In this review, I am including both Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni and Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai in my comments. I will be calling the anime simply "Higurashi" in my review to save time. During the few times that I do choose to differenciate between the two seasons, I will refer to "Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai" simply as "Kai".
Story: Higurashi's storyline is stellar. It starts off as a horror/thriller anime where numerous mysteries arise in the small town of Hinamizawa. These mysterious storylines are filled with tension and suspense as the viewer fears for Keiichi's (the main character) life. Since Keiichi
is a righteous character who means no harm, the viewer sympathizes with him and fears for his well-being- which is constantly at risk due to the seemingly murderous girls he befriends. Several story arcs arise as we experience Hinamizawa through Keiichi's eyes. Although these storylines may seem slightly confusing and seemingly unrelated at first, the second season of Higurashi ties them all together extremely well (I won't say how because of spoilers, of course). This ability to keep the viewer in suspense and tieing so many intriguing stories together makes Higurashi's storyline extremely engaging, and is my favourite storyline out of every anime I have seen to date. This intricate storyline also carries a heart-warming underlying theme of the importance of friendship and continually shows us extremely hyperbolic possibilities of what the world may become without trust and friendship. I find it particularily interesting that such a theme exists under Higurashi's superficial hack-and-slash plotline.
Art: As I read other people's comments on Higurashi's art, I noticed that people generally preferred the second season's artwork more than the first. While the second season's art did seem more well-rounded and fleshed out that season one, I had no major complaints with the first season's artwork whatsoever. Both seasons' art tricks most people into believing the anime essentially a typical harem or shoujo. The shock that people recieve when they see such cute characters are actually involved in an intelligent horror/mystery story is priceless. This is the primary reason for which I feel that Higurashi's artwork is extremely effective.
Sound: Higurashi's soundtrack suits the anime extremely well and the only reason I did not give it a 10 is because I cannot remember any specific background music besides Rika's theme. But just because the soundtrack is not memorable does not necessarily mean it is bad. The undertoned, haunting soundtrack is suited so well to Higurashi that it does not interrupt the flow of the anime's plot whatsoever. It only increases tension and suspense as haunting melodies are quietly played on a piano or violin in the background. As for opening/ending themes, Higurashi's openings are extremely catchy and memorable. Both are definitely worth downloading onto an ipod or mp3 player (along with "Dear You", a song from the original Higurashi videogames). The first ending however, did not do anything for me while Kai's ending (Taishou.a) was a lot more pleasurable to listen to. I enjoyed it for it's graceful melody juxtaposed against its rather gruesome lyrics which essentially served as a parallel to highlight the main concept of Higurashi's storyline. This fact alone made Taishou.a an excellent choice for Kai's ending song.
Character: Character development in Higurashi is also amazing. The characters interact with each other in a very natural, human manner and their personalities are not sterotypical in the least. In the first season, Higurashi's character personalities are also quite complex and can keep the viewer guessing at characters' true personalities and motives for episodes upon episodes because of how mysterious every character is (with the exception of Keiichi). During Kai, the characters often adopt a more optimistic or positive outlook on everything as a result of their efforts to work together against a common enemy.
Enjoyment: If you cannot tell by now, I thoroughly enjoyed both seasons of Higurashi and am definitely going to re-watch them both at least a few more times in the future. What is not to love moe girls that have a murderous streak to them? ^^
Overall: My favourite anime series. If you have not seen this, please watch it IMMEDIATELY! The world needs more Higurashi fans. Also, I am aware that a third season of Higurashi will be released sometime this year and I am anxiously anticipating its release. Hopefully, it will explain what happened at the very end of the second season, since I was left feeling fairly confused... but that might just be because I was too stupid to interpret the ending accurately O_o Thanks for reading, I hope it helped!
I will say this now, if you have not seen the anime called Higurashi no Naku koro ni, then this review will be as useful as the dust that lies under your bed.
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
Imagine you are an Olympic boxer, about to enter the gold medal match. It's going to be you're toughest fight, the world title holder thrice in a row. You've studied his moves, you're prepared, you know you can win and relish the challenge. You enter the ring and prepare for the greatest fight of your life. The bell rings! You launch forward... only to find your opponent collapsed on the ground due to a heart attack.
You won! But what's the feeling? Elation? Disappointment? Or a weird mixture of both?
Whatever that emotion is, that's what'll you feel upon completion of Higurashi Season 2. Brilliant twists, unparalleled
suspense, the series builds to a full crescendo as the true devils behind the horrors of this countryside village is revealed is stunning fashion. All that is left is for the final confrontation, the one that will end it all...
You brace yourself. You know what the characters you've grown to love are up against, you know it'll be an uphill struggle. Yet, you know that with their sheer brilliance, they'll likely succeed. The three final episodes are finally here, and you prepared yourself to wowed, just as you were for the past 26 episodes... eager to see just what ingenious plan Kiechi and his group of resilient girls have brewed.
Then... suddenly, you're watching something the looks like came straight of Home Alone. The antagonist's forces, always so powerful, so disciplined, and so deadly, has magically transformed into a mob of bumbling fools. The comedic, idiotic and pathetic ways in which the villains appear totally out of place.
Its like watching Terminator, where after surviving massive explosions and shot gun shellls to the head, Arnold suddenly got killed by a Knife in the gut. You scream `WTF?'? Where's those snipers? Where those silencers? Did all the villains just drop themselves in a a barrel of toxic goo and had their IQ reduced by 50?
It seemed like he writers just run out brilliant ideas something so powerful could be defeated... and decided to take the easy way. This a true pity, given that the second arc was a true masterpiece, one-upping everything in both seasons combined.
In the end, a final rating for Higurashi ni Ki difficult to give. Up till the final episodes, the series deserves a 10/10. The meets, and even surpasses the incredible standards set by the season before. They have managed to construct a mystery that is unpredictable, and yet fits naturally with all clues given before, creating that elusive `Eureka' moment that is almost magical.
Yet, Higurashi fumbles at the critical moment, where the protagonists must use this knowledge to change their hellish destiny. The ending episodes are not bad (They deserve 7/10), but look immeasurable weak when compared to the hand standards set before.
Is it worth watching? Absolutely! Is it an masterpiece? Almost. But just like seeing Terminator die to a knife wound, one just cannot help but feel a little disappointment at the ending and endings tend to have a last impression.
After finishing the first Higurashi series, I was actually looking forward to seeing what Kai had in store for me. Despite my dislike of the horror genre, I was more than willing to give this one a chance too, since I was proven wrong by the former. I was proven wrong, all right, but it was not for the right reasons.
Where the first Higurashi was centered on shocking the viewer at every turn, Kai went for a slower, more suspenseful approach. Because of this decision, this approach turned out to be exceedingly slow. With only two major arcs present and twenty-four episodes to use, many
events were stretched out beyond their limits. There were several occasions where the story virtually stalled for two episodes at a time with almost nothing being accomplished. Perhaps because of this, the twists that were thrown in became more surprising. There were just enough of these to help me see this series to its unexpected end.
Luckily, thanks to this pacing change, I did see some good come out of Kai. With several major questions raised at the end of the first Higurashi, the series took each one and explained the reasoning behind everything clearly. I can safely say that I had no further questions about any past events when the final credits rolled. There was one other good thing about this slower approach; something that I didn’t expect. The amount of back story given was a rather nice treat. Most of this was focused around Takano, someone that barely received any time in the first season, but proved to hold much more that what I saw previously. Her story was more compelling and memorable than the actual plot ever was at any given point.
Throughout the entire run of Kai, there seemed to be something missing. The sense of paranoia that was so prevalent in the first season was absent. Granted, this had to do with the focus shift, but there still could have been a way to keep it in the plot. Without the constant fear that someone or something may be lurking around the corner, this series felt rather dull outside of Takano's story. At least the beginning and ending of each episode is enjoyable with the new opening and ending themes.
When all was said and done, I could do nothing but sigh. The ending may have been satisfying, but I still wanted more. Despite my distaste for graphic violence and horror, I actually wished that it were there from the beginning. That, my friends, is saying something.
