Recently finished watching the anime series Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, which is based off of a series of murder mystery games. The basic set-up is as follows: Hinamizawa is a rural village which was, a few years ago, threatened by a dam construction project which would have flooded the area and forced the villagers to move. The project was shut down, and ever since then, on the night of the village’s annual Watanagashi festival, a festival honouring the local shrine’s god Oyashiro, one person is murdered and one person goes missing. This has been dubbed the shrine god’s curse. The series’ protagonists are a group of friends – all girls, except for one boy – attending the local school, who somehow gets mixed up in the shrine god’s curse. A bit of a combination of generic slice-of-life school life and a horror mystery, but with the emphasis definitely being on the latter.
The anime has different arcs, or chapters, and whenever one arc has finished the series reboots; it starts again from the beginning, but with various elements, characters, and scenes changed around. Each arc tells a slightly different story, but with the basic premise still being the same. So each arc is, in a way, a parallel universe, with things changed around and others held constant. I realized once I’d finished the series that two of the arcs actually appear to overlap, telling the same story but from two different perspectives; and one of the short arcs could’ve served as a prelude to any of the other arcs.
As with most anime, my feelings regarding the series are mixed. It was exciting, and it had some satisfyingly horrifying scenes. It should also be applauded for its eerie opening and ending sequences, which fit the show very well. But my major problem with the series was that none of the arcs actually really resolve; they just end, without having given any satisfying answers to the questions you find yourself asking while watching. Each arc has some great build-up, some great climaxes, but never provides you with the sweet satisfaction you so desire, ultimately leaving each arc feeling underwhelming and somewhat forgettable.
What they could’ve done to’ve made it a better series, would’ve been to (A) provide some resolution to each arc, or (B) made a shorter series out of only one or two of the arcs. If the latter they could have possibly scrapped all other arcs other than the two which appear to overlap. This could have increased the memorability, and decreased the frustration of the multiple offense of resolution lacking.
YOU CAN’T STOP HERE, THIS IS SPOILER COUNTRY! Highlight to view. So is there an explanation as to why there are different arcs, as opposed to one coherent, ongoing story? In the final arc of the series, some of the characters actually have a few flashbacks to previous arcs. Exactly why or how isn’t explained, but it seems like they acknowledge that they have been through similar events in other parallel worlds, and that they are part of an ongoing cycle of tragic events. In the same arc there was also – I kid you not – a friendship speech. (Perhaps a bit more morbid than the typical friendship speech though, as it centered around how they’d keep a double-murder secret between themselves, and carry the burden together, including the burden of disposing of the bodies.) Then at the end of the arc in the series’ final episode, it looks like – I’m still not kidding – the day has been saved through the power of friendship. But, it turns out it’s only partially saved; the arc has ended on a happier note than previous ones (but still with no real resolution, with too many questions left hanging), but an epilogue reveals that the cycle has not yet been broken as another arc starts, reprising a near-identical scene seen in other arcs.
Having made some quick research on the series (thank you MyAnimeList), it appears that the follow-up season, Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai, will actually provide some answers. But apparently they’re going to be stupid answers. So I’m now debating whether or not I should work my way through the follow-up season, or if I should call it quits and just seek out these stupid answers in the form of forum posts.