Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|When They Cry Starter Set|
Actors: Grant George, Kelli Kassidi
Director: Kristi Reed
Genres: Anime & Manga, Animation
It s tough to be the new guy in town, but when Keiichi joins an after school club with four cute girls, he thinks he s got it made. Then he learns about demonic cults, the failed dam construction project and the murders th... more »
Aion | England | 02/09/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before actually getting into reviewing the anime, I'd like to talk about the When They Cry art box. The art box is pink, with images of the 5 main female characters (Mion, Rena, Rika, Satoko and Shion) in maid outfits, all looking either cute or sexy. I'm not sure what the people who designed the box art and picked the colour were on; the art box would give someone ignorant about the series the wrong impression of the show. No sane male would be seen walking out of a shop with it... Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be to pay for something that looks like animated child porn?
Thankfully, the reversible DVD covers had someone with a brain design them. One side of the DVD covers is a good (happyish looking, without pink or maid outfits) and the other side of the cover is evil, with shadowy versions of the characters showing. Unlike the art box, you could walk out of a shop holding copies of the DVDs themselves with your head held high.
Anyway, enough talking about the DVDs: Time to get down to business.
Quite frankly, When They Cry is the hardest anime I've ever had the 'pleasure' of attempting to explain. The reason for this is that the story is told in various question (the mysteries aren't explained) and answer (the mysteries are explained) arcs, with nearly all them being out of sequence for the fun of it. This is further complicated by parallel universes, meaning each arc (each question and answer arc pair are set in the same universe) have no direct connection to most of the others. Are you confused yet?
All the arcs are set in the fictional village of Hinamizawa, most of the time during June 1983. Changes are made to the characters in each story, varying from them being heroes and villains depending. So, basically, even though the setting and characters don't change, the roles of each character often changes significantly in each of the stories.
The opening arc reveals that Keiichi, a young boy, moved to the town with his parents a month or so prior to the beginning of the series. By the time the story starts, Keiichi has already become friends with a group of of 4 girls in his class - Mion, Rena, Rika and Satoko. Things soon start to take a darker turn when Keiichi learns that the people of Hinamizawa worship a God known as Oyashiro, said to be the protector of the village. Keiichi discovers that there have been 4 murders each year on the same day as the Cotton Drifting festival; a festival that honours Oyashiro. Concerned about these serial murders, Keiichi starts to have doubts about his new friends when they lie to him about the murders...
Each arc is a variation of the above theme, with a small amount of information revealed about the mystery in each arc. It's very hard to follow if you have a terrible memory (like myself) and you'll probably find yourself re-watching certain arcs later on to see if you missed anything. If you're looking for an easy to follow series, I recommend you run away now.
It's also best to avoid When They Cry if you only enjoy light-hearted series. While the character design and story try to trick you into believing it's a kiddie series at first, you soon discover that When They Cry is actually a horror series - a true rarity in anime. You'd be surprised how shocking it is to see a cute face change into a psychotic one, along with the voice changing from soft to menacing. There's plenty of gore on show, too, with the main characters dying on a regular basis throughout.
My thoughts on the story you ask?
I LOVED the initial four episode arc. The first episode set the tone of the show by opening with someone finishing beating two people to death with a baseball bat, the person screaming and looking seriously disturbed whilst doing so. After that, the scene changes and, for the rest of the first episode, the story follows the largely uneventful day of Keiichi at school with his friends, allowing the viewer to slip into a false sense of security.
To my utter disappointment, I soon discovered the truth about the show; nearly every arc is set in a parallel universe. While it's an interesting and unique way of telling this mysterious story, I couldn't help but feel like the plot was standing still and not moving forward. I started to lose motivation as the story 'progressed', finding it hard to get into a show made up mostly of disconnected stories that will, rather inevitably, link up at the end.
Overall, I did enjoy the unique When They Cry experience. Outside of the parallel universe confusion, the main issue I have is that the mystery is far from solved after 26 episodes and there are still MANY more questions than there are answers... I'll have to watch the 2nd season if I want my headache to go away.
In When They Cry, there's a group of 6 characters that play key roles: Keiichi, Mion, Rena, Rika, Satoko and Shion. Excluding Shion, all of them go to the same school (there's only 1 in Hinamizawa, the only class being a mixed age class). They are all young, none being older than about 15 or 16, some being pre-teen.
