Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU is a 2-volume psychological horror manga written by Ryukishi07/7th Expansion and illustrated by Tomato Akase. Ryukishi07 is a Japanese author, artist, and representative of the group collective 07th Expansion, who are well-known as the creators of the When They Cry series, consisting of Higurashi When They Cry, Umineko When They Cry, and Ciconia When They Cry. The manga is a direct continuation of the original Higurashi: When They Cry story rather than a remake or spin-off of the story such as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Oni.

Higurashi When They Cry - GOU manga

Note: this review covers Volume 1

Life couldn’t be better for Keiichi Maebara. Sure, not much happens in the sleepy mountain village of Hinamizawa, but in the three short weeks since moving there, he’s already found some amazing new buddies who are all cute girls! However, when he discovers hints of Hinamizawa’s violent history, his dear companions insist on keeping him in the dark. Keiichi can’t escape his growing unease; will it be enough to shake his faith in his best friends?

Incredibly rare for the manga world, Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU started its serialization in Young Ace Up on the same day the first episode of the anime was aired. Whilst seemingly implied to be an adaptation of the new series, with, to all appearances, a direct reconstruction of the story in a different medium, the manga actually contains slight differences from its parallel anime, along with the two receiving different sequels. The anime received a sequel titled Higurashi: When They Cry – SOTSU, and the manga received its sequel with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Meguri, which took a different direction.

Whilst the anime version of Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU featured an art style that was criticised by some for its overly-Moe character design, the manga seems to exacerbate this style more-so than its counterpart, receiving additional detail in the art design compared to the rushed feel of the anime. Nevertheless, this particular style is a better representation of the original character designs in the visual and sound novels, adding an inherent juxtaposition to the incredibly graphic levels of violence and gore that the story is synonymous with. Moreover, the background art of locations and scenes remains as intricate as ever, fabricating an impeccably lush environment that captures the essence of a sleepy village in the Japanese mountains superbly.

Although Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU was advertised as a remake of the original story, fans were delighted at the sudden diversion from the original plot. In an interview with Ryukishi07, he describes how fans had expressed the desire to be able to experience the shock of Higurashi: When They Cry for the first time again. With the creation of Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU, he intended to reignite a similar feeling in long-time fans, taking them by surprise and shattering their expectations. Undoubtedly, the manga certainly manages this advantageously, averting the assumptions of fans everywhere.

With the first volume covering the Demon Deceiving arc and Cotton Deceiving arc, only slight hints that this may not be a remake are revealed to the reader in dribs and drabs at first, slowly adding a revealing panel here and there before returning to the original story until the final moments of the first arc whereupon the twist is finally revealed to the reader. Whilst certain story elements are the same across the original series and Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU, they do not follow the same sequencing and, at times, create more mystery around the events than before.

Furthermore, unlike the original story, the gruesome violence featured in Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU isn’t quite as abundant as its prequel. That isn’t to say that the manga lacks this driving force that the series is known for, but it certainly seems to take more of a backseat and has a lesser inclusion than previous entries.

An incredible sequel to a beloved series spanning multiple mediums, Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU certainly plays on the reader’s expectations and delivers a fantastic twist that maintains the essence of what made the original series so captivating while also introducing fresh elements to keep the narrative engaging. Fans of the horror genre and followers of the Higurashi franchise are sure to find themselves availed by this addition to the incredibly thrilling mystery that surrounds Hinamizawa.

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Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU is available to purchase through Yen Press’s website here, as well as on Amazon here*

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