Notes On Higurashi: Story Arcs

So I managed to re-watch some of the Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni episodes a couple of weeks ago – and even read a few manga chapters – but couldn’t find enough time to dwell more into this story.

If you don’t know – ひぐらしのなく頃に – Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is a Japanese murder mystery dojin soft sound novel series produced by 07th Expansion. The games are built on the NScripter game engine and are playable on the Windows operating system. Drama CDs, manga volumes, anime adaptations, live-action movies and TV series were produced over the years – the title becoming more and more successful. And here I want to share the details about the story arcs that can be found in all the related Higurashi productions. I said this many times – and I risk repeating myself – I planned a while ago to try to write more and more about the anime series and movies I am watching – to work on individual episode reviews and so on – but with my job and my other responsibilities – I just can’t find enough time to watch stuff – and also to write reviews. But I will try to keep a record of what I am watching.

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Below are details about the story arcs found in some of the known Higurashi media productions.

Story arcs

In the Higurashi games, there are several story arcs, the original eight of which are referred to as either question arcs or answer arcs. The answer arcs generally recapitulates the events of the corresponding question arc, but from a different perspective, using the change of protagonist to solve various mysteries and come to a different conclusion. Each of the eight original games for the PC represented separate arcs of the overall story-line. Apart from the main question and answer relationship, the story of the arcs are not directly connected, although a multitude of parallels exist which allow the observant reader to gain extra insight into the mystery.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

The Higurashi: When They Cry (ひぐらしのなく頃に Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) games form what are referred to as the question arcs. These first four games of the series were meant to give the player a sense of the world where the story takes place and introduce the mysterious circumstances surrounding the village of Hinamizawa. Since there are no concrete answers given to the questions that the story presents in these arcs, the question arcs allow the player to form his or her own opinions about the events taking place in the village. Each question arc game contains all of the previous question arcs.

Onikakushi-hen (鬼隠し編, “Demoned Away Chapter”)
The chapter introduces the player to the world of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. The player is shown the simple rural life of the village, the after-school club activities, and the friendships of the main characters. However, things take a sinister turn after the Watanagashi Festival, when Keiichi discovers what his new friends have been concealing from him. The chapter implies that Rena and Mion are the villains.

Watanagashi-hen (綿流し編, “Cotton Drifting Chapter”)
The player should have an overall idea of how life in the village resembles. Once again, the chapter begins for the Watanagashi Festival again marking the start of the bad events. An ancient curse strikes and a pair of sisters are not what they seem. Shion Sonozaki makes her first appearance in the chapter, while Mion is portrayed as the villain.

Tatarigoroshi-hen (祟殺し編, “Curse Killing Chapter”)
Keiichi and Satoko develop a brother-sister relationship. When Satoko’s abusive uncle returns to the village, Keiichi attempts to help Satoko with drastic measures. However, as more people die, it is clear he is not the only one involved. The spotlight shines on Satoko Hojo as the “victim”. The chapter implies that Keiichi is a villain.

Himatsubushi-hen (暇潰し編, “Time Killing Chapter”)
Five years before the first three chapters, Tokyo police investigator, Mamoru Akasaka, investigates a kidnapping of a politician’s grandchild around the village. Soon, he too becomes implicated in the mysteries of the village. The chapter focuses on Rika Furude as being the key part of the mystery.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai

The Higurashi: When They Cry Kai (ひぐらしのなく頃に解 Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, “When Cicadas Cry Solutions”) games form what are known as the answer arcs. The last four games released in the series, were, in contrast to the question arcs, meant to answer all of the questions presented in the first half of the series. These arcs can be considered the “solutions” of the previous arcs. Each answer arc game contains all of the previous answer arcs.

Meakashi-hen (目明し編, “Eye Opening Chapter”)
Meakashi-hen is the answer arc corresponding to Watanagashi-hen. The chapter consists of events very similar to those of Watanagashi-hen told from the perspective of Shion. After Satoshi kills his aunt, the chapter implies that Shion is a villain.

Tsumihoroboshi-hen (罪滅し編, “Atonement Chapter”)
Tsumihoroboshi-hen is the answer arc corresponding to Onikakushi-hen. Unlike Meakashi-hen, Tsumihoroboshi-hen’s story is drastically different from the plot of its question arc. In Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Rena experiences a situation similar to Keiichi’s in Onikakushi-hen, as she makes a terrible mistake and becomes distrustful of her former friends. It is the first chapter with a (seemingly) happy ending, although the tips reveal an evil twist.

Minagoroshi-hen (皆殺し編, “Massacre Chapter”)
On the surface, Minagoroshi-hen is the solution to Tatarigoroshi-hen; however, it answers most of the major common mysteries of the previous arcs. It is told from the perspective of Rika Furude. Most notably, the true identity of the murderer is finally revealed in Minagoroshi-hen. After Minagoroshi-hen, one more effort is needed to seal the story into a happy ending.

Matsuribayashi-hen (祭囃し編, “Festival Accompanying Chapter”)
With all pieces of the puzzle in place, it’s up to the characters to join forces in order to defeat the culprit, obtain the miracle, and break through the barrier of June 1983. Matsuribayashi-hen is a “Good End” in which no major deaths occur in that June, although the deaths in previous years still occurred.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei

Three extra chapters were included in a fan disc named Higurashi: When They Cry Rei (ひぐらしのなく頃に礼 Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei, When Cicadas Cry Gratitudes), two of which were newly created. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei was released on December 31, 2006.

Saikoroshi-hen (賽殺し編, “Dice Killing Chapter”)
Saikoroshi-hen is an epilogue of Matsuribayashi-hen, which takes place two months later in August 1983. Rika is apparently killed by a truck and wakes up in a different world, where none of the tragic events occurred in the main series: Keiichi is absent from the village, Rena’s parents did not divorce, the dam project was resolved smoothly, Satoshi stays with Satoko and Rika’s parents appeared. However, the club never formed, meaning Rika has no friends, she gets bullied by Satoko, Hanyū is absent, Rika is not revered as the reincarnation of Oyashiro, and the village will soon be submerged underwater. Rika has to choose between staying in that world or killing her own mother, which will enable her to leave that sinless world.

Batsukoishi-hen (罰恋し編, “Penalty Loving Chapter”)
A slapstick dream story in which Keiichi and the Soul Brothers fight against the girls through the club punishment games. The chapter was originally an epilogue titled Otsukaresama which came with Meakashi-hen, but it was deemed too irrelevant and silly and was removed from subsequent chapters.

Hirukowashi-hen (昼壊し編, “Daybreak Chapter”)
Hirukowashi-hen is based on Higurashi Daybreak. Keiichi and Rena spent time together, until Rena accidentally swallows something during her usual treasure hunting. According to Rika, the seal of the sacred “Fuwarazu Magatama” pairs was broken, and Rena had one of them. The magatama holds a mysterious magical powers in which a person that has the red magatama will blindly fall in love with anyone with the white one.

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri

Three original chapters were created for the PlayStation 2 version Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri (ひぐらしのなく頃に祭 When Cicadas Cry Festival), by Alchemist.

Taraimawashi-hen (盥回し編, “Rotation Chapter”)
An alternate beginning chapter, at first glance, this additional “question arc” is a retelling of Onikakushi-hen. However, this chapter, in fact, contains the events of Watanagashi-hen. After learning the secrets of Hinamizawa, Keiichi decides to ignore everything and enjoy his peaceful school life; this action leads to a tragic series of events. Shion Sonozaki is the villain of the chapter, while Mion becomes the victim. Mion survives and is shown Rena’s blood stained hat. Mion talks to Ooishi about the incident, but dies shortly after. The scenario is actually a “punishment”, given when you deliberately try and avoid getting into any of the scenarios in the story (except one, as it is actually difficult to get into on purpose), and makes it clear to the player that they cannot simply avoid the tragedies around them and expect a happy ending.

Tsukiotoshi-hen (憑落し編, “Exorcism Chapter”)
Although Tsukiotoshi-hen does not provide many answers since it relates what went wrong in Watanagashi-hen/Meakashi-hen and Tatarigoroshi-hen, it is still considered an answer arc. In order to save Satoko, Shion, Keiichi and Rena decide to kill Teppei. But after the murder is done, Rena starts to act strangely, and Keiichi thinks he hears Oyashiro talking to him. Mion notices the change in her friends’ behavior and takes Shion’s place to find out why they are acting this way. Later on, Satoko develops Hinamizawa Syndrome and kills Shion, before killing herself.

Miotsukushi-hen (澪尽し編, “Canal Drying Chapter”)
An alternate ending to the main series, the chapter name Miotsukushi is a pun of Miotsukushi (澪標 canal sign) and Mi o tsukushi (身を尽くし), a conjugation of Mi o tsukusu (身を尽くす serve one’s body). The pun is known in Japanese poetry such as haiku. After finding out who the real murderer is, Rika and Keiichi decide to put an end to the whole mystery, but they are in a different situation than Matsuribayashi-hen. Before they can do anything, they have to solve other people’s problems first. The problems of Watanagashi/Meakashi-hen, Tatarigoroshi-hen, and Tsumihoroboshi-hen are met here, and all of them must be solved. The arc solves all the mysteries of the series, adds a few new ones, and gives the origins of both Hanyu and Hinamizawa syndrome. The story development of Miotsukushi-hen in the fourth Nintendo DS game Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna has slight differences from the original PlayStation 2 version. The conclusion of Tomoe’s story, continued from the third DS game Rasen, was added to Miotsukushi-hen, but had no connection with the PlayStation 2 version ending.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna

Four original chapters were created for the Nintendo DS version Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna (ひぐらしのなく頃に絆 When Cicadas Cry Bonds), by Alchemist.

