I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started to watch Higurashi: When They Cry. I have heard this series described in many ways. Some call it a horror series, some a mystery, some a thriller… I have even seen it classified as ‘torture porn’. I found when I watched it that it could really be considered all of the above (except perhaps the last one).
Despite its multiple classifications, I had heard that it was a good series worth watching, so I bought it. I was quite happy with my purchase, ploughing through two discs a night for three nights. I did not sleep well for those three nights. Not because I was scared, but because it was so intriguing I could not stop myself from watching them late into the night.
It could be said that Higurashi: When They Cry was a collection of short stories (four episodes each for the most part), revolving around the same characters, just in slightly different circumstances. At first it is unknown how or if these stories are connected to one another. I think that this adds a certain level of intrigue to the show. I had to keep watching, just to see how it all ties in together. Each short story starts of very happy, with all of the characters getting along, just as you would expect in a small country town. It does not take long for the stories to take a sinister turn, with previously cute characters suddenly becoming very unsettling. Paranoia and mistrust reign supreme as the characters manipulate each other.
There is quite a bit of gore in this series, though it does not show most of it in any great detail, so those of you with a weak stomach (especially in regards to torture) should not really have problems watching it. The concept of some of the torture methods however can be a little bit cringe-worthy (and I have a pretty strong stomach), and if you have a good imagination, you will no doubt be able to picture quite clearly what might soon happen to the poor victim of the torture.
I do not scare easily, so it can be difficult for me to determine whether or not a movie or series is supposed to be a horror. I believe that Higurashi: When They Cry is probably more of a supernatural mystery/thriller than a horror, though the first arc of the series is very unsettling, and probably the scariest of the lot. Thankfully, even though the rest of the show isn’t really as scary as the first arc, it is still a great show that never allows you to stop thinking about what is happening, so it is great if you want to exercise your brain while watching anime. It can also be watched in a more passive fashion of course, though whether this is as much fun is really up to personal opinion.
I am very excited that Season Two: Part One of Higurashi will be released in Australia in three days’ time, and I have preordered it already. I would not hesitate recommending this to anime fans who enjoy a darker series, filled with suspense, supernatural phenomena, horror, mystery and, let’s face it… violence. If you are a person that needs the darkness to be broken up a little bit, then you will be pleased to see that there are cute, funny and light hearted moments spread out throughout the more serious scenes, lending the show a nice pace.
Siren Visual is a big player in Australia, often releasing science fiction, and other alternative titles, that perhaps aren’t seen as mainstream enough by Madman Entertainment. This is a good example of a series that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but is indeed worth watching, if you are interested in a very different, dark, and at times scary anime series.