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- Genre: Horror, action, drama, supernatural, denpa
- Episodes: 24
- Studio: Studio DEEN
Hinamizawa is the perfect vacation spot. It’s one of those quaint little villages that seem untouched by time but still has the modern conveniences of…phones. You know, one of those places surrounded by idyllic nature and beautiful mountains where you can just while away lazy days without a care in the world. In the summertime, you can attend the local cotton drifting festival for an experience completely unique to the place. Really, the only downside is that Hinamizawa is home to an ancient curse that claims the lives of numerous locals and visitors each week, in the form of gruesome murders and unexplained accidents. But no place is perfect, and that’s what keeps the travel costs low. Am I right?
When They Cry Kai is the second season of When They Cry and should really be considered a continuation. You absolutely need to watch When They Cry to appreciate or even understand Kai as it is the closure to the previous story.
I don’t know how many of you read my review for the first season but the production is largely unchanged. Which makes sense because the seasons aired back to back and the production must have been continuous. I won’t rehash everything here.
The short version is that to me When They Cry looks older than it is. The productions isn’t bad in any way but there is something nostalgic in the character design and colour choices. The designs do seem to have been slightly tweaked this time around though. Once again the voice acting is great but I’m not entirely on board with Takano’s voice. She seemed to be hamming it up a bit which isn’t bad by itself but didn’t match the rest of the cast’s delivery so it sounded unintentionally funny on occasion.
When They Cry is a narrative that relies on surprises and mysteries so I won’t actually recount any of the story here. However, I will point out the few elements that didn’t work for me. The series starts out with a grown-up, traumatized Rena setting up the action by recounting the events of season 1. However, she does seem to hint at things that we did not see in season 1, and I thought would eventually tie-up with the events of Kai. But they never did! And since we get reminders and season 1 and flashbacks in several episodes, it makes that first episode seem like a pointless filler.
Second, both seasons 1 and 2 have a narrative break in the middle in the form of flashback episodes that focus on different characters. In season 1 it was the story of Akasaka’s first visit to Hinazawa and his meeting with Rika. I quite liked it. It actually developed Rika’s character a lot and created foundations for the events in Kai.
In season 2 the flashback comes just as the main plot is revving up and gives us a backstory for the main antagonist. Which in my opinion shattered the momentum. I never quite managed to get back to my previous level of engagement. On top of that, Higurashi is a fairly complex story with a lot of levels of conflict. The way it is constructed makes a relationship with the villains unnecessary to get sucked into the story and cramming in Freudian excuses and yet more traumatic childhood events just didn’t bring anything to the table. Again, your mileage may vary but for me, this was a failure of the season.
This paragraph will have some non-specific spoilers. If you don’t want any at all, please skip it. As fun and encouraging as it was to see things go right for once for the characters in When They Cry, I felt that the ending was just too saccharine. I don’t think I’ve seen an over the top happy ending like this in years, and that’s counting Disney movies. There’s even a little after credits scene that retcons sad events that took place years before the start of the story. It’s so happy that it robs the story of a certain weight. It almost feels like this complete lack of lasting consequences makes most of the events moot.
This said I found it not only interesting but immensely satisfying to see all the pieces of the first season slowly come together and reveal the full picture. Regardless of what that full picture ends up being, I have to give the story some huge credit for managing to keep track of all the little hints and clues it dropped along the way and making good use f them in a mostly consistent manner.
Of course, it’s convoluted, it’s a story filled with supernatural elements. But it’s convoluted in a way that makes sense with everything that came before. And I do like it. They also largely fill in all the gaps so you’re not left with a million questions. Frankly, I didn’t expect them to manage that.
Like I said When They Cry Kai is a perfect continuation of the first season. If you liked When They Cry then you should definitely watch Kai. If you didn’t, then well Kai can at least bring you some closure?
The same trigger warnings apply. There are gore and graphic violence towards young children. An adult character that is treated as sympathetic and even a hero hits on 11-year-olds. And actually, that’s about it. There is less “fanservice” than in season 1 and the characters are treated with a fair bit of respect.
Now if you haven’t seen either season and you want something spooky, creepy in time for Halloween, then When They Cry is a decent choice. Not perfect but with a lot of good elements. If you didn’t need 48 episodes to get the full story, I would recommend it wholeheartedly but as it is, it is a bit of an investment.
Favourite character : Still Akasaka. I just like the guy!
“If at first you don’t succeed, drink burbon. You’ll be amazed how little you’ll mind.”
Suggested drink: Purple Goddess
- Every time the kids play a punishment game – take a sip
- Every time Rena gets very excited because something is cute – take a sip
- Every time there’s a season 1 reference – aHa!
- Every time Rika acts weird – take a sip
- Every time there is an art fail – giggle
- Every time the girls gang up on Kei – take a sip
- Every time we see a lightbulb – take a sip
- Every time you wonder why no one mentions Mion’s holster – I understand
- Every time Rika makes progress – cheer
- Every time we see 1983 – take a sip, it’s gonna be a long year
- Every time the power of friendship saves the day – I’m not crying you’re crying
- Every time armed grown men are chasing little girls – take a sip
- Every time Sakoto does a himesama laugh – take a sip
You know how it goes. If you want to see loads more images, they are over on my Pinterest