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Effing Terrifying
It... begins like "Lucky Star", a happy go lucky and cute school days series, it even employs that saccharine sweet near chibi art style. I don't know if thats intentional. Usually these sorts of anime are told with much more intricate art styles, so as to show everyone how artistic and mature the story is gonna be... The discongruity between the art and the plot is so staggering, at points I found myself laughing and being terrified at the same time, I guess you could call it a "nervous laugh". Well, for the first few episodes anyway, for the rest I was just terrified. Anyway, I'm getting ahead a bit. As I said, it starts out like "Lucky Star", but quickly delves into horror more closely akin to... I can't even think of something to compare it to. Oh sure, there are plenty of gory animes and scary animes I've watched, but they don't really compare. I think this anime is gonna be a new reference point for me. I reccomend you watch this. Watch it in the dark, and with a friend, but make sure your friend doesn't know what it's about, and be sure to skip the opening credits so he won't get any clues.
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A series that is near and dear to my heart.
I didn't become a Higurashi fan until June of 2007; less than a month before the second season started. At the time, I was curious about the psychological horror aspect and quickly became hooked.

But the truth is, there is so much more to Higurashi than the insanity and killer lolis. The madness and horror is what makes it tragic. What are two of the core elements of Higurashi? Friendship and trust. Your friends are important, yes, but it doesn't matter if you don't trust each other. Worst case scenario? You end up killing those same beloved friends or end up killed by one of those same friends. Best case scenario? You and some of your friends might make it, but at least one of your friends is insane and/or dead. Opening up to your friends and sharing your fears and worries? You can smash fate itself. It is the juxtaposition of the horror and the heartwarming that makes Higurashi what it is.

I fell in love with the characters. Keiichi is by far my favorite, but I am ridiculously attached to almost everyone (with the exception of Teppei and Rina), including characters that aren't that popular, like Ooishi and Mion's grandmother. There is much more to everyone than there is at first glance.

Did Studio DEEN do a terrible job? Yes. Are you better off just reading the manga and sound novel? Probably. The anime holds a special place in my heart for bringing me to Higurashi in the first place, but the manga and sound novel (for all the typos Mangagamer makes) are miles better, even if Ryuukishi07's art style might seem off-putting.

Give it a try. I think both horror and non-horror fans will be surprised.
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I rarely get nightmares, if at all.
That is, until I started reading the manga.

You wouldnít believe how unhealthily obsessive it can be to get a good scare. I watched the anime first, and I did like it, even if I cringed through the violent moments. After a few times, I got used to it. I later played the Onikakushi-hen part of the Visual Novel, and it got me shaken up. So I was ready to read the manga, and boy was I unprepared.

Kudos to the illustrators, they are awesome. Itís some of the most gorgeous artwork Iíve seen in a manga. I can tell theyíre working off the Visual Novels more than the anime, but the pacing is perfect. I will be reading an arc, knowing what to expect at the end, but the artwork and the different interpretations will catch me off-guard. By the end of the arc, Iím scared out of my mind. So far, the honor of messing me up for a few hours goes to ending of the "Eye-Opening" arc, it was a HUGE mistake to read it at night and alone in my room. Still, it remains my favorite arc in the story.

This is the series that has gotten me into murder-mysteries and the horror genre better than anything else Iíve seen. While I am pretty sure this isnít good for me to be so obsessed with it, Iím enjoying the horrors and story of Higurashi, and am looking forward to future volume releases from Yen Press, theyíre doing an amazing job.

If you like horror, then this is the series for you. If you donít like horror but enjoy a good story, then this will get you into the horror genre, if not psychological-thrillers, eventually. Are you prepared for a good scare? You think you are, but youíre not. Still, youíll get the scare. The paranoia is a side-thing, itíll wear off.

Eventually.

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni VN review
Best parts:
  • The setting: Hinamizawa just pulls you in with its beautiful and breathtaking atmosphere while steadily dragging you to its darker and more violent side. Higurashi's setting is one of the most wonderful places in fiction that I've ever encountered.

  • The characters: Ryukishi is probably best suited to writing a smaller and more concentrated cast. Each character gets proper background and characterization, and they are all very rounded characters. For those of you who expect the characters to be just bipolar psychos, you are very wrong, since each of them is wonderfully developed through the stories (it helps that each of them gets the spotlight at least once).

  • BGM: Although it's less impressive and diverse than Umineko's soundtrack, it's still quite memorable with tracks such as "Dear You", "Birth and Death", and "Wandering Words which Lead to Heaven". It's one of the best aspects of this VN.

Worst parts:
  • Art: Not much to say here. The art is terrible, but it's easily fixable through the PS 2 patches around the net.

  • Pacing: There's a lot of padding and verbose descriptions or infodumps, which can really hurt the flow of the narrative. Especially evident in Onikakushi.

Best arc: Tsumihoroboshi-hen. The best scenes are all here (the water gun fight, Keiichi's flashback, baseball bat vs. machete on the roof), and the themes of the novel are first met here. It's absolutely fitting as the climax.

Worst arc: Onikakushi-hen, which is strange since Tsumihoroboshi is the answer arc to this. The pacing is just terrible and it just comes across as boring if you've watched the anime already.

Higurashi or Umineko: If you want a rounded, character-centric and a less limited, more diverse and closer-to-earth setting, I'd recommend Higurashi. If you want a plot-centric mystery that will force you to think of the answers, with a more limited setting but a more diverse cast, I'd recommend Umineko.

