Story: Higurashi Kai, the second series of Higurashi is rather a mixed bag for most viewers. In one way it impresses but in another it can dissappoint. The story of Higurashi Kai is essentially the same story of the original Higurashi series, only this time theres less gore and the story is much more focused on the reasons behind the bloody deaths and the curse of Oyashiro-sama. The real villian behind the deaths is revelead in this series and many arcs are spent trying to achieve a happy ending for all of the characters.
For me, Higurashi Kai was a slight dissapointment. I was really looking forward to more fantastically brutal deaths and creepily psychotic characters turning insane, but the gore took quite a drastic backseat in this series, as the intellectual aspect of Higurashi came to light. And this was quite boring at first.
The first couple of story arcs were rather dull, no progress seemed to be taking place in finding the true killer and the arcs were longer, no more short-and-sweet creepy storylines. They were repetitve and almost dull. Thankfully the last 2 story arcs really picked up the pace, saving this anime and making it (almost) as good as its predecessor. The last story arcs were very good and actually managed to maintain a rather impressive amount of gore and violence in them (Though still fairly tame in comparison with the original anime series) But nonetheless, the last 10 or so episodes were very impressive.
Animation: Animation in Higurashi Kai had improved somewhat since the first anime season. The characters looked slightly more impressive, especially toward the end of the series when it neared its epic conclusion.
Sound: Sound in Higurashi, like always, is absolutely brilliant. The opening and ending songs were both lovely and immediately added to my list of favourite anime OPs and EDs and the songs featured throughout the show were eerily disturbing and enough to make you get shivers down your spine.
Characters: Character development was improved this time round. The villian of the piece in particular was very well looked into, which did them justice. The poor, poor past of the villian indeed made me even almost LIKE them. I certainly felt sorry for them and could almost exvuse their reasons for being so horribly bloodthirsty, and not many shows can make you feel that way about the most-hated character.
The character of Hanyuu, a cute little purple ghost was also well explored and it interested me as she became more and more involved in the storyline as the arcs carried on.
Rika was also developed quite a bit and another facet of her revealed to show she isn't just the innocent 'Nipaaaa~''ing little girl that everyone thought she was in season 1.
Overall: People who watch Higurashi for the mindless violence may find this series a bit on the boring side at first, but it soon picks up and turns out to be just as good as Higurashi, even without the gore. Definitely a must watch :)