Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Anime Analysis

Hinamizawa. Summer 1983.

Rural Japan is a place filled with mysticism, natural wonders and simplistic lifestyles.

A dusty road leading to a tranquil valley and a peaceful village where life seemed to have taken a break – and time passes slowly – letting the ordinary chores be maintained, work to be done, tasks to be completed. Nature thriving over the concrete craters that somewhere in distance invaded Japanese land.

But a turn of unfortunate events will change the course of history. And it all begins with an event in which the people from Hinamizawa will be involved. Maebara Keiichi is about to have a front seat to a tale of deception, angst and despair.

Traditions to be kept, legends which unfold dark stories from a non-forgotten past, protective Gods and curses for the human sin.

Welcome to Hell. Welcome to Hinamizawa.

Origins

The story of “Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni” (Japanese: ひぐらしのなく頃に) translated as “When The Evening Cicadas Cry” was born as a visual novel software developed by 07th Expansion.

Like most of the visual novels released – it’s main goal was to present a story – using various storytelling concepts and elements – to let the player experience the decisions and the events that were taking place inside the fictional universe of Hinamizawa.

Becoming a popular product and gaining a fan-base – new chapters of the story were developed and then anime, manga and even live-action adaptation were established, created and released. A new remake of the original anime series was scheduled to premiere July 2020 but it got delayed due to the recent pandemic events.

Themes

The entire “Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni” series is based on psychological, dark, suspenseful notions and ideas.

Like most of the murder-involved stories – the episodes of the entire scenario created will have crucial turning points, moments of radical facts and events but also slow-paced periods in which the story settles in and lets the consumer digest the story.

Characters

The first anime season not only introduces us to this grim tale but also lets the viewer experiment the characters’ evolution thought the tragic series of events that rain down on the distant village.

Maebara Keiichi is one of the most import characters. Recently moved to Hinamizawa, he gets to directly participate into a series of events that will change his perspective upon what his new hometown has to offer and the personalities of their classmates. The story arcs will present him at times as the antagonist – driven mad by various circumstances and acting accordingly.

Ryuuguu Rena is Keiichi’s friend. Some story arcs will reveal her cute side, trying to get a hand on things she wants to take home, in other it is revealed that her innocence is non-existent. From the very beginning – it will be revealed that along with Sonozaki Mion – she is keeping dark secrets from Keiichi.

Sonozaki Mion is a daughter of the most powerful family from Hinamizawa. At times vulnerable or serious – on other occasions displaying unimaginable cruelty towards he friends and even her sister, Shion. Mion is the head of the village’s school, being the oldest of all the students.

Hojo Satoko – when she is not pulling a prank on someone she dwells into her memories of her brother – for whom she cares deeply. Satoko is one of the characters whose family was struck with tragedy. Nonetheless she is often portrayed as a fighter, along with her friend, Rika, both being orphans.

Furude Rika – daughter of the local priest who died tragically. She remains to be the miko of the Hinamizawa Furude Shrine. Has access to information about the tragic events that occur around the isolated village where she resides.

Episodes

Warning! This section of the article might contain more spoilers than the previous sections.

01

The Beginning (Chapter: Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 1)

Onikakushi-hen Sono Ichi – Hajimari / 鬼隠し編 其ノ壱 ハジマリ

Freshly arrived in Hinamizawa – Maebara Keiichi is starting to get familiarized with the local environment. We are introduced to the structure of Hinamizawa’s society – and to the protagonists of the first season.

Getting around the village with Rena and Mion – Keiichi discovers parts of the local history. A project involving building a dam and threatening the lives of the locals was taken to court in Tokyo and won by the representatives of Hinamizawa. But the truth is only half revealed to the protagonist. He asked both Mion and Rena if other sensitive matters were taking place here and both lie by denying this.

While helping Rena retrieve a statue from a mountain of garbage he is greeted by Tomitake – a freelance cameraman and photographer who happens to talk about a murder which happened here in Hinamizawa. With blood boiling in his veins – Keiichi actually finds an old newspaper in which the details of the Hinamizawa lynching murder is meticulously described. This is the beginning of the unfortunate series of events that will lead to Keiichi losing his mind in the first story arc.

