Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai – Complete Series (2007)

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Released 18-Nov-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime More…-Textless Opening Song x 2
More…-Textless Closing Song
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 562:48 (Case: 587)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chiaki Kon
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Souichiro Hoshi
Mai Nakahara
Yui Horie
Satsuki Yukino
Mika Kanai
Yukari Tamura
Miki Itou
Chafurin
Toru Ohkawa
Toshihiko Seki
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Kenji Kawai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None 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, after episode 24

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Plot Synopsis

"No one can oppose fate
No matter how much you struggle” :Rika

     Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai is the second season of Higurashi no Naku Koroni (released here as When They Cry), a fabulous series that is a part horror story, part murder mystery and a ghost story which details the sinister and unnerving mysteries that lie underneath the surface of the tiny village of Hinamizawa. I had the pleasure of reviewing that series on this site here. When They Cry, was gruesome, scary, disturbing, violent, bloody and very compelling and the principle characters all return for the second season; Keiichi (voiced by Souichiro Hoshi), whose family had just moved from Tokyo to Hinamizawa, and the five girls who make up the school games club, Rena (Mai Nakahara), the twins Shion and Mion (Satsuki Yukino), shrine maiden Rika (Yukari Tamura) and Satoko (Mika Kanai).

     When They Cry had answered some of the questions posed within the complex storytelling of that first series but added just as many more. Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai is also called When They Cry II: Solutions, which suggests that it will explain what happened in Hinamizawa in June, 1983; the murders during the annual Cotton Drifting Festival, the overnight destruction of Hinamizawa and the death of most of the inhabitants in what the authorities described as an eruption of volcanic fumes. This second season commences with an episode called Reunion were, 30 years after the events of June 1983, Detective Mamoru Akasaka (Daisuke Ono) returns to the abandoned and derelict Hinamizawa to meet retired Detective Oishi (Chafurin), who had been the leader of the investigation of the mysterious deaths that had occurred each year for five years on the date of the Drifting Cotton Festival. Oishi does not believe the official account of the disaster which killed the inhabitants of Hinamizawa, and refers to the alternative theories of alien intervention and bacteria outlined in Document 34, the investigations of clinic nurse Miyo Takano (Miki Itou) who went missing in 1983. They also meet the adult Rena, who survived the Hinamizawa disaster, and Oishi urges her to tell what she knows.

     Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai is then divided into three story arcs or chapters. The first story arc “Disaster Awakening Chapter” focuses on Rika and Satoko, again retelling the events of June 1983, repeating scenes from the earlier series with subtle changes or a different emphasis, or adding information we did not have previously. This is comedic and melancholy by turns which gives an insight into the real role of Rika in the village but it also introduces a new, vital character, Hanyu (Yui Horie).

     It is during the lengthy second story arc “Mass-Murdering Chapter” that Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai provides an explanation about why the events are happening in Hinamizawa. Scenes are again repeated, and an explanation given for the deaths and conduct of the main characters during the first series, but the central reveal overturns everything we thought we knew and provides a different kind of conspiracy theory, a pivotal role for Rika and a deeper involvement of Miyo Takano, photographer Tomitake (Toru Ohkawa) and the clinic’s Dr. Irie (Toshihiko Seki).

     The final story arc, and the conclusion of the series, is “Festival Orchestrating Chapter” which, at 11 episodes, is also the longest arc in the series. This spends time detailing the childhood of Miyo Takano and the background of Tomitake, Dr. Irie and the existence of the Yamainu. This arc also delves deeper into the past, for example showing the opposition (and support) for the construction of the dam within the village and the murder of the construction foreman at the very start of the cycle of deaths during Cotton Drifting Festival, things that have been spoken about from the very beginning of the series but not shown, as well as the subsequent festival deaths of both Satoko’s and Rika’s parents, Satoko’s brother Satoshi’s disappearance and the arrival of Keiichi and his family from Tokyo.

     It would be difficult for this second season to live up to the complex, bloody and unsettling first season of When They Cry, and Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai doesn’t. I suppose that is it always easier to set up a scenario in a mystery / horror than it is to provide an explanation which makes sense of what went before and to satisfy fans. As well the first season was very intense; the 26 episodes are divided into six separate story arcs, consisting of between two to six episodes. Each story arc was complete in itself, and the tension lays in the juxtapositions and contrasts of a beautiful, idyllic small town and sudden brutal, violent murders, sweet, cute girls who turn menacing with a cleaver, comedy and fun that swiftly turns to horror.

     In contrast, the solution arcs in this series are nine and eleven episodes long, and for long sections the fierce and bloody confrontations between the children, which so unsettled in the first series, are absent and nothing much happens except dialogue. Indeed, for quite a few episodes the children of the game club we have come to know and love do not appear which somewhat strains the patience until the story arc ultimately does resolve itself in violence and bloodshed. The mysteries of the first series are all explained, and all is revealed, but the result feels somewhat prosaic. Perhaps some mysteries are best left to the imagination although the series cannot resist adding another twist in an extra sequence which follows the closing credits of episode 24.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai is presented in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The colours and presentation of the series varies but is generally soft and pastel, reflecting scenes of idyllic rural village life. The greens of the forest, blue of the sky and water, and yellow of the sunsets are deep while a number of flashbacks occur in a dull, grainy frame. The character drawings also vary. Normally they have strong lines, but in times of comedy they can be drawn in the Chibi style with big round faces or as black and white inserts. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good.

     There was some ghosting with motion against surfaces such as bricks or trees but otherwise I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     English subtitles are in a clear white font. The subtitles are not burnt in so they can be removed for Japanese speakers. They were error free, except for some deliberate errors.

     I did not notice a layer change on any disc.

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

Audio

    The only audio is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

     The audio is surround encoded. The surrounds and rears were surprisingly active and featured music, general ambience, rain and thunder. Dialogue was clear. There was some thunder and music support by the sub-woofer.

     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.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is fairly approximate.

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

Extras

     Discs 1 and 3 contain only episodes. The only extras, textless songs, are on Discs 2 and 4.

Disc 2

Clean Opening Song (1:33)

     The opening song without the credits.

Clean Closing Song (1:28)

     The closing song without the credits.

Disc 4

Clean Opening Song (1:33)

     The same opening song without the credits.

R4 vs R1

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

     There are some special editions of part of the series in Region 2 Japan that are not English friendly. The only complete series listed on Amazon.com at present is our Australian edition.

Summary

     I still enjoyed parts of Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai but in endeavouring to explain all of the mysteries introduced in Higurashi no Naku Koroni the second series tends to lose its way and the compelling violence, mystery and tension that was the hallmark of the first season is mostly missing.

     I think Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai has previously been released in Region 4 separately in two parts, episodes 1-13 and 14-24, although I don’t think they are still available. This four DVD set Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai – Complete Series contains all 24 episodes. Needless to say, if you already have the earlier releases this set adds nothing new. However if you do not have the conclusion to this quite original anime, and you enjoyed When They Cry, you will want to know how the story ends.

     The video and the audio are good. The extras are very limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, February 05, 2016
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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