Note: Star full // Star full // Star full
There are eight main titles in the Higurashi manga series, spanning the four question arcs and the four answer arcs. Each question arc manga are compiled into two bound volumes. The first two answer arc manga are compiled into four volumes, meanwhile Minagoroshi-hen is compiled into six volumes, and Matsuribayashi-hen into eight. The manga uses multiple artists between the various arcs. Karin Suzuragi drew Onikakushi-hen, Tsumihoroboshi-hen, and Matsuribayashi-hen, Yutori Hōjō drew Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen, Jirō Suzuki drew Tatarigoroshi-hen, Yoshiki Tonogai drew Himatsubushi-hen, and Hanase Momoyama drew Minagoroshi-hen. Another manga entitled Kokoroiyashi-hen (心癒し編 Heart Healing Chapter) is drawn by Yuna Kagesaki and began in Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace on August 26, 2008. The manga series was licensed by Yen Press for English distribution in North America under the title Higurashi When They Cry. The manga was initially serialized in Yen Press' Yen Plus anthology magazine, the first issue of which went on sale on July 29, 2008. The first English volume of the manga was originally planned to be sold in early 2009, but was released in November 2008.
There are three side stories related to the main Higurashi story, but with new characters. The first, named Onisarashi-hen (鬼曝し編 Demon Exposing Chapter), is drawn by En Kitō and was serialized between March 2005 and July 2006 in Comp Ace. The next, entitled Yoigoshi-hen (宵越し編 Overnight Chapter), is drawn by Mimori and was serialized between in GFantasy between 2006 and 2007. The last side story is known as Utsutsukowashi-hen (現壊し編 Reality Breaking Chapter) is also drawn by En Kitō and was serialized in Comp Ace between 2006 and 2007.
A manga adaptation of Higurashi's precursor Hinamizawa Teiryūjo began serialization in the debut issue of Square Enix's Big Gangan magazine, sold on October 25, 2011.
There are four light novels which contain additional illustrations by five different artists, and seventeen novelizations of the separate visual novel arcs. Each novel is written by Ryukishi07. The light novels were all released as limited editions not sold in stores. The first one, Nekogoroshi-hen, was illustrated by Karin Suzuragi, Yutori Hōjō, and Jirō Suzuki, and was sent out to those who bought the first volume of the manga versions of Onikakushi-hen, Watanagashi-hen, and Tatarigoroshi-hen. One needed to send the cutout stamps in all three of these manga by the deadline to receive this special short story. The second light novel, Kuradashi-hen, was illustrated by Yoshiki Tonogai, Karin Suzuki, Yutori Hōjō, and Mimori. This novel was sent out to those who bought the second volume of the manga version of Himatsubushi-hen, and the first volumes of the manga Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Meakashi-hen, and Yoigoshi-hen. One needed to send the cutout stamps in all four of these manga by a certain deadline to receive this special short story. The third light novel, Hajisarashi-hen, contained illustrations by Rato, and was included with the limited edition of the PlayStation 2 game Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri. The light novels were published by Square Enix and released between 2006 and 2007. The fourth novel, Kuradashi-hen Zoku is a sequel to Kuradashi-hen and was sent out to those who bought the second volumes of the manga Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Meakashi-hen, and Yoigoshi-hen. One needed to send the cutout stamps in all four of these manga by a certain deadline to receive this special short story.
Kodansha Box released seventeen novelizations of the visual novel arcs between August 2007 and March 2009, starting with Onikakushi-hen and ending with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei. Most of the story arcs are divided into two volumes, except for Himatsubushi-hen and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei which are compiled into one volume each, and Matsuribayashi-hen which is compiled into three volumes. Rei included illustrations by Tomohi.
The first anime series, produced by Studio Deen and directed by Chiaki Kon, covers the four question arcs as well as the first two answer arcs. The original Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime adaptation aired in Japan between April 4 and September 26, 2006, comprising twenty-six episodes. In Japan, most of the characters were voiced by the same voice actors that voiced their respective characters in the drama CD series. The series is available on DVD in Japan, France, and North America (following Geneon Entertainment's licensing of the series). However, in September 2007, Geneon's U.S. division announced that it would discontinue all ongoing anime projects, including Higurashi, effective November 6, 2007. Only three of a planned six DVDs of Higurashi were released, under the title When They Cry: Higurashi. On July 3, 2008, Geneon and Funimation announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America. While Geneon still retained the license, Funimation assumed exclusive rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of select titles. Higurashi was one of the several titles involved in the deal. Funimation released a complete box set of the series in August 2009. However, in August 2011, the rights to the series expired due to low sales. Sentai Filmworks has licensed both anime series.
