Keiichi Maebara moves to a small village named Hinamizawa and joins a little club for playing fun games with his new friends at school: Rena, Mion, Satoko, and Rika. But as the days pass Keiichi starts to suspect that there is something unusual at Hinamizawa. As he learns more about the Watanagashi, a festival in Hinamizawa, strange things started to happen around him... Murders, disappearances, and the deadly wrath of Oyashiro-sama!
Story & Characters
Reviewers Note: This review encompasses ONLY season two of the Higurashi universe (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai). My
review on season 1 can be found here http://reviews.minitokyo.net/1193/higurashi-no-naku-koro-ni/.
Also this review will contain spoilers in relation to season 1, so if you haven't viewed either season and plan to,
then you may want to refrain from reading any further. If, of course, you have seen both seasons or frankly don't care
and just want to read on so you can yell at me for being wrong, then by all means read on. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN
It's time again to return to the village of Hinamizawa. When last we visited Hinamizawa, there was nothing but vicious
murders and insanity across the countryside. Keiichi went insane and killed Satako's uncle. Rena went crazy thinking
there was an alien bioterrorism attack. Shion, having been ignored by Keiichi went on a killing spree. Hinamizawa was
a crazy place to say the least.
One of the main complaints about the first season is that the episodes didn't meld well together and just confused the
viewer. It jumped around a lot and lacked continuity. Season 2 puts us in the shoes of Rika Furude. Rika is the heir
to the Furude name and is a well known girl in the community for her part in the Wataganashi festival and the Furude
shrine in general. What the people of Hinamizawa don't know is that Rika has been living the same period of time for a
thousand years. In the end, she always ends up brutally murdered and reincarnated. She is trying to figure out who is
out to kill her, why they want her dead and to break the cruel fate that has made life after life miserable. As long as
her destiny remains her death, she will be forced to live the same cruel live over and over again.
Season 2 proves to be an absolute necessity to the Higurashi world. I thought season 1 wrapped itself up nicely when in
fact, I couldn't have been more wrong. I thought that each story arc to the original season was just a different point
of view when in reality it is a different world all together. Instead of questioning why everything happened in
Hinamizawa, I just accepted it as one crazy village with a dark secret. In reality, there was so much more going on
than I could have imagined. That is where the brilliance of this second season lies.
Granted, the vicious murders and the overall psychological thriller aspect remains with this season, but for the most
part it has gone for a more complex plot with more twists than I ever remember seeing before. Characters you knew from
season 1 are not all they seem and now play huge parts in the mystery behind Hinamizawa and play pivotal roles in the
life of Rika. Is it just the curse of Oyashiro-sama or is it more? That question is answered early in season 2 but
never stops being exciting all the way until the end.
If you enjoyed the animation from season 1 then you'll feel right at home with this season. There is no change in the
animation quality. We still have the large eyes, disproportionate bodies and non-existent mouths. But again, when the
time is right you see exactly why that is. Every character goes through so many emotions and every one of them is
animated wonderfully. One thing I failed to mention in my review of season 1 is the lighting used to emphasize
character emotions. When someone started plotting or losing their mind, shadows were used wonderfully to block out the
bright hair colors and would leave only the brooding eyes and the profile of an evil smile. Simply put, given the
extreme spectrum of emotions that characters show, the animation proved more than adequate in portraying that.
Of mention on the negative side is the sheer muddiness of the backgrounds. While characters were well detailed in their
actual makeup and movements, background animations just seem to be lazy. Even in the close quarters of a school hallway
the backgrounds prove to be a bit too muddy and boring. It's entirely possible that this complaint may be a moot point
if it were being viewed on a better format, IE DVD.
Ever since the first season, Eiko Shimamiya has become a household name with me. Bought her album, loved it and look
forward to her next. Well Eiko is back to provide the opening "Naraku no Hana" and once again gives us a
great song to set the tone. While it may not prove to be as dark as season 1's opening, the lyrics actually set the
tone much better. "You're not a flower of hell, you should not bloom there" (loosely translated obviously)
hints at Rika's constant struggle to finally bloom in a world that is more than the waking hell she has lived through
countless times. And let's all be honest, how often do the opening and closing songs actually relate to the show
itself? That in itself makes it a great song to begin the show. The ending (Taisho.a by anNina) is equally fitting in
it's talks of burying you and covering your corpse. Who knew a song that sounded so unassuming could be so moody and
twisted? The BGM is almost a mirror image of season 1 and just as it was then proves to be constantly overshadowed by
the voice acting.
The voice acting again remains phenomenal. With emotions still playing a huge part, voice acting was key. Many
characters that went off the deep end in season 1 are kept relatively tame this time around (IE Rena and Keiichi) but
with that we had the surfacing of two other actors. First is Yukari Tamura as Rika Furude. Before this season, she was
always known for her signature ~desu and her high pitched voice. This time around, she plays a bipolar version of
herself. While she still has the cutesy side of her (only now ~desu has been replaced with nippa) she also has the
serious side of her, the side that has seen hell so many times. The new facet of Rika is much deeper, much more serious
and much more hopeless. This is the real Rika, the cute one is the one that keeps the ones around her happy and in the
dark about this repeating history. The other to really come out of nowhere was Miki Itoh as Miyo Takano. Miyo was a
minor character in season 1 but has completely blindsided everybody by playing a huge part in season 2. She seemed to
have that sweet but distant voice before, and while she still has that going on, she also has a sinister side that is
far more evil than any other character.
Higurashi continues to have it all. There's plot twists galore. You'll be sure you have finger on the facts only to
have the rug pulled right out from underneath you. There are characters that are fun to watch when they are friendly
and chipper and even when they go completely insane. There's music that makes the hair stand up on whatever orifice you
have hair on (which in Jak's case is probably his back, his ears and the palms of his hands). It's got everything that
still convinces me anime may have the best entertainment value for my money. Oh, and it gave me my new most hated
character in anime. Poor Shinji, I've hated you for so long... and now your position has been usurped by Miyo.
It's evident by my reviews of season 1 and 2 that I absolutely adore this show. I've heard the complaints that follow
this show, like it's redundancy and it's dependence on violence to drive home the point, but through it all I am
addicted as hell. This season blew my mind in that it was nowhere near what I was expecting. I was mostly expecting
more of the same but instead I get explanation that I never even knew I was entitled to.
Those who enjoyed season 1 will enjoy season 2. Those who found season 1 complicated and wrote it off after that may
find that season 2 makes it all come together. But those who hated the first trip to Hinamizawa won't likely want to
make another trip. Those who have no exposure to either need to buy their tickets now and visit this quaint little
village and discover the secret for themselves. Besides, when has tour guide shoujoboy ever led you in the wrong
9.33 (very good)
Reviewed by shoujoboy, Jan 29, 2008