"onikakushi-ken”, the first electronic title of the series “Higurashi no Naku Koro never” (“When Cicadas Cry”) was released in Japan in August 2002 for PC.
It came out in a visual novel style and based on the NScripter engine, information that, these days, will only say something to the most informed programmers.
The enigmatic plot of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.
The story took place in a fictional rural village called Hinamizawa. The place is apparently peaceful and quiet.
Until the newcomer protagonist Keiichi Maebara discovers that, in the last four years, one person has died and another disappeared during the Watanagashi-matsuri (Floating Cotton Festival) that there pays homage to the village guardian Oyashiro-sama.
Throughout the games, intrigued and determined, the teenager investigates the various mysteries she is faced with.
Not satisfied with the already complex plot passed to boards and computers, the creators took the trouble to develop an equally or more exhaustive and, surprisingly macabre, historical context.
It was this dynamic dichotomy between the prevailing loathsome look between the characters and the malevolent involvement behind it that attracted and retained the series' fans.
Ryukishi07 the Mentor of the Series … Bloodthirsty
His main mentor, Ryukishi07 (Knight of the Dragon), confessed himself to be an inveterate fan of the electronic-Japanese epic “final Fantasy”. By the way, the Ryugu Reina of “Higurashi no Naku Koro never” – one of his 6 teenagers – was inspired by the semi-eponymous heroine of that other production.
According to Ryukishi's imagination, centuries before, Watanagashi was known as the Festival of the Floating Guts.
It served for the villagers to cleanse their sins with the blood of a tortured human using tools available in the fictional Furude temple.
Something that was done by a meticulous process that involved driving nails into each knuckle of the victim's fingers before a priest removed his stomach and intestines with a hoe-like instrument. This was followed by an intricate dance.
The entrails and the body would then be thrown into the river and float with the current, thus symbolizing the turning away from people's sins.
In more recent times, the original Watanagashi had begun to be seen as too violent and cruel. The villagers thus adapted the other meaning of the prefix cotton wool (cotton instead of intestines).
From then on, they contributed old garments whose cotton would be removed and gathered into a large futon.
The priest proceeded to gut the Futon instead of an unfortunate human and it would be up to each villager to remove a piece of the filling to float in the river.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: more than a Series, a Long Saga
Several other events and past connections spice up the unfolding of the saga that follows the most unexpected formulas of psychological suspense.
As of August 2006, there were already eight games. “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni” was so successful that it justified the release of animated CDs. Shortly thereafter, the manga adaptation followed, published in the magazine “Gangan Powered” with illustrations by the famous artist Karin Suzuragi.
Almost at the same time, the anime version “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai” and a set of original video animations came out.
The success, increasingly international, has never ceased to grow and this last experience, in particular, justified, in 2008, the film adaptation of the series.
The Historical and Virtual Discovery of Shirakawa-Go
Last time we toured Japan, we felt the same inspiring appeal as Ryukishi07 by Shirakawa-Go, an interior and semi-rural stronghold of Hida region UNESCO classified as a World Heritage Site in order to protect its culture.
In particular, the houses gassho-zukuri ("praying hands"), perfected over the centuries in order to resist the capricious weather in one of the most snowy areas on Earth.
We visited the place with high expectations which, despite the almost inevitable excessive flow of visitors to the islands of the rising sun, ended up being fulfilled.
We have reached the end of the second day of exploring the area. The sun has already disappeared behind the steep slope of Hakusan Mountain. The night is announced over the Shokawa Valley.
The Meeting with the Kigurumis of the Series and the Author, in Ogimashi
Without any warning, the mysterious setting of the Hachiman-jinja temple is invaded by a bunch of kigurumis (people-animated puppets).
Their gaudy, candid figures wander over the uneven staircase. They insinuate and interact with movements and poses so expressive and sentimental that they could seduce the rudest of humans.
A coordinated group of photographers, who react to any request, pursue them, under the relaxed and affable supervision of Chikima, one of the creative sui generis who then developed the series.
The Passage of the Series to the Cinema Screens
In the time that passed, the film had had an excellent box office return. It justified the studio's bet on a cinematographic sequel “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Chikai”, a title that, in good Japanese fashion, once again explored the double meaning of words: naku can mean both “sounds made by non-human organisms” and “crying” .
In each episode of the long saga, the protagonist discovers that one of her friends had been demonized and committed the crimes. To top things off, as a rule, the victims are their own friends: Mion, Shion, Rena, Satoko, Hanyū and Rika.
The story unfolds in question chapters, answer chapters and some extra ones. Parallel endings are also created, some terrifying and some milder.
At the end of 2009, it was released for Playstation “Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Matsuri: Kakera Asobi".
In this version, if players make certain decisions, they can generate a more terrible or pleasant outcome for two different purposes of the series: "Miotsukushi-hen" (Drainage of the Channel) which is, according to the author, the true or happiest ending "matsuribayashi-hen” (Festival Music).
The Series that Comes to Life among Ogimashi's Pines and Cypresses
When we meet the kigurumis, despite the somewhat chilling scenery formed by the Japanese pine and cypress trees of the Ogimashi forest, the group is safe and exhibits their best expressions of empathy.
We took the opportunity to enter, for a moment, in that improbable socializing and we photographed in her company and in Chikima's without much verbal communication for more than a few “sugoys” (cool, cute) and “arigatos” or were it not for those Japanese, like most, incapable of using foreign languages and, for us, mere lazy students of their demanding dialect.
There are only a few minutes left for the dark to completely take over the valley and the onlookers who accompanied the promotional action have already disbanded.
the roofs of gassho they give off white smoke with the smell of wood right next to the makeshift parking lot where we had left the rental car, in a sort of yard full of loaded persimmons. There, we witnessed an unexpected demystification of the series.
We find the van of Chikima's entourage near ours.
After another day's work, the young people who animated the seven kigurumis took off their hair and suits and turned into flesh-and-blood teenagers – more bone than flesh, by the way.
In their underwear, in a near-zero temperature, they were shivering with cold, eager to change that unpleasant end.