Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni was a force to be reckoned with in its first season-given its unique horror thematics and progression, it went from being a series I felt didn't quite make sense in the sum of its parts to one that I loved and didn‘t have qualms about watching multiple times, and with each rewatch finding something unique to take from it. So when I heard a sequel followed, I jumped at the chance to watch it in full. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, part school-based comedy- Higurashi drew me in with its likable characters and situational humor just as much as the intrigue of the realm of Hinamizawa and the Watanagashi festival, with all the complications and events that came alongside them.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai fills in most of the holes that the first season left off. The central focus of this installment of the series is establishing the connections between the worlds/realms and roles the characters played in the first season, as well as presenting new stories with different perspectives in its overall mix. I actually felt this series was stronger than the last, in some aspects, because it does offer explanations as to why these worlds connected, and how the characters came into the situations they did., coupled with the problems Hinamizawa citizens encounter Rika comes front and center as the focus of the series, a "queen bee" if you will, traveling back in time with a new character Hanyuu, a spirit/god of the shrine. With revelations encountered within each of the worlds, Rika finds that, with the help of Keiichi, Shion, Mion, and Satoko, that they can fight their impending deaths with fortitude, as well as save those whom are destined to perish. Sometimes in success, but just as potent in futility.
The blend of humor and murder mystery is just as on point as it was in the previous season-I think Higurashi fans will love the chance to reconnect with the characters again, and also be taken into its whirlwind of events surrounding the Watanagashi festival and the impending dooms the characters face, yet this series sheds some hope for the characters as they figure out, brick by brick, where the ultimate driving force in the deaths of the village lie. However, there's a flaw in this series that didn't quite come across in the first season -what the first season lacks in explanation, it makes up for in this season at the cost of becoming sluggish in overall progression, particularly in a few of the longer arcs. I did find myself trudging through in points because the themes of "fighting fate" and "changing the course" were quite overemphasized. Yet, it made me connect with the characters a bit more in their efforts, particularly when those efforts were in vain or coupled with a sizable twist in the plot.
I also liked the note that this series ended a lot better than the last, because there was a definitive sense of closure, but with an element of mystery. Matter in point, the first episode of this series is the true end to the arc of the last season, something that might throw a few viewers off to start, but if you watch the series in succession, it shouldn't be so much of a shock.
The animation in Higurashi Kai is much better than the previous season, character designs, actions/reactions, and proportions are much more consistent for a 2007 standard, and its well noted. The backdrops and coloring are also of good standards. Fluid action sequences aren't as much noted in this or the previous season, but it works particularly in the scenes where the characters give or are in the heat of the chase.
I loved the soundtrack of this season just as much as the former. "Naraku no Hana" by Eiko Shimamiya may not be as dark and ominous as the title track of the first season, but then again, it's more appropriate considering this series' focal point. If Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is etched in darkness, then Higurashi Kai is its contrasting, dim but present, light. The ending theme to this season is also just as beautiful, complacent and lovely. BGM isn't as much noted in this season, very minimalist but when it is, it works accordingly with the settings, both eerie and beautiful.
Voice acting work for this season was on point, I really liked the contrast in Rika's VA, transitioning from her usual child-like adaptation to a more mature "wise beyond her years" figure. The collective cast of Higurashi Kai did an excellent job coming into their characters, never reaching beyond a certain saturation of emotions, yet making it enough to come into connection with the situation present.
Higurashi Kai is essentially more character than event focused than the first season; unlike the first, Rika has a sizably larger role, and you follow her through the series almost through all of the arcs. Hanyuu is the only new character that comes into focus, and she's quite cute, having some of the same quirks as Rika herself (a good point of humor). The main five (or should I say, six) are well worth watching in their humorous interactions as well as their serious ones.
Side characters that weren't as much in focus in the past season come much more to the forefront in this one. Dr. Irie; Takano Miyo, Tomitake, Detective Akasaka and Detective Ooishi are given much more considerable focus-and it's relevant because they have much more significant parts to play in this season than the last. I found this an element of strength in this season because it gave their characters, while likable in construction, much more dimension.
Imagine everything Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was not, and you've got Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai. While Higurashi Kai certainly ties up a number of much needed loose strings causing incoherency issues within the first season, it ultimately degrades the series into meaningless tripe. It seems that the first season followed the original games/manga to the tee, but the second takes on extremely, and I emphasize extremely, watered down adaptations of the original storyline's ending. There is no gore or horror present save for perhaps one or two very light scenes, and the violence is toned down substantially as well, as most of what's present is almost comical in nature.
Needless to say, I was immensely disappointed with Higurashi Kai, as it ended exactly like most anime intended for young children rather than an honorable, intellectual dramatic masterpiece. Save for perhaps one or two minor incidents, all the duplicitous aspects of the main cast of characters' personalities vanish, and it becomes a real chore to convince yourself you're watching the same show. The final two "answer" arcs also happen to be twice the length of the prior six arcs in season one, and are subsequently packed full of filler-esque material which really causes the series to drag in many places - completely opposite of the first season, where constant angst and tension kept you on the edge of your seat and constantly looking over your shoulder while you watched.
