When They Cry: Higurashi - Reviews

Alt title: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

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Sheex's avatar
Jan 8, 2008

Story

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.


Animation

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.


Sound

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.


Characters

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.


Overall

Because Higurashi is an adaptation from a set of games and novels, it should be noted that the first season does not provide any sort of conclusion to its events.  While the first and second seasons must be watched in concurrence, I made a point to write this review before delving too far into the second installment.  Because the first season presents four "question" arcs and only two "answer" arcs, it's hard to pass final judgement on the series based on a matter of completeness.  Even so, by itself Higurashi certainly stands as an above-average horror anime that is backed by tangible, substantive drama, and should not be characterized as some sort of mindless gore-fest; nobody dies "just because."  Keeping in mind that I'm not really a fan of the genre, I might have scored this a bit low, but if you're into a somewhat intellectual mystery piece coupled with a lot of violence, I'd definitely say give it a shot.

7/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
9/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
sjhacstic's avatar
Jan 10, 2016

(BEFORE YOU READ THIS, PLEASE KNOW THERE MAY BE A COUPLE SPOILERS!!)

I don't normally do reviews, but I just had to after watching this one. I came across this one because I wanted a good "horror" anime to watch for a change, and I kept seeing this name ", Higurashi" pop up wherever I searched, so I decided to give it a shot. It was definitely a bit different from what I expected it to be in that it isn't so much of "horror" in a sense: I would describe it more as a psychological mystery with a lot of gore. As for the anime itself, although the animation itself really wasn't the greatest, Higurashi definitely makes up for it with the story and the character development.

The anime first starts off kinda cutesy and light but then soon someone dies, and then someone else dies and then more people die, and we are completely left in the dark as to what is happening and why. We soon find that the whole initial arc seems repeats itself in the following arcs, yet with some slight differences. Although many core story elements stay the same throughout these arcs, we find that different people die and in different ways, and the anime tends to shape these arcs in a way that shifts the focus, or blame onto one character throughout each arc. Because of this, we  get to see much deeper into the lives of each of the different main characters individually, which is why I say that character development is so well done in this anime. With each arc, we slowly get a better idea of what is going on, who is behind it all, and different theories as to what is actually happening. However, I think the best part about this anime is that it always gives you just enough to know what is happening little by little, but just when you think you have the answer, something happens that makes you completely question everything that you thought was true.

At the end of the anime, you are still left in the dark as to what is going on, and if you aren't turned away by all the chopping and impaling people and stuff, I would defintely also recommend watching season two (which is a lot less gory), as it makes everything in season one click into place. Overall, this anime covered a lot of bases in that it had its feelsy parts, it had scarier parts, action, and even some good comic relief every once in a while, and it did all of these things very well. If you think you can stomach some gore, definitely give this one a go! ;)

9/10 story
6/10 animation
6/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
ReviewBonfire's avatar
Apr 24, 2020

Here I put it on a note. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is a very detailed and well-developed title. I have heard from some who dropped this work because it was too confusing for them. You have to watch the first season, because in the second all questions are answered. And to say it.. this show is not a Yandere Simulator full of Murder. If you finish the first season, you will understand, that everything you were expecting about this show, is total wrong.

And you cannot judge this work from the outside, it is definitely much more brutal and knitted than you might think at the beginning.


Subtext:

Now I have looked at this series again to write a review for it. I don't miss the sacrificed time in the least, I can say that much.

The problem in season 1 is that you can see very little of the actual story here.

Hiruashi is a particularly appealing title based on the main genre "Psychological, Violence and Mystery". The plot raises a lot of questions and one is always amazed at what the whole thing is about. And the questions keep piling up to the end. Accordingly, in the second season there is an absolute resolution that answers all questions.

Unfortunately, you cannot read too much from the description, so I can only comment on it to a limited extent.

As can be seen from the description, there is a curse on the village in which the story takes place. This curse occurs again and again and again and again demands many victims. The protagonists face this curse and try to solve the mystery as long as there is time.
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A very impressive work that shows that someone has thought about the whole plot and the overall picture of the work.

Spoiler!
The whole topic about the time loop and the permanent death of all protagonists will become somewhat monotonous in the long run, because you know how everything will end. But there is still this tangible tension in the air, how and why it happens. So are the relationships between all of these events.

