Cute girl with a cleaver; that carries a nice little ring to it, does it not? While not fully accurate, it rather clearly depicts Higurashi no Naku Koro ni's brooding mixture of drama and horror. As I generally make a point to avoid anything that possesses senseless slaughter with a ten-foot poll, I was quite surprised when I found myself drawn in to a show that appeared to have such elements. To my elation, however, Higurashi quickly turned out to be anything but senseless, and actually relies on an intellectually involving storyline rather than flying limbs for its appeal. While there is an undeniable plethora of violence and gore, it tends to be a product of the story and not so much a focus, perhaps shifting its appeal to an older, more mature demographic who doesn't usually find gore to be a favorite pastime.
That said, it's important to know that the anime follows an unusual pattern of storytelling and doesn't really make such information privy to the viewer at first glance. Higurashi is adapted from a novel/game series in which the presentation starts with four "question" arcs and concludes for four "answer arcs;" the first season here covers the first four "question" arcs and two "answer" arcs. While the individual arcs have related back story, characters, and the like, they are not chronologically sequential, which tends to throw viewers for a loop if they are not previously familiar with the franchise. In fact, this happens to be one of the most interesting aspects of Higurashi, as, while still coherent, it makes the plot very hard to piece together in a logical fashion. While trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle proves a rather daunting task, the series ends rather abruptly to lead into the second season; it was quite clear by that time, though, that the series was fully intended to be continued and concluded in additional season, so it was not much of a surprise.
As for story specifics, the fact that not much is really clear by the end of the first season and that the story follows a cumulative rather than a linear plot makes it difficult to really talk about the details of what happens. The basic idea, though, is that a string of serial murders start occurring in a rural Japanese village every year on the night of the Watanagashi festival. A boy by the name of Keiichi moves to the village a few weeks prior but knows nothing about the killings, but once he learns of the history he finds himself involved in the killing cycle as well. From there the stories diverge, with each of the arcs having the characters react slightly differently to certain events which result in drastic differences to the overall plot.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Higurashi, though, is that the story is presented from a supposedly objective, narrative point of view, but never comes across that way. I found it very difficult to trust what I was watching as the truth, which certainly provides for a very intellectually tantalizing experience. In fact, this pans out to be the case for quite a few scenarios, as paranoia and fear run rampant throughout, and sometimes one character's delusions can twist the story to appear one way when it in fact is quite different. This surreal, twisted atmosphere really plays tricks with the mind, and I definitely found it to be Higurashi's greatest appeal.
Unlike most anime that aim for a combination of a scary/dramatic mood, Higurashi doesn't use many special lighting effects. Instead, a coupling of voice acting along with character facial expressions tends to do the trick, and quite well at that. Rena is especially disturbing in that one moment she's cute as a button, friendly, and open, yet the next, based almost exclusively on her face, she becomes a believable, cleaver-wielding sadist with a thirst for blood. It's fairly obvious that the animation budget for Higurashi was rather poor, but this adaptation works quite well in conveying the moods so I can't really complain.
Though I haven't (and refuse to, for that matter) watched Elfen Lied, I get the feeling Higurashi carries much of the same graphic intensity. There's an extraordinary amount of violence and gore, ranging from bludgeoning death to torture, so this is most definitely not appropriate for younger children or those who have a weak stomach. A bit of dismemberment is also present, but none is shown physically onscreen, and that's generally where I draw my line when it comes to watching such things.
I loved the opening theme, especially since it so dauntingly fits the series. The subtle, demi-human nature of the singer's voice, along with the phantasmal echoes behind it, really capitalize on the essence of the series, and provides for a very fitting introduction for each episode. More importantly, where the series lacks in visual quality the voice actors pick up the slack, as it's certainly no easy feat to able to make your character sound both empathetic and terrifying at the same time. Expectedly, there's an abundance of screaming and yelling, but it's kept to specific scenes and only where it's fitting, which showed a level of professionalism in the scriptwriting that is not often found in anime. For a series that relies so heavily on the duplicitous personalities of its characters, the seiyuu did a fantastic job, and I'm nothing but pleased.
The insert music, unfortunately, left a bit to be desired, as it didn't really do much at all. While it wasn't detrimental to any of the dramatic scenes, it was neither helpful, and for such a mood-oriented anime I would have preferred otherwise. With such stupendous voice acting, a stronger emphasis on the musical score would have done wonders for heightening the emotional vibes within the series' many dramatic environments.