You know, after playing the excruciating visual novel of Higurashi for PS2
Or the PC game. I told myself that when the anime adaption I'd
Undoubtedly hate it. To my shock the anime was such an improvement I
Just could not get over myself. The story, just like it's previous season is Unique and a bit confusing, however, this season is where things are finally
Starting to be explained. All of the "wait I don't get it" and "I'm confused"
That you may have been saying to yourself or out loud stop. In Kai,
Losing for Rika & Hanyū are not an option. The
intense story and drama
Overall shape the relationship between our beloved friends in Hinamizawa.
So moving on, The art is still cliche for it's time. Can't really say it's bad, but
There really could have been more improvements made to our characters.
That said, the OST is amazing, it complements the nonstop drama in
Hinamizawa. Now, if you did watch the first season I would recommend this
Enjoyable, watchable, and dramatic season. Higurashi Kai does a really
Great job finishing off where Season 1 left off, When you start it, it's not
At all like you're going into something completely new, 7th expansion does a
Magnificent job at giving you something old, changing it adding new
Elements and etc.
Overall I gave this show 9/10 out of ten because personally
I felt more could've been done to make it new watcher friendly, and more background information on the characters so that it's even easier to understand. That aside, regardless of its defects. Kai was and is still a masterpiece in my opinion and will always be one of my favorite shows. Read the first letters down dudes.
before you start to hate me for the low score listen to my reasons. I watched the first season and found it to be amazing and easily deserved a 10 rating. This season was the same universe but felt like it was written by someone else. Where the first season gave you suspense and fear, the second season was too corny and drawn out at boring parts to do anything for me.
While I found Hanyou adorable, I also found her to be detrimental to the story. The first season made it possible for the cause of madness to be anything from disease to aliens. With
the introduction of Hanyou I expected her and Rika to start fighting crime in sailor fuku.
The ending was in my opinion horrible. All of a sudden these characters who were so human and vulnerable were able to take down an army. I could talk more about the conclusion but it would be a spoiler filled rant.
One thing I never get or like is when all of a sudden the main character becomes a supporting character. This season seemed to be all about Rena, Rika, and Hanyou where the first season focused on Keiichi and Rika. I found that it hurt the character development you get to see in the first season.
In all this would have been an okay anime by itself but following such amazing first season, in comparison, it is rather mediocre.
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai [Kai] is the sequel to the popular original [Higurashi] that aired the year before, based off the 07th Expansion's sound novels of the same name. The first season covered the four arcs of the original game and the first two arcs of the sequel. Kai covers the last two arcs of the second game and give closure to mysteries presented in Higurashi.
Kai's story is satisfying at the very most. The riddles that hung like loose threads are woven together nicely giving us most of the big picture. A few questions are left unanswered, which hopefully Rei, the
second sequel, will answer.
With this in mind, it's still hard to say that Kai at any way lives up to the drama of the first. The characters become paper actors, two dimensional, lacking their psychological depth. I commend the series for giving Furude Rika personality, being the main protagonist between both halves of the show. It could be debated she was the shallowest of the Hinamizawa crew in the first outing, but I feel that rest of the club was sacrificed and should have maintained their complexity.
The atmosphere as well is very upbeat, at each turn of the plot, glass balls of sunshine and hope illuminate the way for our protagonists. It's disappointing considering the most engaging element of the original was the dances of blood and gore and the gritty realization that their is no light at the end of tunnel.
We come across similar fare in Kai. There is no noticeable improvement in animation or art which is unfortunate. In the first the super deformed character model served a foil to the violence committed by the characters. In Kai, they serve as symbols for Higurashi's new found optimism, which I found to be more ineffective as a device.
The music and voice acting were similar to the first. I must say I appreciated Yukari Tamura's work behind Rika. The Violet haired priestess moved between bouts of depression and when she wore a mask of delight, which Tamura handled expertly. The line "Nippa" was endlessly endearing, feeling an 'Aww' form at my lips every time she uttered the word.
Watchability and Enjoyment
Kai requires you to watch the original, making it even less accessible than Higurashi, which required you to have a strong stomach. Kai isn't as addictive as the first either, I found myself trudging from episode to episode just to learn more about the skeletons in Hinamizawa's closet. Though, sometimes at the end of each twenty-one minute session I was left wondering, "How come no one is being hacked to fucking pieces! This is HINAMIZAWA! Why ain't the bodies hitting the floor?!" Maybe I'm just a Sadist.
Kai looks up, where as Higurashi looked down. The glass ceiling of fate is meant to be shattered by will power. Ignore the glass shards that will come raining down on those around us, we must always move forward. In Higurashi fate acted as an iron maiden, not a question of if, but when it's spikes would make swiss cheese out of your soul. In Kai, fate is tub of play-doh, ours to mold and create.
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai is easy to recommend to those that have seen the first for one reason alone: the antagonist is finally revealed. The show fails to deliver a product as engrossing as the first but that is the nature of sequels I suppose. Unless it's Godfather II of course.
What did we see in Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni so far?
Well, it's been an amazing journey through the depths of human psychology, telling us that everyone is capable of becoming a killer under different circumstances... Watanagashi's mysteries were quite fascinating and there were specific scenes and moments the watcher won't forget that easily, in matter of psychological tension or brutal violence. The season ended with a slight glance of hope to escape the murder scenario repetition going on, so the watcher was looking forward seeing the resolve of that twisted maze.
Then there was Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai... ...and the tension was gone.
second season of Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni was successful in erasing every intriguing aspect of the first one.
- The Story:
The second season tells you every answer you need to understand what's going on in Hinamizawa, not only once, but plenty of times, so that even the most distracted watchers would understand. Maybe because of that, the answers presented seem very odd and the excitement level drops. The rest of the screentime is used in more unnecessary scenario repetitions, which feel quite inappropriate, because you already had a complete season using this method and it becomes boring. The higher quality of exciting psychological mystery plot vanishes and gives way to some kind of youth adventure filled with plotholes, similar to Spielberg's The Goonies...
- The Atmosphere:
Higurashi was all about the tension created by the menacing situation the main characters were in. Well, because of the disappearance of most of the elements concerning that, the atmosphere becomes dull and you start to loose the contact to the characters. Also, because of the trivial answers you get to the big mystery, the enigmatic factor in atmosphere gets lost as well. In the final part of the season, the watcher will find himself watching some kind of Arnold Schwarzenegger movie with oneliners, shootouts and fistfights... THAT completely destroyed the mood...
- The Design
This is one of the few minor improvements Higurashi went through. The character design looks far smoother than season one's did. Also, the rate of SD usage was increased, which makes the humorous sequences more enjoyable than in season one.
-The Final Conclusion:
Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai destroyed most of the precious elements of the first series. The psychological mystery disappeared complety, the disturbing scenes of violence are not disturbing anymore and the twisted plot gets cleared in a most trivial way. Even without comparing the second season to the first, you will still find yourself bored by the redundant scenario repetitions and the more than unnecessary flashback sequences.
There are many reasons, but the greatest failure in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai is the way it ends. I've endured tons of episodes, for the sake of finally seeing HOW Rika would overcome her fate. And what did I learn from watching Kai?
1.If you want to overcome your destiny, just set up some overly lame traps, in the forest that can take down even an army.
2. Hire a Chuck Norris(known Akasaka Mamoru here), and make him beat up 7-8 members of Yamainu with his bare hands(ending of episode 22). (This whole 1 vs 8
is totally unbelievable on its own, not to mention the fact that Yamainu MUST HAVE HAD weapons with them, so why didn't they just shot down that policeman??????
(edit: oh and he just allowed them to return to their base instead of tieing them up with a rope or something...see beginning of episode 23...funny, how did they get back??)
3. Did you know that, with only 4 people you can take control of an underground base? Well in Higurashi it isn't impossible, even if one of the 4 people is a schoolgirl and another one is a doctor.
But let's talk a bit about the childish traps I mentioned above. As I said it's completely unrealistic that some kids from a village can take down a platoon of trained soldiers. But it's not only that. The other thing that really annoyed me at this part, is the total lack of any tension. Just compare it to the first series of Higurashi and you will see the difference.
Keiichi and the others were hunted by soldiers who wanted to kill them. What would be the normal reaction of people who are surrounded by armed soldiers in a forest? Well, I've never been in such a frightening situation, but I'm pretty sure I'd be scared.
Now look at the face of the characters in Higurashi when they are in the forest with the soldiers. Do they look scared to you? NO
Not only they aren't scared, but they keep on laughing and joking with each other!!! WHAT A JOKE! Totally ruins the tension.
