Keiichi Maebara has just moved to the quiet little village of Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983, and quickly becomes inseparable friends with schoolmates Rena Ryuuguu, Mion Sonozaki, Satoko Houjou, and Rika Furude. However, darkness lurks underneath the seemingly idyllic life they lead.
As the village prepares for its annual festival, Keiichi learns about the local legends surrounding it. To his horror, he discovers that there have been several murders and disappearances in the village in the recent years, and that they all seem to be connected to the festival and the village's patron god, Oyashiro. Keiichi tries to ask his new friends about these incidents, but they are suspiciously silent and refuse to give him the answers he needs. As more and more bizarre events occur, he wonders just what else his friends might be keeping from him, and if he can even trust them at all.
When madness and paranoia begin taking root in Keiichi's heart, he will stumble straight into the mysteries at work in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, a story that is told across multiple arcs.
Geneon Entertainment USA initially licensed and distributed the first season of Higurashi until their closure in 2007. Funimation later distributed the Geneon release, but dropped the license in 2011 due to poor sales. It remained unlicensed until 2015 when Sentai Filmworks announced that they picked up the series.
Watching Higurshi is like locking a group of happy people in a test chamber, only coming back to find they've hacked each other into a bloody mess. Its horrific, its shocking, and yet a part of you, cannot help but wonder, how did it happen?
The curiosity takes over... and so you repeat the experiment, knowing full well that those cute looking teenagers you just sent are going to end up as bloody pulps. But hey, at least each time they die, you're one step closer to figuring out why they died, it's all good.
Higurashi essentially places you in the role of the scientist. It divides itself into several arcs, each of which begin exactly the same. A teenager moves into a remote countryside village, and befriends a group of sweet fangirls that could have come out right from a harem rom/com. Then, explicably, thing go wrong... very wrong.
The pacing is excellent, the suspence pulpable. You know terrible things are going to happen, but you don't know exactly what. Higurashi would appeal to two types of people. The maglomanics who cackle madly in seeing a happy community descend into the depth of oblivion, and the curious scientist who watched each arc with intense interest... for they want to know exact *why* everything goes wrong (though they can also cackle madly just a little).
The true draw of Higurashi is the mystery. The series will leave you guessing, postulating all manner of reasons why the sweetest girl in the class is now butchering every child in sight with a giant cleaver. Each experiment you run (arc you see) reveals a few more clues, and you formulate a new theory, only to find it shattered by another totally unexpected horror in the very same arc. The beauty of Higurashi is that a mystery of such grand scale, every detail is meticulous, and while every bloody event seems random at first, they all eventually fall into place
Not only are the characters are memorable, and filled with interesting secrets, and unlike school days, they're actually also extreme likeable. This is no small achievement, given what they're portrayed doing to each other.
Higurashi is really the pinnacle of a dark mystery. You'll start off the mad scientist, watching those innocents in the test chamber with morbid curiosity. Yet, slowly, that morbid curiosity will be transformed into sympathy, and as you fall in love these victims, that initial curiosity will into turn a genuine desire to figure out whats going on so that they can be saved.
Higurashi epitomizes how you should never judge something by its cover. At first glance, it looks like a simple, generic harem series or a lame, cliched romance. This anime, however, is nothing short of genius. The whole setting, atmosphere, and mood are incredibly well executed. The plot may seem simple at first, a new kid moving to a strange, new town and meeting new friends. Beneath the exterior appearance of this seemingly tame series, however, lies a dark story of murder, violence, and mystery.
Story: I can confidently say that the story/plot is the strongest aspect of this series. I congratulate the original game designer who created this series. The execution of the plot is genius. This series mainly consists of arcs. Although these arcs seem disjointed at first, it is all part of the plot and is actually an important part of solving the mystery of the Hinamizawa murders. However, this is not a simple, generic murder mystery where the solutions are force fed to the viewers; it is up to them to decide between what is true and what is not. This way, it makes the viewers think and interact with the story, and this is what I love most about Higurashi.
Art/Animation: If there is one reason why I did not give this series a 10, then it is because of the art and animation. The art itself is not too bad, but the animation... How do I start? It can be extremely inconsistent at time with all those emo face contortions, sometimes out of sync, and was probably animated with a relatively low budget. Thank goodness the director of season 2 learned from those mistakes, and the animation greatly improved in Kai. One good thing I have to say is that the background and setting is very well done.
