REVIEW: Higurashi When They Cry Ch. 1

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Higurashi When They Cry Ch 1 Title
Title Higurashi When They Cry: Ch. 1 Onikakushi
Developer 07th Expansion
Publisher MangaGamer
Release Date May 15, 2015
Genre Horror Doujin Sound Novel
Platform PC Steam
Age Rating All Ages
Official Website

After a brief foray into the adult visual novel sector, I am back for another all ages encounter. My last all ages visual novel was quite the experience, so how would this one compare? The first thing that I need to get out of the way is that, while this particular review is only for Chapter 1, I will indeed be reviewing Chapter 2 and the recently released Chapter 3 in due course. The motivating factor for me to get into this series for a review was the release of the most recent Chapter, hence why you are getting this review so far after the fact. If you have experienced these previous entries and are waiting for the newest reviews, we beg a little patience. Since we started off that Tokyo Babel review with a quote, why don’t we start this off with one as well, one that is fitting for this title:

Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

-Wallace Stevens

Higurashi When They Cry Ch 1 | Rena and Mion

Your two new friends, Rena and Mion.

And what mood would I be trying to convey? Well, that poem should give you an idea, as this story ended up being almost the opposite of my experience with Tokyo Babel. So you don’t have to look back at that review I’ll paraphrase what I mean. Tokyo Babel started out completely horrific and made me think it was going to be a horror story, but then it quickly lightened up to be rather humorous and romantic. This is its opposite animal, so be prepared. That is part of the genre type given above, a horror doujin. The other part may not be so familiar to many, that of a sound novel. That does not mean audiobook, even though it does seem to convey that impression. What it means is that this is not a visual novel in the sense that it has voice acting or any choices. You are just given a straight up story with no choices and you are just reading the events as they happen, with minimal visual representation and only some sound effects. There is not even a traditional text box; the text is given in sequence over the visual representation and can often fill almost the entire screen. Much more novel than visual novel.

Higurashi When They Cry Ch 1 | Rika and Satoko

The younger two members of your gang, Rika and Satoko.

The main protagonist is Keiichi Maebara, and he has just moved to this small country town from the city. One of the most drastic changes for him is that, instead of a normal Japanese school, he has started to attend a very rural style school. What that means is that they have a class full of multiple age groups. As such, his group of four friends varies wildly in age. This is his first year, having just barely moved there before the story events, so he really only knows these four girls. Rena Ryugu lives nearest to him and so he always walks to and from school with her. She is very much an odd ball in that she has a serious addiction to anything cute and she has an extreme case of airheadedness. But she is a great cook and she loves to look after people, sometimes to extreme levels. Mion Sonozaki is the oldest member of their class, being one year older than Keiichi and Rena, so she is naturally the Class Representative. For some reason she refers to herself as an old man, and frankly she speaks and acts that way as well. Rika Furude is a grade younger than he is, but she seems even older than Mion is. There is something about her that is very mature and sweet, just don’t get on the wrong side of that cute demeanor. Satoko Houjou is the same age as Rika, but don’t let that fool you, they could not be more opposite. At times Satoko can be a bit of a cry baby, but more often than not she is quite the little punk, and delights in creating elaborate Rube Goldberg traps to ensnare her target (usually Keiichi).

Higurashi When They Cry Ch 1 | Hinamizawa

It’s a good thing this place is fictional, or this would be the worst tourism ad of all time.

Those may be the 5 primary human characters, but there is no doubt that there is a 6th major character. That is seen in the above screenshot; the town of Hinamizawa. In many ways this is a story about how a group of young teenagers deals with an environment, but this environment has all the charm of Derry, Maine (Stephen King’s It). It seems like a quite charming and peaceful serene small town at first, but slowly there comes to light some festering elements from its recent past. It does not necessarily come into play much, other than the timing of events, but this story also takes place in June 1983. Slowly Keiichi begins to realize that there is a hidden past in the village, and the truth is being deliberately obscured from him. But what is the truth, and why would they intentionally mislead him?

Higurashi When They Cry Ch 1 | Tough Road

The road will be long, and it will be bumpy.

You only really start to notice something is wrong when you start delving into the events surrounding the building of a dam near the town. For some reason all construction has been halted on the project. With only minor digging you find out that the dam, if completed, would have wiped out the whole town, and the residents would have had to relocate to another area entirely. What resulted was a clash between the political interests of the booming economy Japan experienced in the 1980s and the small town values that many of them still held dear. This time it did not end quite as peacefully as it usually does. A foreman ended up beaten to death by 6 individuals, and then his corpse was summarily dismembered and deposited in 6 different locations. 5 of those individuals were apprehended, but one body part and one individual are still missing. Anything beyond that I dare not reveal, as that would spoil the shock and intrigue of coming upon those revelations for yourself. But, needless to say, this story goes very dark.

More Madness on Page 2 ->

About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.

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