|This article is about a side arc character in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.|
Akira Otobe (乙部 彰 Otobe Akira) is the main protagonist of the manga-exclusive arc Yoigoshi-hen and its visual novel adaptation. He heads to Hinamizawa long after the Great Hinamizawa Disaster for some sightseeing with friends and winds up separated from them.
I visited Hinamizawa for a certain purpose, but I got separated from my companions and fell into a mess with Mion when I was lost in the rain. Mindless, always reluctant. She said that I look similar to a boy named "Satoshi"...
(Translated from Entergram's Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Hou website.)
Otobe has blonde hair and red eyes. He wears a blue and black striped shirt under a black jacket and white pants.
At first, Otobe is very melancholic because of his background. Over time he learns to take responsibility for his actions and gets a new lease on life.
Otobe was born and raised in the countryside, and feeling that he was meant for better, he ran away from home. He went to Tokyo and enjoyed his newfound freedom, working hard to save money for college. However, Otobe spent more of his money on having fun and wound up deep in debt, having to borrow money from his friends. He kept falling into debt and was unable to pay them back, eventually giving up on college.
Otobe received calls from his parents to come back home but he was too afraid to face them and became depressed. Otobe gave up on life entirely and soon arranged with some people to commit suicide in Hinamizawa, having heard it described as a suicide village.
Otobe is first introduced driving to Hinamizawa with his companions Akutagawa, Machi, and Chiaki. After a short while the car stops and Otobe gets out to check the signal on his phone, and he accidentally falls down a cliff. He soon runs into Mion Sonozaki and asks for some help, and she initially confuses him for someone named Satoshi. After explaining that he left his friends' car to use the bathroom and lost his way, Otobe goes with Mion to the Furude Shrine and encounter Yae Towada resting there with her boyfriend Takumi.
Mion begins talking about the act of demoning away and Otobe becomes concerned that his friends may have disappeared when Ryuunosuke Arakawa suddenly appears to report a car full of people who've committed suicide. Otobe attempts to call the police on his phone however he runs out of battery.
With nothing else to do, Otobe and Ryuunosuke follow Mion into the ritual storehouse and learn about how alien parasites supposedly infected Hinamizawa long ago. 20 years ago, before the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, a girl was espousing the same theory and later took the school hostage, which ultimately blew up and killed everyone inside it. Mion gives an ominous message that she's actually being possessed by a parasite, and a frightened Ryuunosuke drags Otobe outside. Otobe then learns from him that Mion Sonozaki was supposed to have died in that same school explosion.
Questioning the identity of the Mion that stood before them, Otobe and Ryuunosuke rejoin Mion after she finishes her business and hear Yae screaming outside. As they rush to confirm her safety, Otobe accidentally drops his phone. They learn that Yae was attacked and Takumi was kidnapped, and Mion goes to search around while Otobe retrieves his phone to call the police again, having swapped out his battery with Mion's since they had similar phones. However, Otobe finds that his phone is broken, considering it an act of sabotage by their unknown attackers.
The group returns to the meeting hall inside the shrine, and Otobe goes to retrieve a blanket for a shivering Yae and opens the closet to discover Takumi's corpse. After a brief argument amongst the group, Mion deduces that Otobe destroyed his own phone earlier, as Ryuunosuke's phone was left inside the meeting hall and yet it's perfectly fine; the perpetrator knew Ryuunosuke dropped it in a puddle earlier and it was disabled. Mion then pulls out a bank card that Otobe dropped when he opened the closet, and the name doesn't match his at all. Otobe then confesses that he did destroy his own phone and begins explaining himself.
Otobe was considering suicide and arranged with some companions to go to Hinamizawa and kill themselves there. As they began the preparations, Otobe saw that Chiaki had a bank card on her, figuring he could use it to pay off all of his debts. He stole the card and ran away from the car, planning to withdraw all of the money before calling the police. Otobe however claims he didn't kill Takumi, and Mion believes him.
Yae then admits to killing Takumi, and after explaining herself and a brief conversation with Takumi's ghost, the group becomes surrounded by Mifune's men. Mion gets rid of the men and then explains her own side of things, taking Otobe and Ryuunosuke to the Sonozaki estate. On the way to the estate they discover the car Ryuunosuke was talking about, which has Otobe's companions dead from suicide. Otobe returns Chiaki's bank card and apologizes to the group, and Chiaki's ghost appears to tell him it's okay to use it. Otobe still refuses to take it, having decided to pay off all of his debts himself; he won't give up on life so easily anymore.
They reach the estate and encounter more of Mifune's men. Mion fends them off but gets wounded, asking Otobe to retrieve the hand bell and give it to Shion when she arrives. Otobe successfully finds the bell but is cornered by Mifune, who holds him at gunpoint and demands to have the bell or else he'll shoot. Otobe has a brief conflict with his conscience over handing the bell over, but Otobe stands his ground and declares that Mifune will die if he fires. Mifune doesn't heed his words and is soon slain by Mion.
Otobe hands Mion the bell and thanks her, and Mion then explains she's actually Shion. Shion's past is explained, and she escorts Otobe and everyone else back to civilization. They stop at the site where the Hinamizawa school once was, and Otobe relays to Shion Mion's final words as the latter accepts them tearfully.