It’s that time of the week again. Welcome back to Week 8 of Memory Monday, the weekly segment where we select an anime that has completed airing and write about it. The selected anime might be one that has been overlooked, critically acclaimed, or nostalgic. My aim is to give a different perspective on the show to people who have already seen it as well as give motivation to watch it for people who have yet to do so themselves.
This week’s pick is Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and there WILL be MINOR SPOILERS in this post.
Number of Seasons: 2
Number of Episodes: 26/24
Number of OVA series: 4
Run Time: 24 minutes per episode
Personal Rating 9/10
I can’t find any official postings of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni 🙁 If I can, I’ll update this.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was one of my first “more otaku” anime that I ever watched. Fed up with the Shounen drivel that was dished out every week, I wanted something that wouldn’t conform to generic settings and predictable developments. This led me to find Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. How I discovered this anime is actually kind of funny. Back when I started watching anime, I decided to get more anime in my “watched” arsenal because though I thought I knew a lot of anime, I watched a certain video that forced me to realize that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what anime had to offer. For those wondering what this life changing video is here you go. To this day, I think I’ve watched basically all of the anime featured in this video, but by far the one I’m most glad to have discovered is Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. It offered me everything I wanted from anime and more. I know I’m not the only one who holds this anime in high regards. From its great story telling to its great characters, Higurashi basically gets everything right.
What It’s About:
Maebara Keiichi and his family are moving from the city to a rural village called Hinamizawa for his father’s work (if I remember correctly). Keiichi transfers into the village’s school which is completely different from the one he used to go to. For one, there is only one school in the entire village that all the children go to. What’s more is that there is only one classroom, so all the students of different levels are taught at the same time. Keiichi eventually fits in to this strange, new environment thanks to the help of the school’s Game Club members, Rena, Mion, Rika, and Satoko. They make every day very enjoyable with the random games that they play together and allover mischief. Unfortunately, the peaceful days that Keiichi spent are numbered as strange occurrences seem to be becoming more and more frequent and all the while he hears whispers from the villagers– “Oyashiro-sama.”Suddenly a gruesome murder has occurred in Hinamizawa and things just get worse from there.
One of the biggest draws of Higurashi is the mystery. What is happening in Hinamizawa? Who is the true culprit? Why does the anime seemingly reset every few episodes? Unlike most mystery anime, this is something that is not easily guessed until maybe the second season. Even then, it’s difficult to guess what exactly is happening until everything is laid bare. The first scene that comes to mind is at the end of Sion’s arc. The ending to that arc was so perfect and a genuine “wtf” moment. For me, that’s one of the pinnacles of cliffhangers. There were no explanations and it just ended on that one minute scene.
Fortunately for Higurashi it got two seasons, so it was able to pace itself very well, dedicating the first season for setup and the second for solving the mysteries. Also, because the exact solution of the mystery is so difficult to guess, the viewer has no choice but to gradually gather the pieces with the characters and then put them all together. I respect mystery series that don’t give away too much of the solution and thus force the viewer to abide by the anime’s speed. It makes the buildup that much stronger and leaves the viewer that much more in suspense and excitement. I’ll admit that compared to other mystery series, the solution might not seem nearly as clever or well thought out, but I believe that it is very fitting for the series.
A Bloody Good Time
Probably the thing Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is known for is its violence and gore. If you’ve heard of Elfen Lied, it’s been compared to that and some think it exceeds that (I personally agree and think Higurashi is the better series :p shots fired). One of the tags I found when I initially searched for Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is “Killer lolis.” When I first saw the tag I was intrigued because I thought it might have been an exaggeration, but it was anything but that– it was right on the mark. Though at first glance, it might seem that it’s just another daily life anime, once things begin to ramp up, it doesn’t stop and you’re just left speechless at what has just happened.
The first season is much more bloody than the second season which is understandable since the second season is dedicated to solving the mystery and the first one is setting up the mysteries. I also would like to clarify that though many classify Higurashi as a “horror” I really, REALLY disagree with that notion. Higurashi is more a show of violence than horror. To be perfectly honest, there’s nothing frightening about the series. With that said, it’s a Thriller, not a Horror. I don’t think there are actually many true Horror series in the anime world and people just tend to lump thrillers with horrors. Of course, I’ve met people who said they were scared of Higurashi, but it’s just a violent thriller, nothing else.
Yanderes/Loveable Characters for Everyone
For those not familiar with the term, “yandere” if you watch Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, you’ll immediately understand. For those who want to know now, I’ll briefly explain. Yandere is a type of character that are violent and then sweet. So an extreme example would be them killing someone then walking over to you with a smile and acting all cutesy. Higurashi is abundant with these. Basically every character at one point is one of these. Despite this, it’s impossible to not fall in love with these characters. The longer the anime goes on, the more you begin to care about the characters and are more hurt when they go through very painful experiences both psychologically and physically. Characters are another huge drawing factor of Higurashi. Without these amazing characters and their great voice work, Higurashi would not be as special as it is. Everything would feel much more stale and generic even with the more unique setting and it would be as boring and mindless as Elfen Lied (more shots fired).
I wanted more Higurashi but the OVAs were just insultingly bad. In Higurashi Rei, a 5 episode OVA series, where the first and last episode are just there for fun while the middle 3 episodes are an original arc, there was nothing present that made it really Higurashi. I remember writing a review for the OVA and all the while I was in disbelief that I was really writing about something that had the Higurashi name. The 3 episode arc had great potential to be an interesting story line but they ultimately choked in the end. It was like watching a cake rise only to see it crumble under its own weight and flatten into a miserable indiscernible pile of confectionery failure. The rest of the OVA series were similarly disappointing and left much to be desired, especially one of the more recent one Outbreak (2013) which was short and more of a tease than anything. It was nice that the OVAs were released because the world got more Higurashi, but they could have done a much better job with them. One thing that is arguably better is the character design. If you ever saw the original visual novel character designs and then compare that to the first anime, you’d be surprised with the huge difference. With the OVAs, they took another step to update the look of the anime and made them look more moe. I wasn’t so happy about that faces, but the overall body proportions was a lot better and in that regard, it’s a lot better.
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
One of the biggest things that Higurashi emphasizes is similar to Shounen shows: friendship and persistence is the formula for success. Without friendship, the characters in Higurashi would never have been able to solve anything and they would have all died. Luckily they begin to work together, especially in the second season, thanks to the bonds of friendship. For Higurashi, their bonds felt much more easier to believe because of what happens in the series. It was not like the typical series and that was not only incredibly refreshing but also very engrossing. Watching the characters deepen their bonds of friendship in order to overcome the misfortune and mystery that had fallen upon them was very worthwhile to watch. I think more than most shows, Higurashi gets the point across that with hardwork and friendship, anything can be overcome.
Should You Watch It?
I have recommended Higurashi to literally everyone I know from when I first watched it. Most people don’t take my recommendation because they see that it’s classified as “horror” and are too scared to watch it. This makes me really sad because Higurashi is such a great series that is more than just violence and gore. It’s a genuinely great anime that shouldn’t deter anyone just because it’s classified as “horror.” If you like anime and want something good, then watch Higurashi. It’s really as simple as that.