11 of 11 episodes seen
Story: Hakaba Kitarou does not actually have an overarching plot. Most of the episodes can stand on their own, and there is very little connection between what happens from the previous episode to the next one, with the exception of one or two of the episodes. The titular character, Kitarou, is the last living descendant of the Ghost Tribe, and it is basically a story of his various encounters with different supernatural beings. The story in each of the individual episodes are interesting and a bit peculiar. The only downside though is that they become repetitive after the halfway point. A few of the later stand alone episodes felt like they were following a standard formula with variations here and there.
Art: The art director, Takashi Kurahashi, is the same guy who did the wonderful art direction in Mononoke. I loved it there and I loved it here. The art style fits nicely in this series and is very distinct as each of the monster designs are original and unique. The series tends to use dark, gloomy colors, which nicely sets up the atmosphere, but when it uses brighter colors, it makes those colors more vibrant. This series also uses a lot of camera angles so the animation may seem a bit stiff in some parts.
Sound: This series uses its soundtrack effectively to set up the atmosphere and mood. And unlike a lot of anime soundtracks, where they use musical scores and pieces, this soundtrack uses a lot of sounds. One of such often heard sounds is the clucky wood-hitting-on-wood sound. They also nicely utilize ghostly, supernatural sounds. The opening is very catchy, upbeat, and different from your usual OP, as it shows panels of the manga. It has also become one of my favorites. The ending, however, could have been better and is a bit bland compared to its wonderful opening. The voice acting is also very good, though I was a bit surprised at first by how low Kitarou sounded when he first spoke. His chuckle is very creepily well done.
Characters: The majority of the cast are morally ambiguous. No one is entirely good and no one is entirely bad. You first have Kitarou, who is definitely not your average goody good shoe protagonist. He does things based almost purely on his own benefits. Then you have Nezumi Otoko, also called the Rat Man, who shows some antagonistic tendencies towards Kitarou, but is not exactly one. He is rational, and like Kitarou, does things if it benefits him. The side characters also show various shades of gray. It sounds as if I'm giving a lot of praise to the characters, but it works more like a double-edged sword. Although Kitarou and Rat Man's antics are amusing, I found myself not really caring for them for the most part. I should also warn that this series tends to kill off its character with little to no regard, so that may make it hard to feel for them.
Enjoyment: I found some episodes amazing, I found exactly two of the episodes disappointing (the ones with a certain cat girl), and the others ranged from very good to decent. Many of the episodes could be hit or miss, so it basically comes down to whatever floats your boat. I enjoyed the majority of the episodes, save for the two that I thought were disappointing.
Overall: I felt that this series did very well in how it sets up its atmosphere and weirdness. It was unique, had great art direction and an exceptional soundtrack, though the characters was what I felt as its weak point. They were not necessarily bad characters; I just didn’t care for most of them. Who knows, maybe others will love them. The plot could have been a bit better in some of the episodes, but as a whole, it's unique as it is. Though, the series does leave certain things unexplained, but I guess they could always use the 'it's supernatural' explanation. Definitely a good and unique series, though it may not float everyone's boats. Final verdict: 7/10
12 of 12 episodes seen
Story: This anime is broken into five different stories lasting about 2 to 3 episodes each. Every one of these stories features a different supernatural spirit; many of them rooted from Japanese folklore. It is up to the Medicine Seller to uncover the Katachi (shape/form), Makoto (truth), and Kotowari (reason) of the spirit. Now, this sounds like your average, spirit-of-the-week sort of deal, doesn't it? But it isn’t. That's one aspect that makes this series so great. All the stories are unique and do not feel like a rehash of the same story as the previous. Even by the final arc, I was still shocked and entralled by its revelations. So yes, there are unexpected twists in every arc. Each tale also holds very thoughtful themes. You would expect a series about supernatural ghosts to be about the, well, dead spirits, but that's also not the case. Most of the stories are quite deep and to some degree disturbing. In fact, Mononoke is very thematically based on human nature, since it's the humans and their actions that transform the spirits into these vengeful mononoke.
Art: I’ll say it now. The art style may put off some people, especially based on first impressions. I thought the art was absolutely gorgeous, fitting, and unique. Mononoke uses an art style that resembles the Japanese "ukiyo-e", filled with vibrant and colorful backgrounds, textures and designs. Because of this two-dimensional, almost paper cut-out appearance, the anime uses a lot of camera movements and symbolism. This is why a few of the stories may need multiple viewings to get the full meaning of everything. In this way, I feel Mononoke uses its art to its full potential to present the story. I also loved how the style in each arc deviates just a bit so that each story distinguishes itself from the others.
Sound: Sound plays a very important role in this series. Because the art style somewhat limits what it can show on screen, sounds are used to reinforce that. It sets up the tense atmosphere, adding suspense and leaving you anticipating for more. The voice acting is very well done, especially hearing those screams of terror and shock. Other than that, I didn't really like the opening and ending songs. I actually liked the Ayakashi OP and ED better.
Character: There is only one reoccurring character in all the stories and that is the ever-so-awesome Medicine Seller! Yes, he is nameless and simply known as “Kururi-uri-san/sama/insert other honorific” or medicine seller. Although not much is known about him, I think it's very fitting since it adds to his mysterious nature. He does, though very subtly, develop. In all honesty though, I found it incredibly enjoyable watching him make deadpan comments while the other characters are freaking out over the weird happenings/hauntings. Lastly, the story-only-characters get a good deal of development despite each story being 2 to 3 episodes in length.
Enjoyment/Final notes: I finished the series in 2 days, meaning I watched about 6 episodes per day. So yeah… I enjoyed it a lot. And as mentioned earlier, some arcs may take a second or even third viewing to get everything. I know I will watch it again. It's such an excellent anime and was so worth the watch.
9.6/10 easily rounded to a 10/10 for my list. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
With that said, most of what I have to say about Kai will be a rehash of what I said in my season 1 review; therefore, I will not be giving a detailed review. Instead, I will say what I thought were the stronger aspects in Kai compared to that of the first season. No doubt, both seasons of Higurashi were wonderful and one cannot exist without the other. Because of this, it is not exactly fair for me to use the same criteria I use with a stand alone season series or a stand alone anime. Thus, I rate and review Kai based on what was different, whether it be an improvement or not, from season 1.
Story: As said earlier, Kai is a direct continuation of where season 1 left off. Kai shows the last two answer arcs of Higurashi plus an anime-exclusive arc to fill up the holes to answers that were missing from season 1. Every mystery or question posed in the first season is answered nicely. The way everything falls together is very well thought out. The solutions provided to the mystery leaves very little things unanswered.
Art/Animation: Vast improvement in the art department from the last seasons. Animation, however, while it is much better, can still be inconsistent. Well, Higurashi was never known for its animation, and it does its job fine without KyotoAni, Bones, or Madhouse quality animation.
Sound: One aspect of Kai that was the same as the first season. The first season had an OP that matched very well with its atmosphere and mood. Kai was no different. Instead of the creepy, unsettling feeling, Kai uses an OP the shows the drama and desperation of Rika's struggle. The voice acting is still superb, and besides the major theme that is used in Kai and some new tracks, the music remains the same.
Characters: I found the character development to be better and given more time in Kai. While the first season introduced and partially developed the characters, they are fully fleshed out in Kai, especially Rika. Even the characters that you think played minor roles in the first season, Akasaka, Tomitake, Takano, Irie, and Ooishi, gets a good deal of development.
