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When They Cry is a series of highly acclaimed but famously violent/gory (Higurashi is M rated while Umineko is A rated) doujin murder mystery/horror sound novels written by Ryukishi 07 and produced by 7th Expansion. The series is in four installments: Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai, Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, and Umineko No Naku Koro Ni Chiru. Much of the horror in this series tends to focus on pyschological horror, using the dark side of the human psyche to produce its copius amount of horror. This series is also well known for being a giant mindscrew, especially Umineko. The plot for both involve a series of similar stories that fit together into a cohesive whole in the form of a “jigsaw puzzle” style plot.
The series was inspired by the visual novels from Key Visual Arts. Ryukishi analyzed the stories and their commonalities, and got inspiration. He wanted to make his readers cry alright. Not in the form of bawing, but rather, cry as in “cry out in terror”. The rest is history.
In 2012, a relaunch of the Higurashi anime was announced. It may or may not include material from the PS2 and/or DS bonus chapters. Also in that same year, an anime movie Higurashi Kaku was announced. This film involves Hinimzawa being quaranteened due to a viral outbreak. Based on the trailers, Rena is the one who goes insane. The plot might revolve around something Rika mentions in Minagoroshi-hen.
In March of 2013, Ryuukishi 07, the author of the series announced in his blog that the next When They Cry would commence after Season 4 of Rose Guns Days finishes at the end of 2013. Likely time of release is summer 2014 given previous When They Cry releases.
Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni (When the Cicadas Cry)
Higurashi is about cycles of madness and death that occur in June 1983 in a seemingly peaceful villiage with some truly dark secrets called Hinimizawa (based on a real villiage called Shirakawa). It is up to the player to solve the cause of a series of murders known as “Oyashiro’s Curse” due to the timing being on the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival (Watanagashi). This seemingly harmless festival has dark and gruesome origins as a twisted form of Shintoism (this religious horror is commonly missed by western viewers). It is divided into four question arcs and four answer arcs (Kai). The manga was released in 2005 and ended in 2011. The anime ran from 4/2006-9/2006. Due to cutting much of the story (including a major twist regarding the Sonozaki Twins in Meakashi-hen) and the animation quality, the anime is poorly received by fans of the novels. However, despite being a bad adaptation, the anime is well received by those who came into the series via the anime first for its story telling and likable characters. The question arcs focus on the cycles of insanity that cause a band of six friends to go crazy and kill each other. The answer arcs act as solutions to the question arcs. However, the first three answer arcs ask new questions that the viewer has to solve in order to keep the mystery fresh and interesting. A enhanced version called Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Matsuri was released for the PS2.
Onikakushi-hen (Spirited Away by the Demon Chapter, released 8/10/2002): Keiichi moves into Hinimizawa and suspects Rena and Mion of the murders. Asks the questions about who or what is responsible for the chain of murders called Oyashiro’s Curse and what is the true nature of Oyashiro.
Watanagashi-hen (Cotton Drifting Chapter, released 12/29/2002): Introduces Shion Sonozaki. Raises the possibility of demonic possession being involved and asks the question of what is going on with Takano’s corpse.
--Taraimawashi-hen (Rotation Chapter): PS2 exclusive chapter that combines Onikakushi-hen and Watanagashi-hen. Main antagonist is the same as Watanagashi-hen. Shows what happens when Keiichi doesn’t get involved with the murders. Does not end well.
Tatarigoroshi-hen (Curse Killing Chapter, released 8/13/2003): Satako’s abusive uncle, known as Teppai Hojo causes trouble. After attempting to get protective services involved and failing, Keiichi decides to take vigilante action. The grisly murder or Rika Furude by what appears to be ritual disembowelment is found in the Furude Shrine. Asks the question of who is responsible for the murder in the shrine and why.
Onisarashi-hen (Demon Exposing Chapter): A manga only chapter following a timeline where the Great Hinimizawa Disaster happens (possibly the 3rd novel’s timeline?). Introduces Natsumi Kimyoshi.
--Someutsushi-hen (Stain Following Chapter): An adaptation of Onisarashi-hen that introduces Tomoe Minai, a police officer. Has a different ending.