Just 2 concrete examples:
In episode 13 a Yamainu car stops near Keiichi and the others and Keiichi suggests capturing it(baseball bat and a meat cleaver vs firearms.....yeah they have a chance). Mion then says she will drive the car if they manage to capture it. Someone then asks if Mion has a driving license(what does it matter in this situation anyway?), Mion replies something, then Satoko begins to laugh loudly.(meanwhile the Yamainu car is right in front of them packed with people trying to kill them, but looks like these kids aren't interested in such minor things. They're having fun.)
Or in episode 24 when Keiichi and Hanyuu use a loudspeaker to scare away the WELL TRAINED MIGHTY soldiers aaaand THEY SUCCEED! LOL
I hope there aren't any soldiers like these in my country's military force, because if there are, then we are in great trouble.
And of course after this hyperlame "psychological warfare", the kids begin to happily praise each other, laugh at each other and trying to act funny like usually. Well they have every reason to do so right?....I mean they can't be sure how many ARMED SOLDIERS remained in the forest TRYING TO KILL THEM.
I honestly don't get the author's true intention. There are episodes that give me the feeling that this anime is aimed at an older audience because of the gore and cruelty. Yet there are episodes which are so childish, that I would only show them to little kids in the age group of 8-12.
The author took the cheapest solution in everything in this anime.(referring to the childish traps and Chuck Norris...I mean Akasaka Mamoru's fate changing fists)
Same with this whole hallucination thing. Why create a satisfying explanation to the series??? Yeah, just take all the questions that has been raised in the first series and explain everything with hallucination even if it doesn't make any sense sometimes(at least to me). Maybe you think it was a really good twist, OK I know it's just a matter of taste, but for me it looked like the author didn't want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out a fine resolution for the series and ended up with this because it's the cheapest of all.
Even you can write such stories. It's really simple......just put every craziness that occurs to you into the first season, then in the second one, just say that all those stuffs were just someone's imagination. It's not that complicated.
And as I mentioned there are still things that I don't understand....
In the first series, they mentioned that people keep dying and disappearing ALWAYS on the day of the Watanagashi, and they called this the Curse of Oyashiro-Sama. I found this really cool, because it's full of mystery and stuff and of course I didn't wonder why it's happening always the same day(after all it's a curse).
THEN we found out that the curse is actually a virus(parasites to be more accurate). So I ask the question now.
Why did the killings and disappearances always happened on the same day??
There isn't any mystical curse now. What we have is a virus that activates itself when someone gets stressed, or leave Hinamizawa. Takano Miyo was the one who killed Rika's parents purposely on the day of Watanagashi, so the villagers would believe in the curse and again Takano was the one who killed that photographer AGAIN on the day of Watanagashi for the same reason.
BUT this still doesn't explain the other killings.
That director of the dam project had gone crazy on the day of the Watanagashi and was killed by the workers out of self-defense. Then 1 or 2 years later on the same day the parasites within Satoko's body became active which caused Satoko to push down her "parents" off the cliff. Then year(s) later AGAIN on the exact same day Satoshi's aunt was killed while Satoshi disappeard. What a coincidence.
I can't shake the feeling that the creator of this anime had only one purpose while creating the first series. Complicating things and complicating things and complicating things then suddenly he realized: "OMG this won't make any sense in the second season! Oh well the people surely won't notice minor failures, if I make the story really overcomplicated and put in this hallucination thing." (This whole dying-on-the exact-same-day stuff was only included to make the story scarier and to raise the mystery level, after all it doesn't make any sense if it's not a curse.)
Reminds me of the series, Twin Peaks.
Characters: (YEAHH! Here comes the fun part.)
One of the thing that annoyed me in Keiichi is him being a total pushover. No matter what kind of contest he takes part in, he sucks always. Card game in Episode 1...he lost , eating contest....he lost, fight against Rena with Water Guns....it was a draw!!!!(holy ****) , fight against Rena on the top of the roof of the school...he lost, zombie tag in the school....he lost, playing a card game again when Hanyuu was a newcomer....guess what...HE LOST AGAIN. And like the rest of the characters, he was always acting cheerful even there was no reason for it and was totally unrealistic given the situation he were in.
A quick question: How many times Keiichi gave courage boosting speeches thorughout the series.
A: 1 B: 2
C: 3 D: Dunno the exact number, but if I have to guess than it's between 10000 and 20000(a little exaggeration doesn't hurt, does it?)
Yup you're right the correct answer is D. Congratulation.
Seriously, it was so annoying to hear Keiichi's blabbering about friendship after the 500th time.........."Never give up..You can't give up..You will make it beacuse we're here with you blahblahblah." Basically he always repeated the same thing, but he used different words each time he gave a speech, so it won't be THAT annoying.
Usually I don't mind such blabberings in any anime, but here they were sooo forced and repetitive. By the time I reached episode 17-18 I could foretell when will be another Keiichi speech with 95% accuracy.
Rena and Rika: (aka Kana, Kana?? and NIPA!)
Rena's personality was virtually non-existent. IMO she was only included in the series because she is so kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii with her constant "kana, kana" and "I' ll take her home!!". In the beginning I DID find her cute(and freaking psycho too) but this feeling quickly changed to ..........bah I don't know how to describe it without using vulgar words......let's say I don't like her anymore.
As for Rika....NIPA! So dull.....and why is she speaking with 2 voices? Looks like some kind of splitted personality so I used google.com to search around a little bit and I found out that the other, more serious voice Rika has, belongs to Frederica Bernkastel... you know the witch from Umineko no Naku Koro Ni(episode 5). Someone even said this (of course it's not confirmed officially and it DOES sound lame IMO):
"Frederica is the combined form of the mental states Rika had in each of the alternate Hinamizawas"
Yeah right, and I'm Santa Claus. Someone reads too much fan fiction here.
Oh and Rika's/Frederica's behavior is really irrational sometimes. If I wanted to warn Akasaka that his wife's life is in danger then I'd probably say
"Hey dude, your wife is in danger so leave Hinamizawa go back to the hospital immediately before it's too late."
"Akasaka! Go home to Tokyo! You should hurry along home to Tokyo.(and here comes the best part) Otherwise you'll seriously regret your decision."
WHAT THE HELL??(she was even smiling like some kind of evil mastermind)
Why coudn't she just be more concrete?? It's like Rika/Frederica knew that she was starring in a horror anime so she was supposed to act scary in front of the viewers.
As I said, the creator of this rubbish.....I mean anime, wanted to scare the viewers with everything he had whether it makes sense or not.
Not much to say, I liked her laughing most of the times. Until it became annoying as well.......
My favorite girl of the series. It's not like she was THAT special, but at least she didn't have annoying catchphrases or unrealistic personality. She was normal and that's a big deal here.
and finally Hanyuu:
First she was the queen of pessimism - Hauu. Then in the final episodes she suddenly became a real badass and announced that she was a god - Hauu.
Maybe it's just me but if someone said the word "god" to me, the image of Hanyuu would be the last thing that'd pop up in my mind. Hauuuu.
Lol I've just remembered another "interesting" stuff about Rika so let's return to her for a moment. Previously I was talking about, unrealistic behaviors, wasn't I?
So let me ask you a question. What'd you do if you were in Rika's place? How'd you gather allies in order to defeat the Yamainu. I mean, everybody'd think you went nuts, if you began to talk about parasites and infinite time loops suddenly, without backing them up with proofs.
IT'S SO OBVIOUS that the easiest way to make the others believe you is to predict something that will happen in the near future and then everyone will believe your story when they see you're prediction is right.
The same way Rika did in episode 6 of Kai.......in episode 6 of Kai......
........after being in the time loop for at least 100 years, she realizes something totally obvious. No comment.
And another funny thing occured to me while I was writing......this is related to the final episode of Kai, when the Banken arrives(you know that special combat unit).
Takano asked the leader of Yamainu why didn't he keep fighting and the leader replied that the banken is a special combat unit so they didn't have any chance to win against them.
Well I think the correct answer would have been this:
" How could we have any chance against trained soldiers, if most of our people were defeated by a bunch of kids?"(oh and most of them were girls)
I don't want to waste more time with this review so I'll stop here. I could lament all day why this anime is so bad, but it'd be pointless.
It's a sad thing that the once great Higurashi became a total joke.
