|“||I don't really know why, but, I like doing my best for others. So no matter what the reason is, I still do it. That is why... this one's on me.||„|
|~ Keiichi Maebara|
Keiichi Maebara is one of the main characters from the anime series Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. He is the main protagonist of four Question Arcs, Onikakushi-hen, Watanagashi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen and Taraimawashi-hen. He is a charismatic boy with a lively attitude, and his talented tongue allowed him to quickly fit in the town and make new friends. He is the sole male member of the protagonists, excluding Satoshi Hojo.
Keiichi is the son of a famous artist, Ichirou Maebara, and his wife, Aiko Maebara, and recently moved to Hinamizawa after an array of unfortunate and awful events in his hometown, Tokyo. He and his family live in a large house (dubbed the "Maebara Mansion" by many of the villagers) bought from the Sonozaki family, and as a result, many of his friends believe that they must be quite rich. However, in reality they are only about middle-class; the house was built large so that it would also house his father's art gallery and allow for clients to visit said gallery. It is assumed that Keiichi is 16 years old, and it is confirmed that his birthday lies in April. As Higurashi takes place in June, it is most likely that he is already 16.
In Onikakushi-hen, paranoia drives him to believe that his friends are trying to kill him, which leads the murder of Mion Sonozaki and Rena Ryuuguu. Likewise, he also kills Satoko Hojo's uncle, Teppei Hojo, and contemplates to kill Miyo Takano 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 Satoshi Hojo's old baseball bat; however, on one occasion in Tatarigoroshi-hen, he wielded an axe 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, having 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, as the girls like to pick on him. Remarkably, especially Mion and Satoko seem to be fond of teasing him. Satoko who spends hours designing and setting up traps just to humiliate him and Mion whose tabasco sauce/needle filled ohagi convinced him they were trying to kill him. He was suffering from a disease that causes extreme paranoia. In the manga, he considers Mion's punishments "sexual harassment", as he is often forced to wear embarrassing costumes, typically a dress with a short skirt.
It is revealed in Tsumihoroboshi-hen that Keiichi has a fear of sewing needles being in his food, as a result a manga that he read when he was a child. This is fact was expanded upon in Minagoroshi-hen that the manga was about a girl who put sewing needles in a man's food. This mentally scarred him for quite awhile, and explains his violent reaction to the "needle" in his ohagi in Onikakushi-hen.
Before moving to Hinamizawa, Keiichi was struggling with his grades in a cram school in Tokyo. An intelligence test, however, showed that he was very smart, but if a question didn't make sense, as in "Why should one do that?", he wouldn't find it interesting, and thus would not answer the question very well. After the intelligence test, he was transferred to another, more gifted school, where his grades improved rapidly. He was soon the best in class in every subject, but that resulted in lack of social strength. Keiichi was bullied by his jealous classmates, but he could easily take it as there was only one thing that mattered to him—the praise from his teachers, and, more importantly, his parents, and he was given allowance raises as a reward. However, as Keiichi started to find school too easy and boring and his high grades became "expected", he felt like getting involved in something "more exciting". He bought an airsoft gun with his extra allowance and started 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 a too easy a target to resist. The girl turned around before he managed to shoot 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 couldn't do so without revealing himself and thus ran away. He felt so guilty and panicked that he even researched on what would happen if you shot someone in the eye with an airsoft gun.
Keiichi, in the end, confessed to being the shooter to his parents one morning. 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 Tsumihoroboshi-hen, his background is revealed by Rena when she asked Kuraudo Oishi about each of her friends.
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, Rumiko Chie.
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 and Rena 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 on the school's roof in Tsumihoroboshi-hen. Keiichi also likes to "flirt", or tease her, while they walk to school together. Shion considers Rena to be Mion's rival, due to Keiichi giving the doll to Rena in Watanagashi-hen. In the last episode of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei, 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.
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.
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 are best friends. When Keiichi fails to give Mion a doll he won, saying she wouldn't like it anyway and gives it to Rena, Mion is later seen crying and being upset over this, opening her heart to her twin sister Shion. In Tsumihoroboshi-hen when Keiichi hugs Mion, as an apology for killing her and Rena in Onikakushi-hen, (which neither she nor Rena remembers), she is seen gasping and blushing, stammering as she speaks.
One of the best examples of Keiichi's feelings is during Watanagashi-hen, when Keiichi is about to be tortured by who he believes to be Mion. Instead of resisting he states that if it will soothe the demon inside of "Mion" she may go ahead. He only wanted the "demon" to give him back "the best friend I've ever had, give me back my Mion!", and "Shion" to be forgiven. Interestingly, the only reason for his torture was because of the doll he gave to Rena rather than Mion.
Later, in Matsuribayashi-hen, Shion whispers in 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, as well as affection for one another to the point where Keiichi literally dodges bullets in order to see her face again—though his resolve was more-so spurred on by Hanyuu Furude telling him to fight, but this was the only reason of multiple she gave him that specified a person.
In the beginning, Keiichi does not believe in the existence of a "Shion", rather 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.
Keiichi and Satoko seem to be both friends and "enemies", as 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 more or less treats Satoko as though she were his younger sister.
For Rika, the presence of Maebara Keiichi is the one of the needed catalysts to help the group to survive and move beyond that fateful time of 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". In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, Rika seems to have given Keiichi a nickname of her own, calling him "KeiKei".
As Hanyuu 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 Keiichi calls her Hanyuu-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.
Even though these two never meet in the official arcs, it would probably be safe to say that, if Satoshi ever came back, they would most likely not have much of a good start. In Tatarigoroshi-hen, Keiichi tells the reader that he practically despised Satoshi with all his heart for abandoning Satoko on her birthday. He even says that he wouldn't forgive Oyashiro-sama if Satoshi was not demoned away. This was slightly averted later in the arc when Keiichi plans to kill Teppei, but at that time, he only praised Satoshi as a spiritual guide while under L5. His hatred for Satoshi was downgraded in Minagoroshi-hen, but he still thinks that Satoshi is an "unreliable bastard who betrayed Satoko". However, in Batsukoishi-hen, Keiichi dreams about hallucinating of Satoshi and him being punished by the girls into acting out strange scenes in maid outfits, much to Keiichi's chagrin. In Ayakashisenshi-hen, Keiichi and Satoshi are shown at the beginning of the episode to have already become best friends, though the time at which this OVA takes place is unknown.
In episode 6 of Seiokai no Ichizon, Magiru, the sutdent 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".
- 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 hotblooded personality that he is famous in Hinamizawa and Okinomiya for (also a reference to his famous nicknames of "K" and "K1").
- Keiichi and Mion seem to be the character with the second highest number of times killed, as he is killed as many times as Rika, 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 manga.
- Keiichi has been shown within many times to appear a pervert, especially during club activities and the first episode of Rei. 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. He also, in same manga arc, is rather disturbed by Ōishi when he brings him porn magazines at the hospital.
- In Minagoroshi-hen, Rika said that Keiichi didn't move to Hinamizawa in two worlds a hundred years ago (in Rika's time perspective). Those two worlds, as described by Rika, were "incredibly sad, doomed worlds".
- In Nienagashi-hen, it is shown that Keiichi actually doesn't know how to swim. However, he did manage to save Satoko against a powerful river current.
- 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't appear because he doesn't 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 became a murderer in three of these worlds (Onikakushi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen and Tsukiotoshi-hen).
- Just like Shion and Rena, Keiichi can be also counted as a villian-protagonist in two Arcs (Onikakushi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen).