This is a guest review by Alain Mendez. Alain, a.k.a. Hisui, a.k.a. Saber Fan #1, writes for Reverse Thieves and is a part time detective and otaku. He also has a podcast on Anime3000 called The Speakeasy. You can talk to him on Twitter about a wide variety of topics as he is an anime, manga, comics, science fiction, and role playing aficionado. Just mention your love for female King Arthur.
Let us begin at the beginning. There are a multitude of adaptations of Higurashi but all of the anime, manga, live action films, novels, drama CDs, PS2 games, DS games, and iOS games of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni have a common origin in the original visual novels for the PC. Higurashi is actually made up of 2 sets of 4 visual novels released at Comiket by 07th Expansion. Released as doujinshi games they were a surprise success and put 07th Expansion and the When they Cry series on the map. The first set of games is made up of 4 visual novels collectively known as the question arcs and each game has a corresponding game in the second set called the answer arcs. The question is what makes these first four stand out from normal visual novels as well as from the other iterations of the franchise.
I won’t go into great details about the specifics of the plot. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Higurashi then you should read the manga summaries by TheGinachu for Higurashi Month. They sum up the story of each arc quite nicely. Each arc focuses on a specific girl as we delve into the mystery and madness of the secrets of the town of Hinamizawa and the endless summer of June 1983. Despite the similarity in story there are two major differences between the manga and anime adaptation that make the original games stand out.
This is a guest review by Fernando Ramos. Fernando is a contributor for Otaku USA and Anime3000 and currently lives in Saitama, Japan. Feel free to check out his pictures at Flickr or on mroutside.com whenever he finally gets around to learning how to edit a proper website.
Shrill Cries of Summer (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Live-Action)
Review by: Fernando Ramos
Director: Ataru Oikawa
A great while back, I reviewed Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, released in the US as When They Cry, an anime that brought mixed feelings. It was a gimmicky mix of cutesy clichés and shock horror, but compellingly so thanks to its tightly woven narrative and high production values. Perhaps not all too surprisingly, some producers found value in the property for a live-action cash-in to sell to the J-Horror crowd. So, in 2008, we got a live action version, also entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, renamed to Shrill Cries of Summer.
As mentioned earlier, the original franchise takes much of its appeal from the shocking contrasts of the cute girls and the bloody murder that they create or fall victim to. Oh, but Higurashi isn’t about cookie-cutter slasher film murder. No, it’s about cruel, sadistic torture complete with pleas for mercy and maniacal laughter. It’s all about the visuals and the audio drilling into your soul driving you insane until you see the scorpions stinging you to… I digress.
For Higurashi Month here at JanaiBlog, I have been charged with delving into the manga version of this masterpiece. We’ve already romped through the first two arcs in this incredible story. So, let’s move on to the third arc, the Curse Killing Arc.
Like the second arc, this one seems to start the story over, with everyone alive and getting along. The story of Oyashiro-sama’s curse still holds power in this arc just as in the previous two, but rather than focusing on Rena and Mion like the first and second arcs did respectively, this arc focuses on Satoko and her tragic past.
We know at this point that Satoko’s parents fell to Oyashiro-sama’s curse years ago, but now her abusive uncle has come back into the picture. He begins to abuse her physically and mentally, and Keiichi is shocked to hear that this has happened before, and Satoko’s friends and teacher have been unable to do anything about it. When Satoko begins to look up to Keiichi as her surrogate brother, he decides to take matters into his own hands to protect Satoko, with deadly consequences.
I’ve heard a few times that Kenji Kamiyama is a pretty good director, and when I hear a director is good I like to seek out their work to see for myself. Kamiyama’s most well known work, the one he gets most of his attention for, would be Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Unfortunately I’m just not into sci-fi so I’ve only seen a small part of it. It seemed like I would never really get a chance to see Kamiyama’s work, but then I caught wind of a series called Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, a fantasy series directed by Kamiyama. I don’t think it’s a particularly well known series because I’ve never really heard anyone talking about it, but nonetheless it would be my first real exposure to Kenji Kamiyama’s directorial abilities.
Moribito is based on the first book in a series of novels and tells the story of a bodyguard named Balsa, who has tasked herself with saving eight lives to atone for eight people who were killed because of her, and the young prince Chagum whom she was hired to protect. The young prince has been possessed by a water spirit, and his father, the Mikado, plots to have him killed. In a final desperate attempt to save her son, Chagum’s mother hires Balsa, and she sets out to protect him from the Mikado’s forces.
For Higurashi Month here at JanaiBlog, I have been charged with delving into the manga version of this masterpiece. We’ve already romped through the first arc of the story. Now we shall embark on the next piece of the puzzle, the Cotton Drifting Arc.
The first thing you will notice is that everyone who died in the first arc is alive with seemingly no memory of the chilling events of the first arc. Get used to this; every arc of Higurashi starts the story over fresh, although it does keep many of the main plot points.
Rather than focusing on the curse of Oyashiro-sama right off the bat, we start with a bit of lighthearted comedy. Keiichi runs into a waitress at a restaurant who looks exactly like Mion, but claims to be her twin sister Shion. Eventually, Keiichi realizes that she is telling the truth, and Mion does in fact have an identical twin sister. Shion begins to fill Keiichi in on more of the history of Hinamizawa, which eventually leads him tumbling into the temptation Shion offers him on the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. She drags him into an act forbidden by Oyashiro-sama.
Keiichi fully expects to be the next victim of the curse, however this year the curse does not play out as it had in the past few years. His only solace lies in Shion, who is the only one who knows the truth of what they did that night, but Keiichi must question if he can even trust Shion as more truths are revealed.