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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai

a.k.a. The Moment the Cicadas Cry – Solutions

AA-Higurashi-1
Genre: Drama
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 7/5/2007 to 12/17/2007

Once again, tragedy is about to strike the village of Hinamizawa: The same summer repeats here again and again for all eternity; a summer that sees murder, hatred and eventually the death of all two thousand residents of the small community. But this year, the only person in the village to actually know about the infinite loop of events, the little shrine maiden Furude Rika, has sworn to fight against the dark destiny that looms over her home. Will she and her friends succeed in altering history at last, or will fate finally defeat them?

summary by Taleweaver

 

Reviewed: 02/06/2008 by
Grade: 59% av-Taleweaver

Highs: Finally an explanation for the original series; Takano’s background story rocks

Lows: Drags from beginning to end; sub-par art and animation; totally lacking in atmosphere

The anime year of 2007 had many cool surprises for the casual otaku but also a few major letdowns, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai is probably the biggest of them. Not only does the show totally fail to do the first Higurashi any justice, it’s also a disappointment from an artistic and dramatic point of view, one where the makers very obviously didn’t believe in their own work and just let it die a slow death.

The series could have been an absolute blast considering it finally reveals the big mystery behind everything, and even though that revelation changes the whole show from a horror/mystery setup to a thriller/suspense setup, it’s still done with a brilliant twist that doesn’t fail to excite. It’s refreshing to see how the writers created a plot with exactly the one sort of solution you didn’t expect in mind. As an added bonus, we finally get quite some insight into Takano, a character who hadn’t been in the focus of the story so far and whose past is every bit as tragic and engrossing as the fates of the other Higurashi protagonists.

That’s the last positive thing that can be said about the Kai arc, and that’s because the series is way too long for the events it tries to present. The entire pacing is botched so badly that it hurts to watch, and it’s easy to see why: only two story arcs had to be stretched into twenty-four episodes. The original series crammed six story arcs into almost the same amount of screen time and was about three times as exciting because of this. And to add insult to injury, the art and animation quality also suffer, not just in comparison to the original series but also in comparison to other contemporary anime. Almost everything about the Kai arc just screams “outdated”.

One could maybe excuse these flaws were at least the mood and atmosphere up to the challenge of the Higurashi universe. Unfortunately, they aren’t. With the exception of the parts about Takano’s past, almost all of Kai lacks the aura of menace and fear that oozed out of every minute of its predecessor. The protagonists somehow become annoyingly cheery during the most dire times, dangerous villains all of a sudden become stunningly incompetent and dramatic standoffs end with the corniest lines of dialogue imaginable. To give an example: “With your skills, you could even join the SAS!” – “Sorry, I’d rather remain our school club leader.”

I cannot stress enough how big a disappointment Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai is. It could have been the perfect ending to one of the hottest series of 2006, yet it borders somewhere between mediocre and halfway acceptable. There is only one recommendation left to give if you really want all the experience that is Higurashi: Buy the original visual novels and hope for a good fan translation. It doesn’t get any better than that.

See also Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Rei

 

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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