02

The Secret (Chapter: Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 2)

Onikakushi-hen Sono Ni – Kakushigoto / 鬼隠し編 其ノ弐 隠しごと

The Watanagashi festival – an event to cleanse the body and the spirit from all worldly impurities is about to begin in Hinamizawa. Each year – this festival gathers around people from all the surrounding villages. Keiichi and his friends will have club activities and try to have as much fun as possible.

Towards the evening – Rika – dressed as miko – a shrine priestess will partake into a ritual dating from back when in Hinamizawa people were sacrificed. Hinamizawa has a protector – the god called Oyashiro-sama – a fair but terrible entity – which punishes anyone who intervenes with the festival or the sacred locations from the village.

Keiichi learns about all the deaths that occur on this night each year, from Tomitake, just to find out the following day that it was Tomitake’s turn to be elected as a sacrifice. Challenging Rena in order to find out more details – he will discover a part of her hidden personality. Living here, in Hinamizawa – might not have been the best choice after all.

03

Suspicion (Chapter: Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 3)

Onikakushi-hen Sono San – Gishin / 鬼隠し編 其ノ参 疑心

Keiichi is challenging his friends in this episode – just to learn that a powerful enemy might be unto his footsteps. Not feeling well – he skips school and has lunch with the next town’s police officer Oiishi. Oiishi is trying to warn Keiichi that he might be in danger – since the village is not so welcoming towards new locals.

Keiichi will experience this on his own skin. Rena and Mion will bring him food in which he finds a needle. Also a white van will try to known him down in a hit-and-run attempt.

The protagonist’s paranoia begins to form. He starts writing a hidden letter in which he relates the recent events and all the things he discovers about his classmates and other villagers. Set to not let the other win – he starts practicing swings with a baseball bat – and becomes distant towards his colleagues. He senses a hidden danger approaching – and he is not waiting for an unavoidable demise.

04

Disturbance (Chapter: Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 4)

Onikakushi-hen Sono Yon – Yugami / 鬼隠し編 其ノ四 歪

The madness of the recent events reaches maximum in this end of the first story arc. Confronted by Mion and Rena – Keiichi doesn’t give any sign of weakness – therefore these two will directly attack him.

Keiichi confesses to everything he knows – so that Mion and Rena – surprised by the amount of Keiichi’s knowledge,decide he indeed -became threat.

Not long after this – we see the truth behind Tomikate’s demise – when Mion tries to inject Keiichi with an unknown substance. Driven by his enraged desire to live – he will now live the cult scene which made the series famous- killing both Mion and Rena with Satoshi’s baseball bat. This was the first scene presented to the public when the anime was released – and also this is the introductory scene in the first sound novel.

A tragedy born from unknown psychological discrepancies, a desire for controlling others and making them fear trying to decipher the truth. A curse. A murder. A murderer. An innocent.

The first story arc – Spirited Away by the Demo – ends with Keiichi’s death by clawing his own throat and stating that the curse and the entity called Oyashiro-sama is real.

05

Jealousy (Chapter: Cotton Drifting, Part 1)

Watanagashi-hen Sono Ichi – Shitto / 綿流し編 其ノ壱 嫉妬

The first episode of the next arc will introduce a scene presenting Rika’s demise. All the curse has been crudely re-elaborated, and the characters will face new challenges. We are introduced to a new character – Mion’s twin sister -Shion.

Mion will become a distant observer of all that begins to happen. From her attitude we can deduct that something is about to happen, and it is not something that will unfold happiness for the protagonists.

06

“Takano (Chapter: Cotton Drifting, Part 2)”

Watanagashi-hen Sono Ni – Takano” (Japanese: 綿流し編 其ノ弐 タカノ)

The Beginning (Chapter: Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 1)

The Beginning (Chapter: Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 1)

The Beginning (Chapter: Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 1)

%d bloggers like this: