As this is one of my on-going anime series' I'm watching, I'm a little worried. I'm sixteen episodes in, and I still have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on. The time jumps confuse me. After the first arc ends with Kei violently smashing in the girls' heads and clawing out his own throat, the second arc begins with them all suddenly alive again. And then the plot focuses on people dying in different ways. And other people completely. And some arcs seem to happen years before the first. And some arcs only have one or two main characters in. It's so random! However, I think I kind of get some of what is happening. In the village, there is a curse that supposedly kills one person and makes another disappear once a year on the night of some local festival. And it's about that. But it's hard to distinguish if the curse is a genuine curse or if it's actually some kind of criminal ring, or if it's all in the characters' heads. Which keeps me very interested.
The animation is pretty cheap. But I do love the character designs. The vintage 80's clothing cracks me up.
The sound is so brilliant. The opening theme is trippy and hypnotic, and it fits the show perfectly. The backing music, where appropriate, is subtle and helps enhance the atmosphere. And the ending song is creepy, too.
The characters are some of the most fascinating I've ever come across. Watching characters you feel like you know inside out because they appear to perfectly fit a classic anime archetype (you have the shounen lead, the supposed love interest, the pushy girl, the cutesy chibi, the tomboy, the friendly father figure, et cetera) and watch them tear each other apart. Sometimes literally. Initially, you expect them to fit their stereotypes and do something cliche, like run into the woods screaming - in Higurashi, they run in to the woods and impale themselves on something. Or run into the woods and are impaled on something by their friend in a fit of madness. There seem to be an awful lot of fits of madness, with at least one character suffering from paranoid delusions at least once an episode, and there is usually at least one creepy moment in which at least one of the girls does their creepy, blank stare and says something vague and menacing.
Overall, brilliant! It's the kind of show that makes you feel a little queasy. It's like watching a car crash: you know you shouldn't stare buy you just can't tear your eyes off it. Great for shadenfreude.