--Kageboshi-hen (Silhouette Chapter): Told from the perspective of Minai in a fashion similar to Meakashi-hen. Has yet another different ending.
Himatsubushi-hen (Time Wasting Chapter, released 8/13/2004): Akasaka investigates events five years ago. Reveals the possibility of a time loop being involved and the idea that a “Villain Prime” is involved in the murder of Rika. Presents the theory that the Sonozakis are behind the chain of murders. Who is Villain Prime?
Meakashi-hen (Eye Opening Chapter, released 12/30/2004): Solution to Cotton Drifiting Chapter. Goes into detail regarding Shion’s past and the events of 1982. Asks the question of what caused Satoshi to disappear. Infamous for being one of the darkest, nastiest arcs in When They Cry history (given the intense violence and horror in the series, that’s saying something) with a barrage of vile acts that progressively gets worse and worse in their sheer evil. It is a polite act to warn new fans about this particular arc.
--Tsukiotoshi-hen (Exorcism Chapter): PS2 exclusive chapter similar to Tatarigoroshi-hen in which Teppai is abusing Satako. Keiichi, Rena, and Shion engage in vigilante action. Much of the cast goes insane.
--Utsutsukowashi-hen (Reality Breaking Chapter): Cancelled manga only arc that’s a prequel to Meakashi-hen. Shion while in boarding school investigates the murder or one of the teachers.
Tsumihoroboshi-hen (Atonement Chapter, released 8/14/2005): Solution to Spiritied Away by the Demon chapter. Reveals multiple theories about the events. Rena becomes more and more paranoid, starting with the actions of Yakuza (Teppai and Rina) that threaten her father. This is the first arc that indicates that the cycles of death and madness are defeatable. It is possible to figure out who Villain Prime is and the cause of the 5 years murders is at this point.
--Reunion: First episode of the anime adaptation of Kai set 20 years after Tsumihoroboshi-hen. Similar to a TIP in the visual novel..
--Yoigoshi-hen (Overnight Chapter): Manga and DS exclusive chapter set 20 years after Tsumihoroboshi-hen in a “bad end” alternatue universe in which Keiichi failed.
--Tokihogushi-hen (Untangling Chapter): DS exclusive prequel to Tsumihoroboshi-hen set in 1982. Relates to the incident with Rena in 1982.
Yakusamashi-hen (Disaster Awakening Chapter): Anime exclusive story arc requested by Ryukishi 07 to clear up plot holes created by omissions in the first season of the anime. Satako attempts to solve the mystery herself.
Minagoroshi-hen (Massacre Chapter, released 12/30/2005): Solution to Tatarigoroshi-hen. Teppai is the main antagonist again. Reveals how the alternate storylines occur Reveals who Villain Prime is.
Matsuribayashi-hen (Festival Music Chapter, released 8/13/2006): Explains the dark and tragic past of Villain Prime, explains what is the true cause of the 5 year murders, and reveals the true nature of Oyashiro. Also focuses on the struggle against fate.
--Mitosukushi-hen (Canal Dying Chapter): PS2 exclusive alternate universe chapter similar to Matsuribayashi-hen in which the cast must deal with the events of Watanagashi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen, and Tsumihoroboshi-hen all at once before dealing with Villain Prime. The DS version wraps up Tomoe’s story.
Saikoroshi-hen (Dice Killing Chapter). Epilogue to Matsuribayashi-hen from Higurashi-Rei. Rika falls into a coma and ends up in a Wonderful Life scenario. In this chapter, the origins of Bernkastel (who may or may not be the same person as Fredrica Bernkastel) are revealed, making this a VERY important plot point to Umineko.
--Kotohogushi-hen (Congratulating Chapter): DS exclusive distant prequel chapter focusing on Hanyuu’s past life in Onigafuchi (ancient name of Hinimizawa) with her husband Riki Furude and their child Ouka.