People in Japan, who had bought all nine of the DVDs of the first season, had the chance to receive a special anime DVD entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gaiden Nekogoroshi-hen, based on the short story that was given to those who had bought the manga. Despite being a bonus for the first season (and having the first season's opening and closing sequences), Nekogoroshi-hen featured the updated animation style as seen in the second season.
A continuation of the series, based on one new story arc and the final two original answer arcs of the franchise, entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, aired in Japan between July 6 and December 17, 2007, containing twenty-four episodes. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the second anime series. The second season featured slightly different character designs than the first season and better animation. As the result of a murder case in September 2007 in Japan involving the murder of a police officer by his sixteen-year-old daughter with an axe, as well as the Japanese media relating the case to anime such as Higurashi, the latest episode screenings of both Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai and another anime at the time, School Days, were canceled by a number of Japanese TV stations due to excessive violence; however, AT-X, TV Saitama and Sun TV announced that they would be airing the episodes as planned. Later, TV Saitama announced that they had ceased broadcasting of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai from episode thirteen onwards. Additionally, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai had its opening altered when it re-aired. Originally, a bloody bill hook cleaver (as used by Rena) was shown halfway through (at timestamp 0:55) the opening; it was replaced with an image of a van from the series' fictional junk yard.
A three-arc, five-episode original video animation series, entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei, began to be released on February 25, 2009, and is directed by Toshifumi Kawase. The OVA series also started a limited broadcasting in Bandai Channel prior to DVD release. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the Rei OVAs. The OVA contains three story arcs, Hajisarashi-hen, Saikoroshi-hen, and Hirukowashi-hen, with Saikoroshi-hen concluding in three episodes, and the other two arcs concluding in one episode each. Hajisarashi-hen was originally a light novel included with the limited edition of the PlayStation 2 game Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri, and took the place of Batsukoishi-hen from the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei fandisc. Frontier Works announced another original video anime series, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, in March 2011, which marks the tenth anniversary of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. An anime series titled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kaku: Outbreak, adapted from Ryukishi07's short story "Higurashi Outbreak", has been announced.
A live action film adaptation of the series entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (ひぐらしのなく頃に, also known as Shrill Cries of Summer internationally), directed by Ataru Oikawa, premiered in Japanese theaters on May 10, 2008. The film is an adaptation of the first story arc, Onikakushi-hen. Gōki Maeda plays Keiichi, Airi Matsuyama plays Rena, Rin Asuka plays Mion, Aika plays Rika, and Erena Ono plays Satoko. A sequel, also live action, was released in Japanese theaters on April 18, 2009 and is entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Chikai (ひぐらしのなく頃に誓, also known as Shrill Cries: Reshuffle internationally). The sequel is based on the Tsumihoroboshi-hen arc.
A live-action television series adaptation premiered in Japan on May 20, 2016 on cable channel BS SKY PerfecTV!. The cast includes the members of NGT48. A four-episode sequel premiered on November 25, 2016.
Unlike visual novels created by established companies, 07th Expansion did not create the music found in the Higurashi games. The music for the question arcs consists of license free songs found on the Internet while the music for the answer arcs was provided by dōjin music artists that were fans of Higurashi. Later, a CD album called Thanks/you was released by the dōjin music artist, Dai; many of his tracks were used in the answer arcs. Fans initially referred to this album as the official soundtrack. However, the actual official soundtrack has since been released for the series, featuring a majority of the songs featured in the answer arcs. This two-disc set is, to date, the most complete collection of songs from the games.
The first season anime's opening theme is "Higurashi no Naku Koro ni" sung by Eiko Shimamiya; it went on sale in Japan on May 24, 2006. The ending theme is "Why, or Why Not" sung by Rekka Katakiri; it was released on June 28, 2006. There have been two original soundtracks released for the anime adaptation. The main composer for the tracks was Japanese composer Kenji Kawai and the albums were produced by Frontier Works. Volume 1 was released on July 21, 2006, and volume 2 was released on October 6, 2006, in Japan. Three character song CDs were also released, sung by voice actors from the anime adaptation, between March 28 and July 25, 2007. The second season anime's opening theme is "Naraku no Hana" also sung by Shimamiya. The first season's opening theme, when played backwards, includes the words Nigerarenainda (逃げられないんだ [You] can't escape). This 'backwards' portion of the song is also included in the second season's opening theme. The ending theme is "Taishō a" performed by anNina. The first OVA season's opening theme is "Super scription of data" by Shimamiya, and the ending theme is "Manazashi" (まなざし) by anNina. The opening theme for the OVA Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kira is "Happy! Lucky! Dochy!" by Yukari Tamura, Mika Kanai, and Yui Horie—the voice actors for Rika, Satoko, and Hanyu, respectively. The ending theme, "Zendai Mimon Miracle Change" (前代未聞☆ミラクルチェンジ Unprecedented Miracle Change), had four separate versions: one by Mai Nakahara, Rena's voice actor and the others are sung by Yukari Tamura and Mika Kanai, Satsuki Yukino, Mion and Shion's voice actor, and Yui Horie.
