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This is a translation of an interview between Ryukishi07 and writer Yuji Kohtari concerning Higurashi When They Cry's supposed influence on real murder incidents. It was published in Weekly Spa! magazine on October 28, 2008, and had coverage and writing by Hidekuni Shida and photography by Tadashi Kikutake.

Translated by Omegabodega.


The Higurashi When They Cry writer refutes the “murder influence theory!”

The unprecedented hit work in the doujin world, Higurashi When They Cry. Concerning the rumors of this work having some relationship to juvenile crime, the writer Ryukishi07 refutes them and says, “it is an appeal to the foolishness of murder.” And yet, why do juvenile crimes without reason keep happening? Columnist Yuji Kohtari, who travels around investigating crime scenes and is serialized in this magazine, asks the writer directly.

In recent times, there is one game that attracts attention any time a bizarre murder committed by a boy or girl occurs; that being Higurashi When They Cry. A mystery novel game sold as a “doujin game” that can’t be found in so-called mass retailers and has sold a record 30,000 copies as of now. Manga, anime, novels, films…for a work that’s been expressed through various mediums, why is it considered the cause of murder? Yuji Kohtari, who has investigated these incidents for many years, presses on!

Kohtari: The reason I’ve been called here today is because I often hear about Higurashi When They Cry being talked about at crime scenes. In July 2007, when a girl in Kyoto committed murder with an axe, many points were raised about the similarities to Higurashi.[1] As for the mother and child murder-arson incident in Hachinohe in January of this year, Higurashi was found in the boy culprit’s room.[2]

Ryukishi07: Why is only Higurashi being confiscated?

Kohtari: Well, this is just my opinion, but I think news reporters don’t play Higurashi. In most cases, the police informally say, “this was found in that room.” And so they think, “Perhaps we ought to keep an eye on this.”

Ryukishi07: I see (laughs).

Kohtari: Ryukishi07-san, did you want to write about the internals of present-day children in Higurashi?

Ryukishi07: Rather than the internals of children, perhaps Higurashi’s theme is the opposition between communication and miscommunication. Higurashi is split into 4 chapters in the first part’s Question Arcs and 4 chapters in the second part’s Answer Arcs, 8 chapters total. Only the first part is actually recognized by the public as “children are trapped in darkness and cause tragic incidents”. For example, there’s a certain story in the first half with a very heavy theme of a friend being abused by her uncle. The protagonist worries and anguishes all by himself, and as a result decides to become a murderer. The reader is left to think, “how do we break out of this tragic situation?” And so, in the answer arc of the latter half, the protagonist communicates with his surroundings and doesn’t commit a crime, and breaks out of this situation the correct way. I wrote about the process of resolving the problem of miscommunication in the first half by communication in the latter half.

Kohtari: Is this theme based on real experiences you’ve had?

Ryukishi07: I had a lot of experience from when I was originally a civil servant. I was responsible for a self-governing district, where I saw many scenes of communicating with local residents to solve problems. One problem surrounded a garbage dump, for example. Residents who didn’t pay town council fees threw away their garbage at a temporary dump that the town council appealed to the cleaning bureau to make. Everyone got angry and said, “People who don’t pay can’t throw away their garbage here!” But town council fees aren’t an obligation, nor do they have the right to stop people from dumping garbage. And so in that situation, it developed into the residents’ troubles. In such cases, people seem to think the government office would invoke their iron fist and forcibly solve the problem, but that’s not true. Everything is resolved through “discussion”. Or rather, they have a discussion with the local residents, which happens all the time. It’s an undeniable fact that Higurashi was born from experiences like these.



神足: 今回なぜ僕が呼ばれたかというと、事件現場で『ひぐらしのなく頃に』の話を聞くことが多かったからなんですよ。‘07年9月、京都で少女が手斧を使って殺人を犯したときに『ひぐらし』との類似点が挙げられましたよね。今年1月の八戸の母子殺害放火事件では、犯人の少年の部屋から『ひぐらし』が見つかった。

竜騎士07: なぜ『ひぐらし』ばかりが取り上げられるんでしょう。

神足: まあ、これは僕なりの考えだけど、報道する記者は『ひぐらし』をプレイしているわけじゃないと思う。大抵の場合は、警察が非公式に「あの部屋にこれがあったよ」と言うわけです。だから、たぶんニラまれているんだと思う。

竜騎士07: なるほど(笑)。

神足: 竜騎士07さんは『ひぐらし』で、今の子供たちの内面を書きたかったんですか?

