Anime: When They Cry (Season 1 Collection)
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: March 15th, 2016
Retail Price: $69.98
When They Cry (also known as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) is a series that many have heard of – sometimes for positive reasons, and sometimes negative… It stems from the mystery game by 07th Expansion and tells the tale of a young man named Maebara Keiichi, newly relocating to the small and seemingly charming town known as Hinamizaza. In Hinamizara, the town contains a single school, so when Keiichi enrolls he quickly realizes everybody is already friends and he begins to feel like an outsider. Luckily for Keiichi, the new student makes four new friends (Rena, Satoko, Rika, and Mion) and the girls decide to extend him their friendship – offering Keiichi to join their exclusive afterschool club. Things are going relatively normal until Keiichi later discovers a murder that took place in Hinamizara, beginning his curiosity on this supposedly “average” small town.
The murder in discussion has relation to a controversial dam project and Keiichi beings sleuthing, possibly uncovering a string of mysterious cases of murders and missing persons. Things only get stranger when he hears rumors of a potential town curse and even shrouded rituals that could have some involvement in the ever-expanding search for answers. As the protagonist experiences loss of his very own, he realizes how imperative it is to discover what Hinamizara could be hiding from the world. To top off Keiichi’s paranoia, he finally has to question what his new friends could know or even be involved in. Catching the only people he trusts in scenarios where they appear to be withholding the truth adds to the pressure for Keiichi – hoping to appear as level headed as possible and keep people off his trail.
Part of what is so fascinating about When They Cry is the polar opposite combination of gore and romance that they bring to the series. For a while, you may be inclined to assume it’s nothing of horror or gore at all, which was something I even questioned, having known about the series already. The supporting characters are almost so naïvely written, you can’t comprehend a dark spin – but you definitely get one. Once you see the moments of darkness that the series conveys, they will be scenes that stand out over a majority of the anime’s first season. Some of the death is on the gratuitous side, with multiple scenes that are used for shock-value and is one of the factors people either love or hate about When They Cry. The anime does have various scenes with a harem that appear during the 26 episodes (it’s bound to happen when there is one guy around in an anime.) However, it doesn’t strictly stay in one lane for very long. Depending on perspective, this attribute could be a strong selling point for the beloved series, others may have a difficult time adjusting to the transitions.
The characters of When They Cry have harem inspirations, but they do have enough individuality to make each character interesting in some capacity. There are about 6 arcs in the first season, showcasing different roles for characters – and you will soon realize that it’s also made up of a set of scenarios. In one arc you could see the demise of your favorite, but have no fear; they are bound to appear in the following story with a different mystery. It keeps viewers involved in the characters’ mysteries, but it can get confusing to tell multiple arcs that (in some way) overwrite a previous story. The characters each contain their own obvious moments of insanity, showing that not a single person is your average character. Even if they aren’t the poster-children of sanity, it takes the necessary steps to see the fragile parts of their humanity (and it can be a redeeming quality.) Towards the end, you watch it partially bewildered by the extremes of their personalities and potential threat that they play to each other. I surprisingly didn’t have a “favorite” character, but I think it’s because the relationships between them stole the spotlight.
From the initial scenes, I wasn’t exactly feeling the love for the animation of the world, characters, or colors – but it did find some ways to improve upon. The dim lit scenes were nice horror notions to play up that aspect of When They Cry, but the daylight scenes have a washed-out pastel that could be a little better in multiple ways. The character designs include bigger hair, and younger attributes to create the sense of innocence around these questionable figures. It does make things more suspicious yet when death comes along, it doesn’t always achieve the best outcomes. After hitting limbo when losing its license, it was nice to see Sentai give the series a shot at distribution because there is no doubt that the series has a fanbase of its own.
Overall Score: 7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
* I initially didn’t realize that this was the Higurashi series, so the jump between light to dark was effective for first time viewers.
* Some of the characters brought a lot to the table, and the mysteries surrounding them individually was a good way to keep you on your toes.
* The animation fell flat consistently, but some of the action sequences distracted from the odd character designs.