Thursday, September 27, 2007

From the Forest Where Cicadas Cry, There Is No Return

The title, of course, is a line from the opening of, you've guessed it, When Cicadas Cry (japanese title Higurashi no Naku Koro ni). I've just finished watching this anime, and couldn't go without telling you all about it.

I came to find out about this anime from Szilard. He isked me if I had seen Elfen Lied and whether I had liked it. Since the answer for both questions was affirmative, he kindly recommended that I watch this particular anime. Thank you, Szilard.

The story takes place in June, 1983, in the little village of Hinamigawa, where Maebara Keiichi-kun just moved a month ago. He soon makes friends at school with Rena, Mion, Rika and Satoko. Life seems happy and carefree until the coming of the annual Watanagashi Festival, on the night of which, four years in a row, one person died and another went missing. The same is true for this year, and Keiichi gets involved in solving the mistery.

It doesn't seem like anything special, at first, but I have to say this, it's one freaky anime. This one is certainly not for the light-hearted. If Hello Kitty was your favourite anime, skip this one. This one should only be watched at night, in complete darkness and, hopefully, alone! Those who played Clive Barker's Undying under these conditions understand the feeling.

Simply put, it is shocking! Scenes of intense trepidation sometimes spring up unexpectedly, while at other times are forewarned and last an extended amount of time. I won't hide it, blood isn't spared at all during such scenes. The opening itself chills you to the bone. (For those interested, I've added the first scene of the first episode, followed by the opening, at the end of my post. No spoilers there.)

Warning: Some might consider the following paragraph to contain spoilers.
But the emotional roller-coaster is not everything. I was surprised to find the story end after the fourth episode, only to start from the beginning in the fifth. It immediately occurred to me that the anime had been adapted after a visual novel type game. I compared it with in my head to Critical Point, where, according to your actions, the villain turned out to be the captain of the ship, the enemy shapeshifting robot, the lesbian lieutenant and so on. Another way to look at it (though this only occurred to me after seeing the last episode) is in comparison to the PS2 game Grim Grimoire. For those who played it, think about playing throw that game, but from a perspective different than that of Lillet Blan (if you haven't played the game, I recommend it).
Eventual spoilers end here.

For those of you who liked Elfen Lied or enjoyed the first few Nightmare on Elm Street movies, I recommend this with a warm heart. I have to say, it's exactly as heartbreaking as Air... but in a completely different way. Enjoy!

PS: The story doesn't end in the first series. Be prepared for that.


dr. Vincze-Nagy AndrĂ¡s said...

I asked you you for anime recommendations, so I take this review as one of them :D
I've found something like:
[b]Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai [Hauu~][/b]
Can this be it, or it is the second series?

Viki Rosenzveig said...

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai is the second series. The first series has no "Kai" in it. Note: "Kai" means solutions, and the above statement is pretty true, since you find out so little about it all... I can't wait to see the second season.