竜騎士07: 内面ということよりもむしろ、『ひぐらし』のテーマは、ディスコミュニケーションとコミュニケーションの対立、なんです。『ひぐらし』は全8話で前編の出題編4話と後編の解答編4話に分かれてまして、実は前編のみが世間で認知されているような「子供が闇に囚われて、悲惨な事件を起こす」というものなんです。例えば前編のある一話には、友人が叔父から虐待を受けているという非常にヘビーなテーマがある。主人公は一人で悶々と悩んで、その結果「殺人」に至るんです。読者は、この「悲惨な状況をいかに打破するか?」という答えを推理することになります。そして、後編の解答編では、主人公が周囲とコミュニケーションを取ることで、犯罪などではない、正しいやり方で状況を打破する。前編のディスコミュニケーションの状態を、後編のコミュニケーションで解決するという過程が書かれているわけです。

神足: このテーマは、竜騎士07さんの実体験に基づいているんですか?

竜騎士07: 自分はもともと公務員だったので、そのときの経験が大きかったですね。その中で地域自治を担当したことがあって、地域の住民の方とコミュニケーションを取りながら、問題を解決するシーンをたくさん見てきました。例えば、ゴミ捨て場問題一つとってもそう。町会が清掃局に働きかけてつくってもらった臨時ゴミ捨て場に、町会費を払ってない住民がゴミを捨てる。すると、みんな「払わない人間はここにゴミを捨てるな」と怒るわけです。でも、町会費は義務ではないし、ゴミを捨てるのを止める権利もない。で、住民トラブルに発展する、といった具合ですね。こういった場合、お役所というものは強権を発動して、無理やり問題を解決するもんだと思われがちですが、違います。すべて「話し合い」で解決するんですよ。というか、一事が万事、地域住民との話し合いです。『ひぐらし』が、こういった経験の中から生まれたことは紛れもない事実ですね。

Unable To Understand Children’s SOS Signs[]

Kohtari: Reading Higurashi seems to explain the sudden murders committed by children recently. I believe it’s close to what children nowadays are thinking.

Ryukishi07: Ordinary, commonplace protagonists can certainly commit murder in Higurashi. But I didn’t intend to write about meaningless murders. I wrote a whole lot about how an ordinary student could reach the thought process of, “I have no choice but to kill” with a metal bat in hand.

Kohtari: I haven’t been able to understand the motive behind juvenile murder incidents for about 3 years. For example, the father murder case in Kawaguchi in July of this year.[3] A girl made curry with her father for dinner, and then suddenly killed him in the middle of the night. With the motive being incredibly unclear, critics say she might have been sleepwalking.

Ryukishi07: Whenever a bizarre incident occurs, people follow a bizarre profile of the criminal and often say “I can’t understand the culprit”, but I believe that’s the first step to “refusing to think critically.” Before a culprit commits murder, I think they always give off an SOS sign. “I want somebody to stop me”, “I’m lonely”. I think the culprit behind the Akihabara indiscriminate killings wrote on a cell phone site.[4]

Kohtari: He was upset that he was being ignored, and so he made an appeal that said “I’m seriously saying it like this so that somebody can stop me.”

Ryukishi07: That’s a clear advance notice coinciding with SOS signs. But nobody realized it. That was the beginning of the tragedy. In the past, you might be able to confide your troubles to your parents. But now you write it in emails or the Internet. It’s an unknown space for parents.

Kohtari: Perhaps they’ll understand the motives only when you die.