Even though Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai and Higurashi no naku koro ni are in the same series as a whole, they both have many differences. I'm not going to go on about how season one was better or worse, but I will point out some things that were interesting to me.
Story: I was very pleased with the story and how it really brought some light to the first series. I was no longer in the dark about why their were arcs and why some things were happening. Higurashi Kai takes you through two very intriguing and exciting answer arcs that are a
direct continuation of the first series. The development of the story was brilliant and I found it to be very enjoyable. It has a sense of hope that the first series could not provide, but still keeps you on the edge of your seat, and guessing. The way that the questions and mysteries of the first season were answered was amazing. There are very few things that are left unanswered. I also found the development and pacing of the story to be much more enjoyable that the first.
Art: The art was still brilliant. Especially the background scenery. It makes you feel like you're really in the story and plays a very major roll in the development of the story.
Animation: I definitely saw an improvement in animation from the first series. The animation doesn't look like it was pressed for time, and there are less weak animation spots.
Sound: The sound in this Higurashi series, like the first, was absolutely outstanding. The creators have outdone themselves again with music, themes, and jingles that make the series believable and fit it perfectly. I think they used some of the sounds again from the first series, which made it even more enjoyable. I especially like the opening theme. It fit the series very well. For example, Higurashi no naku koro ni had an opening that created a very unsettling feeling, just like the show. While, Higurashi Kai's opening created a feeling that something was about to come along and make all the characters lives better.
Character: The character development was a lot better in Higurashi Kai. In Higurashi season one, the characters were built at the beginning with little bits over time. Characters that didn't seem to play a substantial role, ended up being very significant in Higurashi Kai.
Enjoyment: I would definitely say that I enjoyed this series more than the first because it gives all the answers and reasons that things happened in the first season. I really enjoyed the pacing and the "just for fun" episodes. This series really shows how the characters can work together to fight for what they believe in. It really shows how close knit the group is.
Overall: The series was very enjoyable, and I find that it meets all the expectations that I would consider for a great anime. All the effects and situations the characters were put in, show how much they really care for each other, which is a big difference from what the first series shows. Higurashi Kai is an anime, that I would put as a "must watch" for any type of anime fan.
Being able to sum up the story of Higurashi in less than a chapter of writer is impossible. Being able to explain the story of Higurashi? Even more impossible. Which gives it that feeling of, "I have to keep watching on too understand."
I felt as though I got to grow with the characters in Higurashi, I got to feel the same exact emotions they did. I got to laugh and cry with Higurashi. It's more than just a bunch of lolli girls, or even a bunch of physco lolli girls. The plot is knee-deep and wonderful. The different emotion you get to feel with Higurashi
is beautiful. The action, blood, gore, romance, pretty girls... etc... you don't find it all packed into one anime often. With the exception of Elfen Lied.
In my opinion, I wish I could have watched other anime before Higurashi, because now everything else just seems like a big dissapointment.
The only thing I disliked about the anime, was that it's hard to follow. People might watch the first five episodes, and be mad, because they have no clue what is going on. *cough cough* me *cough cough* But I think it was the sneaky way of getting people to watch the next episode.
And I would like to wrap up with the comparison of the two similar animes, Higurashi and Elfen Lied. To me, Elfen Lied was well written, there was great art with emotional scenes. But Higurashi was amazingly written, with beautiful art, and scenes you could connect with. Scenes where you can say to yourself, "I feel that/I feel bad for that character." Elfen Lied was great, but Higurashi walks on water next to it.
"Someone taught me something- that the power of belief will give rise to a miracle that will cut through fate." - Hanyuu
This review is solely for Higurashi Kai, which I will refer to as "Kai" from this point on. Since it's a part two, it's necessary to have seen the first set, as it's divided into "question" and "answer" arcs. This series formulates the many, complex answers to the question: What exactly is happening to Hinamizawa in June of 1983?
Artwork and Animation: 7
Like its predecessor, Kai is approaching 10 years old, and looks somewhat dated when put up against more recent efforts,
both by studio Deen and others. By no means does it detract from the show though, as the somewhat rough look gives it a dated feel too, and brings the rural 1983 Japanese mountains to life in a way that pulls you in with how it frames and presents the visuals.
It's overall a very dark show, both in atmosphere and coloration, which intertwine excellently together to give it a dense, oppressive feel.
Sound and Voice Acting: 9
The opening, "Naraku no Hana (Flower in Hell)", by Eiko Shimamiya is a wonderfully haunting song that really sets the mood for the show, with lyrics to match. The ending song, "Taishō.a", by anNina is even more foreboding, with soft violin and piano that really affixes the ending scenes in the mind's eye, like an ellipsis at the end of a particularly thought provoking sentence.
Kenji Kawai, who also did the original Higurashi and Fate Stay Night's composition does more great work here. Most of the music is very atmospheric, setting the mood and tone for the show. It's very subtle, not in your face loud or obnoxiously playing over the characters. It creates tension, and resolution when necessary- very good.
Let's just say that Kai is the Yukari Tamura show, because her performance as Rika is nothing short of stunning. Certainly the best of her career, and that's saying something. As the focus is 90% on Rika throughout the show, we get a lot of time with her, and in three different voices. Ms. Tamura truly put in an award worthy performance for bringing little Rika to life through as many emotions and moods as can be brought through a visual medium in which the actors themselves are not present. Just excellent.
However much talent Yukari Tamura showed, it's nearly matched by Miki Itou's Miyo Takano. As a character who wasn't fully fleshed out in the original series, she plays a much larger role here, and is explored through an emotional and compelling voice role.
The cast of Kai expands somewhat from the original series. The introduction of some new characters along with expanding the roles of previous supporting and main characters also expounded upon the intrigue that drives the heart of the show. Higurashi is a show that will lie to you. I was constantly on edge, trying to figure motivations and goals out, because it's never clear; not until it's too late.
The focus changes from one of each arc having a main character to just two "real" main characters. This enables the character driven portion of the story to be a lot more fleshed out and have less of the disjointed feel that the original had, where the perspectives of the different characters were constantly changing. This is much more nailed down, and is better for it. The familiar and the new faces all have weight in the story- no one is there just for the sake of having the "token character" for plot devices.
"The sin of this world is like Old Maid. Everyone pushes the one Old Maid onto one another. It's not a game you seek to win, but one in which you seek to make someone the loser. The sacrifice." - Miyo Takano
Kai takes a somewhat different tonal and execution approach to its predecessor, in that it's a much more complex and intrigue driven narrative than outright horror. Gone are the short arcs that depict brutal murders and a hanging sense of "something is just...'wrong'", and in their place is a deep narrative filled with deceit, betrayal, hunger for power, cold blooded
hate, and a myriad of dark themes. Where Higurashi is the "tell", Kai is the "show".
The best suspense and mystery narratives are those that are not heavy handed in shoving the plot down your throat, but allowing you to discover for yourself, to guess and be proven wrong, and to ultimately be surprised and perhaps even shocked by the outcome. This is Higurashi. While everything is revealed to you in time and nothing left unresolved, the manner by which it slowly unveils creates a nearly tangible level of tension. Again, everything starts out happy and fun, but you know that it's just not going to end well.
Kai, and Higurashi before it are shows that eliminate the element of surprise about how the arcs go, though. That's not to say they're predictable; no, it's that you "know" it's not going to end well... it's just how that ending comes about that is shocking and/or heart rending. Just when I thought it was going to be a good ending, so many things that can go wrong do, and it ends in a sorrowful way again.
Unlike Higurashi part one, Kai is divided up into a mere 3 arcs, which allowed the plot to develop slowly, but with more (necessary) exposition. Again, it's a slow burn of a show: it twists and turns within the arcs, and when I thought I had everything figured out, it managed to turn everything on my head with revelations of who and why. Higurashi is predictably unpredictable- and that's the genius behind it.
It doesn't have to be a straight Whodunnit horror show involving cutesy school kids, even thought that could have been plenty entertaining on its own. No, Kai takes it to the next level with a cleverly crafted political conspiracy and treachery by those in positions of power over others. The mysteries of the first series are just the base bricks built into the steps of the pyramid of deception, betrayal, and conspiracy of Higurashi in sum total. These, which ultimately lead to a narrative of immense proportions, and heights of weighty answers that were previously inconceivable from the prior portions of the story.
