Hinamizawa; that's the only way you'll be safe." Rena and her father moved back to Hinamizawa, and Rena, whose birth name was "Reina", changed her name as a part of her new start (though English speaking viewers may find the difference negligible aside from spelling). According to the Tsumihoroboshi-hen TIPS, the other purpose of removing the "i" in her name was, as interpreted by Rena herself, to "remove the i-cky things" (いやなこと iyana koto), though later she realizes that "the "i-ncredible things" (いいこ ii koto) also start with an "i".
Mamiya Rina and Rena's first names, identical with the exception of the vowel, could be considered the two halves of the name "Reina", in which "Rena" is the good, untainted half of the name and "Rina" is the epitome and physical existence of all the "i-cky things" and the bad experiences in Ibaraki.
Rena's experience with Oyashiro-sama allowed her to bond with Satoshi Hojo when he started having similar experiences. In Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Mamiya Rina and Teppei Hojo, both scam artists, target her father. In an attempt to protect her father and herself, Rena ends up fighting and killing Rina, and although it begins as self-defense, she later leads Teppei out to the junk yard and kills him as well. Not long after this, Miyo Takano entrusts her with her scrapbook. Takano dies shortly after, but after reading the book Rena begins to question the nature of Oyashiro-sama and the honesty of her friends. She takes the school building and those inside hostage, and only the intervention of Keiichi stops her from making another horrible mistake and becoming another fatality of the Hinamizawa Syndrome.
Rena has short orange hair in an angled cut with long sides, and her bangs part on the left of her forehead. Her eyes are blue and droop at the ends.
On her school days, Rena wears a fairly typical sailor fuku, complete with a yellow ribbon, and white socks with dark brown shoes. On her free days, she wears a white dress with a purple bow and sash and long silt up the middle, complete with "her favorite" white cap. She also wears thigh-high black socks with brown knee-high boots. Rena's blood-stained cap was used as a message to Mion Sonozaki in Taraimawashi-hen and a message to Satoko Hojo in Yakusamashi-hen.
In the first episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, Rena appears as an adult in a purple business suit. She has the same hairstyle, though it is a bit longer, and seems to have grown much taller since June 1983 even taller than both Akasaka Mamoru and Ōishi Kuraudo by a few inches, though that may have been just a simple production studio mistake.
On Rena's Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri sprite, her sailor fuku tie has a blue knot that has a small white cross in the center of it, similar to the pin Miyo Takano wears on her left side when she iswearing her black military uniform.
Rena seems to have a sweet and friendly nature, although situations in the story can cause that to change dramatically; in Onikakushi-hen, in particular, she is shown to react strongly to one of Keiichi's remarks with a deafeningly loud "Uso da! (That's a lie!)". She occasionally comes off as a bit of an airhead, but she is actually surprisingly intuitive, especially when it comes to her friends.
Along with her intuition, Rena is shown to be capable of becoming quite frightening and dangerously hostile when she is determined, especially in Minagoroshi-hen. She was able to easily intimidate both the village council and the Child Welfare staff, moreso than Keiichi could through, her eyes and words, rarely losing emotional control like Keiichi and Sonozaki Shion both did frequently. During the last Watanagashi meeting of the village council, Rena got into a violent fistfight with one of the elders and even threatened to crush Sonozaki Oryō's head if Oryō refused to help Satoko. Keiichi often calls her the "quiet, blue flame that burns silently", referring to her capability of becoming incredibly powerful when push comes to shove, despite her normally girly and seemingly-airheaded personality; in such situations, Rena will always be the instigator of and the most bluntly offensive in the fight, as observed in many instances; by Shion in Meakashi-hen and Minagoroshi-hen ("I wonder how you were in Ibaraki. You don't even hesitate to attack people!"), Keiichi in Watanagashi-hen, and Furude Rika in Minagoroshi-hen. Rena also has the ability to fiercely and successfully retort in a very sharp and biting way when involved in a heated debate.
Mion describes Rena, and Rena is often portrayed, as being hostile towards people who make light of or express disbelief in Oyashiro-sama's Curse. This is due to her own experience with it and her (correct) assumption that Oyashiro-sama physically exists. However, in Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Rena seems to completely contradict her strong beliefs and throw them away in a matter of seconds after Takano lent Rena a scrapbook about the existence of parasites causing the Hinamizawa Syndrome, originating from an alien spaceship. Why this occured so quickly is unknown, especially when the Syndrome is technically supposed to stimulate doubt in a general sense. On the other hand, she, like Rika, often empathizes with and is able to identify people who are afflicted with advanced symptoms of Hinamizawa Syndrome. It is implied that she feels guilty for not listening to Satoshi's problems before he disappeared, and asks Keiichi to tell her his problems, most notably in Onikakushi-hen, but as he was already afflicted with the Syndrome, he hallucinates that she was threatening him.