Remember the old saying, "Never judge a book by its cover?" It had to be written in preparation for this series. Depending on the circumstances, all of the characters, at one point or another, shift between sanity and insanity, and it provides for a rather chaotic environment that continues to grow in complexity as the series progresses.
Take Rena, for instance. She's the typical warm-hearted, compassionate, friendly girl with a love for all things cute; simultaneously, however, she's a cleaver-wielding fanatic with a penchant for violence and bloodshed. All the characters take on similar roles in some respect at one point or another, but it's important to note that it tends not to be random in nature - i.e. Rena just doesn't go around pointlessly hacking people up with an axe. Each of the four "question" arcs takes on a "what if" role where the characters make different decisions at different points in time, and this generally results in one character being pushed beyond his/her mental breaking point in some fashion.
As the series progresses, the characters are continually expanded upon, which makes it refreshing from the typical horror flick. Many of the characters, Rika especially, carry very strange and mysterious auras, and carry an uneasy sense about them throughout the different arcs. Characters initially appearing innocent and naïve pan out to be anything but, and I found the series continually playing tricks with my brain when portraying them. Perspective plays a huge role in influencing the viewer's feelings toward any given character, and as such I found myself continually surprised from scene to scene. There's much more to each character than meets the eye, and the constant, consistent layering of their personalities over the progression of the series is nothing to scoff at; I can only imagine how much more warped my perceptions of each will be after I get through the second season.
Mystery/Phcyological Trhriller/Horror animes can either be a homerun or an out of the park. As far as I know, there is just nearly no Mystery/Phcyological Trhriller/Horror that is an absolute miss to impress the anime fandom. The anime we're talking about today is one I think is an out of the park Mystery/Phcyological Trhriller/Horror anime I think you will enjoy. And that anime is named Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni along with it's second season, Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai.
An additonal note, Higurashi was originally a sound novel by 07thExpansion that was turned into a manga turned into a possibly ongoing anime series.
Higurashi is 18+ series which contains intense violence and foul language. For watching and reading Higurashi, viewer discretion is advised.
The plot of Higurashi is first baffling but makes sense as time goes on. Around June of 1983, Keiichi Maebara moves to a small village called Himinizawa and befriends four of his new classmate which are all female, who have their own club; Mion Sonozaki, Rena Ryugu, Rika Furude, and Satoko Houjou.
Coincidentley, Keiichi moved just in time for the yearly annual Watanagashi Festival in Himinizawa. At first, during the festival, everyone is happy. Keiichi, Mion, Rika, Satoko and Rena are all having fun and playing games and it's just so pleasant. However, after the festival, things get a little...eerie. Some of the residents become a little more...violent. And things happen...again and again. What is happening? What is going on? That is for us to figure out as we follow our six main charaters through bloody hell and mystery.
I recall this plot amazing, original and mysterious and we want to now what happens with it's twists and turns.
The charaters of Higurashi are as much as baffling, too. They provide clues to solve the mystery and give us that feeling of them acting so realistic and heart-warming. The main charaters are at first just fun to be around with; Mion is the class represenitive who is eccentric and tomboyish but does have a girly heart; Rena is the kind and playful girl and can go a little crazy when she sees anything "kawaii"; Satoko is the one who plays tricks on everyone, especially Keiichi; Rika is Satoko's best friend who has a secret of her own; and Keiichi is a cool, a little laid-back but kind-hearted boy. After the festival however, everyone seems to turn on eachother behind closed doors.
The side charaters are even more mysterious and provide even more clues about Himinizawa's past and what's with all this violence and deaths.
I enjoy the charaters a lot.
Higurashi's music consists of eerie and beautiful music for the games and/or anime. It had a lot of choir, piano, violin and other instruments. All the eerie parts of the music will leave a chill down your spine and everlasting nightmares. The beautiful parts of the music, I will be specfically be speaking about main charater themes, the Dear You's. They all sound just the same except with different instruments and lyrics as they talk about how they feel during the entire series. The Dear You's are sung by their actual voice actors which is really awesome to hear.
The music is powerful and leaves a big inpact to your ears. Higurashi has countless soundtracks.
The animation for Higurashi is definately at first the weakest part of the entire series. The original sound novel series for the characters were not all that great (but that didn't stop us from playing it). The anime shows a simalarity. It was animated by Studio Deen back in 2006 and 2006 animation was starting to feel more realistic than your average 1990's animation, but Higurashi was a tad bit behind. However as time went on, Studio Deen's animation became much more professional and Higurashi's was much more artistic and even very beautiful.