A maze of irrational questions constructed elaborately by deft hands, that turn to a dark hallway with answers that are both revelatory and thought provoking- a real masterpiece.
One of the things I liked most about this show was the very first episode, which serves as a direct epilogue to Higurashi part one. One of the most edge-of-my-seat, intriguing, and addictive openings to a series I've seen, that served as an awesome introduction to the unveiling of the mysteries of Hinamizawa to come.
Due to the incident in 2007, where a 16 year old Kyotanabe girl murdered her father with an axe to the neck, some of the violence in the anime was censored, and certain parts edited out altogether (along with the cancellation of the last episode of School Days, airing the same time). With this event, there was a noticeable shift in the amount of extreme violence content vs the original series and manga. Not that the show is lacking such content altogether, but for a show that has built a reputation on brutality alongside Alfred Hitchcock style horror storytelling, it was strangely absent in some places.
As mentioned above; the story was unpredictable, and in the best possible way. The characters all have their parts to play, and with an expanded cast- all of them get a fair share of development and exposition, though it would have been easier to sideline them. They all remain relevant, and the tone of the series is also very consistent- I very nearly felt time ticking by in their universe as I anxiously watched the events of June 1983 unfold once again.
As both a mystery and a psychological horror show, Kai succeeds with flying, dark colors. As an intense, relentless narrative and a tragic, but ultimately beautiful story, Higurashi Kai surpasses all expectations. It has the necessary elements for an Alfred Hitchcock or Rod Serling worthy masterpiece; the characters, the story, and the atmosphere to back it all up. It's all there.
All Higurashi needs is an audience.
+ Dark, twisting narrative
+ Great, compelling characters
+ Detestable villain that you can't help but sympathize with on some level.
+/- Lack of ultraviolence? (see above)
Ab-so-lute-ly. If you've not seen Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and are reading this for some strange reason, please, go watch the original- you owe it to yourself to see a show of this caliber, because there aren't many of them.
"My will will weave an absolute future. No one can hinder me or overthrow it: even fate is up to me to decide, with my unwavering, absolute will." -Miyo Takano
If you have not watched the first season (Higurashi no naku koro ni), this anime is practically useless and the same goes for this review.
Wow! Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai was a great addition to an already very good season one. As I found season one rather interesting and enjoyable, Kai was a must watch for me, in the hope that it would be just as great. With many questions left unanswered, Kai primarily focuses on answering questions and revealing to us the "true" truth. There are a lot less gore and horror elements compared to the first season, as Rika becomes the main
point of view. The introduction of a new character called Hanyuu was certainly an interesting add into the plot. Her introduction into the story was done smoothly but it is likely that you'll ask "Where on earth did she come from?" at first.
As Kai is a continuation of the first series, the chain of mysterious deaths continues on from Rika's point of view. The first episode of this season kinda acts as a recap and a look into at the aftermath of season one's last arc. It then moves into another arc, raising some questions but answering many, and by the end of the first arc, I'd say it's almost impossible to not continue watching the rest of Kai. The other two arcs finally give us answers to those questions that remained. The telling of a certain character's past in the beginning of the the third arc really unraveled the mystery and told us the cause and effect. It's what makes Higurashi a great story, how the answers are not force fed to you, but instead rather open for interpretation; whether the judgments the characters make are truly right or wrong. How some of the little things can make huge differences, and change the outcome of the future.
A stellar performance by Tamura Yukari playing Furude Rika! The voice acting by her was just amazing (I just love Rika's scream in episode 8!) and should be highly commended, along with all the other seiyuus! Rena's voice is more consistent this time, and Horie Yui's performance of Hanyuu was cute! I have absolutely no objections to the wonderful musical score by Kawaii Kenji, along with another great opening theme by Shimamiya Eiko, and the closing theme which all were very fitting in both lyrics and music. HUGE improvement in the animation! The faces and characters are not as exaggerated or contorted as the first season. It is much more consistent, detailed and kinda makes the characters a little more prettier...
I do believe that the introduction of Hanyuu was certainly necessary, although whether she had to be that "moe" is a little questionable to me. There were large developments in some of the supporting characters such as Akasaka, Dr. Irie, Takano, Tomitake and Satoshi which were vital to the storyline. The only thing is, the concentration on the development of these characters kinda left the mains Rena, Mion and Shion out for a while...
Higurashi just had to go to my favourites list! To me it was such a great story with amazing music and voice acting and very interesting and complex character personalities and relationships, with touches of humour here and there. Although the ending is a little lame, well for me at least, it still deserves an overall 9.5 out of 10. Definitely enjoyable and an interesting ending scene. I'd certainly recommend this to anyone! I wait in anticipation for Higurashi no naku koro ni Rei and Umineko no naku koro ni in the hopes that the creators can continue to make such amazing stories!
Personally, my favourite kinds of stories are the ones that really make you think. Ones that make you look back on what you've already seen, and realize there was more going on than you had initially picked up on. Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai makes you realize that the entire first season was preparing you for the story it has to tell.
The first season of Higurashi is fantastic in its own ways. It's unique in the way it tells its arcs; but it leaves the viewer questioning what they each have to do with one another. The second season, Kai, answers every single
question you could have asked, and also adds multiple layers that you didn't realize were even happening. It is the most satisfying psychological story I have experienced in a very, very long time. In terms of story, it is possibly the most impressive psychological story I've ever seen - its internal logic is consistent and wraps up in a way that leaves you with no lingering questions.
Arguably one of the most successful parts of Higurashi is its characters. The characters are the story, and the story is what matters. Especially when taking the first season into account, each and every character is given proper time & weight. You understand their backstories, their fears, their traumas, et cetera. They even introduce a new character in Kai that, honestly, makes the whole series make sense. Without this character, the show couldn't wrap up as fantastically as it does.
Though I'm praising Higurashi a lot, that isn't to say it is without fault. The animation can be a bit lackluster at times, and the little I heard of the English dub was aggressively awful. With that being said, I felt the Japanese voice acting was actually fantastic, and the fansubs for the second season were adequate (some awkward phrasing, but they're fansubs haha). As for the art, I never felt the faults in art ever detracted from the show, and there were many moments of beauty in terms of art - I enjoyed it all.
By the way, the soundtrack to Higurashi is wonderful! It uses its themes appropriately, and the production on the music never feels cheap. It is a triumph along with the story, and added a ton of depth and emotion to impactful scenes.
I can't recommend Higurashi enough. I've watched the entire series three times now (first time on my own, second two times with different friends) and always catch something new with each watch. It is a show that is firmly placed in my personal Top 3, and it would take something truly incredible to move it from that spot for me. Higurashi is completely worth your time, and it comes with a heartfelt recommendation from me!
Television has brought back murder into the home - where it belongs.
~Alfred Hitchcock, 1969
It's a rare occurrence when an anime (or any TV show) is able to hold thrill and fear in a perfect balance. For starters, the show has to reach a certain standard of quality in order for the viewer to feel either of those two emotions, but in addition, the series must be able to switch between excitement and terror with ease. But maintaining that equilibrium is in fact possible, and such is the beauty of the Higurashi world as a whole.
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai (Often abbreviated Higurashi Kai) is
the second installment in the Higurashi set, and the predominant purpose of this anime is to provide resolution for some of the unanswered mystery arcs in its prequel, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. Many people review the two shows as a single anime, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I don't have any intention of merging two full-length anime into a single, 50-episode conglomerate.
That being said, I'm going to assume you've already seen the first season of Higurashi, because if you haven't, you should probably watch that before considering Kai.
Anyways, let's get get on with the review.
Many people (myself included) were left somewhat unsatisfied with the closure of the first season. It just begged too many questions that were left unresolved. How could such adorable, innocent schoolchildren become psychotic killers at the flip of a switch? What were the unforeseen consequences of each killing? And mst importantly, who was the grand mastermind behind the murders of Showa 58? As the only two who have witnessed the endless cycle of June 1983 and as the only two who know the truth behind the shrine god's curse, Furude Rika (nipaa~) and her celestial companion Hanyuu take the reins as the main characters of Higurashi Kai as they venture to expose the true cause of the murders, and more importantly, how to escape from the endlessly repeating vicious circle.
