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Higurashi: When They Cry Volume 1

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Higurashi: When They Cry Volume 1 by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi from Yen Press

Higurashi: When They Cry Volume 1

© Ryukishi07/07th Expansion, © Karin Suzuragi / SQUARE ENIX

The Bottom Line

It all starts out so innocently. A boy moves to a rural town and makes friends, teases, flirts and has fun with a pack of playful girls. But behind their sunny smiles, these girls are hiding a sinister secret that makes Keniichi suspect that he may be next in line to be swallowed by the town's dark side.

With its cast of saucer-eyed and busty girls in ridiculous cosplay outfits, Higurashi shamelessly panders to otaku fetishes. But when it takes a whiplash-inducing u-turn from cuteness to creepiness, this strange but intriguing horror story really sucks readers into its bizarre web of death and deception.

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Pros

  • Starts off deceptively light-hearted but veers toward something unexpectedly dark
  • Ryukishi07 lets the suspense build masterfully by dropping ominous hints on almost every page
  • Offers an unusual horror movie twist on the high school harem comedy theme
  • Color insert in the middle of the book adds some visual drama at just the right moment

Cons

  • The girls wear ridiculously unrealistic cosplay outfits that shamelessly pander to otaku tastes
  • The art is fairly generic with some awkward figure drawing
  • Rena Ryugu's cutesy-wootsy personality is fairly grating on the nerves

Description

  • Original Title: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (Japan)
  • Author: Ryukishi07
    Artist: Karin Suzuragi
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-0759529830
  • Cover Price: $10.99 US / $11.99 CANADA / £ 5.99
  • Age Rating: OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for murder, violence and sexually suggestive content
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: November 2008
    Japan Publication Date: December 2005
  • Book Description: 192 pages, black and white illustrations, 6 color pages

Guide Review - Higurashi: When They Cry Volume 1

Keiichi Maebara is the new kid in the town of Hinamizawa, but he's already made a lot of friends. Keiichi especially loves flirting with Rena Ryugu, a shy girl who loves cute things. But laughs and high school hi-jinks aside, there's something sinister simmering just below the surface, and Keiichi is starting to suspect that his newfound friends are hiding a horrifying secret from him.

Higurashi: When They Cry was originally an interactive story-game created by a doujin / amateur game developer. It has since evolved into a multi-media franchise that has spawned numerous sequels, light novels, anime, live-action movies and manga. Higurashi is currently serialized in Yen Plus magazine, but this collected first volume gives readers a chance to take in the first few chapters of this otaku-centric suspense story in one sitting.

After following the story in Yen Plus, I found that reading the first chapters in succession made it a lot easier to follow the story and feel the suspense build as Keiichi slowly realizes that his high school harem are really the Japanese version of Children of the Corn. It's also a good thing that the plot is so intriguing, because if Higurashi was judged on its art alone, this story would be completely forgettable.

Higurashi shamelessly panders to otaku fetishes by trotting out a pack of pubescent girls with saucer-sized eyes and bountiful breasts squeezed into ridiculously revealing outfits. Suzuragi's generic characters and awkward figure drawing don't do much to elevate this story to greatness either. But the overbearing cutesiness makes the secrets that the girls are hiding behind their smiles just that much creepier. While it won't wow you artistically, Higurashi is a strange but intriguing horror story that promises more twisted twists ahead.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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