Higurashi: When They Cry by Ryukishi07

Higurashi: When They Cry is a murder mystery that continues to change. It is set in the rural village of Hinamizawa during the June of 1983 when someone died (but “who” is a bit of a problem). The graphic novel series follows new resident Keiichi Maebara. Keiichi quickly makes friends among his fellow classmates, all of whom have strange quirks, and seems to settle right in. Until someone dies and another person disappears.

Starting off as a traditional, Japanese slice-of-life story about a young boy in a new town, Higurashi quickly dissolves into the paranoia of a whodunit, with its colorful cast taking on more deadly aspects. But Higurashi’s real charm comes as the story develops and Keiichi (or rather the reader) is overwhelmed by a conspiracy that makes solving the mystery much harder since what the mystery is changes. The town of Hinamizawa evolves as the characters do, changing the circumstances of the dense puzzle that the reader is asked to solve and changing the nature of the people living in it.

Higurashi is well known as a “dark comic,” and much of its reputation is as a comic that will shock readers with violence. But there is more to the story. Keiichi and his friends, presented at first as “weird” individuals, are shown to have devastating traumas and intense emotional connections that mature as the story unfolds. Though certainly a fun murder mystery, Higurashi is really about, not mystery or murder, but humanity, in a variety of forms both dreadful and powerful.

~ Michael