It is impossible to sum up Higurashi Kai's plot in one word, but if I were to try, I would say it's "satisfying." Over the course of 24 episodes, the viewer builds a powerful empathy and love for Rika and Hanyuu. Watching them struggle, watching them uncover dark secrets, and watching them have a good time in the game club all helps to increase this feeling of devotion for the main characters. Thus, each time they overcome a major obstacle, it is immensely gratifying. This is a device used in many popular mystery books and movies, but I have to say: It works quite well.
~ART 'n SOUND~
Most of the time, I put art, animation, and sound into three different categories. For this anime and this anime only, I will group them because they all contribute to a feeling of uneasiness the viewer will eventually develop. The art perfectly portrays cutesy middle/high school students running around, playing games, and having fun, but it portrays each character's psychotic side equally well. An ambient soundtrack further enhances the suspense between what feels like a high school rom-com and a free-for-all killing spree.
Another qualm I have about the first Higurashi series was its total lack of any kind of character development, with the exception of Shion and Mion. Each character gets a lot more depth in Kai, and characters with less significance in the first season (such as Satoko's uncle and Miyo Takano) are expanded into major importance.
The only negative remark I have to say about the characters, and the only negative remark I have to say about the whole series in general, is the unwavering resolve of each character. Nobody really changes over the course of 24 episodes, so people became somewhat predictable. But each character is explained in such depth, I could probably forgive it.
~Higurashi Kai: OVERALL~
This is the rare breed of anime that almost touches absolute perfection. If you haven't seen this yet, watch it now!
One of only three anime I have ever given a perfect 10/10.
For years I thought that Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, and it's sequel, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai were among the best Anime I had ever seen. This is in fact the general consensus, that Higurashi is an amazing Anime and it has garnered much praise over the last few years.
I'm here to tell everyone that I, and everyone else, could not have been more wrong about the Higurashi series. When you look at it on it's own, you may see a wonderful story full of drama, comedy, suspense and mystery, but in actuality, you are only seeing a small portion of the
You see, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is adapted from a Visual Novel, and for years the English speaking Anime community didn't have any way to read it, since it wasn't translated, so they knew of the Anime (and perhaps the Manga), but had never read the VN. But now the VN is completely translated and can be read by anyone, and it should be read, because after I completed the VN, I realized just how bad the Anime adaptation really is.
To put it simply, the Anime adaptations of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, and it's sequel, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, are a travesty. Roughly 1/4 of the entire story from EACH arc are cut completely, and there are numerous other changes and cuts from what they DID manage to include in the Anime adaptation.
This adaptation is virtually devoid of the superb character development and storytelling present in the VN, not to mention cutting vital clues that prevent the mystery from being solved. In fact, some people don't even realize that Higurashi is a mystery at all, most people think that it's a suspense or horror series, a series about "lolis killing people", when in fact it is a mystery meant to be solved, as well as an emotional drama that the Anime completely fails to capture.
In fact, I would almost say that the Anime of Higurashi isn't an adaptation at all, but a joke that DEEN created to make fun of the original material and showcase their own inability to create a proper adaptation. Some parts of the series don't even feel like the same story because so much is changed and cut, and though you may not notice these issues when watching the Anime by itself, by reading the VN it is made clear just how little DEEN actually cared about this series.
Putting the hackjob of a story adaptation aside for a moment, let's talk about the other aspects of the series. The original VNs had a spectacular soundtrack, especially Kai's, but DEEN decided to just remove ALL of the VN music and replace it with much worse music, often opting to just keep things silent half the time anyway. In fact, the ONLY good part about the Anime, and by association, the only bad part about the VN, is the character design and animation.
If you have watched the Higurashi Anime, you have never experienced Higurashi. You essentially wasted your time watching it because you missed huge chunks of story and character development, and if for some reason that doesn't bother you, then you are an idiot and should go back to watching your Naruto crap where you can turn off your brain and not care or notice that the story is shit.
If it bothers you that you've never truly experienced Higurashi, or you've never actually watched the Anime in the first place, I strongly urge you to read the Visual Novel, and forget that the Anime even exists.
Oh and by the way, the Umineko no Naku Koro ni Anime is shit too, that doesn't exist either, read the VN.
Probably the biggest reason Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai fails as a sequel is because of a matter of expectation. Now, you might be thinking I just spoiled the entire review right there, but give me a moment, I'm not done, because Higurashi Kai is a very complex thing to pin down why exactly it is the way it is. I guess where you need to start is to consider that any mystery must inevitably have an answer. And when that mystery is played through a dark and chaotic mess, in other words, most of what season 1 of Higurashi
encompassed, well, you'll need to go to some very... expressive places in order to justify it all. Needless to say, Higurashi no naku koro ni and Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai(which I'll just call Higurashi Kai from now on) are two, very, very different beasts, a byproduct of the nature of the first season, taking the second season in a new direction, a direction that could have worked, bringing the franchise into a mixed tonal experience of awesomeness. But for whatever reason, whether it be a few key mistakes at critical moments, or simply that the creators of Higurashi simply did not think this whole thing through enough, Higurashi Kai is ultimately a swing... and a miss.
Hello people of "The Wired", my name is Quan, I hope you've been having a lovely day, because it's time for the long overdo review of Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai, something I promised, hell, what was it, 10 months or so ago? It's pretty crazy I've lasted this long actually. For fear of pushing the same information down your throats, I will be not repeating the studio and people behind this season, because they remain largely unchanged from S1, and if you want that info for cataloging or something, feel free to check out my review of S1. For everyone else, let's jump right into the plot.
At the end of the first season, a couple of things became clear. Keiichi suddenly remembered a couple of things that he probably shouldn't have forgotten in the first place, namely that he killed Mion and Rena savagely with a baseball bat, and through a short talk with Rika, he confirms something that we the viewers have been suspecting all along. That the plot of Higurashi is not in fact a mash-up of possible "what-if?" scenarios, but rather a veritable Groundhog Day situation of an infinitely repeating loop of death and murder that will never ever stop, erasing all memories of the traumatic events every-time it goes around for another go. Well... almost all memories, because as it turns out, Rika is the only person who remembers every single iteration, and is becoming slowly desensitized from the transpiring events as she re-lives the deaths of her friends over and over again. Not only this, Rika is the only one aware of the presence of Hanyu: a mysterious girl invisible to basically everyone, that may hold the key about this repeating summer(and also may be the person that Rika has been talking to when she is all by herself this entire time). Upon this realization, Rika slips from the role of the mysterious onlooker of the anime to the spotlight of Higurashi's main protagonist. And so, the stage is set for Higurashi Kai, as Rika Furude must struggle to not lose hope and keep going in the face of the seemingly inevitable result of the death of everyone in Hinamizawa, as she must dodge conspiracies, murderers and the twisted hand of fate in this infinitely repeating labyrinth of sorrow, so maybe, one day, she can find an outcome where everyone can make it out alive.
Now, this means that the tone of the anime sort of changes drastically, shifting from a horror/psychological mystery into something more resembling a supernatural thriller, which isn't in itself a bad thing, but this loops back to the problem about expectation I mentioned in the beginning of the review. See, a huge point I made in my review of the first season is that horror anime, are to be more precise, good horror anime, are very rare. That's why the release of Higurashi no naku koro ni is such a landmark for me, even nearly a decade after the release of the first season in 2006, nothing else has really ever come close to replicating the paranoia-fueled creepy mindf*ck that the anime was, so switching genres half way through to something much more main-stream in terms of the medium is a little, well, disheartening I guess. As a horror and mystery fan myself, I didn't want a season of Rika fumbling around for an answer to Groundhog Day, I wanted more of the same. But just because I didn't want this sort of season didn't mean that it couldn't be good. Here's the problem. It sort of isn't.
The first problem lies in pacing. While Higurashi season 1 was a series of wild, savage arcs that all eventually boiled over in blood-soaked mayhem, Higurashi Kai takes a much slower, more reflexive approach. Since it's from Rika's point of view this time, we get many monologues from her about the situation she's in and her ponderings, which are interesting at first, but quickly become boring as they drone on and on, over and over again, like they didn't have enough other things to fill their time with. Actually, everything in Kai seems unnecessarily dragged out. One arc: "Massacre", lasts a grand total of 9 episodes, nearly twice as long as an average arc in the series, and it doesn't help that this arc is half boring slice-of-life, and half more deeply exploring Satoko's situation with her abusive uncle, which is helpful for character development, but is also milked for all its worth. Now putting that arc together with the first two arcs of the series, one which is confusing beyond reason, and one is which is basically just Rika reflecting on the situation, and the first half of Higurashi Kai ends up being a slow slog with hardly any of the gore, horror, and Rena stabbing people that we've come to expect from this franchise, and I guess it's no wonder that that pissed a lot of fans of season 1 off. This is somewhat redeemed at the end of the "Massacre" arc in spectacular fashion, but we'll get to that later.
