Shortly after the airing of Higurashi: When They Cry - GOU's first two episodes. Funimation uploaded interviews with original series creator Ryukishi07 and anime director Keiichiro Kawaguchi. The first video is here and the second video is here.
Transcripts are provided below.
Ryukishi07: Hello, there. I'm the creator of Higurashi: When They Cry, Ryukishi07. It might sound weird reiterating that I'm in charge of the original story, but as the creator, I'm in charge of supervising the adaptation as well as writing it. Thanks for having me today.
Kawaguchi: Hello, I'm the director, Keiichiro Kawaguchi. Thank you for having me.
For Ryukishi07: How does it feel to be returning to the Higurashi series for a new anime?
R07: I was very happy. It's been about ten or 15 years since I started Higurashi, but I never thought I'd receive another offer for an anime version, so I was very happy. I'm happy that the original anime fans will enjoy this, but also happy about the fact that there will be a new audience as well.
For Director Kawaguchi: What was your previous experience with the Higurashi series?
Kawaguchi: Well, the original series had been produced by Studio DEEN for quite some time and I was personally working on other series at the time. But this series was so popular, so I was watching it every week with some colleagues of mine. And because I was a viewer, I never imagined that I'd be directing it someday. I'm very happy about this opportunity. At the time, there were some very cruel scenes. How do I put this... with them making weird faces or screaming, "You're lying!" There were a lot of extreme scenes. I personally wasn't playing the game at the time, so I didn't know what would happen. But I was watching the anime every week because I didn't want to miss it.
How did the new Higurashi anime project come about?
R07: We'd been casually talking about how great it'd be to see a remake of the anime and I'd mentioned that if it ever became a reality, I'd totally write another script for it immediately. And what I ended up with looked like a phone book. I ended up turning that in and after a long, long, time, it became a reality. Anime series take a really long time to make, so we were initially talking about this years ago. And at first, we don't even have sponsors yet, so we're not even sure it it's actually going to happen. So to keep from getting too excited, I kept reminding myself that we're still just talking about it. But I was really happy when things kept progressing and it became a reality.
Kawaguchi: With this series of Higurashi... as I mentioned earlier, the previous series was done by Studio DEEN. This series will be produced by Passione. The president, Mr. Saito, offered me the series. Passione, up until this point, has only done one-cour series. This will be their first long series. I was basically called since it seemed like I'd be able to painfully get through it.
What can longtime Higurashi fans and new viewers expect from the new anime?
R07: We've done an anime version of this story before, so I'm sure there will be fans who have seen that who will be watching this as well. So they won't think, "I've seen the old series, so I don't need to see the new one," we've made sure to include little things here and there that you will only get if you've seen the original anime.
With episode one, this is a new Higurashi: When They Cry done with a new staff with a new world view, so I hope you all enjoyed that. But starting with episode two, you'll start to see the little things here and there that I mentioned before. So I hope that you all, er...I really can't say anything right now. Things are finally going to start moving with the next episode, so I hope you watch carefully from episode two on. ( really hate the face that I can't say any more right now, but as you keep watching, I think you'll start to see what the new Higurashi: When They Cry is all about. So please look forward to it. I don't think we'll be able to make something like this again, so please enjoy it and look forward to episode two on.
Kawaguchi: Well, with the anime this time...I can't really say much because I'd be spoiling it. Even if you've played the game or seen the original anime, I believe that the new series will still be enjoyable. And if it's someone learning about Higurashi the first time, I think they'll enjoy it, as well. There are some tricks...and this is being created with a wide audience in mind, so I think you can basically experience it at any point. So if you want, you can start watching the Studio DEEN version now or even play the game version. I think there are various ways to enjoy this series, so I hope that people will enjoy it the best way they can.
What's it like working with renowned character designer Akio Watanabe on the new Higurashi anime project?
