Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Higurashi: When They Cry Season Three
Anime Studio: Studio Deen
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Horror / Mystery / Supernatural
Released: December 17th 2018
Extras: Clean OP and ED, Trailers
Having finally escaped the brutal cycle of madness and murder that transformed the town of Hinamizawa into a hell on Earth, Keiichi, Rika, and their friends are looking forward to simply being teenagers and living a normal life. But as strange things keep happening, it soon becomes apparent that fate hasn’t finished toying with them yet. Especially when the incidents escalate dramatically, transitioning from relatively benign and even humorous… to lethal. Struck by a truck, Rika awakens to find herself in another reality, one where one where most of her friends have gone, yet other elements of her life that she’d previously lost are back. And in order to find her way back to the life she knows, she’ll have to destroy something from this new life forever. No matter what… or who… she has to sacrifice. It’s an all-new ordeal where every solution comes with a horrific price.
My biggest worry coming into this series was that it would undo the climax to season two. With that feeling like a decent ending to the story, any continuation was always going to risk damaging that. As it happens, this isn’t the case here.
The two standalone episodes that bookend the larger arc in the middle are perhaps a little throw-away. The first of these is essentially a swimsuit episode, complete with all the trappings you’d expect from it. What it does is throw in a bonkers premise to make it feel a little fresher, and while tonally very different to the rest of the series, it’s entertaining enough. Meanwhile, the final episode provides a romantic ending, but otherwise feels a little inconsequential in the overall scheme of things.
It’s three-part arc that comprises episodes two to four that stand-out though. Shifting us back towards the supernatural mystery elements that made the show so intriguing to begin with, they are surprisingly restrained at times. Some darker moments are left more to the imagination than thrust in our face, and it never reaches the levels of bloodshed we saw in season one and two, but suffering for the characters is certainly not entirely off the cards. What this arc does well is outright deal with the idea of multiple world lines, and by doing so creates an ending that not only doesn’t diminish the work done in season two, but actually feels a little neater.
The character designs are in line with the second season. The smooth animation is also true to this, albeit without the inconsistencies that occasionally seeped in. We are also once again treated to a great opening theme that fits really well with the series at large.
In all, this is a good release. It’s a slight step below the previous two seasons, feeling a little like a post story bonus DLC in a game, but even with the toned down aspects, it’s still clearly a Higurashi tale, and a good one at that. 4 out of 5.