Someutsushi-hen (染伝し編, “Dye Following Chapter”)
The new question arc reveals in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna. It seems to be a retelling of Onisarashi with new characters and a few minor differences. In this chapter, the events of Onisarashi play out with the exception of Tomoe added to the equation, and Akasaka and Oishi being absent, although Oishi is mentioned, resulting in a different ending. The major difference is that this chapter’s ending is a “bad ending” instead of a “good ending” like in the original storyline, with Natsumi dying at the end instead of being saved by Akira.

Kagebōshi-hen (影紡し編, “Silhouette Spinning Chapter”)
A new chapter in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna Dai Ni Kan Sō. The version of Onisarashi-hen is told through the eyes of Tomoe Minami, a policewoman that is investigating the strange occurrences happening all over Japan. Akasaka and Oishi are present in this chapter, as well as Tomoe’s younger sister, who is also a police officer, and another male officer. The chapter has a “good ending” like the original manga chapter, but with different events causing it. Natsumi attacks Chisato, one of her friends, putting her in the hospital, where she later talks with Akasaka. After the seemingly unpreventable murder of Natsumi’s family, Chisato meets Natsumi on the hospital roof, and after a little struggling, manages to calm Natsumi down, and comforts her.

Tokihogushi-hen (解々し編, “Untangling Chapter”)
A new chapter in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Kizuna Rasen. Tomoe Minai and her sister make another appearance, along with a new blue haired girl named Nagisa Ozaki. Oishi Kurado and Rena Ryugu return in this chapter. The chapter explores Rena’s past in Showa 57 (1982).

Kotohogushi-hen (言祝し編, “Congratulating Chapter”)
A DS-exclusive chapter in the final installment of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna Dai Yon Kan Kizuna. The chapter explores Hanyu’s past as Hainiryuun Ieasomuuru Jieda and the origin of Hinamizawa. Characters appeared in this arc such as Riku Furude, one of Rika’s ancestor and the Shinto Priest of Furude House, who fell in love with Hainiryuun; and Ōka Furude, the child of Hainiryuun and Riku Furude.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – extra Manga arcs

These side stories are original chapters serialized in manga form which supplement the games and partially continue the story.

Onisarashi-hen (鬼曝し編, “Demon Exposing Chapter”)
In Onisarashi-hen, a young girl named Natsumi is haunted by the aftermath of the Hinamizawa Disaster. Soon after her grandmother — a former Hinamizawa resident — tells her of Oyashiro’s curse, Natsumi finds that her own hands have become covered in blood. Akasaka and Oishi also feature in the story. Onisarashi-hen was later included as part of the Nintendo DS remake Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna as Someutsuhi-hen, with some changes.

Yoigoshi-hen (宵越し編, “Beyond Midnight Chapter”)
This chapter is an epilogue of one of the “possible outcomes” of Tsumihoroboshi-hen, in which Rena burned the school and killed Mion and her friends. Many years later, in 2006, the lock has been lifted and a group of five meet by coincidence, one of them claiming to be Mion, and get dragged into the supernatural aspects of the “Village of the Dead.” Tips for this chapter can be read via mobile phone at Gangan Mobile. This chapter was included as part of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kizuna: Dai-San-Kan Rasen for the Nintendo DS.

Utsutsukowashi-hen (現壊し編, “Reality Breaking Chapter”)
A prequel to Meakashi-hen. Shion is sent away to the all-girls school, St. Lucia Academy, for confinement. One day, a male teacher’s body was found in the school swimming pool and the first discoverer, Mizuho Kōsaka, is summoned to the chairman’s office to report the details. Shion hears rumors about how Mizuho’s grandmother is after Mizuho’s life and the girl is taking refuge in the school, so Shion approaches the aloof Mizuho. The chapter started serialization in the December 2006 issue of Comp Ace.

Kataribanashi-hen (語咄し編, “Anthology Chapter”)
A collection of reader submitted comics that were created into a story by Ryukishi 07.

Kokoroiyashi-hen (心癒し編, “Heart-Healing Chapter”)
An epilogue to Matsuribayashi-hen where Rika and the others, including Hanyu, go on a summer vacation to heal their hearts, so to speak, after everything they have been through.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni – extra Anime arc

Yakusamashi-hen (厄醒し編, “Disaster Awakening Chapter”)
The arc was introduced in the second anime series, airing before Minagoroshi-hen and Matsuribayashi-hen. It was made by the request of Ryukishi 07 to include important plot details that were left out from the first season so as to tie the two seasons together. The issue of Hinamizawa’s secrets is resolved early in this scenario, allowing the other characters to attend school without further issue. The story is told from the perspective of Satoko as she grows increasingly concerned with Rika’s odd behavior, including speaking with invisible Hanyu about her own inevitable murder, and her vain attempts to change her fate on her own. Satoko later undergoes a situation containing elements from Tatarigoroshi-hen and Taraimawashi-hen, from discovering Rika’s body to surviving the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, and dying in the hospital once she understands the secret behind Rika’s murder.

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