The original When They Cry - Higurashi was an interesting concept, but repetitive as hell in execution. The tale of the murders that cursed the small Japanese mountain village of Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983 held my interest for a while, but when it became obvious that they were just repeating the same general tale over and over and over again I kind of glazed my mind over and watched the show in a haze in order to just finish the damn thing.
When I was told that When They Cry was getting a sequel series I swore to Heccubus himself that I would not subject myself to the same iterative storytelling again if I didn't have to. Fuck Higurashi! Fuck its sequel!
But then October rolled around and I found myself looking for a scary and possibly spectral anime show to watch in order to get me into the Halloween spirit. Nothing new and creepy had come out for a while, and that's when I started thinking, "*Siiiigh* Maybe Higurashi wasn't that bad... I might could ought to be able to handle its sequel. I mean, the first series had some good shocks and some really amazing gore. Maaaaaybe..." Then I slapped myself around a bit until the thought left my head. Then I got a letter from a reader who told me I simply needed to see When They Cry - Higurashi 2 (Solutions). Not only was it claimed to be outright better than the original (not that great a feat really), but it supposedly answered ALL of my questions that I had with the first season. Against my better judgment (fearing more repetition than a sex scene in a cheap hentai video), I gave the second season a go, hoping for something sort-of-sinister, and possibly satanic in order to ring the holiday in right.
Things started off very interestingly. The first chapter of When They Cry - Higurashi 2 made me think "Damn! They really ARE taking this thing in a new and cool direction! Sweet!" The first episode takes place about 25 years after the entire Village of Hinamizawa was mysteriously wiped out (as seen in one of the many chapters of the original series). The cop who had come to the village to investigate the kidnapping of the grandson of the Minister of Construction (in one of the the middle chapters of season 1), and who met the young Rika Furude (one of the kids forced to relive the nightmare murders of the first series over and over again, who gave this cop an eerie prophecy at the time), meets up in the ghost town of Hinamizawa (in 2008) with the old and retired cop who pushed a few plot threads along in the first season. And then Rena Ryugu (another one of the main kids from the first season... Shit, I'm going to be saying "first season" a shit load in this review, so I'll just shorten it to "FS" from now on. Christ...) shows up, all older and crazy, and all the gathered characters exchange information and wonder what exactly happened in the summer of '83 when the town went to shit in a shit basket and everyone died. What intrigued me most about this first episode was that the characters kept referencing events from many of the separate chapters in the FS, when each story arc was really its own individual universe. Fascinating!!
Then, starting with episode 2 we jumped back into the same mess and the plot of the FS. GODDAMMIT! Right back to the Watanagashi Festival that always seemed to be the center of the mysterious murders and disappearances in the FS. Things are a bit different the second time around though; the biggest hint of this difference is the even bigger and crazier split personality that Rika is affected with right from the start, and the heavy influence of Quantum Leap by the writers. Honestly, Rika plays the role of Sam, that crazy invisible girl is Al, and there's always something that they must make right that once went wrong. They also borrow heavily from The Terminator what with the massive repitition of the catchphrase "There is no fate but what we make." But other than that, it's just more of the same shit, different season.
So, after that flash-forward first episode we go back to the long story arcs in which the cute characters are all doomed to horrific fates in the end, and there doesn't appear to be anything that can stop the shittiness that their lives become... At least not at first (and disappointingly without any of the usual blood and gore of the FS). After all these takes on the Watanagashi Fest though it seems that Quantum Leaper Rika is FINALLY starting to get through to and save some of her friends from making the same mistakes of the past, and together they're able to use the fire of their burning hearts to hammer some holes into the shitty fabric of their usually crappy destiny (Was that a mixed metaphor or just a terrible one?)... But it never seems to be enough. Ugh, and the third chapter fills up EIGHT fucking episodes. Honestly, this part was stretched 4 eps too long.
The fourth chapter was a nice twist on the usual tale as we flip things over to see the background of the chief antagonist in order to see why this person is so annoyingly evil during the events that constantly unfold and re-unfold in Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983. At first I accepted this plotline and actually thought to myself, oh, that's so sad... This character didn't MEAN to become evil. But then I realized just how retarded the whole flashback story was. This person is put in the most psychotically hateful orphanage EVER CREATED after a bus crash kills their loving parents. This orphanage openly beats and tortures kids, and is only run by older, angry, freaky men. Did ANYBODY ever think to look into this place? Any child service people take a tour of the facility, or hell, even just walk in the front door?
"Excuse me, sir? I'm with the Children's Social Welfare Department, here for your annual inspection... I'm just wondering, what's that room in the back of the main hallway just behind the bathroom? The one where all the bloodied children keep coming out of?"