Umineko No Naku Koro Ni (When the Seagulls Cry)
Umineko is about a mass murder that occurs on an island called Rokinjima, which is owned by the Ushiromiya family. To put it lightly, this is not a happy family with strife and discord everywhere. The murders are suspected to be caused by a witch, but it is Battler’s mission to disprove such a thing. Known for being much more violent/gruesome than Higurashi. Nick named “Sea Cats”. The manga was released in 1/2008 and is currently ongoing. The anime ran from 7/2009 to 12/24/2009. The reception for the anime is generally very negative, especially as an adpatation. It was so bad that 2chan voted the anime “Worst anime of 2009”. “Chiru”, the 5th-8th novels will not get an anime adaptation due to extremely low sales of the dvd (less than 600 copies). Nippon Ichi Software got the license for the localization. This localization is a sub with all of the censorship removed. WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC (much worse than Higurashi).
Legend of the Golden Witch (released at Comiket 8/17/2007, selling out in 30 minutes): An introduction to the legends of Rokkenjima and to the Ushiromiya family. Functions like the Spiritied Away by the Demon chapter above. The first twilight is but a mere warning as to the horrors contained in this series.
Turn of the Golden Witch (released 12/31/2007): The family is revealed to have a dark history relating to black magic. Focuses on the cousins and their interactions with various characters. Introduces the “Red Truth”. Red truth is simple truth without evidence or definition. Red truth is absolute, meaning that it is forbidden/impossible to lie in red.
Banquet of the Golden Witch (released 8/16/2008): Focuses on Eva and some of the past regarding Beatrice. introduces Eva-Beatrice, a psychotic witch symbolic of the outside world (in universe) believing that Eva was the culprit.
Alliance of the Golden Witch (released 12/29/2008): Focuses on Ange, with much of the arc being 12 years after the mass murders. Introduces the “Blue Truth” which is essentially theories about an event. Blue Truth can only be countered by Red Truth, but only if the Blue Truth is completely wrong. Bernkastel starts showing her true colors, thus beginning the fan nick name of “Trollkastel”
End of the Golden Witch (released 8/15/2009): First of the “Core Arcs”. Focuses on Natsui and introduces Erika Furudo. Lambadelta is the new game master. Introduces Knox’s Commandments, which function as the rules of the mystery genre.
Dawn of the Golden Witch (released 12/30/2009): Introduces The Gold Truth, a form of “truth” influenced by belief. Focuses on Shannon and Kanon.
Requiem of the Golden Witch (released 8/14/2010): Features solutions to many of the scenarios in the previous games. Intentionally worded to have multiple meanings.
Twilight of the Golden Witch (released 12/31/2010): The final chapter that attempts to show Ange the truth. Has multiple endings.
Analyzed by region, Higurashi has the highest search volume in America, Canada, Australia, and Japan. For Umineko, that order is Japan, Canada, America, and Australia. Search interest for the series peaked around mid 2009.
In Popular culture
The series is very well known in both Japan and among western audiences (considerably less so with Umineko as of this time). Both series have anime and manga adaptations. As of 7/30/2012, Nis America announced that the anime for Umineko would be localized (not dubbed) for an American release in 12/2012. On a side note, there is a considerable movement to localize the visual novel, which interestingly enough, has its origins in the Nippon Ichi fandom.
The popularity of Higurashi caused a sizable surge in tourism to Shirakawa, the village that Hinimizawa is a near perfect replica of. The shrine there had to replace their shrine wall after the previous one was loaded to the brim with Higurashi related things.
When They Cry is very popular on 4chan, especially on /a/ and /b/. The popularity is great enough that there is a day dedicated to Higurashi called “Rena Day” on 07/07.
See the entry on this site. The phrase (translates to “That’s a lie” or “Liar”) is a phrase of doom as it means that the world is about to go to hell as Hinimizawa syndrome takes effect. Used as a response on 2chan and 4chan if it is believed a poster is lying
Best Mom Ever.
Reference to Rosa’s parenting of Maria. This abuse comes to a head in Alliance of the Golden Witch in one of Umineko’s most memorable scenes. Also used sarcastically to describe abusive parents.
Reference to an absolutely absurd blue truth Battler developed at the end of Alliance of the Golden Witch for the 1st twilight of Turn of the Golden Witch, which involves Trap X (a bunch of small explosive devices).
Verbal tic for Rika Furude. See entry.
