Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni
Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni and Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai are seasons one and two respectively of a series of crime/drama/mystery/horror anime that follow a set of games and manga as well, all with the same main title. The series was adapted from the games most important arcs. It was released first in Japan, where at the time when Rena’s arc was to air, there was an incident that made the networks cancel the program because of emotional impact.
The story of this anime follows Keiichi Maebara after he moves to the small village of Hinamizawa in June of 1983. There he meets Rena Ryuugu, Mion Sonozaki, Rika Furude, Satoko Hojo and eventually Shion Sonozaki, along with many other secondary characters. Rena, Keiichi, Satoko, Rika and Mion all attend school together and participate in after school “club activities”, mostly always card games.
As time goes on Keiichi learns more about the village and the festival that is held once a year, Watanagashi. Watanagashi, or Cotton-drift is the festival held to honor the local god, Oyashiro. Keiichi learns more and more about the festival as it approaches including the fact that for the past four years, someone has been killed and another has gone missing on Watangashi as part of “Oyashiro-sama’s Punishment”.
Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni and Higurashi No Nau Koro Ni Kai, from this point on referred to as simply Kai, are seperated into multiple story arcs. All of the arcs take place during the same time frame of a week to three days before Watanagashi. In each of the arcs Keiichi or one of his friends gets paranoid and starts to be mistrusting of their friends, sometimes even resulting in one or more of their deaths.
Main Story Arcs -minimal spoilers-
Onikakushi-hen (Spirited Away By The Demon Chapter)
The first arc in Higurashi focuses firstly on introducing the view to life in Hinamizawa and to the main characters and the main plot line. This arc focuses on Keiichi as he finds out about the chain of mysterious murders and begins to be suspicious of his friends Mion and Rena.
Watanagashi-hen (The Cotton Drifting Chapter)
This arc starts out like all the rest, innocent and turns to something more. This arc marks the first appearance of Shion Sonozaki. As this arc progresses weird occurances begin happening with the Sonozaki sisters and you begin not being able to tell Mion and Shion appart. This arc, like the rest ends in death of a main character.
Tatarigoroshi-hen (The Curse Killing Chapter)
This arc is longer than the previous two and mainly focuses on Satoko. This chapter mentions more about Satoko’s brother and the mystery behind what happened to him. As the chapter progresses and it gets closer and closer to Watanagashi, Satoko gets placed in an unhealthy position and one of her friends decides to take drastic measures to save her, resulting in multiple deaths, including the savior’s own.
Himatsubushi-hen (Time Wasting Chapter)
This chapter, when you first look at it, seems to have little to do with the main characters. It introduces Akasaka and it also shows that a certain member of the Hinamizawa club is very very important to the mystery of Oyashiro-sama. This arc takes place five years before all of the others.
Meakashi-hen (Eye Opening Chapter)
This arc is a drect answer to the questions left by the Watanagashi-hen arc. This is a retelling of the arc through the eyes of Shion Sonozaki. It fills in every answer to what was originally left out of Watanagashi-hen.
Tsumihoroboshi-hen (Atonement Chapter)
In this arc, the main character is Rena. This arc follows her as she begins to experience a situation similar to that which Keiichi experienced in the first arc. Consequently, Keiichi experiences a startling revalation directly related to the arcs themselves.
Yakusamashi-hen (Disaster Awakening Chapter)
This arc was exclusive to the anime and only included in order to tie up the loose ends of season one so that the viewer had no more questions. In ths arc the entire club, including Shion attend school without incident. Throughout the arc, Satoko learns of the secret one of the members is carrying having to do with the Watangashi and mysterious murders. This arc ends tragically with every one of the main characters dying but not before a big twist is delivered.
Minagoroshi-hen (Massacre Chapter)
This arc is an important one, there is a lot to be learned right from the very begining. The character responsible for time resetting is revealed and explains how the attempts have failed everytime. In this arc you are also introduced to Oyashiro-sama. At the very end, the identity of the real murderer is also revealed, somone least expected, at least by me.
Matsuribayashi-hen (Festival Accompanying Chapter)
The longest arc of the series has the entire group working against fate to achieve a common goal, their number is increased by one, but it isn’t a familiar face to them. A couple of the episodes focus on the childhood of the murderer as well, they help give a sense of understanding for why they are the way they are.
****SPOILERS FROM HERE ON****
Ok so I promised to label it, and I did, you will find nothing but spoilers from here on. This is all the stuff that I think makes the plot amazing and the anime worth all the rewatches I’ve given it so far. I’ll go arc by arc so that its easier.
