Friday, October 16, 2009

Review | Anime | Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni

HIGURASHI NO NAKU KORO NI : Keiichi Maebara transfers to the small, peaceful town of Hinamizawa, where he befriends four girls in his class; Rena, Rika, Mion and Satoko. His new friends tell him all about the town, including the town's fearsome guardian god Oyashiro-sama, and its fury over any who dare enter its shrine. Keiichi is doubtful of the god's supposed wrath at first, but when he enters Oyashiro-sama's forbidden shrine, he becomes wrapped up in the town's horrible secret, and falls victim to the god's deadly curse.

I watched the live action movie adaption of the series, and several of the OST songs have been bouncing around in my iPod for years...I finally decided that perhaps it was time I clamped onto the series that started - or at least fueled - the yandere craze.

Through the grapevine I'd heard warnings about its graphically violent content, and was a little hesitant at first. Repetitive, pointless blood, as I mentioned in my review of Le Portrait De Petit Cossette, is not only ridiculous, but diluting as well. While you think you're making a great show by adding a maimed head here and a missing arm there, you're actually turning a potentially good anime in a terrible one. Finally, however, I lost my fear of ultimately hating Higurashi's motiveless violence; I decided, after picking up the Kara no Kyoukai series, I could pretty much handle anything. I was actually surprised to find, upon completing Higurashi, that Kara no Kyoukai was actually quite a times more graphic.

The hit show that put a psycho killer into the image of every seemingly innocent anime character tells the story of Keiichi Maebara, who transfers to the tiny village of Hinamizawa, where everyone knows your name - literally. Keiichi befriends four girls named Rika, Rena, Mion and Satoko (and later meets a fifth, Shion), and though he has great fun with his new friends at first, he learns about a very delicate subject the girls haven't discussed: A halted dam project that supposedly resulted in the deaths of several people. Prior to the story, the people of Hinamizawa protested against the creation of a dam, which would cause the entire village to be flooded with water. The project was eventually canceled following the deaths and disappearances of the project's team members. Despite the project being canceled, the villagers of Hinamizawa carry a blind hatred of any who supported the dam...or had such connections. Inconveniently caught in the middle of it is Satoko, whose parents supported the construction, and in turn, Satoko is treated poorly by the villagers. The villagers warn that any who assisted the construction in any way are cursed by Hinamizawa's ruthless god, Oyashiro-sama. Rika's father died of a mysterious illness, and it just so happens that he gave shelter to Satoko's terrorized parents, who themselves later fell of a cliff and died. Eventually, Satoko's older brother, Satoshi (whose name alone sends our ladies into a brutal trance) disappeared mysteriously.

Naturally, Keiichi has lots of questions, but his new friends aren't willing to give him too big of an explanation...not without a fight. Finally, when new disappearances begin to occur, and more strange murders take place on the ill-fated night of the annual Watanagashi festival, Keiichi begins to suspect that his friends may play a bigger part than they let on.

Killer middle school and high school girls? Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni's overall plot is enough to make you curious. Just hearing the show's eerie theme song of the same name was enough to draw me in immediately. Much like Hinamizawa and its certifiably lunatic school girls, the songs of Higurashi take different tones throughout, providing an innocent and cheerful mood at one moment, and moving alone to a fearful and ominous tune right afterwards.

Though it is not as graphic as I was made to understand (as I stated before, Kara no Kyoukai has raised the bar rather high for me now), it is certainly not going straight to Nickelodeon anytime soon. The series opens with a boy beating two of his dead female classmates with a baseball bats (we hear crunching and see blood), several characters have their faces beaten in (it is either shown from behind or not shown onscreen at all). A girl slices a man's head with a cleaver (we see the deep wound), we see the same girl cutting up the man's body and one other body). A boy buries the body of a man he killed. A girl uses a device to rip out her fingernails (we see her severed nails again several times later), a girl threatens to torture a boy by driving nails into his finger joints. A girl beats her dead grandmother. Throughout the series characters are killed or severely injured.

Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni is every bit the credit fans give it; haunting, gruesome, and dishes out the unexpected. Demented moe school girls? Check. Blood and gore? Check. Twilight Zone little city in the middle of nowhere? Check and check. If you want to stay up-to-date in anime, Higurashi should certainly be on your list. Stuck indoors? Spend Halloween with this one.

Overall Rating:
/ 5


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