"Oh... Oh, that? Uhhhh, just another bathroom? Yeah, the floor's slippery. The kids keep slipping and breaking their arms and noses."
"Hhhhhhhm, how odd that. May I check it out?"
"NO! No, it's not a torture and rape room for all the little yummy girls and boys we have here.. Nope. There's definitely no spattered blood on the walls either! Don't go in there!!"
"Oh, okay then. So, is there a playground here?"
"Nope. We lock all the doors with chains and heavy bolts 24/7. Those little fuckers never get out."
The jumps in logic are appalling. And I won't even get into the Hinamizawa Syndrome (straight out of a shitty 1960s B-movie plot). Yes, everything (and I mean everything) from the FS is finally explained in Solutions, but a good portion of the explanations are just ho-hum or categorized as "retardedly silly". Oh, wait! No! One great mystery is NEVER explained or even hinted at. It's the greatest mystery that I had while watching the FS: Why the goddamn FUCK does Mion carry that gun with her if she's never going to USE it?! There are several instances in which either her life or her friends' lives are in mortal danger thanks to some asshole adults hunting them down like dogs, and they do everything within their powers to survive.... except using lethal bullety force themselves. Why bother carrying the damn thing in the first place. And is it even legal in Japan? She's obviously not a 16 year-old secret agent, and hell, she doesn't even bother to conceal the damn thing. How does a 16 year-old in Japan get a gun license in the first place?
So the storylines are all too long again, we spend most of this season back in the 1983 Watanagashi Festival days (again), we still have all of the goofy-silly-annoying openings to the story arcs (again), only this season we miss all of the cringe-worthy, fucking fantastic, terrible death scenes that begin and end each of the FS chapters. Oh, and what really ticked me off is that starting with episode 14 or 15 the biggest and most explanation-filled scenes in the show take place AFTER the closing credits (NOTHING had previously been shown after the credits for a season and a half up till then! Why start doing this now?! How many poor fucks missed them entirely?). Crap. Fuck. Shit.
Holy dog cooter! An' Ah thought that the first Higi-piggy Washi show was repetitive an' borin'. At least those episodes had some good ole' fashioned Japanese hillbilly violence peppered throughout. Ah loved all the deaths by baseball bats, machetes, blunt objects, an' so on an' on... But in this show there was none of that stuff. Some kids got snuffed with some bullets one time, but that happens in cop shows and movies all the time. It was simply all the bore of the first show, but none of the sparkly shine. None of the special things that set it all apart.
It's like that one time that mah cousin Jimmy Bob "Sasquatch" Feegle and some of his good ole' friends were runnin' around the woods shootin' each other with paintballs and such... Yeah, it was kind of sort of interestin' to watch from the deer-huntin' stand that Ah was on (no deer that day, so no biggie that them boys was makin' such a fuss). But then Joe Billy Cletus got the idea that "paint balls is lame, but a paint knife, well then, that's somethin' special!" That's when he ran back to the house, came back with an assortment of mah best cutlery and a gallon of baby blue #45 from that Dutch Boy brand that I had left over from paintin' mah Ford last month. He then spent the rest of the afternoon dippin and hurlin' knives around like he was a big redneck ninja. He did win the paintball match, but the cops done one-upped him in their choice of weapons: Real bullets an' tasers. You've never seen a hillbilly dance 'nless you see that fat bastard shot an' then tasered 3 times — once in the man berries. He was still twitchin' 3 days later at his wake... An' Ah never could use mah knives again after that mess... He done bent the tips and dulled the edges like nobody's business.
Anyway, the first part of that day was all borin', like the second part of Higgly Piggly Washi. But the second part of the day got real original and cool an' all, and at least had some very filmable violence in it, just like the first part of the show. Which would y'all rather watch?
Sonovabitch! This second season of this kiddy show was even less like a Jr. Fight Club than the first! Was this on at an earlier time slot than the first season? Yeah, there was some tenseness and who-done-it going on, but really, this When They Cry made me want to GIVE it something to cry about!! And when we find out what all the mysteries were about throughout this whole thing it was like "what?!" It was just so stupid! And not even supernatural in the least. The Rossman promised me a spooky and creepy Halloween show, and this was not it. Well, there was that lame ghostly girl, but she never skinned anybody or ate a cat or anything... Ugh. Instead, to make up for it, I carved a pentagram in the Rossman's forehead, shoved some candles up every hole I could find on him, and then invited the Wolfman over to sacrifice his soul to whatever demons were listening.