Higurashi When They Cry is, let’s face it, a franchise by now. And as such, it’s not the sort of series that was going to stop merely because the story ended. Heck, even the author of the original visual novels released an extra one with several stories after Matsuribayashi-hen was completed. The anime did two series of OAVs. Indeed, Yen Press has already released an extra side-story as an omnibus volume. So even though they still have over a year of Higurashi still to release, I thought I’d take a look at what’s out in Japan and see what, in my ideal Higurashi world, I would want licensed.
First, I’ll cull off things that can be skipped or are expendable. There are a giant PILE of Higurashi anthology books by various artists, with the vague tacit approval of 7th Expansion. Some are terrifying, some are hilarious, but all are basically one step removed from the ‘official product’. They’d be nice, but not necessary. The same goes for the Higurashi 4-koma volumes, which go under the title All You Need Is Love. There is a one-volume manga starring Shion, who is investigating a murder at the private school we see her attend at the very start of Eye-Opening; it got cancelled/cut short by the publisher, but is only one volume, so might be looked at. There’s also a one-volume manga that revolves around mahjong that was also cut short; due to the subject matter, it won’t be looked at.
So that basically leaves us with four books. All are done in one, though one may be continuing, I’m not sure. Publishers like single-volume books.
1) Dice-Killing Chapter. This is probably the closest the series will get to a genuine, actual post-series sequel. And, unlike most of the post-series stuff that’s come out, it’s mainly serious. The premise has Rika, overdosing on having escaped her unhappy fate and free of the endless June, not looking where she’s going and getting hit by a truck. Aheh. She wakes up in a different Hinamizawa, where no one was ever killed, the dam project is going through, and everyone’s happy and content. Well, everyone except Rika. This was taken from one of the post-series VNs, and I find a lot of its basic themes very disquieting. But then, that’s what makes a Higurashi series.
2) Daybreak Chapter. For all that I call Higurashi a game, it’s actually a series of Visual Novels. You don’t do anything but hit enter a lot. So naturally, one of the first things fans did was to make the series into a third-person shooter. This was a big success, and they even got Ryukishi07 to do the scenario, which involved a magatama that forced people into love confessions. This was then adapted into several manga. I prefer Mion with Keiichi, and there is a version of that which Kadokawa put out, but it’s not as good. This is the best of the lot, and is about as Keiichi/Rena shippy as you can get.
3) Heart-Healing Chapter. This was one of the titles that Kadokawa Shoten taunted us with by sticking the synopsis up on JManga’s site, before we realized they had no plans to actually release any of these. As such, it’s a good fit with Yen. Note it is the only non-Square Enix title on the list – it ran in Kadokawa’s Comp Ace. It’s the most heartwarming of these choices, dealing expressly with Rika’s feeling after the end of the series about having to finally move on and think about life. I like heartwarming fluff a lot.
4) Hinamizawa Bus Stop. Sorry for the tinier image, but this one only had its cover image released a few days ago -it’s not out in Japan yet! The latest of the Higurashi tie-ins, this one is supposedly based off the original scenario that Ryukishi07 had in mind before he moved away from it to make Higurashi proper. It stars a 17-year-old Rika, with her goofy friend Mion, so definitely falls into the ‘alternate universe’ category – and not in the usual Higurashi way. But the plot still revolves around that pesky dam, there’s still the threat of Oyashiro-sama, and there’s still scary faces galore. I’m not sure if this is complete as of this volume or still ongoing – guess we’ll have to wait and find out.
As you can see, it’s a Higurashi world out there. Any of these four volumes coming out over here would make me very happy indeed.