Rena appears to be very perceptive, as she is able to somewhat understand people just by looking at their face. She does admit directly that she can easily "tell if ___'s telling the truth or not... just by looking into his eyes". She is also able to form detailed and eerily accurate hypotheses of crime scenes based on evidence she observed.
Rena possesses a signature "Kawaii Mode", which is instigated when she is embarrassed or when she finds something cute (though she can forcefully enter Kawaii Mode when she feels the need to at any time, even without encountering the two situations listed). Once she enters Kawaii Mode, Rena's senses are heightened to an extreme extent, making her inhumanely agile and strong. This causes frequent trouble for many of the club members, who have to expend all of their energy to barely control her; Keiichi and Mion have been knocked out cold a large number of times by Rena's flurries of punches, while Rika and Satoko have been kidnapped often (especially when they were wearing club punishment outfits). Satoko and Rika have learned to use Rena's Kawaii Mode switch to their advantages—by either crying to her or posing in an adorable fashion, they can manipulate whom Rena knocks out or how Rena can support them, thus giving them a huge advantage in eliminating competition easily in club games.
During the first episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, Rena appears to have been scarred for life from a great amount of despair, suffering, depression and anxiety after being one of the few people who survived the events that occurred in Hinamizawa (in the post-Tsumihoroboshi-hen world).
Rena and Keiichi are very close friends. They face off against each other in many of the club's activities, most notably the "Water Gun Face Off" and their battle for Rena's sanity and the fate of the school in Tsumihoroboshi-hen. Keiichi also likes to "flirt", or make fun of Rena, while they walk to school together. Rena herself is shown to care about Keiichi quite a lot. In the last episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei, Rena confesses her feelings for him, although she was under influence of the magatamas at the time (Hanyū reacts to this as her real confession to Keiichi, while Rika is disgusted).
In Onikakushi-hen, Rena quickly notices Keiichi's unusual and erratic behavior and attempts to help and calm him down, begging him to talk to her about his problems and even following him around "protecting him", in order to ease his paranoia. She ultimately fails, due to his hallucinations that turn her kindness into treachery, and ends up being killed by Keiichi along with Mion, but only after one final effort to comfort him. This failure is the subject of her image song, Dear you -Cry-.
Mion and Rena remain best friends through the entire series. In Minagoroshi-hen, when Rena was upset about her father and was thinking of murdering Rina and Teppei, she went to Mion, who helped her decide against it. In exchange, Rena was the only one, besides Shion, to whom Mion confessed her feelings for Keiichi, after the doll incident in Watanagashi and Meakashi-hen.
Rena and Shion's relationship is not very expanded upon throughout the series, and there is implication that Shion may feel quite uncomfortable whenever Rena is present. Initially, Shion told Mion that she considers Rena to be Mion's rival, especially after the doll incident. When they first met at Angel Mort, Shion noted her as a "weird girl" who was unusually forward when they first met. In Meakashi-hen, when they were conversing at the bus stop, Shion had actually developed a sort of hateful jealousy towards Rena upon witnessing how intimidating and perceptive Rena could be; she immediately felt "one-upped" and threatened, her "position of the strongest demon" quickly taken away simply by a cold look from the other. It could be said that that encounter may have even had a small bit of influence on Shion's malicious behavior after hitting L5; after she witnessed Rika's suicide, her "demon" felt as if it could finally regain its position from Rena as the strongest one. It is also interesting to note that these two have hardly ever spoken to each other at all in the Kai season.
There is a possibility that Rena had actually known of Shion's existence and that Shion was Mion all along, but decided not to say anything for Keiichi's and Shion's sakes.
Rena and Satoko are close friends, and on many occasions, Rena has wanted to take Satoko home (mostly when in a punishment game outfit). Rena is shown to care dearly for Satoko, and is very concerned about her when she is being abused by Teppei. In Tsukiotoshi-hen, she even agrees to kill Teppei, along with Shion and Keiichi, in order to save Satoko.
Rena and Rika have been close friends since the very start of the series. On many occasions, Rena wants to take Rika home (mostly when in a punishment game outfit or her shrine maiden outfit). Rika sees Rena as a very kind and knowledgeable person throughout the series, however, when Rena took the school captive in Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Rika stands in her way while Keiichi is trying to stop Rena from destroying the school.
