I'll talk only about the anime here (I didn't read the VN, since it's nigh impossible to get outside of Japan).
Frankly, it's not nearly as bad as I was told, yet I can understand why it's so mocked. The pacing is just… weird. Things happen in this show. Characters appear, evolve and die, revelations are made, there are a few twists… yet none of this seems to have any consequence. This show constantly gives you the feeling that time stands still or loops around itself… at first I found it gave it some kind of contemplative charm, but after I finished it, I was like… why did I watch this again?
The main source of this feeling, and the main problem of the show, is its protagonist. All the other characters let at least some impression on me, I manage to find them likeable, detestable, some of them even creepy… but Hiroshi redefines Flat Character
. I think nothing of him. His design and personality are painfully ordinary. He never does anything and just passively puts up with the events, never influencing them and barely reacting to them. Hell, his father is actually more active and memorable than he is!
Another annoying element is the constant use of the "camera rushing upwards" device. It's fine to use it, but not three times an episode! Outside of the Gory Discretion Shots
, you can be assured that every time a character says "I have something to tell you", this technique will kick in before you know what the something is.
To the series' credits though, the soundtrack is pretty good. From the opening and ending credits to the atmosphere musics to the counting rhyme in every episode's preview, the musics pleasantly create that "comtemplative charm" I was talking about, and that may actually be what kept me watching the series.
As for the supposed similarities with Higurashi… there are quite a few, no doubt about it, but they are limited to the setting. The story itself has a completely different feel to it, so it's not something I would complain about.
So what do I feel about the series? It's… okay. There isn't much to remember, but there isn't much to hate either.