Higurashi: When They Cry, Vols. 4-5
By Ryukishi 07, Yutori Houjyou, and Jiro Suzuki
Published by Yen Press
Review by Megan M.
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A newcomer to the small hamlet town of Hinamizawa, Keiichi Maebara makes friends quickly among the students at his new school. He also learns that the town has a history of grisly murders occurring on the night of the local Cotton Drifting. What’s more, some of his new friends seem to be intimately (and tragically) involved in the town’s gruesome history.
Based on a popular murder mystery game, Higurashi: When They Cry depicts multiple versions of a single story, drawn by various artists. Volume four wraps up the “Cotton Drifting” arc and volume five begins the “Curse Killing” arc. The difference in approach between these two volumes is most easily demonstrated by discussing their art styles. Yutori Houjyou’s art in “Cotton Drifting” is a fairly standard in terms of character design, but dark, creepy, and occasionally shocking. Her characters, even the more lighthearted ones, have a depressing air of gravity to them. Jiro Suzuki’s art in “Curse Killing,” on the other hand, is in broad slapstick, featuring plenty of visual humor and moe character designs (along with the usual fanservice). I found the adjustment jarring, and volume five’s borderline-inappropriate comedy kept me from being able to care about the tragedy surrounding the characters.
One interesting note: unlike similar stories, which tend toward gratuitous display of female corpses, Higurashi doesn’t play gender favorites when it comes to victims. Though it’s true there are more female corpses than there are male, there are also far more female characters overall.
I consider it to almost be a crime to watch Clue (a brilliant black comedy from the 1980s) without watching all the endings, so I’m intrigued by a canon that centers around different possibilities in a single story. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite work for me. Though Higruashi: When They Cry is by no means bad manga, I don’t think it’s a series for me.
Review copies provided by the publisher.