Art: En Kito
Rating: $18.99 USA, $20.99 CAN
Movies based on video games rarely churn out quality works; yet manga whose origins lie in games have shown to produce considerably better results. Higurashi When they Cry presents a unique take on a manga title, utilizing an American process of trading out the artist with every new arc, giving the series a flavor unlike any other on the market.
Higurashi first originated as a series of mystery games for the PC. The games eventually grew into a series that expanded beyond the computer into the consoles with Playstation 2 and Nintendo DS being the most notable systems. The series’ popularity became such that the story branched out into other forms of media including manga and anime.
The Demon Exposing Arc serves as a side story to the series while also presenting a standalone work that makes it accessible to fans, old and new alike. The volume combines the original two into an omnibus format with a price that reaches just below $20.
The arc follows Natsumi Kimiyoshi, a typical high schooler whose family ties to reach beyond the city to the cursed town of Hinamizawa, where those who leave are forever looked down upon by the local God, Oyashiro. The family opts to cut its ties with the town and relocate to the big city and before long tragedy ensues. A toxic gas is leaked, killing every resident of Hinamizawa, prompting Natsumi’s grandmother to proclaim it the result of Oyashiro’s wrath. From there, the volume undergoes the prerequisite slow build associated with the series compete with disturbing imagery and psychological eeriness. Also familiar to the series is the sense that the arc does everything within its power to keep readers on the edge of their seats by throwing out tons of red herrings and packing in more than enough twists to fill an entire series.
The artwork represents the best of the series to date, switching between clean line-work and sketchy figures with blocks of ink poured freely throughout to highlight the more surreal elements of the story.
Despite the dramatic overkill, the volume succeeds in its goal of capturing the reader’s attention. While its still considered a side story, the Demon Exposing Arc is among the best the series has to offer. The volume stands on its own, giving new comers a done-in-one story that stands on its own while those familiar with the series will appreciate the easter eggs spliced into the volume.
For those interested in horror titles with a psychological edge, Higurashi packs enough shock value to keep readers salivating for more.