Review: Higurashi – When They Cry – Festival Accompanying Arc, Volume 1 / Author: Ryukishi07 / Artist: Karin Suzuragi / Published by: Yen Press / Release Date: Out Now
The truth about Hinamizawa Syndrome is finally exposed. Why are the natives of remote Japanese village Hinamizawa suffering from some violent reactions to stress, and what drives them to scratch out their own throats in madness? As the series hurtles towards a conclusion, origins are revealed to some of the most shadowy characters, and all the pieces begin lining up for one last battle to survive.
Many theories about the truth behind Hinamizawa syndrome have been explored throughout the series, and the beauty of Higurashi: When they Cry is that the story has been endlessly retold from different perspectives, so that no one theory gives a definitive answer. Several constants run throughout every story thread though; the paranoia suffered by Hinamizawa natives when placed under extreme stress, the order of deaths on a preordained night, and the shadowy figures pulling the strings in the background.
The Festival Accompanying Arc is, I think, the final story arc, and as such we’re looking to have our questions answered. Past story arcs told of the motivations of most of the characters, but this is the first time we read directly about the people most responsible for the violence and bloodshed. As always in Higurashi, there are no two-dimensional villains, just people driven by very different needs and desires, coping with past trauma to greater or lesser extents.
Whilst we're sure that Higurashi must have some shortcomings as a series, we're blind to them. This is without question my favourite manga series of all time, just as I love the anime and the games. The combination of sincerity and bloodthirstiness, the mixture of teen angst and dismemberment, and the myriad retellings that helped me to know every member of the cast intimately, all combine to create a story that I would recommend unreservedly to anybody even remotely interested in reading a dark and unique vision of teenage life in rural Japan. Perfect.