Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira
Taking place after the events of the previous series, Kira features more light-hearted stories, such as Keiichi wondering what punishments to give the girl should he win in the next round of penalty games, Rika and Satoko becoming magical girls, and Hanyuu helping a younger Rika (from an alternate timeline) find her way home.
In real life anniversaries are great. It's a lot of fun to gather around with people you know, swapping stories of all the good times you've had. It's just wonderful.
When it comes to television series anniversaries, though, it's a mixed bag. Ones for live-action series are fun to see, but animated ones typically feel like glorified clip shows. And when it comes to anniversaries for anime, it's almost always done as a last-resort cash cow.
And thus here we are with the 2011 OAV Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the famous game series. Even as someone who's watched none of the previous Higurashi anime installments, (though I have read a decent amount on it), I can still say that this OAV is an embarrassing piece of animation that disgraces the Higurashi name. It provides very little entertainment and almost no laughs, despite being labeled as a comedy.
The warning signs start after the OAV's vert first cold opening. You see, at the time Kira was in production, the original vocalist for the anime, Eiko Shimamiya, was sick. So instead of her, we're "treated" to the squeaky-voiced actresses of the series singing an awful pop song. It's the equivalent of Cowboy Bebop's iconic opening theme being replaced by a Morning Musume song, or the Aria series' lovely songs replaced with ones by Ke$ha.
But the opening theme is just a precursor to the first episode of the series. In this episode Keiichi decides to talk the series' few other male characters about finding fitting "punishments" for the girls he constantly loses against in the penalty games that he plays. I'm not going into details, but one is of Rena in a maid outfit, getting yogurt with just her mouth and a wooden spoon. (And that's one of the best jokes.) It's an awful, unfunny 29 minutes of masochistic "entertainment".
But you know what? Episode 2 might be worse, because it involves one of the most unfunny vehicles for parody an anime can rely on; magical girl parodies. Not only is this overused parody vehicle very, very rarely funny, but it also comes with the added bonus of referencing magical girl series that won't exist for over another decade or so. Seriously, Studio DEEN! Did you just forget that the Higurashi franchise takes place in 1983? (And don't give me that "but the episode takes place in alternate timeline" excuse, either, because it's 1983 Rika and Satoko who turn into the magical girls, not the girls from the other timeline.) This is the point a lot of people I've talked to about Kira abandoned ship, and I can't say I blame them.
Episode 3 is mostly about the twins' (and Rika's) feelings for Keiichi, which is actually pretty normal for the most part until the stupid "spin the bottle"-type scenario at the end of the episode. Episode 4, which revolves around Hanyuu and an alternate timeline Rika, is okay but nothing special.
One constant factor in all four episodes, though, is that almost every joke falls flat on its face. Much like with Hideki Tachibana's earlier directing work on Dragon Crisis!, he relies way too much on slapstick humor and character tropes for humor. (Haha, Rika is talking in a serious tone of voice as she threatens Hanyuu! Hilarious!) And as I've said in many reviews before, male abuse, even when played for laughs, is not funny, especially when it's uncalled for as it is here. And since there's barely any dark elements whatsoever in the series (unlike all the other Higurashi projects), several of the characters' sparks are pretty much gone. Rena in-particular does almost nothing throughout the entire OAV, and Hanyuu is little more than the series' comic relief/punching bag. If Kira had any bite at all, this wouldn't be as bad. But it doesn't; it's mostly one unfunny joke after another, occasionally uplifted by some sweet moments that don't last very long.
And yes, this isn't even the first time Higurashi has tried the humor card. There were those shorts made back in 2007-2008 for the first series' DVD releases. But there's the difference; those were extras that came with a whole, cohesive show. In the case of Higurashi no Naka Koro ni Kira, you're paying directly out of your pocket for virtually nothing but unfunny parody after unfunny parody.
So yeah, Higurashi no Naka Koro ni Kira is not worth the time or money. The only aspect improved upon the original show is the animation being more consistent, with the girls drawn a bit better than their earlier incarnations. But pretty art does not a good series make. If you're a Higurashi completist who must see every bit of the anime series, just jump straight to episode 3, never looking at the first 2 episodes.
You girls are terrible liars.
Somewhere in Japan, Ryukishi07 is crying into a pillow. And Hideki Tachibana proves for a 3rd time that he's unfit to be a director of anime. Maybe add a star or two if you skip the first two episodes completely. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: Not for kids! While there's little violence compared to the real Higurashi series, there's enough fan service, suggestive content, and weird moments that make this series unsuitable for children. Parental dissection advised.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira © 2011 Ryukishi07 / Hinamizawa Big Three
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