Kawaguchi: Akio Watanabe is insanely good. He's probably praised for how cute he draws girls and such, but he's really good at his job. I'd been wanting to work with him for a while now. We've actually known each other for a pretty long time. We happened to go on vacation overseas some ten years ago. I'd gone overseas with some friends and a mysterious Mr. Watanabe happened to be there as well. We even sat next to each other on the plane. We watched movies and bought toys together. But I had no idea he was Akio Watanabe at the time. So I was hanging out with this mysterious Mr. Watanabe. I finally found out who he was on our way home. So we've known each other since then. (laughs) And after that, I'd directed a series called Nurse Witch Komugi R with Tatsunoko Production. With that series, he only did the original character concepts, so we had meetings together, but didn't really get to work together. But with this series, he'll also be a chief animation director for the first time, so I finally get to work with him and I'm personally really happy about that. He's the perfect person to work on Higurashi, but I'm also honored that I get to work with him. I'm pretty sure a lot of people know this, but Akio is very good at drawing cute girls. It's not like a chief animation director can put all the cuts they want in, but there are some really sweet cuts and I've been having him look at those. There will definitely be a lot of memorable scenes. Some of which you can actually print and put in your wallet as a good luck charm. That's another way to enjoy this series.
Please give a message to overseas fans.
R07: I hope that everyone is able to enjoy the subtle differences between the first series and this series with the new staff and new direction. Thank you very much.
This article or section contains untagged major spoilers for the original Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and possibly the console-exclusive arcs. Readers who have not completed the main story are advised not to proceed further.
R07: I've already said something close to this...But I think everyone's starting to figure out that this isn't just another remake. But if people watch this and feel a bit of awkwardness compared to going through the original story or the first anime, just know that it's not a mistake by the new anime staff. Rather there's probably a deeper meaning behind it so please enjoy that. Also, please enjoy the mystery that only something like Higurashi can bring you. So this isn't just another remake. I'm even hoping people might be able to view this as a new series itself. So please continue to support the new Higurashi: When They Cry.
Kawaguchi: So right off the bat with episode two, we're already thrown into the Fragment space and see a high-school version of Rika. If you just see episode two, you're probably wondering what's going on. It might look like we're revisiting the story but there's a reason for everything in this series. And of course, there's a lot of things that I can't spoil about the series yet. I believe the opening animation was included and the opening has huge hints scattered about with this Higurashi. When you're seeing Rika as a high-school student, you're probably wondering about Satoko, too. But I can't talk about that just yet. There's actually quite a few things I can't say even up to episode two. All I can really say is people should look through the opening for clues. As for the ending...For people who have seen the older series, they'll probably notice some familiar scenes. But things are never as they seem...So I hope everyone looks forward to that. With this series, I'd received the plot from Ryukishi07-sensei and he wrote all the way through to the final episode. What he gave me was extremely thick and I wondered if I had to read all of it before our meeting...But it was so good that I was able to read it all instantly. I'd received that over two years ago. I'm surrounded by Higurashi fans, so I want to talk about it so bad. I even want to talk about it right now. But I can't yet, so I hope that everyone will just watch the broadcast. I really want to talk about it soon.
What can you tell us about Rika Furude and her important role in the new anime?
R07: So the character Rika Furude...I'm sure if you know about the Higurashi series, you know that she's the true protagonist. You can even call her the protagonist in the shadows. She's a very important character. By putting the spotlight on her, you're getting to the root of the story. In the original story, the spotlight goes on Rika once you hit the turning point in the story. But this time, the spotlight is immediately on her, so either, the story is going to move really fast or the turning point is going to be different. I can't say much just yet. Of course, Rika is still a very important character, so please watch to see what she does.
R07: There are various incidents that occur in Hinamizawa and, of course, Rika is not the culprit. But the way Rika tries to get to the truth is different from Keiichi, Rena, and the others. This time, the viewers get to experience getting deeper into the story through her perspective...But I can't say anymore right now. So please look forward to Rika's perspective, as well. She's definitely a very important character.
Kawaguchi: Well, Rika is the one who keeps experiencing the loop. She may look like she's in grade school, but she's very mature. She is definitely an adult on the inside, though she might act like a child. Everyone around her has lost their memories so they don't change, but she's the one who remembers everything, which makes her a very special character. But things get a bit complicated this time. Rika, who was supposed to have escaped the loop, gets trifled with, and I think everyone will be able to see a new side of Rika. More than anything, Yukari Tamura's portrayal of Rika is even better this time. Her voice is unchanging and still charming for her portrayal of Rika this time, too. The fact that she goes from the cutesy "Nipah" and can suddenly sound so sharp as though she's about to be killed. I hope people will enjoy that. The Higurashi anime had previously been created up until recently and I think they mostly used the same staff. There had been various versions of it, but this is being done completely new with a new studio. I think everything up until this point is enjoyable but I think this will be new and enjoyable. Please look forward to it. Everyone at Passione and I are doing our best on this series. Thank you.