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.
I'd definitely recommend Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai to those who enjoyed the first season, as well as to those who want a unique murder/mystery/thriller with elements of school based comedy.
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.
Unfortunately, because of how Higurashi's first season pans out, Higurashi Kai is a must watch to understand the progression of the story. Perhaps I'm overreacting a bit to how much I disliked Higurashi Kai, as I did enjoy the first fourteen episodes, but the last arc was simply atrocious. All in all a settling sequel to the first season, but don't expect to have your brain played with in any sinister fashion - you'll just end up utterly disappointed.
Starting where Higurashi no Naku Koro ni left, Kai offers the answers for all the questions and things that the original opened the animation its way better than the first season, characters are the same with one very important adition, after watching all those question arcs on the previous season its very nice to see why were all those things happening, and why the story was starting again over and over with diferent results each time.
It has some very nice comic moments as well, what seems to be almost completley gone its the violence and gore that the previous season offered. Even with the questions answered on a niceley way i don't give the story over 8 since at my modest point of view, the final is weak and not at the level of what the rest of the seasons are. For me looks more like a pokemon episode where Ash just kicks team rocket ass again.
At the final point its a great anime, like i said before, it has plenty of nice twists, and some good action moments, will defineatly keep anyone who likes this genre intrigued till the end. If you enjoyed the first season you will enjoy this as well.
I felt that the first Higurashi series was excelent, then I watched this one... I can't say enough good things about this one really... one of the things that I liked about this one is that they didn't really change the format that they were using in the previous series, but then again... why fix what isn't broken.
I highly recommend this series for anyone that likes a good thriller or mystery.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai gets Ivo's Seal of Approval.
This season continues after the last one with confusion. It starts off trying to confuse the viewer with misinformation. That being said, most of this season is informative, clearing up questions from the last season. (minor spoilers) Ultimately it seems to wrap everything up yet there are more seasons after this!
Characters get more two-dimensional in this season and rarely step out of their expected range. The main character is different from the first season and tries to play like it was always that way.
The opening is the old one played backwards and the rest of the music is as expected.
Even though this season is about fighting to save the peace of their normal lives each moment we do get to view “normal” Hinamizawa lives pains me. At this point all characters have changed so much and then became so statue-like that I don’t like, trust, or relate to any of them, especially our main character and friend who are basically gods.
I likely won’t watch the other two seasons due to how un-enjoyable these last two seasons have been. Goodbye Hinamizawa, I won’t let you kill me too.