Impressions: I loved Higurashi. It's a very enjoyable ride through the setting, even if you've already watched the anime. I highly recommend this VN, but it's not for the faint of heart.
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Beggars Can't Be Choosers, So Try Not To Be A Beggar
Here's the deal on this one. The anime is... acceptable, especially if you don't know what the series originally was. However, compared to any of the game versions and the manga version, the anime is but a pale replica. It's not incredibly noticeable to someone just wandering into it, although even though I watched the anime without knowing what was coming, I found Tatarigoroshi-hen to be incredibly rushed and felt that the way Keiichi was portrayed didn't follow any kind of thought-pattern whatsoever. This is largely because of cut-out character development in the first two arcs.

Good:
  • The psychological drama is beautifully fleshed out and for the most part, realistic given the circumstances. The parts where it isn't are usually pretty forgivable thanks to the Rule Of Drama.
  • Scenes are never violent just to be violent. All gore serves a larger purpose of displaying the depravity that given characters have sunk to.
  • Characters are for the most part genuinely likable with good flaws that aren't ignored when inconvenient.
  • Artwork of the first season, although frustrating in a lot of other places, during the horror scenes, looks genuinely terrifying.

Bad:
  • The exceptions to the first good. Usually are in the anime adaptation only and due to Adaptation Decay. Best way to avoid is to go for the manga or V Ns first.
  • The endings. If there is one place Your Mileage May Vary, this is it. Most people have one ending that is their favorite, and the other tends to be written off as poorly done, with varying degrees of venom. Only Matsuribayashi has been animated, and so that will probably be the ending most will see. Shame, because I personally think Miotsukushi is the better of the two. ^^
  • Artwork of the first season. Where the artwork isn't terrifying, it is really, really bad.
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Higurashi Manga (Books 1-4)
Higurashi in general is a pretty damn creepy series. I've never played the visual-novels, but I've seen the anime and read the first four mangas. Both of which are good, but if you're not sure which of the two to pick up, I highly recommend looking into the manga.

Why is it better?:

1) The art. One of the biggest problems with the anime is that the art takes away from the drama and spookiness and turns it into Narm. While the manga still has some Narm, it now takes much of that and turns it into Nightmare Fuel. Particularly the use of the SplashPanels in the fourth book. Now, each arc has a different artist, and so far, both have done an excellent job of portraying both the characters and mood.

2) Character focus. Each arc is divided up into two books. The first focuses a little more on the characters and begins the mystery, the second is where everything goes straight to hell. But can have some nice development as well.

3) The mood. If these books were people, they'd have bipolar disorder. Particularly the second and fourth ones; one of which goes from dramatic, to creepy, to happy for a bit, then back to creepy, then some Tear Jerker, and back to creepy all over again, with some Angst sprinkled in.

4) The dub. Now, I watch my animes subbed, but I read my mangas dubbed. (I personally dislike scanlations, but that's me.) And I was pleasantly surprised to see Yen Press doing the manga dub instead of Tokyo Pop. Poor Higurashi got ripped off once with a dub, but that thankfully didn't happen again. This dub is wonderful, save for a few occasions of Too Long Didnt Dub.

However...

1) It's less narmful than the anime, but it can still be over the top and dramatic at points. Most notably when you're in the whirlwind of the "Cotton Drifting" Arc.

2) If you came in for gore, you're gonna have to wait. Character development comes first. But, this being Higurashi, it will come, and there will be a lot.

3) This can go either way, but, there is a lot of fanservice in the first arc. Now, being a female reading a Seinen series, this is to be expected. But bare in mind, two of the girls are rather young...

I really don't think 400 words can sum this up, so, if you can, shell out the eleven bucks for the books. It's worth it.
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The plot and characters make it worth to look past its shortcomings.
Adapted from the best- selling doujinshi Visual Novel, Ryukishi07's work is a tragedy/mystery masquerading as horror masquerading as a harem Rom- Com. While that combination may rightfully bizarre, one cannot say any of those elements was handled badly. The comedic scenes have surprisingly funny moments, the horror is bone- chilling and the tragedy is powerful and heartbreaking, especially after you rewatch the first episodes and can clearly see the true intent of some characters, hidden masterfully by clever dialogue. It has some very well written characters (a particularly good Start Of Darkness in Meakashi-hen comes to mind immediately), very powerful scenes (namely, the rooftop fight in Tsumihoroboshi-hen) and an ending scene that I particularly adored. The mood gets progressively darker in each individual arc until it reaches a horryfying climax and resets for the next arc.

Its not without issues, however. The first season has low budget animation that may detract from the overall experience, the way it juggles comedy and horror may be a bit granting to some people and some might have their reservations about watching horrifying violence committed by and against ridiculously cute characters. And even those that don't may be disappointed in the second season, which steers away from the violence and horror to focus on solving the already- laid mysteries and developing the tragic elements. It also leaves out some backstory that gives more characterization to a few characters and a more in- depth explaination of the mysteries of Oyashiro- sama.

Overall, I recommend this series for the very strong, mutli- layered plot and interesting cast of characters it has, but you are going to be disappointed if you go into it expecting stunning visuals, a 100% loyal adaptaion of the videogame or a second season that has the same tone and focus the first one has. The OV As, which should be considered a third mini-season, are a good epilogue to our dark tale and very informative about the cosmology of the setting to those that would like to watch this series' Spiritual Successor (Umineko No Naku Koro Ni), but are not necessary to fully enjoy or comprehend the plot.

Don't expect the mystery to truly kick in until after two episodes. It has Non Indicative First Two Episodes that only barely hint at the bigger picture.
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