Keiichi, the only male in the 6, plays the role of the main character in the first few arcs. Through his eyes you are introduced to Hinamizawa and the other characters. He's a kind, friendly and easy to get on with guy, said to have scored high on IQ tests.
Mion plays the role of the class leader due to her age and dominant personality. She's a green-haired tomboy who hides her more girly side. Her family, the Sonozaki's, are the head family in Hinamizawa and she's the heir to them. The mystery of Oyashiro and the mysterious deaths that occur every year on the day of the Cotton Drifting festival seem to be linked to the Sonozaki family. Mion has a twin sister, Shion, who has been thought of as a cursed child since birth (twins are supposed to be a bad omen) and chucked into a distant boarding school away from the the family.
Rena moved to Hinamizawa a year before Keiichi. A shy girl who has a love of cute things, she comes across as the harmless. However, her past is a dark one and she's known for going into a rage at the mention of Oyashiro...
The final 2 main characters are friends and the youngest characters. Rika, a cute blue-haired girl, is the head of the Furude family; one of three main families in Hinamizawa. Much like Rena, she comes across as harmless, but she has the strange tendency to change into a more serious, more intelligent and more sinister person - As if two people were inside her. She will probably play a key role in solving the mystery in the second season. Satoko, a short haired blonde girl, has a tomboy type of personality, mixed in with a lot of insecurity. Her family is hated in Hinamizawa and all are either dead or missing, leaving only her.
There are also other, seemingly less important, characters who feature on a regular basis. The police officer Oishi and the village doctor Irie make appearances in most of the arcs, Oishi appearing in all of them.
Usually, a reviewer would evaluate the depth and development of the cast when rating. However, this is difficult in the case of When They Cry due to the story being told with parallel universes and the plot not progressing as a whole. I know a lot about the characters after seeing them various angles, playing both the good guy and bad guy, but it's near impossible to rate the development unless I rate the characters in each arc individually.
My favourite characters are the twins; Mion and Shion. Both characters get fleshed out more than the rest in the first series, a lengthy arc towards the end of the series revealing all about the sisters relationship, how their families work and, quite simply, how the sisters feel. The best eye candy (I'm SURE they're 16...well, 99% :D) and character development together - a win-win situation.
The thing I didn't like about the characters was how the characters acted rather bizarrely or out of character in certain arcs to play the roles they played in those arcs. For example, one character decided to kill someone to help one of his friends, who they had known for all of 5 minutes... What kind of person risks going to jail for life to help out someone they don't know very well? That plot point in particular seemed to be a bit forced to me.
I feel that 8.5/10 is a fair rating when, while the characters did have depth, the parallel universe aspect stopped any episode 1-26 character development.
When They Cry uses cute, loli character designs to first fool the viewer and then shock them later. A horror series with cute looks, who would've thought it?
As you'd expect for a series that aired in 2006, the series is in widescreen format.
The art is pretty good. There's nothing amazing on show here, it doesn't compare to some of the other series that aired at the same time. I'm sure most people wouldn't mind too much; they'd be too distracted by cute young girls who hold meat cleavers whilst laughing in an insane manner!
The animation quality was a little disappointing. It's not an action series, so you can forgive it for not being brilliant, but the few scenes with fast movement that do occur failed to impress me.
Rating the When They Cry soundtrack reminds of when I rated the Koi Kaze soundtrack: Koi Kaze didn't have too many tracks that stood out, yet the music fitted the show like a glove.
The opening theme of When They Cry is brilliant. Creepy, dark and a little scary, I couldn't imagine a better song for this type of the show. The ED is also very good; a dark, relaxing type of song, part of which also plays during the episode previews.
The soundtrack itself is made up of the dark type of music you'd expect to hear, mixed in with some cheerful music that plays during the more amusing parts of the show. Very little of the music made me want to download the soundtrack and listen to it on my PC, meaning it has little to no truly outstanding tracks in my opinion, but the soundtrack does fit the show perfectly and that's more important.
Just to give the voice acting a quick mention, the voice acting was as excellent as Japanese voice acting usually is. I was impressed by the performance of Satsuki Yukino; the voice actress behind Mion and Shion. I've added her to my favourite voice actor/actress list after watching When They Cry.
Although I did end the series feeling a little disappointed after the near perfect start, I do regard When They Cry as being up there with the best. It's certainly the best horror series out there... Not that there's much in the way of competition!
My rating may improve when I get around to watching the second season and the questions the first series raised are answered. However, I feel 8/10 is a fair rating for the first season on its own."