It doesn't help that the answers to the questions raised by the first season are sort of ridiculous. Of course I won't straight out say what they are, but let's just say some are more satisfying than others. I mean, one of the biggest things I appreciate about Higurashi Kai is that is actually answers questions and ties up pretty much all loose ends from the first season, and what it doesn't straight out tell you, can usually easily be gathered from context clues or perhaps re-watching a few choice episodes from the first season. Some of revelations are even amazing in both delivery and the way they were built up throughout the franchise. Answers like what exactly happened to Satoshi(remember him, Satoko's older brother?), and one particular piece of information dropped in episode 12 or 13(I can't quite remember), that had me, no joke, jump up from my seat, walk in circles around my living room, yelling "Oh, snap!" repeatedly for a good 5 minutes. Yeah, I know, I'm a nerd.
On the other hand, for all the well-built up and foreshadowed answers, there is a couple that make me wonder if Higurashi is making up this crap as it goes along. Like, aliens? Really, Higurashi? Aliens? You had no better answer for why- oh never mind.
But the up most crest of stupidity and downright silliness is reached in the series finale. The finale to the entire franchise, and... I swear, I felt like I was watching a goddamn Scooby Doo cartoon, slapstick included for my viewing displeasure. Actually, the whole last episode and the build-up to it feels sort of cartoonish in nature. It kind of makes you wonder actually, how a franchise that previously built itself on concepts of betrayal, brutal reality, paranoia and how the ugly true nature of humanity is revealed when we are pushed to the brink of sanity... is now relying on... the goddamn... "power-of-friendship" to be the answer to everything. Friends who had been killing each-other up till recently. I mean, how did we get to this point? I"ll get back to you later.
The characters are a mixed bag, though mostly a positive one. While development has been pretty much burned out completely for the main cast by the start of Kai, we still have one character to shine the spotlight on: the new protagonist of the show, Rika. Now, I will recognize that the basic idea of her character isn't exactly anything new: an all-knowing yet helpless onlooker, worn down to the point of apathy, but I think the reason she works so well as a character in this season lies in the execution. Even if her monologues become tiresome in the first half of the anime, Rika still voices clear thoughts about her stance in this endless summer, and it becomes rather fascinating as her desire to protect her friends clashes against the knowledge that no matter what she does, the result will always be the same. It's admirable really, how she keeps going in the face of utter despair, quite similar to [ERASED FOR SPOILERS] from Madoka Magica, but what really sells her character for me is that she is clearly more tired of this sh*t than anyone, and continually becomes more frustrated and dismissive as the series goes on. As she continually gets her hopes up that maybe the actions she takes this time will change the outcome, only for her preconceptions to be crushed by the crushing hopelessness of her situation. This is illustrated beautifully in one of my favorite scenes of Kai, when Rika, finally pushed to her limit, unleashes a flurry of rage and frustration over her hopeless situation at the world, as her final hope putters out in the face of an impossible challenge. And it's just... so good.
Hanyu is the new character for Kai, and unfortunately, she is not nearly as interesting as Rika. While we never get a proper explanation on what exactly she is, we can gather form context clues, and honestly, it's pretty stupid, especially when you consider the implication this has on certain events of the first season. As for her motivation, it pretty much begins and ends with wanting to protect Rika, and that isn't a bad motivation per say, but now I have nothing much left to say about her, for that is what drives her character throughout the entirety of Kai. The only interesting thing about her is that she is much more pessimistic than Rika about, as she puts it, "overcoming fate", and encourages Rika to just give up on trying to beat death so she won't continue to disappoint and hurt herself. But now that's just looking for depth that isn't there.
The last character to talk about is "the villain", who will remain nameless and gender-less so you won't be spoiled on one of the biggest and best surprises of the season. Anyway, I can see you raising your eyebrow(yes, I can see you), and I understand completely. Higurashi was never the kind of anime that needed a villain; the antagonist of the first season was more or less the dark side of humanity, and that was the way I liked it, but I think you'll find that this villain more than makes up for the loss of subtlety in that regard. I don't know, maybe I like this antagonist so much is that once the antagonist is first revealed(in one of the most awesome ways imaginable) about half-way through the season, it heralds the coming of the best episode of the season, in which a visceral, awesome, satisfying and honestly, quite soul-crushing last 10 or so minutes follow, and makes you think "hey, this almost feels like the first season again." I also quite liked the back-story and unique motivation, for that matter. I thought it was rather interesting.
Just because I hate Studio Deen doesn't mean I can't give them credit where it's due. Compared to the animation of the first season, Higurashi Kai has drastically improved in several key areas. For one, characters look a lot smoother and better integrated into the world, and speaking of the world, the environment is lot more bright and expressive, with a lot more variety of colors compared to the dull temperatures of the first season. Some say that they prefer the rougher and uglier designs of the first season, arguing that they helped pound home the brutality of the show, but honestly, that seems a little to me like they're grasping at straws. The first season had bad animation, end of story, and Higurashi Kai looks a lot better. I mean, it still doesn't look particularly good, but it's probably one of the best efforts I've seen from Studio Deen. Not that that's saying much.
Kenji Kawai has returned for Kai's soundtrack, and as per usual from the composer, it is quite superlative. If you remember, the strength of the soundtrack of the first season was the palatable creepy atmosphere that the music let off, and Kawai has done much of the same with the OST for Kai, though this time, he has adjusted his music for tone. There's still a couple of good and creepy tracks in there like "Shinsou", but Kai's soundtrack embraces the thriller and supernatural aspects of the season, changing the atmosphere of the music(and by extension anime) by quite a bit. You have proper battle music like "Gekitotsu", and even some emotional tracks thrown in for good measure. But undoubtedly the highlight of the music is the OP: "Naraku no Hana", a truly haunting and beautiful song that captures the desperate feel of Kai perfectly, using symbolism and meaningful lyrics to its full advantage. I like it so much that I may even think it's better than the first season's OP: and if you know me, that's not said lightly.
So, throughout this review, it has probably become quite clear that I have some mixed feelings when it comes to Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai. Is it sinful blotch on the legacy of the Higurashi franchise? Not really, because despite being not as good as S1, there are plenty of good things to talk about as well. So is it a worthy successor to the original Higurashi no naku koro ni? Well no, it's not that either, because it pretty much takes everything that made the first season good and throws it away without a care, especially in that good awful ending. So then, what does that make Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai? What I would say, if I were to judge Kai solely on its own merits- well, there's the problem. Actually, if I were to say, I'd say that that is the problem with Higurashi Kai. It's impossible to judge on its own merits. Regardless of what Kai wanted to be, it's still attached to arguably the best horror/psychological mystery anime of the past decade, and that shadow is being cast over it the entire time, overshadowing the good points and enhancing the flaws. It's something just kind of good being compared to something great, and in the end, that "something good" is always going to be seen as a disappointment when compared to "something great". That's why for all the things I don't like about Kai, I can't find it in myself to hate it. Because, really, it never stood a chance. Higurashi no naku koro ni Kai is a decent supernatural thriller, with a great protagonist and villain, but ultimately is let down by poorly handled pacing and an ending that is just kind of... stupid. It's passable. It's something I can enjoy. I just wish it wasn't part of Higurashi no naku koro ni.
Final Verdict: 6/10
P.S: Oh... so she was never dead to begin with.
For this review and others, feel free to check out my blog! (Link on profile)
Higurashi (yes, I'm shortening the name once again) must be observed not as two seasons and whole load of OVA's and specials, but as a collective entity, and what a brilliant one! Beware, because I'm including some plot segments and ideas of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. If you haven't watched it yet - then go and do it right now, before it's too late!
This is the strongest and the most striking point of the whole show. I was puzzled while watching the first season, because most of the events seemed random and somewhat insane: characters murdered each other, resurrected again and kept going mad.
But I also enjoyed all the mystery surrounding these events ans even started building up some theories. I was hoping for some answers in the second season, and I got them to the fullest extent.