The way that the story was presented, through the eyes of a derranged Keiichi made it an edge of your seat thing. His paranoia mixed with Rena’s sporting of a cleaver would make anyone think that the girl could have murdered all of the people before. Of course the last scenes of the fourth episode were the best and kept me going for the show, when Keiichi started beating Rena and Mion with a bat and then clawed out his own throat, I had to figure out why, so that was a good move by the developers. :]
I actually don’t like a lot about this arc. The only thing it’s really good for is introducing you to Shion and showing you the holes in the story that will be solved later on. There were funny parts in it, like when Keiichi was at the Angel Mort and thought he was being pervy to Mion and it was really Shion, but aside from that, this arc was really just a filler to keep me going on the show.
This arc was well done in my opinion. Though I don’t like Satoko that much, it was still nice to learn about Satoshi and her uncle. It was also eye opening to see that because of her family’s beliefs, Satoko was made an outcast in Hinamizawa. The scenes of more paranoia with Keiichi were just as good as the first time that Keiichi goes on the fritz. I understand what he was trying to accomplish by killing Satoko’s abusive uncle, but after that he went a bit crazy wishing death on everyone, and then they started dying.. Also, I thought it was really really bizarre when Takano asked Keiichi if he had burried the body. She shouldn’t know all that.
I liked this arc simply because it showed that Rika is more than a simple little girl. It finally showed that she has to do with the arc, and time resetting itself. At first I thought that it was weird that Rika was predicting deaths to Akasaka, but as it went on, I realised that she had to be special.
This is my favorite arc. I like it for the violence mostly, but its also a very insightful arc. When viewing this series of events from the eyes of Shion, everything from Watanagashi-hen makes sense. This was one of the more disturbing arcs, if not the most diturbing one. There are countless scenes that make the viewer cringe or possibly even scream. The first of these is the scene where Shion beats the heck out of Satoko in the classroom. Very disturbing, but not without reason when you look at it, I mean she did love Satoshi. The next disturbing scene has got to be the fingernail peeling scene. I cringed and closed my eyes. I can’t even describe it, it’s just very very well done horror. After that there are scenes with Rika, Satoko and Keiichi, all of which Shion manages to kill before she dies herself. The scene with Rika I found to be more humorous than horrorific, as for the scene with Satoko, while I laugh at it now, I was terrified when I first saw it, but humor ensued afterwards when Shion urinated herself. The scene with Keiichi, you never see. You only know that he died by watching the very begining of the first episode of the next arc. The arc ended kind of suddenly with Shion falling off of the hospital. The only question I still have is how Mion died..?
There are two very good parts to this arc and thats abot it. The first is when Keiichi remembers about one of the previous Hinamizawa’s and Rika talks to him about it and he realises that he killed his friends for no reason, they weren’t trying to harm him at all. They were trying to calm him and play a game when he thought that they were out to get him. The second good part is when Rena and Keiichi are fighting on the roof and Rena realises what she is doing. That part made me realise there was a definate reason for time to be repeating and that maybe it was important for some of them to remember the previous Hinamizawa’s.
This arc is really only good for tying up the loose ends. I liked the fact that someone finally found out about Rika’s secret, granted it was Satoko, but still. A lot was revealed in this arc about how the village is always exterminated, that there is actually an organization behind it all. Unfortunately, everyone dies before anything else can be done, but it’s a good arc anyways. It also shows at the end that the hospital employees cannot be trusted.
Full of fantastic plot twists this arc is. The first is that you get introduced to Oyashiro-sama, Hanyuu. You find out that Rika is controlling time, resetting it everytime a bad outcome occures during the Watanagashi of 1983. She recounts all the times previously that she has failed in bringing about the proper conclusion she wants, the happy ending for everyone. The murderer is revealed in this arc as Miyo Takano. The entire gang, Shion included this time, make a stand against Takano. Though in the end they fail, Rika asks Takano that she be awake when she is killed, that way she remebers who killed her. Takano agrees, and Rika remembers.
This arc shows Miyo Takano as a young girl and all the struggles she went through, the ridicule her family faced for believing in something called the Hinamizawa Syndrome. It was supposedly a parasidic disease that infected the residents of Hinamizawa. Every resident had it, but it remained dormant unless seperated from the Queen Carrier for too long. In the case of the time, the Queen was Rika, the head of the Furude house. With help from their friends’ faith Hanyuu is able to be a real person in this arc, she attends school with the rest of them normally. Though the cliche power of friendship is used in this arc, it ends perfectly. In the end even Takano’s forces turn on her and she ends up a victim of the Syndrome. During the ending credits, you see that Rika and Satoko change the date on the Calendar and it becomes July 1983. Leading to Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Rei, a short OVA series that is yet to be complete.