Needles to say, the animation was the weakest part, but I never cared anyway.
If you are a big fan of the Mystery/Phcyological Trhriller/Horror animes and you were looking for one to watch, this would be the highest recomendation I would go for. Higurashi is nearly perfect in every way (in my personal opinion) and it would be nice for you to give it a try. I don't care if you read the sound novels, manga or even watch two seasons of the anime (not counting the other seasons Rei, Kira and possibly Kaku or live action movies), it's all fine with me. I suggest you check it out, you might just find a liking to it's gruesome but yet beautiful ways...
(If there are any questions or corrections about this review or Higurashi, contact me! ;D)
Warning - Contains Spoilers
Ahh, hinamizawa... The only place in the world where killing your friends is always the solution...
When I first started watching this show, I didn't have the slightest clue as to what to expect. And it almost lulled me to sleep, as it appeared just like any other kid's show... I couldn't have been anymore wrong. The hsow drastically changes back and forth between your Saturday Morning Cartoons and the next Friday the 13th film. Some of these scenes were just; gruesome. But I loved it, it was captivating. And at episode 4 the show has a relatively conclusive ending. Immediately following episode 4 I hoped into episode 5 thinking "Where can they possibly go from here?" And just like that, the show starts over. Now you can imagine my confusion seeing charcters gets torn to bits my axe-murders, only to be cheerful and alive the next episode. Than the story pans out different over the next four episodes. And it rinses and repeats this process multiple times, only giving you slight clues as to what is really happening. Imagine playing the game of Clue in real life... except everyone is the murderer. I actually sat down with three of my co-workers and explained the first 3 story arcs to them and we tried to figure it out for a few hours. I was convinced that it was a video game, and that the events were being panned out depending on the actions taken.... To put it in short, this show really screws with your head. But in a good way. One moment you think you piece it all together, and at the drop of a hat everything you thought was true is shattered. As a psychological thriller, this show is a masterpiece. If you look past the extreme violence (which I was a huge fan of anyways) this is actually one of the most interesting stories I've ever seen.
The animation for this series is probably mediocre at best, but it doesn't need to be great. Theres no real special effects. Instead they use creepy facial expressions to give scenes a darker atmosphere. Trust me, Rena with an Axe is a lot scarier than any special effect you can possibly think of. Interestingly enough though, Hinamizawa is actually a real village in Japan. If you live there I have four words for you.... Change of adress form!
I actually enjoyed the soundtrack. The Intro was awesome, and suits the show very well. But other than that, the music is just flat out creepy at times. Like really creepy. Like if Salad Fingers had his own theme song creepy. And than again, theres the upbeat music that makes you completly forget that every character is a soon to be serial killer who's bound to have the scariest laugh you've ever heard.
Characters... Man, and I thought I had a messed up childhood. This has got to be the most unpredictable cast of characters in any series I've ever seen. And at the same time, they're actually really enjoyable charcters. If cute was part of my vocabulary, I would use it to describe them. Cute in a "aww your so adorable, let me clean blood off your new shirt hunny", but cute none the less. What really throws you off is Half of this show is just them being normal kids. Pulling pranks, having fun, the works. But bottom line is that the charcters are completly misleading in every way imaginable, and to be blunt they are down right scary at times. The charcters have an abundance of personality, in a really twisted way. But bottom line is that the charcters for this show are extremly original, and entertaining.
At this point, I can say two things for sure... If you ever find yourself in a sticky situation, saying "Neepah" will sufice. And also that this show is simply a masterpiece. Possibly the best psychological thriller I've seen to date and it is quite worthy of the praise it recieves. On a side note, there is one philosophical lesson to be learned... Never judge a book by it's cover. Seriously.
If the first 15 seconds of this anime was any indication, it was that Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was going to be one heck of a ride.
