Remains of the Day: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

Summer vacations does some weird to you. One of the things, among the usual of laziness and the likes, was to instil in me this desire to see horror. I didn't like horror as a genre at all. Didn't watch horror movies or played any horror games etc etc. And yet, I got very interested in it by the start of this year. And with the summer vacations, came this need to fulfil that wish. So, I watched Higurashi. Curiously described by many people as the Attack of the Killer Lolis. Weird name to go with but, hey, works for me[1].

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So, what is Higurashi? Well, before I tell you that, I'll tell you what it isn't. Its not your run-of-the-mill harem show. It's not a romance show in the slightest. Certainly not your average one-dumb-dude-with-lotsa-dumber-girls anime. It is, a murder mystery themed anime with really dark settings and characters. Anyone who does not have the ability to stomach gore, should watch some other lighter-themed anime. Like Clannad!

Anyway, story. The setting is June, 1983 in the village Hinamizawa. A rural village plagued with a curse. A curse rumoured to be the wrath of the village's god, O-Yashiro-sama. Each year for the past four years, during the Watanagashi Festival, someone has been killed while another has disappeared, never to be heard of again. The central plot revolves around Maebara Keiichi, a recent transfer to the village and his classmates: Rena, Mion, Rika and Satoko. He and his friends are engulfed by the mystery surrounding the murders and disappearances, and must uncover the truth behind these events before they are driven insane ,or worse, by the curse. Not just once mind you, but quite often unless and until they solve the mystery, they'll have to relive the moments again and again.

The main characters of Higurashi: clockwise, Sonozaki Mion, Sonozaki Shion, Maebara Keiichi, Furude Rika, Ryuugu Rena, Houjou Satoko and Houjou Satoshi.
The main characters of Higurashi: clockwise, Sonozaki Mion, Sonozaki Shion, Maebara Keiichi, Furude Rika, Ryuugu Rena, Houjou Satoko and Houjou Satoshi.

This anime is extremely gory. Violent to sick levels[2], the on-screen deaths are at times, painful to watch. And for all intents and purposes, no matter what the characters do, they will end up death in a very brutal fashion. And admittedly, this is greatly repellent to those who are not used to seeing gore in anime, but it works for this anime. It is eloquently paced and doesn't seemed rushed.

Higurashi is presented in any entirely unique method. Each story arc represents a different point of view and tells a different story altogether which drops clues throughout giving the viewer a clearer picture of what's exactly going on. Each story has one common factor which places it neatly in the time-line with the rest of the series. Since this is a rather unconventional method, even more so than Durarara!!'s take on having several point-of-view storylines, it can take a while to get used to. Certain elements of the story will replay within every arc, so it's easy to place the puzzle pieces once you get the hand of it.

The characters themselves are rather memorable, though Higurashi doesn't give you much of a choice in the matter since each and every character is critical to the story and it makes a point of it throughout the series. And as far as the characters go, there is no unlike-able character per se. Everyone are crafted lovingly to fit into their respective roles, and it works very nicely. Every character gets equal screen time and thanks to the unique storytelling method, they'll appear frequently, sometimes being put into the limelight for their turn to shine. And thanks to their personalities, it never feels dreary watching them on-screen.

My favourite character. Well because that face is oddly compelling and the fact that they're probably the most interesting character in this one.
My favourite character. Well because that face is oddly compelling and the fact that they're probably the most interesting character in this one.

The art style is simplistic. Reminiscent of Durarara!!. With washed out colours and generic designs, this art style quite smartly depicts the "normalcy" of the characters going through the events. It's fine and it does work as a shock device. Since Higurashi follows the style generally depicted in 'moe' anime, with emphasis on cute faces and gestures, so it comes off as shocking when such characters are involved in violent murders and such. I definitely felt uncomfortable during certain scenes but that was mostly because of the ambience created by the stupendously amazing sound track.

The soundtracks are utterly brilliant and are a treat to listen to. You feel the chills in all the necessary moments and not a moment too soon. It's eerie, creepy and even pulls off happy at times. One of the stronger points this anime has to offer, the opening and ending songs are definitely worth listening to again and again[3]

Conclusion: If you're used to violence in anime, Higurashi is certainly for you. Storywise, it isn't that strong and it'll probably leave you confused as there are few questions which are left unanswered, although with such a smashing ending sequence, you might be forgiven for forgetting about the questions, although due to recent insight, it seems I might need to visit the second season. The characters are depressing and their fates are no less gruesome. It is the sort of anime, in which the journey is far more interesting than the end-game. APPROVED.


Firstly, comment! And feel free to critique. =D
Secondly, if you have any suggestion on what game/anime/movie I should review next, you can post your suggestions and I'll try my ever best to entertain the requests.
Thirdly, if you would like to look up an old review, visit the Remains of the Day Group for the review index, likewise if you would like to remain up-to-date on the reviews posted, join it!

[1] Stick your head out of the gutter, no you at the back, YES YOU.
[2] And I'm not being metaphorical either, so much blood is spilled and with such detail to boot!
[3] And again and again and again. They're just that good! D:

Nice review, I remember finding that show by accident a few years ago because of some mind numbingly bad youtube video.

xmbts:
Nice review, I remember finding that show by accident a few years ago because of some mind numbingly bad youtube video.

Yeah that's how I found it too... some guy did a bass cover of the opening and I looked up the show after that...<.<

Here it is...<.<

OT: I really enjoyed Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, despite it's lack of story, it's one of the few anythings to actually instill any sense of dread and paranoia in me, due in part to the unpredictable story arcs and the fact that every character feels vulnerable... So that really counts for something...

Also, it's a good thing that it seemed to concentrate on the atmosphere, mostly the contrast in tone between the normal parts and when everyone's dying which was done really well, because Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai did it's best to explain the story and it is one of my least favorite shows of all time... absolutely terrible... It's like Pokemon but without the Micheal Vick/Charles Darwin esque forced animal fights... which is completely fucked up when taken out of context now that I think about it...<.<

Ahh, good ol' Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, the first anime I really took to heart.

While quite tame compared to some other Japanese horror works, the fact that it knows pacing and atmosphere so damn well - and to keep the audience guessing until well into Kai - still makes it among the best I've seen.

For Oyashiro-Sama's sake, don't watch the Rei or Kira[1] OVA's though.

[1] Only one have been released so far, but based on how that turned out...

The animation and character design of this show has got to be the ugliest I've seen since... Well, just the ugliest ever, I guess.

Still, there's something to be said about the way it builds up the suspense and mystery up to the point of the actual murder(s).

Also, anybody else found it hilarious how that blond reporter woman ended up dead in every scenario? She was like frikking Kenny from South Park.

Sacman:

OT: I really enjoyed Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, despite it's lack of story, it's one of the few anythings to actually instill any sense of dread and paranoia in me, due in part to the unpredictable story arcs and the fact that every character feels vulnerable... So that really counts for something...

It's not that it lacks a story, it's that the first season slowly builds up to it. It makes a lot more sense if you rewatch it once you have seen both seasons. The second season picked up the threads well and concluded the story in a satifying way, making the whole anime one of my favorites.

Casual Shinji:
Also, anybody else found it hilarious how that blond reporter woman ended up dead in every scenario? She was like frikking Kenny from South Park.

Watch the second season. That's all i'm gonna say to avoid spoilering.

A good recounting of the mood of the story but it seemed a little light on personal opinion...

Also, to reccomend this anime should come with an obligatory message that one must also watch the second season higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai... Because if you don't, the story is left completely unfinished, unexplained and for me, unlikeable.

Other than that, good stuff!

Raven's Nest:
A good recounting of the mood of the story but it seemed a little light on personal opinion...

Also, to reccomend this anime should come with an obligatory message that one must also watch the second season higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai... Because if you don't, the story is left completely unfinished, unexplained and for me, unlikeable.

Other than that, good stuff!

There does seem to be distinct lack of personal opinion now that I look at it. Certainly lacking when looked at my other reviews regarding the medium. :O Thanks for bringing that to my attention! I think I did a bangup job there, personal opinion added and ready for duty. :P
^^

So it seems, I must watch the second season. Alas! I'm busy for now, a month or so. but the second season is ready for watching, so I'll be sure to watch it. :D

And, this for everyone, I very much appreciate the criticism. Keep it coming! Please and thank you. =D

Imperator_DK:

For Oyashiro-Sama's sake, don't watch the Rei or Kira[1] OVA's though.

I'm with you in that dice killing arc sucked pretty hard but I found the humor episodes to be really good. I like when a series like when they cry or Code Geass is not above laughing at itself.

OT: Not a bad review though I'm going to nitpick and say that it should be the other way a round and Durarara!! would be reminiscent of When they Cry since When they Cry came first(anime wise). Other than that a decent review.

[1] Only one have been released so far, but based on how that turned out...

 

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