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
HKBattosai's avatar
Aug 13, 2018

STORY

Our tale of horrific whoa begins with the polite, recently transferred student, Keiichi Maebara. He is the latest addition to the small village of Hinamizawa, where he attends a one classroom school. It is here where he befriends a bunch of local school kids in Rena, Mion, Rika, Satoko, and Shion. They are all of varying ages, distinct personalities, bat-s**t crazy minds, and completely full-bodied, volume-defining hair.

All seems well in this little rural village until mysterious events leading to a variety of unexpected and unusual deaths start to happen. Slowly but assuredly, Keiichi starts to learn more and more about the town, its history, its people, and…its curse.

The varying arcs are mostly interesting on their own merits. However, they do not have any significant continuity until you reach the remaining third of the 26 episode anime. It’s not until here that the pieces to the puzzle and the mysterious allure of the series start to fully come together. I admit, it is a clever way of telling a distinctive story, although I am personally not a fan of it being done this way. That’s probably because Studio Deen is the one behind this production, which means there is a greater chance for a potentially awesome story [and anime] to end up being nearly ruined by how it is handled (Rurouni Kenshin is one of their rare exceptions).

ANIMATION

Visually, the anime is lousy. The animation is completely inconsistent in quality and the color palette is boring and bland, although it feels deliberate. Interestingly, the one saving grace is the characters' eyes. Studio DEEN does do a good job of capturing the viewer's attention and setting the tone of a particular scene with various disturbing images of them. It's unfortunate that it's all they seem to manage to get right with any kind of consistency when it comes to the visuals. Very disappointing, especially in its high definition format.

SOUND

From the torturous noises, to the oft eerie soundtrack, to the haunting opening theme song sung by Eiko Shimamiya, and to the vocal tension we get from the voice actors, the sound is by far the best part of the series in its entirety. The music direction provided by Kenji Kawai is an excellent example of how to make the soundtrack be a direct part of the story telling process. Throw in the nail-ripping, err, nail-biting sound effects and you've got an audio treat that sets the atmosphere and sends chills up and down the spine. It certainly makes up for the simple visuals and select blunders in the story telling process.

CHARACTERS

The characters of When They Cry: Higurashi are nothing to brag about, but they are good enough thanks to the decent voice acting and creepy art and animation during certain moments and episodes. Somehow, Keiichi does not go mad from all the mysterious happenings and unnerving moments with select characters during each arc. Rena is probably the scariest in the beginning, then she is completely blown out of the water by the utter intensity and shear disturbing behavior of Shion…or is it Mion? I guess you’ll have to watch and find out.

Regardless of the character or characters of the moment, I never saw it coming, nor did I ever know who would end up being the victim or the victimizer from episode-to-episode, arc-to-arc. That was the biggest part of the allure to this anime. The VA’s and the writing staff equally did their parts in making the characters a decently written, solid portrayal of mental craziness and hack-and-smash insanity.

OVERALL

The anime is good, but only because of certain saving elements that were done well enough to make up for the anime’s short comings. Number one, the sound in its entirety is fantastic! Second, the characters are portrayed and developed well enough to keep things interesting. Lastly, the botched story is intriguing and suspenseful on its own. These three elements ensure that at the least the next season will be given a viewing chance by me. Hopefully, Studio DEEN has learned from and improved upon their fallacies in the next chapter of the series.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE:  8/10

1️⃣Weighted Average System Score: (21 + 4 + 10 + 21 + 16 = 72/100)

Additional Information:

  • Video Format:  Blu-ray (2016)
  • Audio Format:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
  • Publisher:  Sentai Filmworks
  • Equipment Used:  LG 60UH6550 4K TV, Vizio 5.1 Sound Bar System SB3651-E6, Sony Blu-ray Player BDP-S5200
7/10 story
4/10 animation
10/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.2/10 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