After moving into the quiet town of Hinamizawa, Maebara Keiichi spends his days blissfully in school often playing games with his local friends. However, appearances can be deceiving. One fateful day, Keiichi stumbles upon news of a murder that had occurred in Hinamizawa. From this point on, horrific events unfold in front of Keiichi, as he soon learns his close friends may not be all that they seem. Based on the amateur mystery game by 7th Expansion, the story is told in a series of different scenarios.
Onikakushi is the first in a series of manga following the different scenarios of the Higurashi games. It focuses on Maebara Keiichi's arrival to Hinamizawa.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Onikakushi-hen was published in English as Higurashi When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc by Yen Press on November 18, 2008 and February 17, 2009, respectively, and also digitally on April 22, 2014. The series was also published in Polish as Gdy zapłaczą cykady: Księga uprowadzenia przez demony by Waneko in one-volume edition in November 2015.
Now, to get things straight before touching the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Abducted by Demons Arc, you have to realise that, even in completing the manga, almost no questions are solved whatsoever, and if reading the manga in order, none are going to be solved for a fairly long time to come.
Starting off just as the Higurashi animé did, 'new kid in town', Keiichi Maebara, is plunged into a world of darkness in the idyllic village of Hinamizawa. The story in the Manga takes a lot longer than the animé does to get into its stride (The first Volume, or 3 Chapters is
basically an introduction to the town and characters, and a mood-setting of the main story).
However, once the Manga hits its stride, it delivers an intriguing thrill ride of survival, emotions and loneliness, and a brilliant ending which would make a vast percentage of readers unable to wait for the next Arc :P.
I love the art in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Onikakushi-hen, showing great use of high detail character drawings, which focus on the eyes and facial expressions. Beautiful work, which is fun to just look at, due to the constant change in style and the graphic intensity.
The old saying 'Never judge a book by its cover' was seemingly practically written for Higurashi. Depending on the circumstances, characters shift flawlessly between sanity and insanity, creating a constant sense of unease for us as a reader. While not especially deep initially, the characters in Higurashi are diverse, interesting, and mysterious in various senses.
Overall, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Abducted by Demons Arc is a great introduction to the franchise, offering a large wealth in questions to be eventually solved in later arcs, and a great deal of enjoyment. It excels in being a Manga which is such a delight to read, and even reread multiple times.
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, or When the Cicadas Cry, was originally a visual/sound novel series by 07th Expansion. It was adapted into a manga series and an anime series. The anime series is (based off my unprofessional observations) very popular amongst J-pop fanatics. Until about a year or so ago, I knew absolutely nothing about Higurashi, or its followup Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, or When the Seagulls Cry. It wasn't until a friend of mine recommended these franchises to me that I was even interested. I tried to play the VN version of Higurashi, but it wouldn't work. (What, do PC games hate
Windows 7 that much?) So I opted for the manga version instead, which I heard was better than the anime. Suffice to say, it was worth the investment.
Please note that as of this writing, I have only read the first three arcs of the manga version. I have not played the VN, and I am avoiding the anime, so I don't know anything beyond the first three arcs. With that said, the first arc is my favorite thus far. Let's find out why.
Keiichi Maebara and his family have moved to a rural town called Hinamizawa. This place is literally out in the sticks; it's mostly open fields, the locals know everyone by name, and cicadas will not STFU. Also, this takes place in 1983, an age when Japan was economically flourishing, when cell phones weren't widespread, and when Michael Jackson was still universally beloved.
Keiichi is a high school student who gets along with the girls in his class really well. They form a sort of club that does fun stuff whenever possible. One girl, Rena, loves cute things to an extreme, another girl, Mion, is tomboyish and has huge breasts. Another girl named Satoko does the practical pranks, and there's a shrine maiden girl, Rika, who is rather quiet. And they all do silly things with Keiichi.
HOWEVER, despite that, this is NOT a high school comedy/harem series. Good God no. Shortly after Keiichi settles in, he meets a freelance photographer named Jirou Tomitake. Jirou tells Keiichi that four years ago, someone tried to build a dam that would've destroyed Hinamizawa. There was strong opposition. Someone supporting the dam was murdered. The plan was canceled, and Hinamizawa stands to this day. Every year, on the day of cotton drifting, someone is murdered, and someone else goes missing. And in the present, it's about to be the cotton drifting day. Not only that, Keiichi's friend Rena starts acting as though she were possessed by a demon at times. One moment, she is moeblob Rena, the next, she's an unstable psychopath. Keiichi also learns about something called, "Oyashiro-sama's curse," a curse that is said to afflict the locals of Hinamizawa. Not long after, Keiichi's life is in danger.
This is a horror series, a horror series done right. The setting of Hinamizawa feels like one you could be in. Not only that, it's a mystery too. Why is Rena behaving like how she is? Does Oyashiro-sama's curse exist? Who is responsible for the deaths on the cotton drifting? Is Keiichi right to be paranoid of the people around him, or has he himself gone mad? The series doesn't say. This ambiguous nature is good, for it leads to interesting analysis, but it is also bad, for I don't know all of the answers. Nonetheless, once everything unravels, you'll be gripped. 9/10.
Art: The art for the Higurashi VN is terrible. 07Ryukishi, the original author, did improve by the time he made Umineko, but the PC games . . . ugh. The anime artwork isn't much better. The manga series, though? It looks great. Each story arc is done by a different artist . . . I don't know why that is, (it could be Oyashiro-sama's curse for all I know!) but the artist for this arc is talented. The characters and backgrounds are well drawn, the panels flow fluidly, and when it gets violent, it gets violent. The colored pages are astounding. I personally like the art for the second arc more, but this looks great too. 8/10.
Characterization: A big problem with a lot of horror stories is the lack of characterization. Higurashi does not have this flaw. All the characters, both minor and major, are important. Keiichi isn't just another "everyman in an extraordinary situation", he's a flawed but well-meaning person. His friends have depth, but this arc mostly focuses on Keiichi and Rena. Other characters are shown, such as Jirou, Keiichi's parents, and Ooishi, the police captain, but we don't see too much character development in this arc.
But what truly impresses me more than anything else is how Keiichi reacts. He reacts how anyone would in his situation: he has reason to believe that his friends are trying to kill him, he can't stay out too late because he's a minor, he can't outrun his foes because they own a white station wagon, he doesn't have the internet, and on top of that, he may have to resort to killing his own friends just to stay alive. If that doesn't make you scared for your life, then you're not human. 9/10.
Enjoyment: Once the series stopped pretending to be a comedy, this drew me in. The revelations of Hinamizawa, Keiichi's confrontations with Rena, the very real fear that permeates every chapter, it gripped me heavily. My only complaint is a lot still doesn't make sense to me. If I read more of Higurashi, I should be able to fill in the blanks, but regardless, this was a great introduction to Higurashi, and one I recommend if you don't mind seeing a scary franchise that actually is legitimately scary. 9/10.
I do have another complaint, but it's not about Higurashi itself, it's something else. Fans, Higurashi is not a cutesy moe moe kyun exercise in kawaii-ness; this is essentially a Stephen King novel set in Japan instead of Maine. If I see any more of you saying, "OMG! Rena-chan is so adowable when she holds her cweaver wike that! OMOCHIKAERI!" I'm gonna facepalm for hours.
Story: The story is something different, there aren't too many stories out there that are genuinely this creepy. It's an amazing story along with psychological twists. There's so much thrown into two books but the author handles it well. They build up the friendships between the characters, get you attached, then rips it apart in a slow but strangely fast manner. It's one event after another but doesn't seem speedy or sloppy. You're always kept in suspense once things get going. This series will seriously mess with your mind and emotions.
Art: The author used art to fully express change in the characters and succeeded
well by keeping the characters original look, but somehow changing that look to almost make them seem like someone completely different. Not only did they show a good mix of 'split personalities' they also managed to maximize the creepiness along with it. Another thing to give and take of this series is the gore factor. There really aren't that many scenes with death, but the ones that are there are very unpleasant to think about.My only real problem with the art is, in the first volume, there were a couple of scenes where I couldn't follow completely where people were or what was going on.
Character: The characters are very interesting. You see characters go from being completely rational to insane. Once you start to listen and try to understand the characters, you can fully understand motifs, thoughts, and reasoning behind their actions. Even the killers have reasons if you pay attention to them. In other words, well developed.
Enjoyment: It was very enjoyable, it kept me on edge the whole read and anxious to see what happened next. I can't wait to read the next arc's and see what other paths await the characters.
Overall: A freaky little tale that will keep my mind in thought for a while. This is not the kind of story for the weak minded and super paranoid. I couldn't help but sit silently looking out the window after finishing this series and only imagining how the characters felt and what truths I really know or want to know.
I was attached to Higurashi a few pages in. Seeming like atypical Harem manga, it takes a total U-turn when a series of murders are told to Keiichi.
I really like the art in the Abducted By Demons arc. The characters look so cute and innocent, but when they get into murder mode, they get seriously freaking creepy. I have a feeling that it was done on purpose to catch the reader off guard. It certainly worked on me!
The character Keiichi is the main character in this arc. He is very relate able. Everything he does seems like something a real human being would do, I
was totally rooting for him during the manga. The other four girls all have a mystery to them. In this arc, it focuses mainly on Rena and Mion, though.
I enjoyed every second of the first Higurashi arc, it will keep you guessing and keep you entertained.
If you want to experience a one of a kind manga, pick up higurashi: Abducted By Demons arc!