Ryukishi07: Perhaps they won’t understand even if you die. If you don’t know the passwords to their blogs or to social network sites like mixi, only their owners are able to access them. Children use slang and the internet, and are clever at communicating. And so, it becomes difficult to pick up on children’s SOS signs. Perhaps their SOS signs are updated every time a new piece of media comes out. I don’t understand gyaru dialect and stuff at all (laughs). “JK, think about it carefully (jyoushikiteki ni kangaete)”; “KY, can’t read the situation (kuuki yomenai)”; we’re in an age where adults don’t understand when crime notices have been typed with lots of slang.

Kohtari: So JK doesn’t refer to high school girls (joushi kousei) anymore…

Ryukishi07: That’s wonderful, that old man feeling (laughs). Now that you mention it, I saw something written by a child consultation person in a magazine that if a child sets their phone to silent, it’s some kind of SOS signal. They said that perhaps the child is receiving harassing emails or phone calls. I think the child consultation person is truly alert.

Kohtari: Incidentally, if an old man’s cell phone goes silent, that’s a sign he’s having an affair (laughs).

Ryukishi07: I see, that’s something I haven’t studied enough (laughs).



竜騎士07: 確かに『ひぐらし』では、どこにでもいる平凡な主人公が殺人を犯します。でも、私は意味のない殺人は書いていないつもりです。なぜ、普通の学生が金属バットを片手に「殺すしかない」という心理に至るのかを、相当厚く書いています。

神足: 3年ぐらいから、少年の殺人事件の理由がわからなくなってきたんですよ。例えば、今年7月の川口の父親殺害事件。お父さんと晩に、一緒にカレーを作っていた少女が、いきなり夜中にお父さんを殺してしまった。理由があまりにも不明だったんで、評論家たちは夢遊病ではないかと言ったんですけど。

竜騎士07: 異常な事件が起きるたびに、異常な犯人像を追って、「犯人が理解できない」と連呼しますが、私はそれは”思考停止”の第一歩だと思っています。犯人は殺人を犯す前に、必ずSOSサインを出していたと思うんです。「誰か止めてほしい」「僕は寂しい」って。確か、秋葉原の無差別殺人犯もケータイのサイトに書いていましたよね。



神足: 死んで初めて、理由がわかるのかもしれない。

竜騎士07: 死んでもわからないかもしれないですよ。ブログのパスワードもわからなければ、ミクシィみたいなSNSも、本人しかアクセスできないですから。子供は隠語やネットを使って、巧みにコミュニケーションしている。だから、子供のSOSサインを拾うことが、どんどん困難になっているんです。恐らく新しいメディアが登場するたびに、子供たちのSOSサインは更新されていく。ギャル語とか、もうわかりませんからね(笑)。「JK(常識的に考えて)」だの「KY(空気読めない)」だの、隠語連発で犯行予告を打たれても、大人はわからない時代になっているんです。


竜騎士07: それ結構、オヤジ感覚ですよ(笑)。そういえば、雑誌で児童相談所の方が書いているのを見たんですけど、子供がケータイの着信をサイレントにしたら何らかのSOSサインだと。いじめのメールや電話を受けている可能性があるっていうんですね。さすが児童相談所の方は、敏感なんだなと思いました。

神足: ちなみに、オジサンのケータイがサイレントになったら、浮気をしているサインですよ(笑)。

竜騎士07: なるほど、それは勉強不足でした(笑)。

Wanting To Convey That Murder Isn’t Worth It[]

Kohtari: Statistically, the amount of juvenile crime as a whole is decreasing each year. But I feel that the sadness increases with each and every crime.

Ryukishi07: Children today live under the uniform thought that “violence is wrong”, so they don’t know how to fight or how to use violence. So once you use violence, there is no “stopping point”. “Should I kill” or “Should I not kill”, we live in a world of 1s and 0s.

Kohtari: It’s digital, there’s no concept of a middle ground.

Ryukishi07: Right, there’s no middle ground for today’s children. But once you go out into the world, you realize that society is more grayer and more analog than you thought. Inbetween 0 and 1 there’s 0.1, 0.2…there’s many steps, and each step gives you various options. I want people to recognize the choice of “talk about it” before the choice of “die” or “kill”. Your parents, your friends, even the barkeeper is good. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, then the officer at the police box is good.

Kohtari: Surprisingly, you aren’t able to have important conversations with your parents.

