That’s right, folks! Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, AKA When They Cry is back! Going by likes that have trickled in over the months since I wrapped up the first season, it looks like this was one of the more popular TV show I’ve covered so it makes sense to circle back to it with October right around the corner. But instead of diving straight into season 2–When They Cry: Kai–Wikipedia convinced me I should watch Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Nekogoroshi-hen, a special that takes place between seasons 1 and 2, also known as Cat Killing Chapter. But don’t let the name make you worry! This isn’t a retread of Revolutionary Girl Utena episode 10, so not actual animals were harmed in the episode. And really, no one died outside of flashbacks from years ago, so this is one of the more peaceful episodes of the series, in a weird way.
Quick recap–I’ll do a bigger one when we get to Kai—When They Cry is the story of Keiichi Maebara and his friends, Rika Furude, Rena Ryugu, Mion Sonozaki, and Satoko Hojo–living in the small town of Hinamizawa. What appears to be a cute slice of life turns into psychological horror as the kids run into horrible situations leaving most of them dead, only to have everything reset for the next story. Rika is somehow aware of the resets and the tragedies that will occur, but she hides this from the others. Keiichi is sometimes aware, getting flashes of horrible things he’d done when he wasn’t in his right mind. What is really going on in this town? That’s a question for a later post, because right now I have no idea. Anyway, on to the side story!
The gang is playing cards where the loser has to dress up in a ridiculous costume and walk around town. They all get really into things which somehow leads to no clear winner, so they all have to dress up. For reference, Keiichi is dressed like a combination of Alice (in Wonderland) and the White Rabbit, Rena is dressed like a Japanese preschooler, Rika is a catgirl nurse, Satoko looks ready for Chinese New Year, and Mion is basically Doja Cat. Tired of everyone staring at them, they head to the isolated village of Yagouchi. Rika silently hates this idea, letting us know that place is really bad. Finding ruined homes, the girls explain to Keiichi that the village used to house people working at a nearby quarry before the business that owned it went out of business. The president made a bad deal, lost the business, then killed himself and his family at the quarry. The area is said to be haunted by his vengeful spirit. Tragedy continued to strike as 7 or 8 years ago–back when Mion was a little girl–she and some friends were playing kick the can at the quarry when a scary man chased them away. Huh, he looks exactly like the nameless goons who seem to be in on whatever conspiracy is gripping Hinamizawa. Anyway, the kids all ran home, except for one. His father went looking for him and apparently did find him at the quarry, but they died in a car crash on the way back home. To add to the mystery, the whole quarry smelled of rotten eggs–sulfur–no one could figure out why the kid was still at the quarry, and what caused the car accident was unknown. But detective Keiichii is on the case, suggesting that the quarry may have had leaking containers of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas. If the kid inhaled it he may have fainted, and if his dad inhaled it that could’ve led to the fatal car crash. Piecing it all together makes Mion really want to check out the quarry but Rika speaks beyond her apparent age, saying some places are evil and taboo for a reason. Curiosity killed the cat, after all. Hey, that’s what the title’s about! Something Rika says reminds Keiichi of the time he killed Rena and Mion in Spirited Away by the Demon, with the added context from Atonement that he was drugged and insane at the time. The spooky vibes make the gang decide not to investigate, and Rika silently thinks that they’ve avoided the curse… for now. But before the episode ends, we see a strange man–if not the same strange man that scared Mion and friends away years ago–at the quarry, smiling.
After the credits we get a cute scene where the kids walk home surrounded by hissing cats, apparently upset at the title. I’m with you, cartoon cats…
It’s interesting that this is a special coming between two seasons and not considered a part of either. I suppose because it’s a one-off that doesn’t end in heartbreak and death, but the new information about the quarry is what the episode is really about. Is it going to be important? Someone is keeping the existence of possible hydrogen sulfide close to the town a secret, but to what end? Is this just more spooky atmosphere for the series, or will this be important later? I kind of think this might be related to the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, when–supposedly–volcanic gas filled Hinamizawa and killed just about everyone in it (as we saw in Curse Killing and Time Wasting). Mysteries upon mysteries. Good thing we’re in the answer arcs, right?
Answers may come soon enough as I’m almost ready to jump into When They Cry: Kai! I say “almost” because I’ve been checking my comprehensive list of reviews, and if I hold off on starting the next season until after What If…? has finished, then my 400th post should fall on Halloween. Sorry, I know I’m teasing returning to this series only to hold off for a few more weeks, but such a milestone falling on the spookiest day of the year is just too good an opportunity to pass up. So check back in a few weeks when I hit the first chapter of the second season, Reunion!
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