Story: The story (as explained in the synopsis of the page), introduces Keiichi Maebara as he meets new friends such as Mion/Shion Sonozaki, Rena Ryuugu, Rika Furude, Satoko Hojo, and others in the town of Hinamizawa, a fictional rural town based off the actual Shirakawa-go town in Japan. As expected, everything goes to hell in a handbasket and the whole party (and the viewer) try to figure out what the hell is going on. The whole story is planted, and revolve around, the Watanagashi, or the Cotton Drifting Festival. This is very good, because the viewer doesn't get buried in so many events. I don't want to leave out the comedy, though. It hits home. When you laugh, you laugh hard. And when you cringe, it stays in your mind for awhile. Overall an excellent murder story, with some lighthearted moments that makes it conflicting with your emotions. 10/10
Animation: The animation is rock solid. This makes the murdering that much more cringe worthy and memorable. Aside from the animations, The palette of the series mainly is dark. Depressing, almost, as most of the series takes place in the evening/night time of day. It's also predictable. When it's daytime, bright and sunny, it's happy fun time, and you laugh and have a blast. When it's evening, dark, or rainy, you know something bad's gonna go down. 9/10
Sound: The sound is perfect. From footsteps on the grass to the the dull thud of a baseball bat smacking the side of a person's head, to the sound of sharp metal digging into someone's flesh, the sound compliments the animation nicely. The OST deserves praise as well. It adds to the suspense, action, and flat out eerie and creepy situations that the characters are in. The opening and ending aren't bad too, as it matches the mood of the anime; dark.10/10
Characters: Very memorable characters. You'd think that with so many characters, it's easy to leave most of them underdeveloped. This is not the case. From the get go, you will already have your favorites, who will be developed in the many different scenarios that progress through the season. I also like that a scenario is focused on a specific character, greatly developing them, but also fleshing out the side characters as well. The only gripe I have is the character design. Some characters have very skinny legs, and large heads in proportion to their bodies, especially some of the younger cast members. This is a small gripe, however, and does not detract from the overall experience. 9/10
Overall: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is the question raiser. What the hell is going on? Why is everyone alive at the beginning of each scenario, when some of them were brutally murdered in the last one? And much, much more. The great cliffhanger of the last episode leads nicely to the next season. I would highly recommend this to anyone. Featuring one of the most epic one-liners in all of anime, a memorable cast, brutal murders, very cringe-worthy moments, and one of the iconic Yanderes of our time, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is sure to please the anime viewer looking for something memorable. 9.5/10.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (a.k.a. When They Cry) is one of those unique Anime’s where you have no idea what is going on at first and then you grow to love it all the way towards it’s psychotic ending. When I discovered that this Anime is based off of a murder mystery video game the random moments when the characters came back to life sort of made more sense to me.
The story overall is not too bad. There are like 3 or 4 stories that play throughout the 26 episodes; some follow around Keiichi Maebara (our main guy heroin) Mion and Shion Sonozaki (twins who are totally fucked up) and the following cast consist of Rena Ryugu (who constantly wants to take things home lol) Satoko Houjou (who has a wonderful uncle) and Rika Furude (who has a bigger part in the sequel). With plenty of horror themes and blood to go around it’s really an enjoyable experience and there never really is a dull moment. It gets you hooked right off the bat which I really love.
The animation is sleek and nice; the scenes dealing with blood and gore are absolutely fantastic and keep your eyes glued to the screen. The animation really sets the mood for just about every scene; one minute you can be in a foreboding atmosphere the next the group can be enjoying themselves at school and the color then are bright and beautiful. It’s simply amazing how quick the scenes can change at times (especially in the character facial expressions).
The opening and ending music is done nicely but what really makes this show shine is the eerie soundtrack throughout the series, just as the animation sets the mood to send shivers down your spine the music enhances that feeling and takes it to another extreme. During some torture scenes alone I found myself not blinking for minutes on end lol, this is what the music will do to you.
For the most part the characters are just average, don’t get me wrong I like them and grew to care for these characters but to me they didn’t have anything special going on other than being fucked up in the head or just trying to stay alive. I watched this particular Anime subtitled and I suggest you do the same; I tried to watch one episode of the dub and just couldn’t watch it. I was so used to them subbed that I couldn’t watch it dubbed. Each character is unique in their ways such as Satoko’s evil laugh, Rika’s “Nippa’s” , Rena’s cute voice and always insisting on taking cute things home, Mion’s leadership in her club, and Keiichi having his moments of triumph and being particularly awesome with a baseball bat. (Sorry but Shion to me was just a twin with a bad case of insanity, no offense to any Shion lovers out there.)
Overall I’d watch this again and recommend this to any horror/murder mystery fan. The show hooks you in right from the beginning, the characters are likeable just enough for you to care about them, and there are plenty of twists in this series to make you go WTF. If you hate blood and torture then stay away, but if you like to get a little sadistic with your Anime’s then check this one out. You will not be disappointed.