Genres: Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Psychological, Thriller
Episodes: 26 + 24 (2 seasons)
Personal Rating: Season 1 (9/10) Season 2 (10/10)
Higurashi is yet another Psychological Thriller, but this one is different in that it uses the omnibus format. What this means is that each arc happens in a different “universe”. In other words, no matter who dies in the first arc, they WILL be alive in the other ones. For Higurashi´s genre, thats quite a balsy move to make. It made sense though, as its source material was a Visual Novel that was released back in 2002, and has been adapted to countless platforms since then. The VN also uses the omnibus format. This anime began airing in 2006, and ultimately ended in 2007.
Before watching Higurashi, I was a little worried. It´s not that I hate the genre of the anime, in fact, I´m a big fan of Psychological Thrillers and Horror shows. The problem was that the visuals looked too childish, especially the character designs. It seemed more of a Slice-of-Life anime rather than a Horror one. I couldn´t be more wrong: Higurashi truly delivered, most of the fans also say that it surpassed its Visual Novel counterpart. The problem is that this anime is yet another love/hate one. Also, the anime changed completely in the second season, and no longer was it a Horror anime. Many regarded this as a joke, and prefered the first season, but I for one liked the second season ALOT more. Let´s start the review then.
Story (9/10): As stated before, Higruashi uses the omnibus format, but its core plot is always the same. Maebara Keiichi moved to the village of Hinamizawa, where he be-friended a group of girls, and often played with them in school. He also joined their club. However, strange events start taking place around Keiichi, and he starts doubting his friends, because he finds out that they´re hiding stuff from him. A Summer festival called the CottonDrift Festival is to be held soon, and Keiichi heard the rumours that say that each year a person dies and another one vanishes into thin air at this time of the year. This curse is called “Oyashiro-sama´s curse”. Hinamizawa´s villagers like to call it being “Spirited Away by The Demon”. So, when this year´s CottonDrift festival arrives, all the villagers are already prepared for yet another death. Will Keiichi be able to solve this chain of murders?
Each arc gives new information about what´s happening, some of them show what happened in the previous CottonDrift festivals, some of them develop certain characters, and the last two wrap up the anime. In total, there are six arcs in the first season and 3 arcs in the second. Each character is superbly developed at some point or another, but the problem I had with this was Mion´s development. Being that the anime has about 6 main characters, I found it weird that only Mion didn´t get enough development, while all the other characters, even the ones that weren´t very important, they all got some development. Anyway, at least all of the others characters got their own arcs. The story is pretty consistent, at least as much as the omnibus format allows, and it basically repeats itself everytime, with a few differences in each arc of course. Also, you´ll notice that in each arc, at least one different character seems to react differently than the other ones. That´s what made this anime so fun to watch, some characters acting “out of character” for an entire arc. This anime is also one of the bloodiest shows I have ever seen. So be prepared for some gore and stuff. Have fun with that while you can, since it will cease to exist in the second season. Overall, the story department deserves a 9/10.
Art (7/10): “I won´t lie, I am not a big fan of this type of art. It´s not that I hate it or anything, but it seems too childish at first. I guess it´s to hide the fact that the anime is actually very violent, in order to surprise you when you least expect it, but still. This is the only thing that I didn´t like about this anime. The scenarios were good, but not impressive. I think that they could have done a much better job than what they did.”… This is what I said before witnessing the Visual Novel art. AFTER that faitful event, I started to love the anime one. Nah just kidding, but believe me, the art in the VN is horrible, much worse than the anime one. So, I guess we can say that they… delivered? I don´t know, I just think that there are many people who haven´t seen this anime because of the visuals.
The animation isn´t that good either. While it´s good enough to be considered a decent 2006 production, I find it unappealing, and sometimes just annoying. Fortunately, I am very lenient when it comes to animation, and most of the time I let it slide, hence why I liked this anime so much. But I can understand why some people dropped the anime so early on. First impressions are very important, and this one didn´t really stand out. However, unless you are very bothered by the art/animation, just watch the first 3/4 episodes and you should be fine, you´ll get used to it by then.
Finally, the character designs. Now, as bad as people make them out to be, I actually liked them, I thought they were fit for an anime like this, at least after watching some episodes. The characters all have big heads compared with the rest of their bodies, and they all seem too… young. I mean, Rika and Satoko aside, the other characters are 15-16 years old, but they all seem 11-12 years old, which is kinda weird, but it does seem to be a problem that many anime have, so it´s not that big of an issue, unless you hate anime in general. Overall, the art section doesn´t deserve more than a 7/10, it´s decent, but definitely far from great.