Ryukishi07: That’s certainly the case. But I think the step of “talking to your parents” is much lower than the steps of “dying” or “killing”. For example, in the past when I thought, “Work is too strict, I’ll just die”, I said “If I’m going to die anyway, then I’ll use up all my savings!”, and tried to withdraw the million yen I had in the bank. But when I went in front of the ATM, I couldn’t even withdraw 1 yen (laughs). And so, before you die or kill, I want you to try the easier step, at least once. It’s pretty much something that can’t be overcome.

Kohtari: That’s true. People change with a little bit of “realism”. It has the same effect, even if experienced in fiction.

Ryukishi07: I agree. That’s why in the first part of Higurashi, I dared to write both very heavy and very sad murder scenes. You don’t just poke someone with a metal bat and then they die. If you attack them they’ll resist and run away, and depending on the situation they’ll even counterattack. It’s the antithesis to many works nowadays. There’s no way you can kill opponents stylishly and cool-like. Real murders are incredibly sad, the aftermath is ugly, and it’s not supposed to be cool. I wanted to convey that murder is muddy and isn’t worth it. Even if you kill, you leave behind a dead body. You’re left carrying that spilled blood forever like a cross. It’s a strong message that you shouldn’t think of murder as a game.

Kohtari: That’s very critical. That might not have been conveyed to police officers and the like who don’t actually play it.

Ryukishi07: If Higurashi showed villainous people getting killed in a stylish way like a professional assassin, and if everyday life afterwards was shown as though nothing had happened, then children who read it will misunderstand and go, “Ah, it’s okay to kill bad guys!” And so, it was necessary for Higurashi When They Cry to become a muddy, cruel work.

Kohtari: I see.

Ryukishi07: Don’t you often teach children, “Don’t cross the street at a red light”? In extreme cases, that’s already a thoughtless statement. They don’t properly explain what happens when you cross a red light, and so you don’t think about why crossing is wrong. Through Higurashi I wrote about the other side, of what happens when you cross that red light. It’s to convey the realism that “You will suffer like this and die.”

Kohtari: So in short, Higurashi When They Cry is a game that doesn’t “promote” murder, but instead is meant to “suppress” murder.

Ryukishi07: Exactly. Like I said a while ago, the world is gray. We don’t tell people to learn about that gray section through fighting. But people gain resistance and immunity by overcoming illnesses. And so, through Higurashi When They Cry, I want people to feel the kind of psychological and bodily pain that’s difficult to experience nowadays. From the bottom of my heart, I want the children of today to find that middle ground between 1 and 0.


神足: 統計的には年々、少年犯罪全体の量は減っているんです。けれど、一つずつの犯罪では、陰惨さが増している気がしますね。

竜騎士07: 今の子供は「暴力はいけない」っていう一律の考えの中で生きているから、喧嘩の仕方も、暴力の振るい方もわからないんです。だから一旦、暴力を振るったときに「ここでやめる」っていうのがない。「殺すか」それとも「殺さないか」という、「1」か「0」の世界で生きているんですよね。

神足: デジタル的で、中間の概念がない、と。


神足: 意外と、親には大事な話ができなかったりするからね。

竜騎士07: そういう場合もありますね。でも、「死ぬ」「殺す」というステップよりも、「親に相談する」というステップのほうがよっぽど低いと思うんですよ。例えば、私は以前、仕事が辛くて死んでやる、と思ったときに「どうせ死ぬなら、貯金を使い果たしてから死んでやる!」と、銀行にあった100万円をすべて下ろそうとしたことがあります。でも、いざATMの前に行くと、1円も下ろせなかった(笑)。だから、「死ぬ」「殺す」の前に、もっと楽なステップを一度、試してみてほしい、と。結構、それも超えられないものなんですよ。