Ending and conclusion aside, the sole purpose of Higurashi Kai is to provide the viewer with the story behind everything that occurs in the first season, and on that note it succeeds. Rika takes a much more central role in the second season, explaining many of her mysterious talents such as her vast score of knowledge and her prophetic capabilities; which, in essence, explains who Oyashiro-sama is and what his curse entails with rather great detail. Again, though, the enormous, anti-climactic ending dwarfs the importance of such revelations, as it sucks the very life out of the drama they were supposed to be explaining. While it provides closure, this closure is quite poor, and as such I have a hard time swallowing the series as a whole.
As far as color vibrancy goes, Higurashi Kai got a substantial boost in quality, but that's about the only noticeable difference in quality. I made a point not to increase the animation score, though, since the total lack of dramatic emphasis took away the first season's exemplary use of facial expressions to convey morbid atmospheres. The additions really didn't do much for me, especially with the huge abundance of stills in most of Higurashi Kai's action scenes.
Without a doubt, my favorite aspect of Higurashi Kai is its second, absolutely superb opening theme. Aside from that, though, the musical score remains virtually identical as the first season, and the voice actors again do a great job, though their roles are made less intensive.
I was really quite flustered with how the characters panned out. For obviously having severe paranoia issues, Keiichi seems perfectly normal for most of Higurashi Kai, a far cry from the neurotic xenophobe who has quite a difficult time distinguishing reality between the varying Himizawa worlds in the first season; Rena's random, sporadic violent tendencies disappear entirely, and I hardly see her lift a finger during the first half of the series; Shion displays one instance of her blood thirst, but it's tamed rather quickly and her character immediately seems to revert after with no future signs; the list goes on. The characters simply didn't carry the same feel, and that really gave me pause when trying to rationalize them in the context of the second season. In the first season each of the characters suffered from very fragile and delicate personality problems, and the fact that these problems cease to exist in the latter arcs is simply baffling.
Bueno,terminada la segunda parte de higurashi solo puedo decir que supera a la primera parte en todo.
Como en su anterior temporada,mezcla de nuevo terror,gore,fantasia y misterio.Es una continuacion directa,todas las dudas y la trama quedara resuelta de manera fantastica,tendremos nuevos personajes y nuevos arcos argumentales.Se deja algo mas de lado el tema gore y terror,para darle mas peso al misterio y a la historia principal
En esta 2ª parte Furude Rika tendra un papel vital en la historia,ademas de un nuevo personaje que sera igualmente vital en el desenlace final de la historia.
Siguen los arcos argumentales,pero mucho mas largos y todos con relacion directa entre si(sobretodo el 2º y 3º que es donde esta todo el gruso de la historia),al igual que en determinados arcos unos mueren y otros no,pero en este sentido no es tan caotico como en la primera parte
Continua directamente la primera parte,pero esta vez todas las piezas estan en el tablero,para no spoilear nada solo dire un par de cosas:El grueso de toda la trama se situa en los arcos 2º y 3ºLa forma de llevar esta segunda parte es mejor que la primera,es mas solida y ya en los primeros episodios(2º arco) nos dicen que esta pasando y como arreglarlo,lo cual se producira en el arco final.El papel de Rika es fundamental en el desenlace asi como el de un nuevo personaje,muy cercano a Rika.El nudo de la serie esta muy conseguido,ahi ya nos vana dar las pistas sobre el porque y quien esta detras de todo,el desenlace culmina la serie de forma simplemente brillante.
Mejora mas que evidente,en parte debido a la diferencia de tiempo entre una parte y otra.Esta vez nos encontramos con personajes bien detallados y paisajes aun mejores,por contra las escenas de accion siguen siendo reguleras,pero no empañan el notable conjunto.
Ha mejorado algo,tanto los temas de opening y ending siguen siendo muy buenos,las interpretaciones de los seiyus rayan a buen nivel y los efectos en general son notables.
Como en su primera parte lo mejor junto a la historia.El peso de Furude Rika y del nuevo personaje es esencial en la historia.Esta vez no habran esos cambios en el guion de estados psicologicos y personalidades distintas entre arcos,en cambio tendremos a los protagonistas con su personalidad perfectamente marcada a lo largo de la serie.
Una segunda parte sobresaliente,que supera a la primera en todo,mejora en animacion y sonido y con una historia mejor llevada con un nudo y desenlace perfectos.Personalmente se coloca por encima de la que para mi era la mejor(Elfen lied).Una serie recomenada al maximo si te gusta el misterio y el terror,pero que para verla en todo su esplendor hay que ver antes su primera parte que esta un peldaño por debajo de esta,pero que aun asi es muy buena.
Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai is really just another entry into the long line of disappointing sequels. It doesn't hold up to the original series in any meaningful way, and decides to go for a change in pace and tone that is so different from the first that I can't believe it was produced by the same group of people.
There isn't anything particularly awful about this show, but when you're creating a sequel for a series that was really special, "average" is a pretty hefty criticism. And that's what this show was: average. Let's look at the story first. I mean, this should have been a strong spot for the show since it was supposed to answer the questions brought up by the previous season. It does this, but they are so long and so thorough in explaining that you realize the main reason why Higurashi was so great is that you had no idea what was going on at times. You had to fill the holes yourself and wrap your mind around the insanity of it all. Also, the pace of the first season was great. It managed to introduce every scenario by displaying the key differences, and then jumping right into the heart of the story. With Kai it almost seems like they had a lot less source material and tried to spread it as thin as possible. I guess the story was good in that it did it's jump in telling you what happened, but it's never a good sign for a show when you aren't raising any new interesting questions but rather answering old ones.
The animation is slightly improved upon from the first season, which isn't that hard since that had pretty terrible animation. But it's passable and sub-par animation doesn't distract from a compelling story. (This statement is not referring to Higurashi Kai.) The sound is also about as good as it was in the first season, but the opening isn't creepy like the first one. I guess that's appropriate since Kai isn't creepy at all.
The biggest failure of this show was its watering down of the creepy factor from the first season down to a weak story of friendship for the second. It's as if the writers felt they should change their target demographic to 10 year-olds. I'm serious, the last episodes rely solely upon friends working together to overcome near-impossible odds. Great, it's not like we've seen the power of friendship in every shounen ever created.
This brings me to my second biggest beef with Kia: the characters. Who are these people? What have they done with the original cast of Higurashi? I mean, they can't be the same characters, right? None of them are particularly homicidal or paranoid, and wasn't that a staple of the first season? Having otherwise cheerful characters snap and murder all of their friends? What happened is that these characters lost all form of characterization and at one point it felt like every single character had the same traits, goals, and ideals. That's not a good thing. The only person who felt different was the small girl who said NIPPA, and that's only because she had the whole split personality thing going on.
I hated Kai. Not because it was terrible, but because of what it did to Higurashi by changing the characters and removing all of the intrigue and mystery from the first season by replacing it with big bold words telling you what was going on. Familiarity breeds contempt.
STORY: The first season of Higurashi, in my opinion, was quite epic. And the second installment, while quite different, does not dissapoint. This time the story's central character is Rika Furude. Rika, along with her friend Hanyuu, atempt to break fate and end Hinamizawa's bloody cycle. Some people might be dissapointed about the lack of gore compared the the first installment. However, instead the story weaves together the seperate arcs of the first season into one story. Questions that were left dangling in the first season are (finally) answered.
In my opinion, it is just beautiful how everything in Higurashi and Hinamizawa comes together. When it is revealed what really happened during the murders and who is truly behind them. I don't really understand why some people think this is a letdown. I think it is done wonderfully. Some people might be annoyed by the fairly predictable ending. But really? Would you want it to end any other way? 9.5/10
ANIMATION: The animation in Kai is still cute, and it is clear that it has improved quite a bit since the first season. I have always had a soft spot for the character designs but I will admit that they aren't mindblowingly beautiful or anything. The animation quality has improved but they are still rather cartoony. There arn't as many gore scenes in Kai but the blood that is shown is still well animated. 7.5/10
SOUND: The opening and ending themes are a bit more peaceful in Kai, but it is fitting. The lyrics match Rika's feelings quite well. I really enjoyed the opening, Naraku no Hana, myself. I think the background music always fits the mood well and there are a few pieces I really enjoy. The voice acting is still done well and suites the characters. 8.5/10
CHARACTERS: Ah, the characters. Characters and plot are what make Higurashi. Don't get me wrong, the main characters in Higurashi still work well. However, keeps them from becoming stale is that more focus is put on the supporting characters that weren't really explained in much detail before. We learn a lot more about Tomitake, Takano, Dr. Irie, and the others. This is a really good thing. But we also learn a lot more about Rika. To me, Rika had always taken more of a backseat role in the first season. At the start of Kai I wasn't very taken with the idea of her being thrust in the main characters role. However, she grew on me very quickly. At first, her pessimism may annoy you, but it is very understandable and fades as the show continues.
I was not as impressed with Hanyuu as I was Rika and the supporting characters. She seemed mostly there for cute factor, but at least she never took away from the show or annoyed me. All the characters in Kai still work very well. 9.5/10
OVERALL: I was a little concerned Kai might be a letdown when I learned there was less gore and insanity. But this is not the case. Some people might not care for Kai, but I am not on of them. Don't let anyone talk you out of it if you have watched the first season. Watch and decide for yourself. You may disagree with me but you sure aren't going to come close to changing my mind. 9/10