For those who haven’t read, watched, or played any of the Higurashi franchise, it is based upon a visual novel series by Riyukishi07. All of the stories are set up in question and answer arcs. The four question arcs are presented first, followed by the four answer arcs, so that whichever media you experience, you will get the visual novel feel.

The most recent addition to the franchise is Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou, (known as “When the Cicadas Cry: Karma” or “New”), which starts with the first two episodes as a direct reboot to the 2006 anime. However, in the 3rd episode, new material is revealed which changes the course to a sequel with surprises in store for us.

Higurashi centers around a group of friends in the small town of Hinamizawa back in 1983. What begins as a slice of life series about their silly adventures as a game club soon takes a dark turn as we approach the mysterious Cotton-Drifting Festival (Watanagashi). On the night of Watanagashi, one person is killed while one is spirited away by the village’s guardian deity, Oyashiro-sama. What rituals are still being carried out to appease Oyashiro-sama?

The cast of characters are also excellent. We have our protagonist, Maebara Keeichi, who has recently moved to Hinamizawa. He bonds with his friends quickly and grows to love Hinamizawa. Next is Ryuuguu Rena, the same grade as Keiichi and obsessed with anything she deems cute. Mion is the oldest in the group, class president, and the head of the powerful Sonozaki family. Hojo Satoko seems playful and carefree, but is at the root of one of the best arcs. Furude Rika is the same age as Satoko and an adorable miko for the Watanagashi. Gou reveals an awesome new role for her that I hope you will all enjoy as much as I have.

One thing that keeps me coming back to this franchise is the way is juggles so many genres and storylines. Do you want a storyline where humans are the bad guys, using everything else an excuse? You’ve got it. Want a tight-knit town fighting together to save a friend? It’s there. Want excessive gore and disturbing twists? They’re ready. Want demons, curses, and betrayal? Yup! All taking their turns and ready to flip in a moment’s notice, this media will make you feel a lot of things at different times. There’s even the mystery solving aspect to trying to figure out how each arc will play out before you get to the answer arcs.

The voice acting for both anime series is impeccable, with actors that can  carry a wide range. Going from innocent and adorable to disturbing and psychotic from one scene to the next feels natural coming from such professionals. The series would not be as successful without both the precise acting and expertly illustrated expressions.

I especially recommend Higurashi to fans of Folk Horror like Noroi: The Curse, Midsommar, and The Wicker Man. What will you do when The Cotton Drifting Festival arrives?

 

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