When They Cry (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni)
"Friends. Those companions you speak of are only friends during those fun, yet unimportant times. When painful times come, they won't be your ally."
When I first stumbled upon Higurashi, I'll be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect. Weirdly enough, I didn't first encounter this anime through a recommendation or though a forum post, but through a game called Stepmania. Kind of like a review I wrote a little while back, I wasn't exposed to any media for this series or spoiled by anything. And when I finally decided to dip head first into this series, it resulted in, in this order, a raised eyebrow, confusion, a raised eyebrow so high up that it could be orbiting the planet, more confusion, and then astonishment.
But enough about that. Let's actually discuss what I saw: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni.
Now, most people who come into this series (myself included) without any prior knowledge of how the series works will no doubt be extremely confused when the 4th episode of the series is concluded. At that point, the series does a bit of a reset and confuses the viewers even more. But rest assured, the series does indeed answer itself in due time as to what is happening. If you are not interested in sitting around and waiting two seasons for an explanation, either find someone else to beg and convince you to watch it or drop it and move along.
Each of the characters are diverse and unique in their own ways and each have some sort of mental illness ranging from abusive pasts, trauma, psychopathic tendencies, but most importantly, paranoia. You have the female and male protagonists (who sometimes change from arc to arc), the tomboy, the caring one, and the mischievous one. In my opinion, most of the characters in Higurashi are likeable, but I suppose it varies from person to person.
The artwork for Higurashi was created by Studio DEEN who, in my experience in the anime world, have only produced one series that is worth of note: the original Fate/Stay Night series and its alternate retelling movie Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. In all honesty, the series does not do a horrible job with the artwork for Higurashi at least in the more mellow scenes, but when it comes to the more gruesome and crazy scenes involving blood and gore, it seems a bit out of place to be honest.
The majority of the music for Higurashi was made by the composer Kenji Kawai who is responsible for composing the original soundtracks for Eden of the East, Fate/Stay Night, and the original Ghost in the Shell movies. Though I found most of Kawai's music to be generally enjoyable, I can't necessarily give any special merit to any of the tracks for Higurashi, except for maybe its main theme which fits absolutely perfectly with the more somber moments of the series.
As for the dub of the series, I have watched the dub from front to back and really, there isn't much great to say about it. I mean, the dub certainly isn't something as almighty as Fullmetal Alchemist, but it's not something as horrible as an anime like Karin or Final Fantasy Unlimited (I'm warning you to not go anywhere near these two). The majority of the characters voice actors or actresses are either B or C list actresses who aren't very well-known (such as Mela Lee and Grant George) and the only person I can really give any special merit to would be the only (sort of) A-list actress: Megan Hollingshead (mainly for her performance as both twins in this scene (spoilers for those who haven't watched past the 5th arc of season one). So I suppose what I'm trying to say is that unless you absolutely refuse to read subtitles, you'd be better off just watching the show with the original audio.
Also, a little side note, for some reason the English dub was only made for the first season and was never done for Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai or Rei.
Now here comes the part where I give you my overall opinion on the series. When I first watched this, I wasn't very fond of reading English subtitles and didn't really feel much of a connection with the original Japanese voice actors, so I decided to wait for Kai and Rei to be released with a dub in the west. Unfortunately, that day never came, I had a lot of people criticizing me for not watching them as soon as I finished the first season, so I decided to finally finish it and absolutely loved it. Great storytelling, complex plot and characters, and superb voice acting (by the Japanese voice actors) left me with recommending this to any individual asking for a suggestion and was a fan of the genre. If you have a fair bit of patience and are a fan of the horror or mystery genres, I cannot recommend this to you more than I am now.
If you'd like me to review a show, go ahead and comment down below and I'll see what I can do so long as it's not an extremely bulky series (Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail, One Piece, etc.) ^_^