Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When the Cicadas Cry): A VN, Anime and Manga ComparisonPosted: November 8, 2011
Higurashi is, to put it simply, a murder mystery, dojin visual novel. Created by Ryukishi07 and produced by 07th Expansion, it was split into eight arcs which were dived into four each.
The first four (Onikakushi-hen/Abducted by Demons arc, Watanagashi-hen/Cotton Drifiting arc, Tatarigoroshi-hen/Curse Killing arc and Himatsubushi-hen/Time Wasting arc) are called the question arcs and the last four (Meakashi-hen/Eye Opening arc, Tsumihoroboshi-hen/Atonement arc, Minagoroshi-hen/Massacre arc and Matsuribayashi-hen/Festival Accompanying) are called the answer arcs and go by Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (When the Cicadas Cry Solution). And, lastly, there is Saikoroshi-hen/Dice Killing arc in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei (When the Cicadas Cry Gratitude) which is an epilogue to the series.
However, this series isn’t a bunch of novels you read. They’re called games for the reason that Ryukishi07 wants you to try and figure out the mystery in Higurashi and discuss it with others!
So, with that said, I’m going to go through the VN’s, anime and manga and compare the differences noted! I’ll be starting with the first arc, Onikakushi-hen/”Abducted by Demons”. In Ryukishi07’s words, it “depicts the themes I want to depict in the overall story most simply.”And the summary given from the sound novel is “Welcome to the world of ‘Higurashi When They Cry’. Abducted by Demons is the opening scenario that invites you to this world. Relax and enjoy life in Hinamizawa. The difficult is quite high, but that is just one more thing to be enjoyed.”
Note: Since I will be going through all the arcs in the Higurashi series and making a comparison, there will be spoilers abound! That been said, I still strongly recommend that you give the VN, Anime and manga a chance regardless! Even if you know the story beforehand the experience of the VN, anime and manga is still great none the less! Now, onto the comparison!
Prologue/Episode One (Part One)
The VN starts off ‘Onikakushi-hen’ with a poem by someone called Frederica Berkastel, and then a distressed monologue by our narrator of the first three question arcs, Keiichi Maebara. It’s pretty clear, after reading through it, that Keiichi has beaten a girl (later to be revealed to be Rena Ryugu) to death and is continuing to do so during the opening monologue. What a pleasant start, right?! In the VN, Keiichi goes into a lot of detail about his experiences with Rena and how upset he is about the fact that he’s had to kill her. The prologue is chock filled with material for KeiichixRena (compared to the anime) and even ends with Keiichi lamenting over how much he loved her!
Which brings me to the question: Who even gives a monologue while beating someone repeatedly!? Pretty slick, Maebara! Horrible, but slick!
So that’s the VN’s introduction to the Higurashi series and Onikakushi-hen! It doesn’t hold back in letting you, the player, know that you’re in for a bumpy ride and you can bet that it’s only going to get worse from there! One of the strength’s of the VN compared to the anime is it really lets you into Keiichi’s head and makes you feel for the guy. Considering he’s just murdered someone in cold blood, that’s pretty impressive! Also, the prologue is ominous enough that you don’t really know who he’s killed and what’s going on. It’s a good opening and really peaks the readers interest to continue playing!
The anime’s introduction to the first arc really starts out with a bang! After the month and year is briefly mentioned (Early June, 1983), we cut straight to Keiichi furiously beating the ever loving crap out of two, mostly likely dead, girls (Mion and Rena as we will learn). Compared to the VN where Keiichi is in a trance-like state and thinking through his situation as he continues beating the bodies, Keiichi in the anime just attacks in a blind rage and only stops when he’s physically unable to. The anime’s prologue, to the first time watcher, can only be described as a slap in the face and a massive, “what the fuck have I just watched!?” That said, it’s an impressive opening, no doubt about that, and it allows the reader to sit back and watch in anticipation to see how Keiichi got to this point where he’d kill his two friends.
The manga, in my opinion, is the best one. I’m really not saying this because I love the Higurashi manga series. Instead, I say this because of the impact said prologue has over the rest of the arc. In the manga, the reader simply gets a one page prologue which includes Frederica Bernkstel’s poem and various hints of the events that transpired in the VN’s prologue. By far the most powerful image is the one of Keiichi sobbing and I almost wish the VN was able to include it in some way.
The big difference between the manga compared to the anime and VN is that it leaves out the murder in the prologue all together. Oh sure they leave a slight hint with the bloody bat but, apart from that, there’s no other mention. It leaves in the mystery of the VN but takes out the knowledge of what has happened and instead leaves the reader simply wondering what’s happened to Keiichi to make him such a sobbing wreck. Its great move by the artist, Karin Suzuragi, and it really gives the eventual climax of the arc a big emotional impact on the reader!
One thing we will see later on is that the manga is really good at playing with the readers emotions. It’s like a cat. One minute it’s laying there on its back, cute as hell, and inviting you to stroke its stomach, the next it’s biting and clawing you with its feet without any mercy!
So that’s the prologue out of the way! Next post will deal with chapter one when we’re introduced to Hinamizawa and Keiichi’s group of friends! Until next time and I hope you enjoyed my comparison! :)