When They Cry: Higurashi
When They Cry: Higurashi – Planetzot Review
When They Cry: Higurashi is an anime TV series based off of the popular Japanese murder mystery games. Geneon recently released the anime, with the last volume of the first series released in January 2009. The anime was created by Studio Deen and directed by Chiaki Kon. This 26 episode TV series follows Keiichi Maebara, a kid who recently moved to the rural Japanese village of Hinamizawa, and his family. Keiichi is a normal kid- complaining about having to cook for himself when his mother goes out and attempting to make friends with other kids from his school. Of course, the friends he makes are the cutest little girls on the planet, and they’re always teasing Keiichi. It appears to be a calm slice of “life show”, but of course, this is anime, and serenity does not last long. Lo and behold, Hinamizawa is not all it’s cracked up to be. There have been a string of murders in the town, two every year at the town festival and everyone seems to know something that Keiichi isn’t clued in on. The murders seemed linked to some politics of the past involving a dam, that if played out, could have had the city under water. Eventually the horror elements come to the forefront- when more murders take place, as on schedule.
There are some really shocking and spooky scenes, many involving children killing other children in brutal ways. And just when you think it’s over, the anime resets itself, starting near the beginning again, only to lead down another possible path. It does this multiple times. The mystery of what or who is behind the murders is a major theme throughout, and an interesting one at that.
The music and animation really helps to set the atmosphere in this anime. From it’s extremely odd, almost alien, opening theme song to it’s calm yet somewhat eerie ending theme to the background music: everything comes together flawlessly. The contrast in the two types of background themes (one type for the cheery scenes, and one for the spooky scenes) really assists in making the series effective. The animation and coloring also changes from extremely detailed and dark during the creepy and gory scenes to child-ish and bright and cheery, during the light hearted scenes. It’s this contrast that really makes the show effective. When you see a cute little girl, who was just very cheerful and joking around recently, go insane out of nowhere and start hitting people in the head with lead pipes or cutting someone up with a knife you get a bad feeling in your gut.
The dub for When They Cry would need great voice actors that can go from cute to creepy in no time flat and luckily Bang Zoom! Entertainment was up to the challenge. The English dub manages to display the change in atmosphere very well with Grant George, Karen Thompson, and Mela Lee as the main children giving stellar performances. Joe DiMucci, who plays the gruff Detective Oishi who is investigating the murders, also delivers his lines exceptionally well for someone with so little experience. While not the best thing ever dubbed, overall there are no problems here and it works quite well.
While not the most original anime ever (for example the earlier and lesser known Shadow Star Narutaru has many of the same elements) it still manages to defy the cliches of anime, and give us the right amount of chills. However, by the end of the anime, it appears not all the pieces of the puzzle are here yet; the mysery seems to be unsolved, yet there’s good reason for that. From the start, two seasons of the show were planned, so it makes sense that many of the answers are revealed in the second season. We can only hope someone will license it shortly, because we are dying to see the rest of it.
– Written by Mike (Prede)-
-Edited by Elke
-This review was originally posted on August 9th, 2009
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