Enjoyment: While I had a lot more fun brainstorming theories and (sometimes, not always) being confused, I enjoyed Kai for other reasons. Firstly, I loved Minagoroshi-hen. It is, no doubt, my favorite Higurashi arc. While some people might enjoy watching psychotic girls beat the hell out of a certain, horrible uncle (I mean, who does not?), I had just as much fun watching Keiichi give his epic speeches. After all, Keiichi is called the Magician of Words for a reason. I also enjoyed watching as everything unfolded.
Overall:This would average out to a 9.4. I did think there was improvement of pacing, being a lot more consistent, quality wise, than season 1, and the awesome ending. The pacing in season 1 felt rushed at some parts and caused certain facts to be left out. Thankfully, most of that was rectified in Kai. So yes, in some ways, I did think Kai was superior to the first season. The first season did really well in setting up the mystery and atmosphere. While Kai's atmosphere may seem too different from that of season 1, it is actually a lot closer to its original source material (the VN). Of course, I will not be going into this, but overall, the way the story unfolds is wonderful, especially if some of your theories turns out to be correct. Even with all that said, this series is not perfect. While the ending itself and final episode was brilliant, the lead up to that ending was weak and could have been executed better. Even with that said, Higurashi, as a whole, is a series that I would definitely recommend. Final verdict: 9/10 read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
The development starts out rather slow and silly and can get a bit dull. I was on a hiatus with this series for almost half a year before I started watching again. It is set up like a harem series, but it is different from them, which sets it apart from other harem series. It is not a harem in a story; it is a story with a harem. There is a difference, and Kanon does it extremely well. Look at all the anime out there. Many of them have similar plots, but what makes some better than others? The execution of the story, and this is where Kanon shines. There is a constant air of mystery behind everything: the characters, the setting, the season, and so forth. The story is emotional, dramatic, and even light-hearted at times. With this nice blend, a seemingly simple story of a new boy surrounded by a group of girls becomes a unique tale. The only major problem was that when one of the girl's arc ended, they completely disappeared in another character's arc. This style feels way too much like a visual novel, and lacks blending and character interaction.
There is not much to say about the art and animation when it is done by Kyoto Animations because most of it is a regurgitation of what other fans have already said: absolutely amazing, gorgeous, and stunning. The setting and season of winter are extremely well drawn so that it puts the viewers into that setting. Falling snow has never look so good in an anime until now. It does not just fall; it falls in a way that I could watch it forever. The art style, though it's very clear, colorful and crisp, is a bit generic. The designs are of the eyes, a staple in these types of stories, were a bit too large and I did not like.
Ah, canon, canon, Kanon. There are reasons why this series is called that, and one of the more obvious reasons is the presence of Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. Such a lovely piece, especially for one who has already played it. Besides that, the music complements the mood very nicely. When things get dramatic and sad, it is the music that allows those tears to run free. Although I did not find any one track that stood out for me (except for well, the obvious one) the music was nice and fitting. It would not be a soundtrack that I would listen to without the anime playing though. The voice acting was also very good, although every time Yuuichi opened his mouth, I immediately thought of Kyon. It does not help that those two look uncannily similar.
The characters in this series were a bit generic but that's not necessarily a bad thing with the right development and execution. They did all have their mysteries, problems and development. Every character, from the first time they appear on screen, seems to have a mysterious side. Each of them are different and stands out. And Yuuichi is such an awesome lead. He can be a bit insensitive and playful at times, but he truly is a nice guy and it's not surprising that he's so well liked among the girls. The major downside in this series is the lack of interaction among the girls. Once a girls' story arc is done, they aren't really seen all that much until the end. It would have fleshed out their characters more if they interacted more.
I enjoyed this anime all right; enjoyed it to the point I cried through episodes nonstop. It might have also been the fact that I marathoned three or four episode at once, so the water works just seemed to never stop. There were times where I laughed out loud, times where I cheered (the ending), and many times where I bawled my eyes out.
Overall, I enjoyed this series immensely. It has a touch of everything: drama, comedy, supernatural elements and so forth. I thought it was a very enjoyable series despite its flaws. 8/10 read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
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