Keiichi Maebara has recently moved into Hinamizawa, a quiet, sparse country town. He’s settling in well: the locals are sociable, the scenery is inviting, and his classmates are fun. Rena’s the clumsy-cute schoolgirl type. Satoko’s ingenious pranks keep him on his toes all the time, but Rika’s around to comfort him should he ever fall for one of them. And Mion’s gaming club means recess period is always exciting for everyone (well, except when you lose). Really, it’s a perfect high school life—until one day, while treasure-hunting with Rena at the trash dump, he meets a mysterious man who mentions something about a horrible incident that took place in the town. His friends adamantly deny that any such thing ever happened. But the next day, while at the dump with Rena again, he finds a magazine among the garbage whose headline fills him with dread…
Higurashi: When they Cry is a fresh adaptation of Ryukishi07’s infamous horror visual novel series of the same name. I watched the original Higurashi anime adaptation a couple of months ago with a few friends and was unimpressed. Even though the premise did entice me, I couldn’t get invested in the show because of its lackluster writing and sloppy animation. So I’m looking forward to this new adaptation, in hopes that it will breathe new life into a dusty tale. And so far, my hopes haven’t been dashed. This Higurashi feels fresh, with new character designs, new backgrounds, and new directing. The characters are vibrant and unique. I enjoyed listening to Keiichi and Mion’s banter as they walked to school; Rena and Sotoka have actual personalities now, and Rika’s as charming as ever. Familiar locations from the first anime have been redrawn to fit the new art style, and I don’t think it’s half bad. And there were some genuinely unsettling moments, both subtle and obvious. Still, this first episode felt conservative for a premiere, almost as if the animators were holding back in fear of messing something up. As such, I’m not sure what to expect for the rest of the season. For now, I’m holding on to my hopes.
Finally, a word of warning: Higurashi contains extreme violence. If you’re squeamish about that sort of thing, don’t watch this show. (Though, in that case, I’m not sure why you’re even considering a horror anime anyway.)
Higurashi: When They Cry can be streamed on Funimation. Read our thoughts on all the new fall anime series, in additional comments from our other writers, on our fall 2020 anime first impression master post.