Review of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
|Subject||Higurashi no Naku Koro ni|
Vote: 10Sclane321 on 2023-03-18
|Review||Higurashi is a wonderful experience in more ways than one, once you're on the edge of your seat trying to make sense of the horrifying incidents that happen in it, and at last you're crying for the characters who even you yourself didn't understand when you grew so close and attached to|
I'm gonna be honest with you, i don't enjoy horror stories, but Higurashi really wasn't just a horror story, every horrible incident or horrifying moment feeled earned as I just grew to know and finally love it's diverse cast of characters, and even in the starting arc where you know next to nothing about them, it manages to showcase each character's core personality traits and foreshadow some of the most important aspects of their character arcs.
The cast grew before I even knew it had happened, sometimes just a few lines of dialouge where able to recontextualise my whole understanding of certain characters, and sometimes entire events happened that would directly follow small seeds of foreshadowing that was planted in the story before you even understand it was important, Higurashi's cast even in the first half is simply confusingly good for reasons that I couldn't quite express until I read the answer arcs, where I grew to appreciate Ryukishi07's commitment to tying up the loose ends in the thematic side of things, and how he managed to connect them to the characters and plot even more
While in the question arcs most of the cast's charm comes from foreshadowing, solving mysteries related to them, and the club shenanigans that happen in the first 3 arcs, almost all have great pay offs in the answer arcs, where looking back at the question arcs can give you wonderful insight about them which would most likely satisfy anyone who is after good character writing, as the series (minus a few surprising small scenes) manages to give you great character moments which deepen your understanding of them
While for me personally Higurashi's main charm is the cast and the themes, the story and plot are still great as well, I mean who doesn't love a good old Japanese horror?
Rather than exasperating jump scares and meaningless gratuitous violence you can enjoy the slow shift between the fun lively life of a few innocent middle schoolers and the heart-wrenching moments of psychological horror and paranoia, drenched in the fair dose of overly suspicious environment of an excuse of a rural village that is Hinamizawa, a place which the more you read the less you seem to know about it's vague yet sufficiently explored history, traditions, and culture
Hinamizawa is a place of mysteries, as each arc gets close to the Cotton Drifting festival you can find the most things that are wrong with this supposedly peaceful village
Why people keep getting murdered at the exact same night each year? Why no one talks about it? Why middle school girls might want to kill the protagonist? And most of all what the hell is up with the village's overly united toxic community, where you can't even live your own damn life without first asking permission for it?
All of which are certainly a staple of what a normal village should be
The story unravels it's mysteries at the right time, but before that it challenges you to come up with your own answers, no matter whether right or wrong, if you just pay enough attention to details in the story you will get something worthwhile even from theorising how and why some fictional chain of serial killing incidents happen and who is behind them in a japanese non-porn porn game, trust me it's a worthwhile experience to theorise about the stuff in Higurashi after you finish the question arcs
Now speaking of Japanese maybe it's just me but who would say Hayao Miyazaki is anti-Japanese if they even knew who Ryukishi07 was, maybe it's just him being frank and blunt about the cases he presents in the story (i mean..... Showa era Japan isn't what i'd call a liberated from the past country at least) but just how much this dude goes into rant mood about Sociology and Japan's post WW2 culture is just astounding
Referencing war time army units and the black market stuff after the war is one thing but literally going out of the characters POV to talk about mentally ill patients' treatment in Japan is something else(this one happens in the answer arcs though)
If Hinamizawa's treatment of outsiders and japan's Xenophobia aren't related then either I'm reading too deep into everything or Ryukishi07 either consciously or subconsciously created a mini metaphor for Japan in the form of Hinamizawa and just expanded it into full on social commentary down the line because when one of your main themes is sin and atonement certainly no one would want to talk about their own society and country's numerous fuck ups specially when you worked as a civil servant for many years right?
Because i wouldn't say the writer has the most positive view you can find about his own society when the first thing he does when Hinamizawa's quote unquote "unity" is brought up, is to compare them with freaking yakuza, but not everyone comes to read a VN for social and political commentary right? Well I enjoyed it and liked it anyway so that's a big plus for me, and besides even if you don't care about the commentary Higurashi still has a great story and a fantastic diverse cast of characters with an interesting mystery to peak your interest
Thematically Ryukishi07 approaches the cases in a relatively Dostoyovsky-esque manner, advocating understanding and striving for a better future with hope and morality no matter how grim the situation may be, accepting your own faults and sins, and shouldering them rather than to foist them into others, that alongside other things like his "hate the sin not the sinner" words, make Higurashi a hopeful story despite how grim everything is. Ryukishi07 manages to tell a story where each death happens because it should happen writing wise, while at the same time not excusing any of the horrible actions, murders and deaths that happen in the story, making it abundantly clear that the ultimate goal the characters should strive for is to downright prevent the tragedies, not to just sit there and do nothing like a bystander, as per (kinda) his own words:"only tragedy can come from tragedy"
While the last episode of the answer arc Matsuribayashi is rough around the edges sometimes, I think it still can't ruin Higurashi, the question arcs ready you for the answer arcs to go for a deep dive in the characters' minds and make you understand them, all the mysteries in the question arcs have convincing answers (even if some of the mysteries in the answer arcs themselves are a bit...... questionable which people have....... "opinions" about....?)
Question arcs are a great introduction for the themes, characters and setting, some might say it's too slow paced, which I personally disagree, the first half of the first 3 arcs might be slow but for me it wasn't even slightly frustrating, as I enjoyed each and every part the cast's daily life, which makes every tragedy even more striking and impactful, there really isn't much I can complain about for the question arcs as it's just the first half of a 100 hour long journey, and half of the story isn't what I would call sufficient to start complaining when I barely have any, I can just say this, beware of Matsuribayashi's second half, be ready to see some Umineko goat backstory boxing level shit in it because sometimes it can get frustratingly absurd
But well Matsuribayashi wouldn't even reach that point until you've read 7 other episodes and 70 percent of Matsuribayashi itself so I guess just being ready is the most you can do if you want to start Higurashi