Rena and Hanyuu do not meet in person until Matsuribayashi-hen, but even before then, Rena had been aware of Hanyuu's presence while under the influence of the Hinamizawa Syndrome, though Rena (partially correctly) interprets this presence as that of Oyashiro-sama. Once they do meet, Hanyuu becomes an object of affection and obsession for Rena, similar to her reactions to Rika and Satoko. Rena comments to Keiichi upon Hanyuu's arrival that she felt as though Hanyū had always been with them, watching out for them from a far.
Rena and Takano have a strange relationship, especially during the last episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei, when she was temporarily in love with Takano because of the magatama. Rena as an adult looks remarkably like Takano, as seen in the first episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai.
- In episode 1 of Seitokai no Ichizon, Ken says that he loves Kurimu who asks him how can he confess his love so easily. Ken answers that he's serious but Kurimu yells at him with a loud "Uso da!" while mimicking Rena's iconic face from Higurashi. Ken only replies that "I think it's more about Umineko than Higurashi nowdays".
- In episode 6 of Seiokai no Ichizon, Magiru, the student council's advisor, says that she would prefer if the student council did it's meeting with a hatchet or a bat, and her dream is "getting sent to Hinamizawa".
- In episode 15 of Kyōran Kazoku Nikki Kyouka turns into a magical girl. After Hiratsuka sees her cute outfit she says "Hau~ I want to take you home".
- Rena seems to be the signature character of the series, as she is featured more than once during the first season opening, as well as appearing on most of the album or game covers.
- Rena has the second most expanded-upon backstory, only behind Rika.
- Rena has the highest number of murders because in Yoigoshi-hen (the alternate version of Tsumihoroboshi-hen) She succesfully blew up the whole school which killed 15 children (including herself, Mion, Satoko, Rika and Keiichi), likewise, she murdered Hōjō Teppei and Mamiya Rina in Tsumihoroboshi-hen and also killed Mion, Keiichi and Rika in Tsukiotoshi-hen (the same person can't be counted twice in the murder count so this makes totally 17 people).
- If one takes apart Rena's real name (Reina), "Rei" would mean 0 and "Na" (from "Nana") would mean 7, possibly referencing the author's name, Ryukishi07. This strengthens the theory f Rena being intentionally made by 07th Expansion the signature character of the series. This was also responsible for something called "Rena Day", specifically July 7, 2007 (07/07/07), where 4chan's anime boards and Japanese image threads were flooded with massive Rena picture spam.
- Rena's real name "Reina" is also the Spanish word for "queen".
- She appears in the ASCII part of Jessica's song Tsurupettan in Umineko.
- In addition to the 07 implication of Rena's name, it has been pointed out that both her real name and her nickname are the same as the Final Fantasy V character Lenna Charlotte Tycoon's Japanese names (in the game, Lenna's name is "Rena", in which the kanji for both Lenna's and Rena's names is レナ. In the FFV anthology, Lenna's name is "Reina").
- Rena is the only character (besides Takano, after she murders Rena) who acknowledges Oyashiro-sama as female. This is most likely because she has heard Oyashiro-sama (Hanyū) speak to her, while the other villagers grew up believing Oyashiro-sama to be male but never hearing or meeting him in person.
- Rena often speaks (and writes) in third-person, but mentally, she speaks normally in first-person. Where this habit came from is unknown, but she has had it ever since she was very young.
- In Tsumihoroboshi-hen TIP "The Demon's Script" and Higurashi Kai episode 1, Rena is referred to as "Girl A" by the police. This is might have been a stark reference to the Sasebo Slashing that occurred in an elementary school in Sasebo, Nagasaki prefecture, Japan, where an 11-year old (who was also nicknamed "Girl A" by the police) classmate slit a twelve-year old classmate's throat with a knife. When the girl was taken into custody, she kept repeating "I am sorry, I am sorry" to the police and refused anything offered to her. The case occurred on June 1, 2004, only 2 months before the release of Tsumihoroboshi-hen. Also, while it is a very loose stretch and might simply be a coincidence, Ryukishi07 may have also referenced a bit of the case of "Boy A" (Seito Sakakibara), where besides the murders, Seito assaulted three girls as well; in Higurashi, Rena assaulted three boys (for very different reasons, though). Both the Sasebo Slashing and the case of "Boy A" are heavily connected to each other, in the sense that the former sparked debate in the Japanese Diet about reconsidering the change in defined age of criminal responsibility that was set in place in the latter case. Also, both cases were committed by young persons, and both criminals used knives to commit the murders.
- Rena has a half-sister/brother, since her mother was pregnant with one of her co-workers child.