Higurashi When They Cry (ひぐらしのなく頃に Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, lit. When the Cicadas Cry) is a Japanese murder mystery dōjin soft visual novel series produced by 07th Expansion. The story is divided into eight main arcs. The first four arcs of the series are referred to as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Question Arcs to distinguish it from the full series.

Official Introduction

June, 1983.
The summer heat has arrived earlier than it does most years.
By day there are cicadas, and by night, the higurashi.

Hinamizawa, a small village in the Japanese countryside.
While there are fewer than two-thousand people there,
every year, 'something' happens.

For the past 4 years, someone has died,
and another has gone missing.

This series of deaths and disappearances is connected
to the local resistance against a now-abandoned dam construction project. A murder during the construction,
covered up by the local authorities, is being re-enacted
year after year.

Is it a conspiracy?
A coincidence? Or perhaps a curse?

Someone who was supposed to be there...isn’t.
Someone who wasn’t supposed to be there... is.
Someone who was alive last night is now dead,
and someone who is here right now isn’t alive.

There is no way to avert this tragedy.
There is no choice but to give up trying.
But even so... please don’t give up.[1]

Gameplay

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is a mystery visual novel, and as such conveys its story primarily through text-based narration and dialogue supplemented by visual and audio elements such as character sprites, background music, and sound effects. It is described as a "sound novel" by 07th Expansion, owing to the game's greater focus on creating atmosphere through audio elements rather than visual aspects. The original releases contain no voice acting for the characters.

Besides advancing text, players may also access the TIPS Mode, allowing them to view extra scenes that include new information regarding the characters and story. The Question Arcs chapters each have an epilogue called an All-Cast Review session, a comedic skit where the characters of the story will discuss the chapter and may also provide some hints. The Answer Arcs each have an epilogue called the Staff Room, where the author Ryukishi07 talks about his thought process for writing the chapter. While it is not necessary to view these scenes, they can provide greater insight on the story overall.

Despite the lack of interactive gameplay elements, Higurashi is framed as a game between the author and the reader, with difficulty ratings given in the descriptions for each episode. This refers to the difficulty of the mysteries in each episode, which the reader is intended to actively try to solve.

Story

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni takes place primarily in June of 1983 in the rural Japanese village of Hinamizawa. The main protagonist is Keiichi Maebara, a young boy who moves to Hinamizawa with his family and starts attending the school there, making new friends and having fun with club games.

As Keiichi gets closer to his friends, he gets more involved with the village's culture and learns they worship a god known as Oyashiro-sama and hold an annual festival dedicated to him. Keiichi also discovers that the annual festival has a curse associated with it, where someone mysteriously dies and another disappears. Keiichi's search for answers leads him to learn dark secrets about his friends and of the village itself.

Concept and Development

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni was originally a stage play called Hinamizawa Bus Stop, which Ryukishi had written and submitted to many contests but was rejected.[2] Ryukishi was greatly inspired by the movie The Blair Witch Project and the works of Seishi Yokomizo, most notably The Village of Eight Graves.[3]

Ryukishi was convinced by his brother Yatazakura to start making visual novel games, and so he took the original stage play script and rewrote it.[2] Ryukishi intended to release it all as one game, but instead decided to split it into multiple releases due to how long the story would turn out to be.[3] This new Higurashi story was going to be a game with choices and routes named after characters; each chapter would focus on a different character with 6 total.[4] In the end that was changed as well.[5]

The setting of 1983 was chosen because 1983 is a little more than 20 years ago. I think most Higurashi readers are young people, around college age. So it becomes a kind of ambiguous time, when the reader may or may not have been born. Now, for example, if a story was set more than a hundred years ago, it might enter the realm of fantasy, because no one who's alive was present at that time—not the author, not the readers, not anybody. No matter how carefully they may have studied books on the subject, it won't change the fact that they are depicting their imaginary vision of something they've never seen or heard. But if it takes place just barely around the time you were born, it’s not fantasy. And yet it might be a time when you could believe in the fairy tales your parents told you when you were small. I think this puts it on the boundary where reality and illusion blend together. That's why I chose the ambiguous date of 1983 as a setting. I think it’s because it takes place in that time that there's a delicate balance between murder cases and curses.[3]

Promotion and Release

The first chapter Onikakushi was first sold at Comiket 62 for only 100 yen (US equivalent: approx. $1). Due to the very low price, many people mistook it for a demo version.[2]

The back cover of Tatarigoroshi advertising "correct answer rate: 1%".

Out of the first 100 people who played Onikakushi and sent theories to Ryukishi by email, only one of them managed to solve the mystery. Ryukishi decided to use "Correct answer rate: 1%" as a tagline and put it on the back of new chapters.[6]

Story Arcs

Question Arcs

Solution Arcs (Kai)

Extra Arcs

Ports, Adaptations, and Spinoffs

Ports

Manga

Main article: Higurashi WHEN THEY CRY (manga)

A manga series was serialized from 2005 to 2012, consisting of the Question Arcs, Answer Arcs, and many original arcs. It was licensed for English release by Yen Press.

A new manga with the same name as the new 2020 anime began serialization on October 2020, illustrated by Tomato Akase.

Drama CDs

Main article: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (drama CD)

A drama CD series covering the main arcs was released from 2005 to 2012. Notably, this is the first piece of voiced Higurashi media, predating the animations.

Anime

  • Studio DEEN created an anime adaptation of the main series which originally aired between 2006 and 2007. The first season adapted the Question Arcs, Meakashi and Tsumihoroboshi. Named after Kai, the second season adapts a Tsumihoroboshi TIP, Minagoroshi, and Matsuribayashi alongside an exclusive arc Yakusamashi-hen. Rei was adapted into an OVA series of the same name in 2009. An OVA series of 4 episodes named Kira was released between 2011 and 2012. Later, a standalone OVA adapted Outbreak in 2013.

Light Novel

Main article: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (novel)

A light novel series was illustrated by Tomohi and published by Kodansha from 2007 to 2009, covering the Question Arcs, the Answer Arcs, and Saikoroshi-hen.

Live Action Movies


Live Action Drama

Spinoffs

Trivia

References

External Links

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