When They Cry (Higurashi no naku koroni) - Complete First Season (2006)

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Released 22-Sep-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Trailer-Trailers for other anime releases
More…-Textless Opening Song
More…-Textless Closing Song
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 593:24 (Case: 600)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chiaki Kon
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Souichiro Hoshi / Grant George
Mai Nakahara / Mela Lee
Satsuki Yukino / Kelli Kassidi
Yukari Tamura / Reba West
Chafurin / Joe DiMucci
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Kenji Kawai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 silent (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, with end titles episode 26

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     June, 1983: Teenaged Keiichi (voiced by Souichiro Hoshi / Grant George ) and his family move from Tokyo to the remote and tiny village of Hinamizawa. There is only one mixed-class school in the village with 15 students, but Keiichi is lucky and is invited to join the games club with four girls: Rena (Mai Nakahara / Mela Lee), Mion (Satsuki Yukino / Kelli Kassidi), Rika (Yukari Tamura / Reba West) and Satoko (Mika Kanai / Minx Lee). This is an idyllic life for Keiichi until he starts to hear about the deaths and mysterious disappearances of people each year for the last four years on the date of the Drifting Cotton Festival. The deaths seem to be related to a dam project that would have flooded the village but never went ahead. Local superstition says that the deaths and disappearances were a result of the curse of the village god Oyashiro, but others believe that human agency is very much involved. And, indeed, it seems that the village of Hinamizawa has a very, very dark past.

     The 1983 festival takes place and another man, the photographer Tomitake (Toru Ohkawa / Kyle Hebert), is found dead and his friend, the nurse Takano (Miki Itou / Karen Strassman), goes missing. As an outsider Keiichi is approached by Detective Oishi (Chafurin / Joe DiMucci); Oishi tells Keiichi that all the victims were related to one or the other of his four school friends and that Keiichi himself is in danger. Keiichi becomes increasingly wary of the four girls, who seem to know his every move and thought, and he takes steps to protect himself. But some things are meant to be.

     When They Cry (Higurashi no Naku Koroni) is a fabulous but very unsettling and bloody anime that is tense, chilling, eerie, scary and very bleak indeed involving murder, abuse and torture, revenge, possession and obsession. The construction of the series is unusual. The 26 episodes of this first season are divided into six separate story arcs or chapters, consisting of between two to six episodes each. Each story arc is complete in itself, in the sense that it has a beginning and a conclusion, but they tell the same story, sort of, but from different perspectives. The stories repeat scenes with subtle changes or a different emphasis, backtrack, circle around themselves, provide additional information and jump backwards, and sometimes forwards, in time. We recognise scenes, or parts of scenes, we have seen before and some of the tension within the series is because we have already seen the brutal deaths that occur. But our expectations and things we thought we knew are constantly being undermined; indeed some conclusions are mutual exclusive. What is the reality? This is Rashomon type storytelling cranked up to 11!

     At the start of most of the story arcs in When They Cry we see a brutal and bloody death before the plot backtracks to show what lead to that death. The early episodes in each arc usually start cute and sweet, normal teens playing games and enjoying themselves, until hints of menace intrude. A lot of the strength of the series lies in the juxtapositions and contrasts the story puts forward; a beautiful, idyllic small town and sudden violent murders, sweet, cute girls who turn menacing with a cleaver, comedy and fun that swiftly turns to horror. The series is also strong because there are only a few central characters plus some other recurring characters such as the policemen Oishi, photographer Tomitake, the nurse Takano, Mion’s twin sister Shion (also Satsuki Yukino / Kelli Kassidi) or the clinic’s Dr Irie (Toshihiko Seki / Dave Mallow) so there is no confusion about who is who due to multiple characters as occurs in some anime. Some of the characters are killed (in fact many of them) but with the recurring time lines and recycling of events the deaths do not prevent their involvement in subsequent episodes!

     When They Cry is a fabulous series about the sinister and unnerving mysteries that lie underneath the surface of a tiny village; it is a horror story, a murder mystery and a ghost story rolled in together. It is gruesome, scary, disturbing and very compelling; the episodes fly by and you have to keep watching because you need to know what happened. The second half of the series answers some of the question but adds just as many more questions and a lot is not explained. When They Cry is definitely not for anyone who likes their stories neatly resolved!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     When They Cry is presented in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The colours and presentation of the series deliberately varies reflecting the contrasts within the stories of When They Cry. The scenes of idyllic rural village life have soft pastel colours, the greens of the forest, blue of the sky and water, yellow of the spectacular sunsets while the violence is often presented in a dull, grainy frame. Other times splashes of colour occur with vivid reds filling the screen. The character drawings are similar. In normal times they have strong lines, but in times of comedy they can be drawn in the Chibi style with big round faces. During the scenes of menace the characters can also have huge eyes and indistinct faces that are very scary! Blacks are rock solid and shadow detail very good.

     There was some ghosting with motion against surfaces such as bricks or trees and some aliasing against vertical lines (such as 19:48 Disc 3 Episode 9) but otherwise I did not notice any marks or artefacts, except for Disc 3 where for a few seconds after 27:51 (Episode 10) there occurred macro blocking and a split screen.

     English subtitles are in a clear white font. The subtitles are not burnt in so they can be removed for Japanese speakers. They seemed error free.

     I did not notice a layer change on any disc except disc 3 where it created a slight pause during a scene change – Episode 11 9:12.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio options are Japanese or English, both Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

     Both audio tracks are surround encoded and have similar effects. The surrounds and rears were surprisingly active and featured music and effects such as cicadas, rain, crashes and thumps. Dialogue was clear. There was some thumps, thunder and music support by the sub-woofer. I listened to some of both tracks, as the language can be changed from the remote on the go. The English was OK but I still did prefer the Japanese language as it sounded more intense.

     The beautiful score by Kenji Kawai is diverse; it can be playful, eerie or plain menacing depending on what is happening on screen so it nicely supports the series. The opening song Higurashi no Naku Koro ni by Eiko Shimamiya sets the tone beautifully.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is fairly approximate in either track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Discs 1, 2, 4 and 5 contain only episodes. The extras, such as they are, appear on Discs 3 and 6.

Disc 3

Textless Opening Song (1:27)

     The opening song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song (1:27)

     The closing song without the credits.

Trailers

     Trailers for Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne (3:22), Casshern Sins (`1:41) and Tears to Tiara (1:41).

Disc 6

Textless Opening Song (1:27)

     The same opening song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song (1:27)

     The same closing song without the credits.

Trailers

     Trailers for Durarara!! (1:49), Welcome to Irabu’s Office (2:19), The Tatami Galaxy (3:0), Clannad (1:40), Casshern Sins (1:41), Ghost Hound (1:41) and Tears to Tiara (1:41).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our local DVD release of When They Cry seems the same as the US version.

Summary

     When They Cry is one anime series that draws you in and refuses to let go. Each story arc is compelling, there are cliff-hanging episodes and because after the first story arc you know some of what is coming, the light-hearted, cute early episodes only feel all the more ominous and menacing, leading to a very unsettling feeling. This series really can take your breath away.

     When They Cry has previously been released in Region 4 separately in two parts, episodes 1-13 and 14-26. This six DVD set When They Cry - Complete First Season contains all 26 episodes. Needless to say, if you already have the earlier releases this set adds nothing new. However if you do not have this disturbing, chilling and quite original anime, this set is an excellent place to start. The second season Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai has been made. I hope that I can get my hands on it sometime!!

     The video is spectacular and the audio good. The extras are very limited but are the same as available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, December 14, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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