Genre:

Comedy: Was there, but could take it less seriously. The comedy was not very well worked out and just seemed childlike, as can be expected from children. Fortunately, the comedy elements did not destroy any scenes and were properly separated. [+]
Drama: Over time you get used to the drama of this work, but it is always there. As a spectator, you know that something new will always happen that would simply destroy the characters' hope. The emotional implementation is also quite pleasant. [+]
Horror: Horror is still such a strange genre in the anime area. Yes, the series was brutal and violent, but I personally don't see any horror elements in anything like that. But it can certainly be accepted here. [+]
Mystery: excellently implemented. A lot of questions were raised, a lot of mysteries were in the story. And the audience was always curious about the answers. In particular, it was interesting how slowly the puzzle had been put together, piece by piece. [+]
Psychological: An excellent implementation of this genre. Here in this work, you have seen practically all of its properties. Self-doubt, confusion, trust, conspiracy, madness, error, everything. The characters often broke up about their psyche. Not being able to understand the situation, losing faith in friends and giving yourself up to your own fear. The madness was always present here. There was also an interesting glimpse into their mindset, especially that of the protagonist. He probably had the greatest pressure on his mind. [+]
School: The story took place often enough in school, so it is there. [+]
Seinen: True, but this work can be viewed by all adults. [+]
Splatter: There was plenty of slaughter. So there was certainly no lack of blood here. [+]
Violence: Jeez, I was shocked by the brutality in this work, as a child, but of course less so now. But he always has a certain disgust factor. The brutality here is not just simple slaughter or murder. It goes all the way to the rather unsavory scenes where it can go ice cold down your back. [+]

Story:

<div class="tlid-language-bar ls-wrap"> </div> <div class="result-shield-container tlid-copy-target" tabindex="0">The story ... what can I say about this.

The first season relates to the actual events and actual symbolism of this work. There are almost no explanations here, only everything is served and presented to the viewer. Of course, it can lead to confusion.

The first season has a quiet and totally normal start, but the viewer is quickly familiarized with the real meaning of this series in the course of the first episodes. The plot remains almost the same until the end, with only slight deviations. The end offers an interesting conclusion and already some clarifications regarding the curse and the events. Until then, nothing else had been clarified.

In other words, the tension factor hardly differs between the beginning, middle and end. The only thing that changes is the amount of information that is revealed to the viewer.

now something in the spoiler area.

Spoiler!
The protagonists are in an eternal cycle of death. The curse ensures that everyone dies again and again, no matter what they try. But over time, an ever bigger picture comes together, why this is so and what is behind the curse and all of it in reality.


Animation / pictures:


The animations were satisfactory and rather average. After all, there wasn't much to animate. The characters moved smoothly and normally. The few fights / conflicts that existed were animated smoothly and properly.

I particularly liked the animation of the surroundings and the representation of the times of day. Between morning, noon, evening and night, you could differentiate everything very well and it was also emphasized properly. Nocturnal scenarios in particular had a nice emphasis on the animation.

Characters:


The characters were fundamentally absolutely nothing special. They could come from any possible 0815 anime and have nothing noteworthy about them. Both the protagonist, who is a normal excited student, and the others, look like completely normal girls with their own personalities. But the characters have been made a little more lively in terms of their "psyche" and ALL have their own problem.

There were no real character developments in the work, but the psyche of the different characters was dealt with all the more. And it was also shown how which character reacts to the respective scenarios.

I found the supporting characters a bit interesting, I really have to admit. Not only were they dull, they also got plenty of screen time. Both the police and doctors and co. Everyone had their own roles, which were even relevant to the actual plot.

Towards season 2, you can see even more of the actual characters and their psyches.


Music:


The intro has even been impressively good. Musically it was above average, but not a feat. However, it accompanied this work excellently and showed the hopelessness in it. There couldn't have been a better intro for season one, both in style and implementation.

The outro was also a good match for this title. It wasn't nearly as good as the intro, but it's never an outro.

As far as the East is concerned, I was really impressed. Apart from the typical emotional and cool Osta, he probably had by far the best "Mystery and Horror" Ost that I have heard so far. The main theme in particular was impressive and a musical feat. Although it consists only of a light singing of the voice and not a single word is said.


My conclusion

to

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni



Overall, I am very impressed with the title, no wonder why he made it into my top 10 despite my critical claims.

As I said, the first season did not contain much of the actual plot, since the majority is explained in the second season. Nevertheless, this work entertained and convinced me very well. I only wish the characters weren't such 0815 personalities, but I guess this was done intentionally.

Anyway, I can highly recommend this work. It was excellent in every way.</div>

7.5/10 story
8/10 animation
10/10 sound
5/10 characters
8/10 overall
Athulryes's avatar
Feb 8, 2011

"Wow"... Thats seriously all I had to say after the first episode.

The first season of this anime is absolutely disgusting and gorey and almost terrifying with the characters expressions and laughs. I have to say, despite that I enjoyed it.

It didn't make a lot of sense to me, though throughout the first bit. Generally random murder from my perspective, or torchure.. Once I started watching the second season I REALLY got into it. It filled in the gaps and really made this first season feel a lot less like I was just watching people kill eachother for fun, and there was a reason they were killing eachother. Not that I believe you can justify murder in most circumstances!

I highly recomend watching this if you can put up with disgusting noises and blood and needles and sharp objects... I guess I recomend it if you have a decent stomach, at the least.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.5/10 overall
Thrawn's avatar
Mar 21, 2011

Oh Higurashi... how you open with a thunderbolt and then clear skies soon after, making one wonder if it was all but a dream. And then it's back in moderation, steadily growing until it reaches the climax of the storm and just as before, clears up but not without the last laugh, the final hurrah only to return later. That's essentially Higurashi, or the progression of it. It starts off with a scene and then transforms into comedy. The comedy lasts for a while but turns into something monstrous, wrought with suspense and horror. It's brilliant, simply so. How it mixes two genres and the switch between them is one of my favorite aspects of this anime.

Granted that the comedy isn't for all, it can be enjoyable to some extent at least. But the transformation between the two is what matters. It's usually the before and after the Festival that it occurs. Why? Or more importantly, why does it go from comedy to something on the other side of the spectrum? Depending on the arc, it's simple. Kinda. It's a blessing and a curse, as it goes from one arc, wraps it up, starts up another one, wraps that one up, again and then another arc that's like one that already occured, but with pieces filling in the gaps of said arc.

That's another factor in Higurashi, and this one will affect how you enjoy it. When you see an arc, it's incomplete. Incomplete as in you aren't seeing the whole picture; the whole story of the arc. What you see in it may be out of context or not what it appears to be and another arc might or will change your perception of it. There are some answers to be had with some arcs but others are left incomplete. This would be a problem but fortunately there's another season, which I'm sure provides all the answers. With that said, it's kinda hard to grade story as I can't judge the series as a whole but can only judge what I've watched, and that is a full arc and half of most of them.

Aye... despite not knowing all of it (Or much of it), it does a great job of reeling in the viewer in. It leaves them intrigued and with questions that need answers to, more questions than they wish. Another love/hate thing, as some may want to know the answers quickly but Higurashi takes it's time and even then it isn't always clear. The Who, What, Why and How remain the big four and only leave the viewer wanting more if they reach the conclusion.

As questionably brilliant as it is, the visuals range from beautiful (In it's disturbing glory. A messed up beautiful) to ugly and it lingers in the latter for some time. You know there's blood, and it does those scenes well enough, some outright disturbing but it censors some others, which is... conflicting. To not be able to see some of the horror and yet being spared of it is a questionable feeling. As monstrous as it may be to want to see it all and as sensible to not want to see it, it shows enough and gladly doesn't stray from it completely. Far too many times though, mainly the characters, aren't too good looking. But sometimes they become ugly, twisted mockeries of themselves, which is oddly enjoyable. Or at least oddly.... odd in a good way. Sort of.

The OP; haunting and gorgeous. It really grew on me and I enjoyed it as it progressed. Can't really say the same about the EP, as it was hard to hear. But the lyrics are something else. While I may have neglected what was said in the OP, I did notice a few ironic bits in the EP which was nice (On it's part). "Maybe I overlooked something fatal for me." or something along the lines is hauntingly prophetic and most certainly true. The VO's are mixed bag. At times it can be quite good when mixed with some psychotic eyes but sometimes it's glaringly underplayed, or simply too calm for the facial expressions. When it shows it's flaws, it's a gapping flaw.

I... enjoyed the characters. I'm sure I don't know all that there is to know about them but what I do know I like. They each have their own darkness within them and are their own; not relying on other characters to bring them up to pace with the cast as a whole. In some arcs, they may act differently and it helps make them more special, in a sense. What's seen at first might not be what they really are, and it can be questionable as to who they really are. It adds to the questions but we're given enough concrete information to not disregard them as truly separate persona between arcs.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is a bit hard to grade, as it's half a story, or an incomplete one. I know there's a second season and I know the answers are there, but it leaves so many questions open and doesn't even finish half the arcs. But as unfinished as it felt, it still felt good. It's a mystery and it makes you question instead of handing you the answers right after or with little trouble. Your enjoyment will vary, but if you reach the end, you'll find out you would want to watch the second season to know everything. Ain't it best not to leave a mystery unfinished?

8/10 story
5.5/10 animation
6.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.3/10 overall