For the first live-action film, a short version of the film's theme song was released on December 22, 2007, in Japan. Once again, Shimamiya sang the song, entitled "Wheel of Fortune" (運命の輪 Unmei no Wa). Shimamiya also performed the ending theme entitled "Diorama" (ディオラマ).
Over 100,000 copies of the original games were sold in Japan by 2006, a feat not attained by a dōjin game since Type-Moon released Tsukihime. Many fans attribute the game's success to the suspense and horror the novel portrays, with no definite answer provided. Fan-based community boards emerged where fans began discussing their own theories. The popularity of the games grew exponentially as many took interest in their well-outlined script and story, which eventually led the game to be showcased in large gaming magazines with positive reviews. With the announcement of the live-action film adaptation of Onikakushi-hen came the news that over 500,000 copies of the games have been sold. The enhanced PlayStation 2 port, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri, has sold over 140,000 copies to date, and has received a total review score of 31/40 (out of the four individual review scores of 9, 8, 8, and 6) from the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. The game was voted the tenth most interesting bishōjo game by readers of Dengeki G's Magazine in an August 2007 survey.
The English-language Steam versions of the first two episodes, released in 2015, sold 57,000 copies as of December 2015. This adds up to total sales of over 557,000 copies worldwide as of October 30, 2015. It received a positive reception from English-language critics. Hardcore Gamer stated that the "writing is incredibly eerie, and amazingly effective" and concluded that "few video games make it anywhere near the skillful story weaving present within the Higurashi series." APGNation stated the "Excellent writing and music make for an evocative reading experience."
In Japan, the third volume of the manga adaptation ranked as the 19th weekly best-selling book on January 16, 2008. The first volume ranked as the 18th weekly bestseller on June 10, 2008. The fourth volume ranked as the 19th bestseller on January 14, 2009. In the United States, the first volume was ranked 253rd in the top 300 graphic novels sold in November 2008 and ranked as 25th in the top 25 Manga sold in the first quarter of 2009 release of ICv2 Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga.
Debi Aoki of About.com stated that reading the chapters in succession as they were presented in its serialization in Yen Plus made the story "easier to follow" and built the suspense better. However, Justin Colussy-Estes of Comic Village disagreed feeling that this structure "backfire[d]". Justin Colussy-Estes of Comic Village praised the setting for hinting at something "much darker". He also praised the structure stating that the "mystery develops slowly" to immerse the reader in the characters and then later force the reader to "confront the possibility that one or more of them may be [the] murderer"; a decision he described as "clever". Critics criticized the manga for using "cliché" characterizations typical of the harem genre. However, Phil Guie of Popcultureshock expressed disappointment that this characterization "is brushed aside" for the horror as it gave the friendship between characters "real depth" adding to the surprise of the plot twists. Anime News Network's Casey Brienza praised the manga for being an "effective" horror story as it follows an ordinary situation, a harem manga plot, which "becomes terrifying" producing an effect that is "trashy horror at its absolute greatest". However, she expressed being frustrated by the end of the second volume as the central question remains "infuriatingly unanswered" though still felt the manga is "wholly enjoyable and satisfying" nonetheless. Brienza stated that although the artwork is "average", the illustrator "seems to know exactly how to transition between the adorable and the abominable—and does so with dramatic, nightmarish effect." Aoki described the artwork as although "pander[ing] to otaku fetishes" containing "generic" and "awkward" character designs, providing "overbearing cutesiness [that] makes the secrets that the girls are hiding behind their smiles just that much creepier."
A review of Higurashi When they Cry by The Escapist gave the anime a highly positive review. The reviewer, James Henley, praised the story, saying that each arc is interesting in its own way, but said that watching Kai was necessary to fully understand the story. He also praised the cast of characters, and how, despite having only one main male character, it never falls into harem stereotypes, and how each one has a unique back story, revealed in different arcs. He criticized the dub as poor quality, but recommended the anime, mainly subbed, if one "can stomach the brutality." The Anime Almanac similarly praised the story, as a unique method of storytelling and the art of the characters, but went to add that the "moe" design on the girls made the scary scenes less threatening. He ultimately recommended the series. Another review, from T.H.E.M Anime, was less positive, giving it 3 out of 5 stars, praising the story, but panning the sorrow of the characters and the violence, saying "Higurashi is a hard show to watch; while it's interesting, each chapter is progressively soul-sucking and depressing, as the characters struggle desperately to avoid grisly fates, often to no avail, multiple times." He finished the review by saying "...Higurashi is interesting and visceral enough to be worth viewing by the more adventurous."