神足: 本当にそうですね。人間は、ちょっとした"リアル"で変わりますから。それは、たとえフィクションで経験しても同じ効果がある。

竜騎士07: そうなんです。だから私は『ひぐらし』の前編で、あえて殺人シーンはどれもすごく重く、とても陰惨に描いています。金属バット一発でポカッと叩いて死ぬわけじゃないんですよ。相手は叩かれたら抵抗して逃げるわけで、場合によっては反撃も受ける。これは、今の多くの作品に対するアンチテーゼでもあるんです。スタイリッシュでカッコよく、敵を殺せるわけがない。本当の殺人というのはもっと陰惨で、後腐れが悪くて、とてもカッコいいなんてものじゃない。殺人ってこんな泥臭くて割に合わないものなんだってことを伝えたかったんです。殺しても死体は残るんです。返り血も残るし、背負った十字架は永久に残る。殺人をゲームのように考えてほしくないという強いメッセージを込めているんですよ。

神足: すごく批評的ですね。それは、実際に遊んでいない警察の人とかには伝わらないかもしれない。

竜騎士07: もしも『ひぐらし』という作品が、悪人に見える人間を必殺仕事人のようにカッコよく殺して、その後も何事もなかったかのような日常を描いていたとしたら、それを読んだ子供たちは「ああ、イヤなヤツは殺していいんだ」と誤解しますよね。だから、『ひぐらしのなく頃に』という作品は残酷で泥臭い必要があったんです。

神足: なるほど。

竜騎士07: よく、子供に「赤信号を渡ってはいけませんよ」と教えるでしょう?極端な話をすれば、それがすでに思考停止なんです。「赤信号を渡ったらどうなるか」をきちんと説明しないから、「どうして渡ってはいけないのか」を考えることができない。なので、私はあえて『ひぐらし』を通して「赤信号を渡ったら」の向こう側を書いたんです。君はこんなにヒドい目にあって死ぬんだよ、とリアルに伝えるために。

神足: つまり、『ひぐらしのなく頃に』という作品は、殺人を"助長"するようなものではなく、むしろ殺人を"抑制"するためのゲームである、ということですね。

竜騎士07: そのとおりです。先ほども言ったように、世界はグレーなんです。そのグレーな部分を、「喧嘩で覚えろ」とは言いません。




  1. <tabber>On July 18, 2007, in Kyotanabe City, Kyoto Prefecture, an incident occurred where a police sergeant of the prefectural police's southern station traffic division was murdered by his second, 16-year-old daughter. The girl bought a hatchet with an 11cm (~4 in.) blade at a hardware store near her home and beheaded her father. Because the motive was unclear, the girl was given a psychiatric evaluation. After it was reported that the murder scene had a connection to the TV anime Higurashi When They Cry Kai, Television Saitama as well as Tokai Television cancelled the program, and KBS Kyoto paused broadcasting it for a week.
  2. On January 10, 2008, in Nejo, Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, there was an incident involving a mother and 3 children being killed and a fire. The eldest son, 18-years-old, confessed to killing them with a survival knife and setting fire to the apartment where they lived. According to the Aomori prefectural police of Hachinohe Station, the manga version of Higurashi When They Cry, as well as dozens of books owned by the eldest son, were confiscated from the ruins, and became a topic of relation to the incident. What's more, a foreign object that appeared to be a doll was stuffed into the abdomen of the mother's body. The motive is still unclear, even now.
  3. On July 18, 2008, in Saitama Prefecture, Kawaguchi City, there was an incident where a male office worker was killed by his eldest, 15-year-old daughter. The daughter's motive was unclear, as it was said that the night before the incident, she made curry with her father and ate with all the members of her family. What's more, after the incident the Saitama prefectural police confiscated a dozen mystery novel and manga volumes from the daughter's room. Higurashi When They Cry was included among them. After the arrest, the daughter testified that, "I thought about killing my family before my mom learned about my finals grades, and then kill myself."
  4. On June 8, 2008, in the Akihabara Pedestrian Paradise in Tokyo, a 25-year-old man drove in with a small truck and hit 5 passersby, and attacked 12 others with a knife. The man was arrested at the scene. It was a great disaster leaving 7 dead and 10 injured. The man frequently left messages on a cell phone forum site, posting advance notice for his murder plans. The man was a security guard for a company in Sendai, and afterwards went from job to job and was pessimistic about the future. Because of this incident, the Akihabara Pedestrian Paradise was suspended.