Sound: The voice acting in this series is amazing. With a series filled with psychotic laughter, blood-curling screams, and in some cases, extremely cute voices, the voice actors/actresses are extremely versatile. The Opening is one of my favorite openings of all time. It sets up the mood extremely well and sent shivers down my spine when I first saw it. There could not have been a better fitting opening. The ending, a slow rather mellow piece, suffers from horrible Engrish. I do love the piano part in the end though. Finally, the background music set the mood nicely, but can get repetitive at times. I did like the sounds of the cicadas; it gave a feeling of impending doom.
Characters: After the initial shock of their mental instability, the cast of characters are extremely well written and developed. Sure, none of the main cast of characters is emotionally and mentally stable; it does not take away from their personality and interaction. One of the best things about this series is that there is no throw away characters that only appear once, does something, and leaves. Every character serves a purpose in the mystery and plot, either directly and indirectly.
Enjoyment: As I have said earlier, I love how Higurashi is not a passive anime where I can just sit in front of the computer and shut off my brain. Then again, I love psychological anime. Higurashi was the first series that forced me to watch raws because I could not wait for the subs.
Overall an excellent show. This would definitely be a 10 if not for its mediocre animation. Final rating: 9/10 read more
Higurashi no naku koro ni happens to be a particular favourite of mine, not only because of its horrifically high gore content, but for the number of times it managed to catch me off guard. I found it hard to believe how a group of seemingly normal, innocent girls could commit such stomach-churning acts of violence and mental torture. It’s the original shock at this fact that compels the viewer to continue watching this highly addictive bloodbath of an anime.
The concept of the anime is simple enough. It follows a teenage boy, Maebara Keiichi adjusting to his new life in Hinamizawa, an isolated village buried deep in the mountains. It’s not long before he makes friends with a group of girls. At first glance they seem like the average group of teenage girls but all is not as it seems because they’re actually hiding things from Keiichi, things like the mysterious string of murders that seem to occur the same night every year and the gruesome dismemberment of a dam construction worker. The more Keiichi learns about these past events and about his new ‘friends’ the more danger he begins to find himself in.
It is important to remember that Higurashi is divided into 6 separate arcs that feature completely different scenarios. This means that if a character were to meet their unfortunate demise in one arc they would return once again at the start of the next arc. It is this separation of the arcs that often confuses or deters people from watching the show. I too confused by the sudden, miraculous ‘revival’ of a few of the characters at first but the sooner you adjust to the ever-changing alternate storylines the sooner you can start to piece together the puzzle and work out why the murders are being carried out in the first place.
The art style of this anime is nothing spectacular; in fact it seems pretty inappropriate for this particular genre of anime. The girls could very well have been plucked straight from a harem anime, but for some wacky reason that seems to work for this anime. The outward ‘Lolita’ appearances of the girls only make their actions more shocking in contrast; in a sense their design lulls you into a false sense of security.
Unlike in other anime of this particular genre it is difficult not to find someone to like in Higurashi, which is highly unusual considering the sickening acts of torture these girls perform on each other and with those around them. As you begin to get to know the characters better, you begin to sympathise with them and hope that they too won’t meet an untimely fate, thus you begin to feel more involved. Each character has their own interesting perspective and heart-breaking story to tell, it is this that alleviates the anime from being a bloodbath to a bloodbath with depth.
Both the Higurashi OP and EN themes are hauntingly beautiful and nigh on impossible to fault. Shimamiya Eiko does an amazing job at capturing the show’s otherworldly aspect with her almost ethereal voice during the OP theme. The instrumental themes used throughout the show can both send chills down your spine or even cause you to laugh out loud given the right moment. I found that the show’s use of chilling piano solos or mellow flute pieces helped to build tension and inspire fear within myself as a viewer, so by keeping the themes themselves simple they’ve helped to accentuate the atmosphere of the show rather than outshine it completely.
As the viewer becomes more intertwined in both the storyline and with the characters their desire for the characters to be set free from the horrific chain of events grows stronger, it is this that hooks the viewer into watching episode after episode. So overall, for being able to manipulate its viewers emotions so well I’d give this anime a near perfect score of 9/10. read more
There are some out there who refuse to give dubs any credit, and will direct someone to the subbed version without a second thought. But, are dubbed versions of anime really that bad? Are they at least worth a try?