The thing this season did straight away was prove, that there was a method through madness of this show. The "infinite loop" idea was not really uninspired and new, but it did fit and it explained most of the strange moments. But the thing that amazed me the most was the slowly, but surely unravelling of a big ball of ideas in my head. Do you remember the cake theory? Never eat it at once, or you will hate it eventually. Well, this theory works for these series too. Those pieces of plot which I connected with each other throughout Higurashi kept me watching at the edge of my sit and asking for more. I personally place the conspiracy of Higurashi somewhere near the storyline of Death Note, because the psychological and information warfare near the end of the show was absolutely brilliant.
The are only two real cons in the way they handled the story of Higurashi. The first is Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. The madness and "random" events can really put off some viewers. Thankfully, it didn't happen to me.
Second con is a somewhat ridiculous way the company of kids won the battle against the whole squad of special forces just by using some traps and a bit of an advanced tactic. Still, this is Japanese show, can't blame them too much, right?
The viewers were also kept wondering about the origin of Hinamizawa Syndrome, which I feel is the first thing worth explaining.
Another strong point of Higurashi is the way it develops the main characters. All of them have commited some sins, which drove them into the village, but they are trying their best to live happy lives. I began to empathize the MC to the fullest in the second season, when the battle against fate started and most of the backstories were revealed. The only problem was that some characters (mainly Rika and Hanyuu) were still left aside ang quickly captured by sharp-clawed paws of OVA directors.
Some didn't like the series mostly because of all the comedian "fillers" in it, but I feel that I enjoyed it even more because of them and the contrast they made. All the "quiet before the storm" episodes were really heartwarming and funny. The scenes, where all the MC started to combine their strength and help each other in their trials, where really well made too.
Another pro is the development of the antagonist. It was hard for me to watch her struggle in her childhood. Desperate people become the "Pierrot marching around the stage" really easily, and this fate didn't pass her by. My feelings about the antagonist are controversal, but at least it's not the typical "kill them all and get the crown" villain without any ulterior motives.
The artwork of Higurashi is not bad, but old. Plus, I had to watch the show in 480p. It didn't really spoil the overall enjoyment or anything, though. Characters were happy and cute when they wanted to be, but also really scary and insane at time. This contrast was very well drawn and it created all the atmosphere.
All the openings and endings are pretty catchy and they actually fit the atmosphere. The first OP is quite intense and bloody just like the first season, while the second one is more dramatic and calm. I didn't pay much attention to music, but it was changing mood when needed.
Overall, I feel that watching all the seasons is indeed worth it because of an amazing storyline and most of the urgent questions answered. I enjoyed Hirugashi a lot and I would advice everyone to watch it, but certainly not as a first title.
+ The "answering" second season, which slowly unravelled most of the mysteries.
+/- Madness and random events of the first season.
- No explanation to the origin of the Hinamizawa Syndrome.
+ Amazing development of MCs and the sins they commited.
+ Desperate antagonist with sad and depressing backstory.
- Not enough attention to Rika and Hanyuu in the main series.
+ Art changing mood when needs be.
+ Bright and well drawn characters.
- Bad quality and overall stale artwork.
+ Mood changing.
+ Brilliant OPs and EDs.
- The music is not really that impressive.
If you haven't seen the first season, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, "Kai" will make almost as little sense to you without watching the first one as the watching the first one without watching Kai afterwards does. For those who loved the gore in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, I'm sorry to tell you, that if you were looking forward to another twenty-four episodes of eviscerated adolescence and chopped loli then you are in for a disappointment; Kai focuses primarily on giving the viewers a satisfying answer and summarization of the questions and mysteries aroused in the first season.
Every once in a great while,
there's an anime that completely alters your perception of what constitutes a "masterpiece." For me, one of those anime was Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (Kai). The greatest problem found within the walls of any mystery conceived is that within those boundaries there must be an answer, a solution to that mystery. In Higurashi's 1st season, the plot strung us along, sliding us down the merry chute of deceit greased with the blood of torn up moe archetypes - shooting us out the other end so fast that there was a good chance you could have missed the clues to what was building up just beyond the ending credits. Obfuscation was Higurashi's greatest strength. It's a show that gets you asking the wrong questions so you end up missing the obvious right answers. Kai moves slightly away from that and focuses primarily on on the brief theories on the Hinamizawa syndrome touched upon in the first series and runs with and adds considerably too that, making for story which is much more "external" in nature. The 2 seasons function like a mystery followed up by a solution. Higurashi is a real feat in many regards. First, lots of deep thinking and meticulous planning has clearly gone into the show. What we've got out of it is an outstandingly well written plot that’s both elaborate and almost completely seamless with hardly any plot-holes. While there are some things that this sequel lacks (nothing can be perfect right?), it does is bring the mystery full circle, and it also gives the audience the answers that we barely got a mere hint of in the first series. Pacing is not an issue and to call it riveting would not be an understatement. The characters remain and the individuality and sympathies that the first season built up remain strong even without the focus they received in the first season. Even when the antagonist is revealed they are not taken for granted and receive characterization and a back story that make them perhaps one of the most sympathetic and interesting villains that anime has to offer - too evil to support but I found myself not wanting anyone to lose either. The ingenious character development in season 1 followed through into Kai once more. I must mention that, it’s the newly revealed antagonist who is Kai's most fascinating and dynamic character. I've always thought that well rounded and developed antagonists make the most interesting conflicts (I love villains). In Kai we get a character with a deep past and clear motivations, but we’re never annoyed by a plea for sympathy. What we have instead is a genuine character study; the antagonist is evil, but they are motivated by things which are distinctly human (Kind of like Light Yagami from Death Note).
Furthermore, the animation in Kai was decent, a step-up from the first season. The characters, dark setting, and backgrounds were all beautiful yet sinister, but art was never Higurashi's strong point. The music was needless to say spectacular, with all the tragic, tear-jerking piano pieces. As expected of Kawai Kenji, an amazing composer, although there were some pieces of music that played at times when the music didn't fit in with the scene. As for the openings, they fit in right with the anime, spooky, gloomy, and sinister describes it! Go to youtube and listen to "Dear You" on the piano ~ Beautiful.
I definitely enjoyed this series to it's max, but there were some things that disappointed me such as the comic relief being dropped at the most inappropriate of times (too much useless talking). The finale though just amazing, it provides a fitting end to the grand tale of Higurashi no Naku Koro. Higurashi is a true epic and one of the few mystery anime that has a set of solutions that do justice to the initial questions (absolutely genius). Furthermore Higurashi no Naku Koro delves into a deeper theme beyond the front story, regarding human nature, and bonds of friendship/trust. Genius. I conclude this review by recommending those who haven't seen Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai to watch it, for although it does lack the "violence, gore" of the first season, it prospers in "themes, and answers".
Based on the first season, it flows on a explains all the mysteries and the fluidity that the first season lacks. The story focuses around Rika in this season, and her perception into the bizarre killings of the Hinamizawa village on June 30th 1983. Little is known to why the events are happening, and Chiaki Kon does a very good job in replicating the manga version.
The art is well established. The OP is beautifully done, it uses the images of each of the characters in their darkest states. Again, the darkness of the anime is introduced, and the director does a good job in
creating that mystique and eerie atmospherel. This is followed by the opening soundtrack "Naruka no Hana". The theme song was one of the reasons that I started to watch the anime. The voice actors did a pretty good job at each character (just like in first season). Overall, the sounding is probably best portrayed through in this anime series, as it is creates the atmosphere that really brings out the "creepyness" of this series.
There is quite a bit of character development, in particular, Rika, who becomes the main focus of the anime series. Unlike the first season, the season revolves around her, and we see her grow from a helpless little girl,into a woman of action. All of which is achieved through a simple action of Keiichi Maebara who nudges her forward, and he becomes the idol for her to look up to and subconsciously provides her with courage and hope. Takano Miyo's past is also brought to light and it is shown why she acts the way she does....
I really enjoyed this anime. Not because of the killings, but because of the underlying morals Rika portrays in this season. Unlike the first season, there is much more depth into her character, as well as the fact that she now takes responsibility for her own actions, other than blame others. Given the conditions she faces, it is admirable that she looks forward and urges onward, despite the ghastly consequences she faces if she fails. This is what kept me going in this anime and what made this anime really beautiful.