Soundtracks (9/10): It´s not so much about the insert songs used, as most of the time, you´ll hear dead silence with the characters dialogue, but the OPs and EDs, especially the second opening are just superb. It was one of the few shows that I didn´t skip the OP themes, the other ones being Mirai Nikki and Fate/Zero season 2. The fact that there are no insert songs most of the time is actually a great thing. Being a horror anime, dead silence seems to set the mood more than any music could, but there are some insert songs, which are decent, but nothing special. In fact, most of them are just there to go along with the dialogues, and don´t really have any other purpose.
The voice acting is very good too, I didn´t have any problems with any of the VA´s, nor did any of them annoy me. Rena´s voice actress, Mai Nakahara, also happens to be one of my favorite VAs ever, she also did the voices of Nagisa from Clannad and Juvia from Fairy Tail, just to name a few. The screams are also awesome to hear (yeah I know, I am a sadistic person), and combined with the dark backgrounds and the supernatural events that happen, it really feels like a true Horror story all the way through. So all in all, the Sound department deserves a 9/10, almost perfect, but the lack of amazing OSTs kinda disappointed me.
Characters (10/10): Oh boy, this is definitely Higurashi´s best point, and the reason most of its fans exist. Our main charcter is Maebara keiichi, as stated above, he´s a very outgoing and friendly guy at first, though he starts to get paranoic at the smallest things that happen. He is also very ignorant when it comes to Hinamizawa´s urban legends, thus why he was surprised when he heard about the massive murders that took place each year in the village. A nice main character, but definitely the weakest of the show. As for the other important characters, there are 5: Rena Ryuugu, who seems to be an outgoing and cute girl, who overuses the famous quote “Kawaii!! Omoshi kaeri!!”, which means “How cute! I wanna take him/her/it home!!”. In fact, she´s known because of this quote alone. This is, until she pulls out her cleaver… Mion and Shion are twin sisters, and the daughters of the Sonozaki Family, one of the three great familes of Hinamizawa. Though they are twins, Mion was chosen as the true heir of the Sonozaki family, and thus she follows most of the orders that she gets from her grandmother, who seems to be the leader of the family. Shion lives alone with her trusty bodyguard, since she was discarded by the family. Satoko is a girl known because of her trap skills, and she actually had a very dark past, and her family was a victim of the CottonDrift Festival not once, but twice. Because of this, she is very sensitive to child abuse, and misses her brother. Finally, Rika, who is the daughter of another one of the three great families, the Furude Family. Her family was also a victim of one of the festival´s curses, and her dance is the main attraction of the festival. Rika is the most important character of the second season, hence why she gets so little development early on.
We also have Irie Kyousuke, one of the doctors of the village, Ooishi Kuraudo, who is a detective interested in the curse of Oyashiro-sama, and Jirou Tomitake, a photographer that arrives at the village to take pictures of the soon to come festival, this just to name a few. With this amazing cast of characters, you wont be disappointed, and there will be at least one character that you´ll end up liking. Being the best part of the anime, I´ll give it a perfect 10/10, and it truly deserves it.
Enjoyment (10/10): It was just amazing to watch, while it´s true that I am easily entretained with anything that isn´t a romcom, this anime in particular was very fun to watch, especially all the mystery-solving going around in the second season, and the gory mess of the first season was also amazing. I guess that you need to be really attached to the characters in order to like the first arcs, but the last two arcs of the second season are really amazing, and they were my favorite part of the show. What I also liked about Higurashi is that they manage to give each of the six main characters enough screen time for them to get developed, which is something that many anime fail to do.
Overall (9.5/10): I loved this anime, but I admit it had some flaws, like I stated already, but I think it truly deserves a 10/10, since it impressed me so much in a genre with a lack of masterpiece shows. If your problem with the anime is the visuals, try to get over it and watch it, I guarantee you that judging Higurashi because of its art is wrong, and you should give this anime a chance. The series is kinda long, being that it runs for 50 episodes, plus 5 if we count the famous “third season”, which isn´t really part of the main story. So, if you are bothered by gore and crazy people going around killing each other, then stay away from this anime. If you´re not, you might find a new anime for your top 5. Thanks for reading!