OH DESIRE/ Kinzo Shop.
See entry for more details.
Umineko Screen Generator
See entry for more details.
- Rena Ryugu (Nick named Cleaver Girl for her trademark weapon, actually a bill hook. Origin of Uso Da and I’m taking it home with me.)
- Shion Sonozaki (Twin sister of Mion. Nick named That Psycho Yandere Chick Who Tortured Everyone to Death for her infamous/horrific actions in Watanagashi and Meakashi hen)
- Bernkastel (Witch of Miracles. Cruelest Witch in The World. Nick named “Trollkastel” for being one of the most infamous, malicious trolls in all of fiction. Only Terumi Yuuki from Blaz Blue is comparable to her in this regard. Is actually a splinter persona of Rika Furude, symbolic of all the bitterness and rage of the Rikas that did not survive. released from Rika’s subconscience after breaking free of the June 1983 cycle. )
- Rosa Ushiromiya (“Best Mom Ever” due to her very abusive treatment of her daughter Maria. Strong evidence in favor of her having Split Personality Disorder. There is a popular alternate theory going round that she is the prime culprit of the mass murders with George as the secondary culprit and Dr. Nanjo as the accomplice.)
- Rika Furude (Main character of Higurashi in the last two arcs. Is the origin of the Nipah meme. Voted most moe character in 2007.)
- Kinzo Ushiromiya (Origins of the OH Desire/ Kinzo Shop meme. Is already dead.)
- Miyo Takano (Named “Droopy-tan” for her perpretually stoned looking expression.)
- Detective Oooishi (Named “Mr. Delicious” due to his name and his drowling voice.)
- Trolls Trolling Trolls Trolling Trolls. (Nick name for Umineko due to the LARGE number of trolls in the cast i.e. virtually all the witches, whose trolling varies wildly in terms of maliciousness. Best explemlified by “Trollkastel”.)
- Repeat it in red. insert phrase in red text (A request to confirm that something is true by writing the response in red. Red statements are a language of truth in Umineko.)
- Multi-colored text debates. (Spawned as the result of the addition of “blue truth” and eventually “Gold Truth”. Eventually other colors such as green for fourth wall breaking statements and purple for Shrodinger’s truth became added.)
- DEEEEEENNNNNNN! (Based on Studio DEEN’s reputation for bad adaptations. Especially holds true for Umineko, which was voted “Worst Anime of 2009” by 2 chan.)
- Umineko ruined Christmas (Phrase that refers to the December 24 release of the final episode of the Umineko anime. This might repeat again with the localization being released shortly before Christmas.)
- I’m taking it home with me (Catch phrase of Rena whenever she sees something “cute”. She seems to gain super strength upon this trigger and is known to kidnap people if they’re the target as Hanyuu found out. In the Atonement chapter, this quirk is revealed to have dark origins i.e. essentially “marking her territory” which developed after a betrayal of her trust by her mother.) Otherwise known as Omochikaeri.
Relations to other works/memes/fandoms.
The When They Cry and Nippon Ichi fandoms tend to get along very well, with much intersect (there are a reasonably decent amount of Nippon Ichi fans that are also fans of When They Cry). One of the influencing factors in the localization of the Umineko anime state side was a movement within the Nippon Ichi fandom.
Similar to the relationship between the fandoms and When They Cry and Nippon Ichi. The movement to localize Umineko is also very strong in this community as well. Similar deal with Arc-Sys.
Puella Madoka Magi Magica.
Due to the work being very dark and copious amounts of tears being shed by the cast, the show is jokingly given the nick name “Shouen Magica No Naku Koro Ni”. Due to the many common circumstances between Homura Akemi and Rika Furude, Homura is given the nick name, “Homurika” as a joke.
The same events that triggered “Nice Boat” also affected Higurashi, resulting in episodes of the Higurashi Kai anime to be temporarially pulled. There is speculation that the Nice Boat incident may of actually been out of fear towards Higurashi, since the murder weapon in question is very similar to Rena’s weapon of choice.
Kodomo No Jikan Ending Parodies
A parody video involving Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni was the catalyst for this meme becoming popular.