This is a guest review by Alain Mendez. Alain, a.k.a. Hisui, a.k.a. Saber Fan #1, writes for Reverse Thieves and is a part time detective and otaku. He also has a podcast on Anime3000 called The Speakeasy. You can talk to him on Twitter about a wide variety of topics as he is an anime, manga, comics, science fiction, and role playing aficionado. Just mention your love for female King Arthur.
Let us begin at the beginning. There are a multitude of adaptations of Higurashi but all of the anime, manga, live action films, novels, drama CDs, PS2 games, DS games, and iOS games of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni have a common origin in the original visual novels for the PC. Higurashi is actually made up of 2 sets of 4 visual novels released at Comiket by 07th Expansion. Released as doujinshi games they were a surprise success and put 07th Expansion and the When they Cry series on the map. The first set of games is made up of 4 visual novels collectively known as the question arcs and each game has a corresponding game in the second set called the answer arcs. The question is what makes these first four stand out from normal visual novels as well as from the other iterations of the franchise.
I won’t go into great details about the specifics of the plot. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Higurashi then you should read the manga summaries by TheGinachu for Higurashi Month. They sum up the story of each arc quite nicely. Each arc focuses on a specific girl as we delve into the mystery and madness of the secrets of the town of Hinamizawa and the endless summer of June 1983. Despite the similarity in story there are two major differences between the manga and anime adaptation that make the original games stand out.
This is a guest review by Fernando Ramos. Fernando is a contributor for Otaku USA and Anime3000 and currently lives in Saitama, Japan. Feel free to check out his pictures at Flickr or on mroutside.com whenever he finally gets around to learning how to edit a proper website.
Shrill Cries of Summer (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Live-Action)
Review by: Fernando Ramos
Director: Ataru Oikawa
A great while back, I reviewed Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, released in the US as When They Cry, an anime that brought mixed feelings. It was a gimmicky mix of cutesy clichés and shock horror, but compellingly so thanks to its tightly woven narrative and high production values. Perhaps not all too surprisingly, some producers found value in the property for a live-action cash-in to sell to the J-Horror crowd. So, in 2008, we got a live action version, also entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, renamed to Shrill Cries of Summer.
As mentioned earlier, the original franchise takes much of its appeal from the shocking contrasts of the cute girls and the bloody murder that they create or fall victim to. Oh, but Higurashi isn’t about cookie-cutter slasher film murder. No, it’s about cruel, sadistic torture complete with pleas for mercy and maniacal laughter. It’s all about the visuals and the audio drilling into your soul driving you insane until you see the scorpions stinging you to… I digress.
For Higurashi Month here at JanaiBlog, I have been charged with delving into the manga version of this masterpiece. We’ve already romped through the first two arcs in this incredible story. So, let’s move on to the third arc, the Curse Killing Arc.
Like the second arc, this one seems to start the story over, with everyone alive and getting along. The story of Oyashiro-sama’s curse still holds power in this arc just as in the previous two, but rather than focusing on Rena and Mion like the first and second arcs did respectively, this arc focuses on Satoko and her tragic past.
We know at this point that Satoko’s parents fell to Oyashiro-sama’s curse years ago, but now her abusive uncle has come back into the picture. He begins to abuse her physically and mentally, and Keiichi is shocked to hear that this has happened before, and Satoko’s friends and teacher have been unable to do anything about it. When Satoko begins to look up to Keiichi as her surrogate brother, he decides to take matters into his own hands to protect Satoko, with deadly consequences.
For Higurashi Month here at JanaiBlog, I have been charged with delving into the manga version of this masterpiece. We’ve already romped through the first arc of the story. Now we shall embark on the next piece of the puzzle, the Cotton Drifting Arc.
The first thing you will notice is that everyone who died in the first arc is alive with seemingly no memory of the chilling events of the first arc. Get used to this; every arc of Higurashi starts the story over fresh, although it does keep many of the main plot points.
Rather than focusing on the curse of Oyashiro-sama right off the bat, we start with a bit of lighthearted comedy. Keiichi runs into a waitress at a restaurant who looks exactly like Mion, but claims to be her twin sister Shion. Eventually, Keiichi realizes that she is telling the truth, and Mion does in fact have an identical twin sister. Shion begins to fill Keiichi in on more of the history of Hinamizawa, which eventually leads him tumbling into the temptation Shion offers him on the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. She drags him into an act forbidden by Oyashiro-sama.
Keiichi fully expects to be the next victim of the curse, however this year the curse does not play out as it had in the past few years. His only solace lies in Shion, who is the only one who knows the truth of what they did that night, but Keiichi must question if he can even trust Shion as more truths are revealed.
For Higurashi Month here at JanaiBlog, I have been charged with delving into the manga version of this masterpiece. So, let’s dive in, shall we?
The story of Higurashi takes place in a small village called Hinamizawa and centers around Keiichi Maebara, a boy who just moved there with his parents. He befriends a group of girls at school, and as the days wane on he finds himself fitting in and finding happiness. However, this village has a traditional festival every year called the Watanagashi Festival, to celebrate Oyashiro-sama, a god that the villagers worship. Keiichi finds out about a strange “curse” where every year, during the festival, one person disappears and another turns up dead. He normally wouldn’t think much of it, but the odd behavior of his friends and their refusal to answer his questions make him more and more suspicious and determined to find out the truth behind the curse of Oyashiro-sama.
The first thing you will notice about this manga is that while the art may be cute and almost reminiscent of the shoujo style, the story is bloody and twisted, and that quickly changes your perspective. The story is dark, intense, and suspenseful, leaving you guessing about the truth up until the very last moment. However, the story is also filled with its silly moments and its own delightful brand of comedy, and it is mixed in with the darker parts of the story just right so that you can get a laugh and still feel the drama of the more serious scenes.